Tribes of Madhya Pradesh
Tribes of Madhya Pradesh have preserved
very remarkably their distinct way of
life in small isolated communities and
the main tribes are the Gonds, Kols,
Bhills, Murias, Baigas, Korkus, Kamaras,
Marias and Oraons.
Traditionally, the tribal were semi-nomadic,
some living solely off what they could hunt,
others relying on shifting cultivation. Most
have now been settled, many it would seem as
unhappily as the Australian aborigines, country
liquor and drug dependency are said to be common
among the men. Many cling to their older
beliefs, such as buying there dead, rather than
burning them according to Hindu tradition.
In the last hundred years the Baigas have been
forced to abandon shifting cultivation (the
burning of forest strips and sowing of seeds in
the ashes, the cultivation of crops for a few
years on this land and its abandonment for
regeneration) and to move from this axe and hoe
agriculture to the plough.
Over the centuries, tribal territory has
gradually been nibbled away, and every where
their way of life is under threat. The Gonds,
the largest of the tribes, managed to maintain
their independence and retain their so- called
‘primitive’ ways until the last century. From
1200 A D there were as many as 4 Gond Kingdoms
.One had an initiation ceremony centered on
eating wild orchids. Today one of the biggest
threats to the tribal comes from that symbol of
modernization, irrigation dams.
building of a succession of dams across the Narmada
River in southern MP threatens hundreds of
thousands of hectares of tribal forest land .
Loud political protests are a feature of the
states current politics.
Tribal culture & tradition
Many of the tribal traditions in the state are
still vital and strong, although they have been
exposed in varying degrees to outside cultural
influences. A great deal tribal traditions,
especially mythology and folklore, have been
preserved , though they have been exposed to out
side culture influences . The Pondwani and the
Lachmanjati legends are the Gond equivalents of
the Mahabharat and Ramayana.
The Bards of the Gond continue to sing of the
legendary deeds of Lingo-pen, the mythical
originator of the Gond tribe. All tribe retain
myths and legends regarding their origins, and
they have songs for the ceremonies of birth and
marriage, together with folktales, riddles, and
proverbs illustrating their culture heritage.
Gonds in Bastar remain perhaps the least
in contact with the world outside due to
the remoteness and ruggedness of the
terrain. The institution of Ghotul at
Abujmarh- a dormitory for the unmarried
teenagers to live together, select their
mate and gain valuable experience to set
up their own household-has attracted
considerable scholarly attention.
A Marriage Procession
Similarly, the Bhagoriya festival at the
time of Holi, the festival of colours,
in the Jhabua region cannot be compared
with any other celebration. Bhil youths
indulge in colourful frolic excited by
the prospects of meeting their future
spouse. If some maiden strikes the
prospective groom’s fancy, all he has to
do is to offer a betel leaf to the girl.
If she accepts, the two elope in the
time honoured tradition to set up their
The marriage can be solemnized
subsequently. Incidentally the word
bhagoriya may be literally translated as
present a colourful spectacle of the
whole community celebrating. Singing and
Dancing are not confined to few people.
As the tempo builds, the spectators join
The tribal festivals in Jabua and Bastar
in Chhattisgarh region are marked by
carefree revelry, drinking bouts and
exotic entertainment like cock-fighting,
uninhibited dancing, etc. The casual
visitors often fails to appreciated
adequately the genuine and strong
tradition of democracy in tribal
society, the harmonious living with
nature, the respected status accorded to
women, the amicable sharing of the
Tribal crafts men are proud of their
artistic heritage. They are particularly
skilled in metal wares and fashioning
aesthetically satisfying objects for
every day life.
Costumed in colourful apparel tribal
dances carry songs which mirror the
sociological, psychological and
Tribal presents the most colourful face of Central
India. Haats, Weekly marts are occasion for a get
together and revelry. Bengal sellers like this are
familiar sight at the Haats. Giant Merry go round is a
great crowd attraction.