Sunday November 19, 2017
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Tiger sways man in Indian tribal village, Allocation of a new land now

Anup Kumar Nayak, a senior forest officer in Bhubaneswar proclaimed that wildlife protection laws refused to allow humans from living within critical wildlife habitat.

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tribal
Tiger, pixabay

Feb 20, 2017: India has nearly about 3,200 tigers in dozens of reserves established since the 70s, with some of the nominated land shared with primeval tribal villagers. Wildlife tourism has grown widely and is a medium for earning huge amount of money for India.

However, conservationists are dubious as to whether travellers help protect threatened species or trespass onto their habitat. According to a report published in Reuters, the tigers that roam around these dense forests of eastern India have more dominance than the people that live alongside, tribal activists say, this is a drive to boost thriving wildlife tourism and trump the rights of poor villagers of tribal areas.

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Sanghamitra Dubey, a worker in an informal Indian advocacy group for forestry rights questioned,”Why are indigenous people being asked outright to leave without even attempting to explore reasonable options of co-existence with wildlife?”

Now the situation arises such that one of the two will win the priority and, the place too. The families of the ancestral land have already been asked to shift, just to protect a handful population of tigers. Last November, hundreds of families from these tribal villages were asked to vacate their homes to ensure the security of a local tiger habitat.

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Anup Kumar Nayak, a senior forest officer in Bhubaneswar proclaimed that wildlife protection laws refused to allow humans from living within critical wildlife habitat or what is deemed the ‘core zone’ of a national park. He further added by saying, ‘the relocation are voluntary but a number of villages around Similipal were in the ‘core’ habitat zone or so close they were “as good as inside it” and would need to move’.

Following the trail, in the village of Jamunagarh, in the park’s ‘core’, just three families out of more than 35 families decided to stay on and continue to use the land they won in 2015. The others chose to take the compensation and move away.

(Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation report on The Goat Village)

By Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter @Nainamishr94

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Lalung Tribe of Northeast India: What Makes them Stand Apart!

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Currently India has 645 tribes recognized as Scheduled Tribes, meaning indigenous people whose status has been formally acknowledged by national legislation. (representational image) Wikimedia
  • Hailing traditionally from Tibet, Lalungs believed to have resettled in Indian subcontinent around the mid-1600s
  • ‘Tiwa’ means those who have been lifted from below

Assam, August 9, 2017: They’re hidden in the farthest corner of the country, in the states of Assam and Meghalaya- tiny pockets of people whose traditions, customs and dress have decidedly chosen to NOT remain anachronistic, while still continuing to stay true to their roots. There’s no question that the people of the Lalung tribe live a lot closer to their old way of life than the average, while at the same time showing signs of embedded liberalism and modernism.

This article aims to present a complete breakdown of the Lalung tribe, with an intent to introduce the masses to one of the lesser known communities of the country, and about what makes them stand apart.

Tiwa means the people who were lifted from below
The Lalung tribe is also known as Tiwa tribe, an indigenous tribal community from northeast India. Wikimedia

Among several other tribes of India, the Lalung tribe is recognized as Scheduled Tribes in Assam and are divided into two sub-types based on their terrain and ecology-

  • Living on hills
  • Living in the plains

The Lalung tribe, also known as Tiwa tribe associates with the race Bodo and does not have a clearly defined history. It is popularly believed that their ancestors have their roots in Tibet and later moved along the Brahmaputra river down south, eventually settling in the plains around the mid-1600s.

The word Lalung has its roots in the Karbi word and can be divided into two exclusive words

  • Lang means water
  • Lung means to sink in it

When compounded together, the word Lalung came into existence.

The tribe has an affluent mythological and historical origin and migration, and there is more than one tale of their formation.

The Origin Of the Lalungs

According to some legend, the Lalungs are believed to have fallen into Kolong river in the Nagaon district during Assam’s invasion by the Myanmarese. It was the Karbis who allegedly rescued them and began calling them ‘Lang-Lung’, which eventually became Lalung.

While this tale is popularly believed, another legend holds that the Lalungs condemned their homeland and began resettling at the banks of river Nailalung, in the Karbi Anglong districts and thus, derived their name from the river.

A Defined System of Administration

The traditional village council of the tribe is known as ‘khel’, and the village headman presides over the sittings of the tribe.

The Khel selects a ‘Giyati’, who is essentially a priest, to preside over all religious ceremonies and occasions.  Other important administrative positions include a ‘Barilk‘ who is a connection official between the headman and the villagers and the ‘Zolo‘ who is a person expert at folklores. Officials to these positions are also selected by the Khel.

While the decision of the village headman is final in all matters, religious issues are usually dealt by the Giyati.

ALSO READ: Why Indian tribes need more opportunities to ‘Make (a living) in India’

The Lalung Way of Being

If in or around Lalung land, one can be prepared to be exposed to a method they must have read about in school Geography books. Lalung tribe swears by the ‘slash and burn’ farming method.

Majorly influenced by wet rice cultivation methods, rice is their major crop. However, they also grow sesame, ginger, mustard, and chilies.

If you’re wondering what problems and drawbacks the Lalung economy faces, they aren’t much different from other similar tribes – land estrangement, indebtedness, absence of modern farming tools and techniques, and inadequate credit and marketing facilities.

