Odisha is uniquely proud for the tinted spread of ethnic mosaic brought over by the 62 culturally vibrant tribes including 13 primitive tribal groups, who are found sprinkled all over the state.
Across the Eastern Ghats, lies the hinterland of Orissa, the home of ancient tribes-the Didayi and the Bonda of Koraput, and the Kondhs of Kandhmal(formerly name Phulbani). Here beats Orissa’s primordial heart.The tribal people showcase a rainbow of oriental culture and cultural trappings, which are held beautiful in an ethnic kaleidoscope.
It is belived that the original inhabitants of Orissa were such primitive tribes akin to the Saoros and Juangs, groups living in the wooded hinterland. Here, in the dense jungles, were ambiguous essence is symbolized and made into ritual objects.
Discover it the same way the primeval tribes of Orissa have passed it down – through art, dance, myths, music and the land itself. See tribal art and contemporary dance in the cities. Or head to the hills and listen to myths of creation. We will help you understand this ancient land and its spirituality and wonder.
Connect yourself to the distinctive tribes of Orissa.
The exceptional Bondas dwell in the remote Bonda hills . The landscape is exhilarating: steep roads climbing up jaded green hill slopes, breathtaking jungle that seem to go for ever as one proceeds along hairpin turns amon tall sal overlooking, brisk, babbling mountain streams, amid a profusion of wild flowers daubing the landscape with startling colors.
The Bonda or Bondo are an ancient tribe of people numbering approximately 5000 who live in the isolated hill regions of the Malkangiri district of southwestern most Orissa, India, near the junction of the three states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh. The Bonda are a scheduled tribe of India and are also known as Remo (meaning “people” in the Bonda language).
They are unpredictable in their behaviour, and resent interference. The men are short and stooped from walking up and down the mountain slopes. The woman scantily clad owing to their religious customs with strings of beads and brass ornamental which hang low on their bodies: their head are completely shaven and bound with strips of palmyra or coloured fillets. Rings or buttons made of brassed serve as ear decorations, and they delight in wearing broad bagles of brass on their wrists. What makes the Bondas different from the other tribes of Orissa is the attitude of their men towards violence. Equppied with lethal bows and arrow, the Bonda male will not hesitate to release his arrow straight to the heart of his opponent at the slightest provocation.The tribe still practice the barter system i.e. exchanging the produce of their fields for articles of daily use. An interesting feature of the Bonda marriage is that Bonda girls prefer to marry younger boys. So they may have someone to earn for them in their old age.
The Kondhs, or the Kui as they call themselves are one of the well known tribes and the largest tribal community of Orissa with a population of around 1 million; who were famous in history for their Merial Sacrifice (human sacrifice); practiced no more.
The Kondhas are believed to be from the Proto-Australoid ethnic group. Their native language is Kui, a Dravidian language written with the Oriya script. The Kondha are adept land dwellers exhibiting greater adaptability to the forest environment.Dense sal forests were their playground: they hunt with the ease of all primitive races with bows and axes. The Merial Sacrifice, as it is called , can be looked upon as a part of the universal preoccupation of the primitive mind seeking to propitiate the supernatural powers for the peace and prosperit of the entire tribe. Barbaric,obviously, accordingly to our standards. Not so when one considers that the sacrifice was meant to fertile the earth and the victims’s flesh buried in the fileds for the benefit of the entire tribe. They are mostly concentrated in large numbers in Kandhmal(formely Phulbani) , Bolangir, Koraput and Ganjam districts of Orissa.
One sub-group of kondhas is the Dongria Kondhas. They inhabit the plateaus of Niyamgiri hill ranges which cover parts of Rayagada and Koraput and Kalahandi districts. Their major concentration is found in the blocks of Kalyansinghpur, Bissamcuttack and Muniguda. They are called Dongria or dweller of donger (“hill” in Oriya) and love to settle in higher altitudes due to their economic demands.
The Niyamgiri Hills where the Dongria Kondh dwell are covered by superb natural forests and home to many rare species like the Golden Gecko and the Giant Squirrel. The Dongria Kondh call themselves Jharnia meaning those who live by the Jharana (streams). Hundreds of perennial streams flow from Niyamgiri hill, and there are hundreds of Dongria villages by the streams. The Dongria are the protectors of these streams, hills and jungles and are revered by people in the nearby plains.
The other important sub-group of Kondhs are Desiya Kondh and Kutia Kondh.Kutia Kondhs dwell in remote hills in the extreme south-west of Kandhamal district.
The Gadaba are a primitive tribe classified as Mundari or Kolarian on linguistic grounds. They are one of the early settlers of this country and trace their origin to the time of Ramayana/The word Gadavb signifies a person who carries loads on his shoulders. The tribe call themselves Guthan. They speak a mundari dialect, called Gadaba after tribal name. The Gadabas are a tribe of agriculturists primarily. The Gadabas are also employed as bearers in the hills and carry palanquins. There is a tradition that the tribes owes its name to the fact that its ancestors emigrated from the bank of Godavery river and settled in Nandapur, the former capital of Rajas of Jeypore.Besides Malkangiri this tribe is found in Koraput, Kalahandi, Sundergarh, Gangam, Sampalpur and Boudh Phulbani districts of Orissa.
The Sora (alternative names and spellings include Saora, Soura, Savara and Sabara) are a tribe from Southern Orissa, India.The Souras are second most prominent tribal community in the Rayagada district of Orissa and specific pockets of Koraput and Gajapati Districts. They are also sometimes called Lanjia Souras due to their dress pattern wear a loin cloth hanging from behind & which could be mistakenly identified as a tail by a stranger. Their highest concentration is found in the Puttasingi area, approximately. They are known by various names such as “Savara”, “Sabara”, “Sora” and “Soura”.
Juang (Patuas, literally “leaf-wearers”), a jungle tribe of Orissa, India. They are found in only two of the tributary states, Dhenkanal and Keonjhar, most of them in the latter. They are estimated to amount in all to about 10,000. Their language belongs to the Munda family. They have no traditions which connect them with any other race, and they repudiate all connexion with the Hos or the Santals, declaring themselves the aborigines.They are proficient in basket making, which is in demand in nearby caste villages. The juangs would exchange their baskets for salt, oil ,food, money from the village traders but with increased contact with the Hindu villages they have took up the worship of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and are slowly being absorbed into the Hindu Caste system as a basket making caste group.The best way to view members of the tribe is by going to one of the local town markets. It is not considered safe to venture into their tribal areas.