Odisha hosts the highest number of tribes in India – 62 & also has a high percentage of population of tribes. Odisha is a natural habitat of several tribes who endorse its antiquity. The largest number of tribes can be found in this state. These ancient people with mystical ancient cultures and languages dwell in Odisha’s remote areas, deep forests and hilly interiors. Most of them are in the southwest part of the state. Some tribal areas are quite inaccessible and require prior permission from the government and language is also a barrier. The tribes continue to inhabit Odisha’s remote areas in the deep forests and hilly interiors. Immersed in obscurity that revolves around their indigenous and ethnic lifestyle, the Odishan tribes continue to inspire numerous tourists, anthropologists and sociologists. Tourists flock to Odisha to find the unusual charm of this comparatively unsung state.
The major tribal tourist places in Odisha are : Jeypore, Baliguda, Kothagargh, Rayagada, Chatikiona Ankadeli and these are few of the places which are definitely not to be missed when in Odisha. Activities concerning the jungles are main source of income for these Odisha’s tribes.
Of all the states of India, Odisha has the largest number of tribes, as many as 62. Among them the tribes residing in the Eastern Ghats include Khonds (Kandho), Gond, Santal, Soara, Kolha, Shabar, Munda, Paroja, Bhotada, Bhunya (Bhuiyan), Kissan, Oraon, Bhumiya, Bhathudi, Kharia, Binjhal, Koya, Kol, Saunti, Gadabas, Mirdhas and Juang.
The tribals of Odisha treasure a rich and diverse cultural heritage. The changing seasons, religious customs, distinct languages and the traditional values are strong motivation for creating a series of festivals that enrich their life cycle.
Festivals in Odisha are multi faceted. The tribal people of Orissa observe a string of festivals. Some are family affairs, relating to a birth or death within the family or a daughter attaining puberty. Others are community driven and relate to sowing or harvest time and involve the entire community. Most of the festivals is an occasion for good Mahua liquor, available in abundant locally, a game roasted on the sprit and a night of song and dance is what not to be missed. But that is not the end and as per popular belief, there is an animal sacrifice too, for their deities and sprits must be appeased first, particularly the spiteful ones, so they don’t unleash drought or sickness on the land. Tribal people are superstitious and do believe in unorthodox things. Therefore, ‘Ojha’ – a priest or exorcist occupies a position of honor in the community since he not only prescribes medicines for the sick but is also believed to exorcise evil sprits.
Odisha, girdled by the Bay of Bengal is a lush green state with the best fusion of traditional Indian art depicted in its temples and an exceptional natural world that is loaded with immense splendour. Lush green mountains, with rich paddies and terraces dot this state everywhere. Odisha is a traditional dwelling place of several tribes who endorse its antiquity. The largest number of tribes can be found in this state. These ancient people with mystical ancient ways dwell in Odisha’s remote, deep forests and hilly interiors. Most of them are in the southwest part of the state. Some tribal areas are quite inaccessible and require permission and language is also a barrier. The tribes continue to inhabit Odisha’s remote areas in the deep forests and hilly interiors. Immersed in obscurity that revolves around ethnic lifestyle, the Odishan tribes continue to be a source of deep interest for numerous tourists, alongside anthropologists and sociologists. Tourists flock to Odisha to find the unusual charm of this comparatively unsung state. Major tribal sites in Odisha are : Jeypore, Baliguda, Kothagargh, Rayagada, Chatikiona Ankadeli and these are few of the places which are worth seeing in this state. Activities around the jungles are main source of income for the Odisha’s tribes. The Juang, Bhuyan, Bondo, Saura, and Dhruba tribes follow the shifting cultivation practice. The Koya tribals are cattle breeders while the Mahali and Lohara are simple artisans involved in basket weaving and tool making. The Santal, Munda and other tribes have now also become involved in the mining and industrial belt of Odisha. The tribals of Odisha treasure a rich and diverse cultural heritage. The changing seasons, religious customs and the traditional values are strong motivation for creating a series of festivals that enrich their life cycle.
Tribal Scenario in Orissa Orissa State is situated from 17º- 49å? N to 22º-34å?? N latitude and between 81º-29′? E and 87º- 29′ E longitude. It is bounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east, Andhra Pradesh in the south, Jharkhand in the north, Chhattisgarh in the west and West Bengal in the north-east. Physiographically it includes diverse geomorphological features, such as plains in the coastal strip, the middle mountainous region, the rolling uplands, the fertile river valleys and the subdued plateaus. In the Indian Subcontinent, it enjoys a unique situational advantage of being the meeting ground of the north and south Indian cultures. Orissa State, as it exists today, was formed on the 1st April, 1936.
Broadly speaking, from geographic, ecological and agro-climatic considerations, Orissa has two separate regions, such as
(1) Coastal Region and
(2) Highland Region.
By and large, the latter region provides abode for major tribal communities of the State. The areas inhabited by tribals are generally forest clad hill tracts, mountainous terrains, undulating uplands, flat table land in hill flanks, etc which constitute remote and interior pockets and are relatively isolated and inaccessible. They usually live in uniethnic / multiethnic villages.