Staple Diet Of The Lalung Tribe

A sumptuous serving of rice, meat, fish, or eggs form the staple diet of the Lalung tribe.

A helping of their bona fide, locally brewed rice-beer completes their meals and forms an imperative part of their culture.

While the practice of the rice beer is gradually dying among the plains Lalung because of economic setbacks, it continues to enjoy an important element of religious ceremonies.

What Do The Lalungs Speak

While many hill dwellers are bilingual and speak both, Bodo and Lalung, many of the Lalungs thriving in the plains speak only Bodo.

The Faith And Devotion Of The Lalung Tribe

The Lalung tribe holds Goddess Keshai Khaity in utmost reverence.

It is believed that a Keshai Khaity mandir (temple) had been built by the descendants of the tribe in 1266 AD which is heralded as the foundation of their faith. Thereafter, all following generations pursued the traditions set by their forefathers and worship the goddess in the month of Bohag (April)

While the tribe has rather liberal traits in terms of their cultural practices, they continue to be orthodox with respect to their devotion and its practices. Only the men are allowed to take part in the religious ceremonies while the women can only observe the activities, however only from a distance.

The ‘Holy’ Offering Of Blood

According to popular Lalung beliefs, Goddess Keshai Khaity accepts blood from her devotees. Also known as Kalika, she stands as the epitome of power and strength for the Lalung tribes and hence, no stone is left unturned to gratify the Goddess.

The head priest (Bor Deuri) offers blood of hens, pigeons, among other animals to the deity. Surprisingly, a tortoise is also offered to the goddess, which comprises the main item of the worship.

The annual puja witnesses more than 300 devotees in attendance as more than 200 birds are sacrificed each year to encompass the offering.

Lalungs’ Belief In The Evil

Laying tribes are the followers of the cult of polydaemonism. In other words, they believe in and/worship a multitude of demons and demoniacal power, with their supreme god called phi meaning father.

Officially classified as Tantrayana Buddhists, they are also believed to have been influenced by Hinduism as well.

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The Warmth of The Lalung Culture

While the Lalung tribe comprise a close-knit community, aspects of their culture are more contemporary than those of similar tribes and sets them apart,

  • Lalung villages on the plains are not exclusive pockets. Instead, they interspersed. And coexist mutually with many other non-Lalung villages. Most of these can be accessed by well-built roads.
  • The Lalung tribe is famous for its exogamous clans. This means that they are allowed to marry people from other clans.
  • Same divisions of the Lalung tribes are matrilineal. This means, they trace the line of their descents through their maternal relations.

Like most tribes of India, the Lalungs function like a close-knit family, and cooperate with one another as a community- whether it is in terms of building roads, constructing houses, plantations, or religious activities.

 


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Cheetahs in Malawi: Poaching and Wildlife Trafficking endangers Africa’s most Iconic Species

A total of four cheetahs – two males and two females – were airlifted to Liwonde National Park in Malawi from South Africa in May

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Cheetahs back from the brink in Malawi
The cheetahs spent their first three weeks in an enclosure before being released into Liwonde National Park in Malawi. VOA
  • Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi has just welcomed some new inhabitants – four cheetahs
  • Liwonde National Park has a population of 12,000 large mammals including bush buck, water buffalo, and antelope
  • Park officials say they also plan to reintroduce leopards and lions to restore the park’s lost glory

LIWONDE NATIONAL PARK, MALAWI, June 10, 2017: Poaching and wildlife trafficking have endangered some of Africa’s most iconic species and the loss of the animals has cost African countries critical tourism revenue.

But at least one national park is getting a second chance. Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi has just welcomed some new inhabitants – four cheetahs relocated there from South Africa courtesy of the nonprofit African Parks group.

Park rangers lured the first cheetah out into its new home with a fresh carcass. It’s the first cheetah Malawi has had in the wild in two decades.

The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, but even that couldn’t protect the species in Malawi. Poachers killed off the cheetahs’ prey and ultimately the cheetahs themselves.

“They were last seen in Malawi about 20 years ago,” said Craig Reid of the Liwonde National Park. “Specifically in Liwonde area, they have been absent for over a 100 years. So, as part of the rehabilitation of the park, we feel it is very important to bring back the cheetah to Malawi and Liwonde specifically.”

A total of four cheetahs – two males and two females – were airlifted to Liwonde from South Africa in May.

Before being released into the park, the cheetahs spent their first three weeks in an enclosure to allow them to become acclimated to their new surroundings.

Liwonde National Park has a population of 12,000 large mammals. These include bush buck, water buffalo and antelope.

ALSO READWhy China’s Tiger Farms are a Threat to the Species!

The cheetah is the first large predator to be reintroduced to the park.

“We have a very healthy animal base and now that the protection measures are in place as we have got a very good law enforcement in the park,” Reid said. “The numbers of animals are increasing very rapidly and, as a result to that, there are more than enough animals to provide for some carnivorous animals such as the cheetah”.

Officials are holding meetings with communities surrounding the park.

“Those people are likely to face danger,” said David Nongoma of African Parks. “And our message to the community is to say that…they refrain from entering the park and stop doing what they used to be doing because these animals are definitely very dangerous. They can kill a human being.”

Park officials say they also plan to reintroduce leopards and lions to restore the park’s lost glory. (VOA)