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Other than the Todas, the Nilgiri hills are also home to the Kota tribe. This tribe populates the hills in nearly seven separate villages, and are much more private compared to the Toda tribe. They are not known for any particular craft, but certainly share linguistic traits with their tribal contemporaries.
The Kotas are believed to be a society that emerged from the Tamils and the Malayalis. They also share ancestry with the Kannadigas. They speak a dialect of Tamil which places more emphasis on the sound produced from the tongue touching the palate. Their words are structured similar to the Tamil form, but have an added click sound from the way it is pronounced. Their language is officially called Kov-M-ant.
The Kotas worship a trinity which they believe founded their tribe. Of the three deities, each one represents one of the hill tribes. So, they live in harmony with each other based on this supposed lineage.
Archived images of Kota women Image source: wikimedia commons
The Kota people wear white garments draped around their body. The men wear a single piece whereas women wear two drapes. They also wear a unique type of earring. They engage in terracotta crafts, and cultivation of potatoes and grain. Their houses are like apartment settlements. There is a room for each activity, and the village is divided into streets.
Artisans from the tribe who create indigenous craft do so for the tribe's benefit. They are a musical tribe and often have gatherings where they sing and dance. Drums, horns, and other instruments are made from reeds and animal hide. Dancing involves the men preceding the women, and it always ends with the women singing. They do this at every ceremony.
Archived imaged of Kota men, and their instruments made from animal horns Image source: wikimedia commons
The women of Kota are treated well. They are given the choice to marry whomever they want, and are also eligible to divorce. Marriage happens within the village, and according to streets. Since the street distribution is the largest form of distinction they have, their caste is dependent on the street they belong to. At the same time, the members of the same street are considered one family, and cannot intermarry.
Among the many villages in the hills, a group of people are chosen as the governing heads. They made decisions for the people when they cannot resolve issues themselves. This tribe functions at the basic level of all larger communities, and was ascribes the status of scheduled caste in the early nineteenth century. They are one group of people who availed educational benefits from the British. They are slowly moving towards development, and even work in rural and lower urban areas in various capacities.
Keywords: Kota, Nilgiri Hills, Women, Caste, Indigenous
The Sentinelese sometimes referred to as the Sentinel, are an indigenous tribe who live on North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal, in the northeastern Indian Ocean. They are classified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group and a Scheduled Tribe and are included in the larger category of Andamanese peoples.
The Sentinelese are the world's most remote tribe, and their quest has intrigued millions. They are self-sufficient on their tiny wooded island, North Sentinel, around the size of Manhattan. The Sentinelese have always been resistant to contact with the outside world. They are hostile against strangers and have murdered anyone who has attempted to land or landed on the island.
Group of Andamanese Sentinels catching turtles. wikimedia
The Sentinelese are hunters and gatherers by nature. They probably utilize bows and arrows to hunt terrestrial animals and capture local shellfish such as mud crabs and shells using primitive ways. Because of the number of roasted shells found in their villages, it is assumed that they eat a lot of molluscs. Some of their customs have not progressed beyond those of the Stone Age, and they are not known to have engaged in agriculture in the past.
The Sentinelese have been observed to have certain commonalities as well as some differences with the Onge People (another indigenous tribe of Little Andaman, one of the Andaman Islands in India). They all cook their food in a same manner. They have a lot in common when it comes to body decor and material culture.
There are also some similarities in the way their canoes are constructed. With sloping leaf-covered roofs and four-pole construction, the Sentinelese live in tiny, makeshift temporary houses. Having scavenged metal to make tools and weapons, as well as accepting aluminium cookware abandoned by the National Geographic Society in 1974, they understand the importance of metal.
The Sentinelese are hunters and gatherers by nature. They probably utilize bows and arrows to hunt terrestrial animals and capture local shellfish such as mud crabs and shells using primitive ways. Photo by Alireza Sahebi on Unsplash
Except for reusing scavenged metal by cold forging, they appear to be completely ignorant of metallurgy. They have also created boats that are suited for lagoon fishing, but instead of using paddles or oars to move them, they use long poles. They hardly ever utilize the canoes for cross-island travel. Bark strings are worn by both sexes, and daggers are always tucked into the waist belts of the males. They do, however, wear various decorations, like necklaces and headbands, but they are otherwise completely bare. It has been reported that people have been seen wearing the jawbones of deceased relatives.
The women have been observed dancing in a bent-knee stance, slapping both hands on their thighs at the same time as tapping their feet in a rhythmic manner.
The Sentinelese are one of six indigenous peoples of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, along with the Great Andamanese, the Jarawas, the Onge, the Shompen, and the Nicobarese. Photo by Vinayak Sharma on Unsplash
The Sentinelese are one of six indigenous peoples of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, along with the Great Andamanese, the Jarawas, the Onge, the Shompen, and the Nicobarese. They are also one of the most reclusive of these peoples. The Sentinelese, in contrast to the other races, appear to have continuously denied any contact with the rest of the world. Their attitude toward strangers is hostile, and they have killed anyone who have approached or landed on the island.