In the pan- Indian context, there are 3 broad segments of population, such as
(1) the folk (tribal communities)
(2) the peasant (rural caste communities), and the
(3) Urban (city and town dwellers) communities.
Although each segment has its uniqueness, they exhibit complementarity and reciprocal interactions among each other, eg the first segment interacts with the second and both with the third segment; and thereby constitute the ‘folk-urban continuum’ in Redfieldian dictum. The tribal people of Orissa are considered autochthones and are surviving till today because of their cultural tenacity. Despite their economic backwardness, illiteracy, lack of adequate health care facilities, unemployment, abject poverty, malnutrition, high incidence of I.M.R and M.M.R etc., they manifest their rich cultural heritage. It is unique to note that Orissan tribal communities epitomize the tribal cultural fabric of our nation.
Barring the N.E. States, the maximum numbers of tribal groups/communities (62) are living in Orissa, compared to other States. There are 3 broad linguistic groups, such as the Austro-Asiatic (Munda), Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. Except the Santal (Ol Chiki), Ho (Warrang Chiki), Saora (Sora Sompen), Kandha (Kui) who have developed their scripts, others have only spoken languages. Among different Indian languages, the Santali language only has been included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.
The maximum number of tribal communities (13) identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PTGs) live in the State and due to their economic vulnerability, impoverishment and marginalization, 17 Micro Projects with 100 per cent Special Central Assistance are functioning for their overall development. Every 5th man in the State belongs to the Scheduled Tribe community. Their economic pursuits range from food gathering to settled cultivation and the economy is primarily subsistence oriented. In their communities, women foster greater responsibility and enjoy more or less equal social status. They are characteristically patriarchal, patrilocal, patrilineal and patronymic. Each tribal community is endogamous and includes a number of exogamous clans, lineages, extended families and nuclear families. Their social structure is based on segmentary opposition. The Saora tribal community is conspicuous by the absence of clan organization. The tribal communities, prior to the introduction P.R.Is, had their own traditional political organizations, which were looking into internal and external affairs of the tribe. By and large, the tribal religion is based on polytheism and a large number of rituals are observed to propitiate deities, benevolent, malevolent and ambivalent. Recently, some tribal areas, especially bordering other states, are witnessing extremist activities shattering the tribal way of normal life situations.
According to 2001 Census, Orissa’s share of total population of the country was 3.6 %, and share of STs was 9.7 %. The STs number 81.45 lakh persons who constitute 22.13 % of the total population. Orissa State with 62 tribal communities are the largest number in India. As regards number of ST population, it occupies the 3rd position in India. Regarding ST concentration, i.e 22.13 %, it occupies the 16th position in the States/UTs of our country.
In 1961, India was the home of 29.9 millions of ST out of which 4.2 millions lived in Orissa. After 4 decades, the ST population increased by 2.8 times i.e to 84.3 millions by 2001 Census. During the same period Orissa’s ST population increased by 1.9 times to 8.1millions. Orissa’s share of ST population in India was 14.1% in 1961, which declined to 9.7 % in 2001. The ST population of India increased from 6.8 % in 1961 to 8.2 % in 2001. During the same period the proportion of ST population of Orissa declined from 24.1 % in 1961 to 22.13 % in 2001.
The tribal districts of Odisha are :
Odisha hosts one of the largest concentrations of tribal population in India, around 7 million. Orissa also has the highest number – 62 of tribal communities including 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
The ingenious art and crafts of the local tribes manifest their cultural efflorescence. Brass bells and other items of ritual worship, Bell metal products, Silver filigree, Stone and Wood carving, Patta paintings, Tie and Dye textiles, bamboo basketry ancient techniques are still practiced in Odisha.
Odisha has an extremely rich history stretching back more than 2000 years – Odissi being the classical dance form of India and was initially performed in temples of Odisha as a religious offering.
Odisha’s linguistically classified tribal languages are – Austro-Asiatic (Munda), Dravidian and Indo-Aryan.
Odisha is efflorescent with rich tribal cultural assemblage. Of the sixty-two types of tribal communities – the Saura pictograms are a class in itself, backed by extensive research by Verrier Elwin, who was the first scholar to study the Saura pictograms.
Odisha has a depth of weaving practices and techniques unparalleled in other parts of India. Most significant is Ikat; a style of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process.
Odisha is one region which had had the earliest and longest uninterrupted association with Buddhism in India hosting at least 120 archaeological Buddhist sites.
Odisha is also the land of Festivities – the Konark Festival & Jagannath Rath Yatra being the prominent ones.
Home to 62 tribes, Odisha also showcases a surreal & amazing array of jewelry worn as a part of their daily life. Wide anklets, delicate nose-rings, quaint armlets, thick neckbands, and multiple earrings have intricate designs & are reflective of the beauty and simplicity of the adivasis.
The new ‘Odisha State Tribal Museum’ in Bhubaneswar is a landmark establishment catering to the needs of the visitors and researchers.
Odisha is scattered with historical, spiritual & leisure destinations worth paying a visit.
Odisha is rightly called as ‘Tribal Tourism Capital of India’ owing to its vivid indigenous culture.
The best & most recommended Tribal Tour Operator for Odisha – i4u Travel Services.