The first peaceful contact with the Sentinelese was established on January 4, 1991, by Triloknath Pandit, director of the Anthropological Survey of India, and his team.
From 1997, Indian tourists were no longer permitted to visit the island. Survival International lobbyists protest and utilise public pressure to ensure that their right to stay disconnected from the outside world is maintained by the government. It is possible that illnesses to which they are not immune to will wipe out the whole tribe if they come in contact with others.
Keywords: Sentinelese, Nicobarese, Andaman Tribes , Indigenous, Great Andamanese.
India's diversity extends beyond culture and language to even her racial roots. The Mughals, the British, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and presently the immigrants from all over the world, have created a diaspora so rich and various, that India's roots now extend far across the range of her landscape. One such is a tribe that inhabits Karnataka's northern districts – Siddhi Tribe.
Believed to have descended from the Bantu tribe of Africa, Siddhi Tribe, first came to India when Africa was colonized by the Europeans. The Portuguese carried them on ships as slaves, and on reaching India, were either sold to the rulers here, or made to work in foreign offices. The earliest Siddhi presence in India dates back almost 400 years.
The Western Ghats have become home to this tribe. They populate the Northern Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka, parts of Maharashtra, and even a few villages in Gujarat. The Siddhis are isolated from the rest of the state. They believe in keeping to themselves, although they have adapted well into the culture and language of their respective villages. Sumanth Reddy, faculty of the Department of History and Government, Bowie State University writes, " My first encounter with the Siddhis… was with a mother and daughter… at the weekly market. They were dressed in traditional Indian clothes, and I was surprised by how easily and naturally they mingled with the other locals." Reddy visited the Siddhi Tribe villages to study their ethnicity in 2016.
Siddhis populate the Northern Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka, parts of Maharashtra, and even a few villages in Gujarat. wikimediwikimedia
During the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, the Abyssinian people were uprooted by colonizers and spread across the world. The cultures they were transplanted into, did not completely accept them, despite their blending into it. Consequently, they had to create their own communities, secluded from the rest of the population, surviving based on the knowledge of their ancestor, and the kindness of those who treated them well, for food and shelter.
Karnataka's Siddhis speak Kannada and Konkani fluently, but their coarse hair, and chocolate-coloured skin does not permit them to lead normal lives among the caste-infested Kannadigas, who have given the Siddhis a social identity that is even below the Untouchables. Owing to this discrimination, and unable to return to their homeland, their villages are usually found deep in the forests, inaccessible to others.
When the community was granted Scheduled Tribes status by the Indian government, in 2003, they began to avail benefits to uplift their tribe. In Gujarat, the Siddhis act as guides in the Gir forest reserve; in Karnataka, they are given work, albeit small jobs that pay a little. They are employed as migrant workers, or are given small patches of land to tend, but these efforts give them little respite from poverty.
The Siddhis have adopted the dress and culture of Kannadigas Image source: wikimedia
Among the Siddhis, religion is very important. They share their beliefs of being united despite their chosen faith, but Hindu, Christian, and Mulim Siddhis do not live together in the same village. Intermarriage is also not permitted. Their religion is based on who their ancestors served.
The Siddhis who worked for the Portuguese are Catholic, those who served the Arabs are Muslim, and those who were converted by the local zamindars are Hindu. They also carry their African heritage of folk dances, rituals involving nature-worship, and their ancestral mythology. The rhythmic music and proverbs of their culture are evidently non-Indian, but they lack the ability to assert this identity, and still struggle to be treated the same as other Indians.
Keywords: Siddhis, Karnataka, Tribes, History
By Renata Nathania
On the eve of Indigenous Peoples Day, people from all over the country are celebrating this year's Vishwa Adivasi Diwas, or World Tribal Day, on August 9, 2021. This Day commemorates the efforts and contribution of the Indian tribes in various capacities of the country's socio-economic scale.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs tweeted, "#InternationalDayofIndigenousPeoples is observed every year on 9 th August to protect and promote the right of indigenous people. On this day, let us remember and salute our tribal brethren for their contributions towards world development".
#InternationalDayofIndegenousPeoples is observed every year on 9th August to protect & promote the right of indigenous people. On this day, let's remember & salute our tribal brethren for their contributions towards world's development. @MundaArjun @renukasinghbjp
— Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India (@TribalAffairsIn) August 9, 2021
Tribal Day, or International Day of Indigenous Peoples is celebrated by indigenous cultures worldwide, since the declaration by the United Nations in 1994, which was implemented after the meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, in Geneva in 1982.
Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance of 'Bhil' tribe performed to worship Goddess Sarasvati which was later embraced by other Rajasthani communities.wikimedia
The observance of this day is to promote awareness of the lifestyle and culture of the tribes of the world. It is also to recognize the human rights of the native people of various countries who come under scheduled castes, and scheduled tribes, but are not acknowledged as citizens with equal rights under the constitution.
Last year, the celebrations focused on the resilience of the tribes during the pandemic. Special attention was given to the particularly vulnerable tribal groups of the country. India is home to nearly 700 tribes and they constitute 8.6% of the population, as of a 2011 census.