Today, on 9 August, whole world is celebrating International Tribal Day. Indigenous People from Canada, China, New Zealand, India, Brazil, and other countries celebrate International Tribal Day. The day was announced in December 1994 by the General Assembly of the United Nations as the ‘International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’. The first meeting was held for the indigenous people to discuss environmental issues like global warming in 1982.
Pallavi Gupta | New Delhi
There are approximately 476 million Indigenous People worldwide in over 90 countries. This day is to raise awareness and protect the rights of Indigenous people all over the world. This event recognizes the achievements and contributions made by Indigenous People. Every year the United Nation announce an international theme to celebrate this auspicious. This year amid the coronavirus, the UN decided the theme “COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples’ resilience” for this year.
In India, according to the 2011 census, there is more than 104 million population of Indigenous community. In India, Adivasis are particularly prominent in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal. There are approximately 645 distinct tribes in India. People call indigenous people by many names such as ‘Adivasi’, ‘Tribal’, ‘Mulnivasi’, ‘Girijan’, ‘Deshaj’, ‘Indigenous’. Officially they are called Scheduled Tribes in India.
‘Adivasi’ is a collective word used for many indigenous people in India. The word Adivasi derives from the Hindi word ‘Adi’ which means from the beginning or early times and ‘Vasi’ which means resident or inhabitant. Adivasis worship of nature, mainly of land, forest, air, water, and animal. It differs from tribe to tribe in our country. They believe that nature (Prakariti) is their only god and goddess and they also believe that only lifesaver and life-giver. Nature plays a vital role in their customs and traditions. They still love to organize their marriages and other programs traditionally. So now we will try to understand some marriage practices among some Indian tribal communities.
International Tribal Day: ANTI-CLOCKWISE ROUNDS IN BHIL
In the Bhil tribe of Gujarat, they take anti-clockwise rounds around the fire. As the earth rotates anticlockwise. And Adivasis do everything in the context of nature. Due to the same reason, they use Anti – Clockwise watches. In the Bhil Tribe, people believe that a girl is good for the family if her legs go inward while walking, and if her legs go outwards then she is not perfect for the family. Boy’s family notices this when a girl comes to give them water to welcome them. The family of the boy keeps an eye on the girl’s nature, talking sense, and walking style. This ritual is a part of the selection process. In the Bhil tribe, one could be thrown out of the tribe if he/she marries in the same ‘Gotra’. Although love marriages are allowed in another tribe, caste, or religion.
People of this tribe announce their marriage with very different customs. They keep some grains of rice and wheat in front of the door of their house. It is a traditional signal to inform everyone that marriage is fixed. The marriage customs complete in 3-4 days. On the first day, marriage fixes, and on the 3rd night, they both get married. There is one more interesting marriage ritual named ‘Chandla’, in which other people from the tribe give some money to help the family financially. Any member of family records who is giving how much amount. And then the family helps them by adding some more amount in their marriage. This ritual is to help each other economically if in any case, the family could not afford to arrange marriage functions. It shows how they respect the dignity of each other.
PERFECT MATCH IN FAIR
In Meena Tribe of Rajasthan, traditionally, a fair used to be organized by the elders of the villages where many boys and girls used to come, meet and play games with each other. And if they like each other, their marriage gets fixed. This is a tribal custom. The final decision is upon the bride and groom. Families of both have to agree on this. Parents’ permission is required to take it further. If families agree then the boy has to reside in the house of the girl. There is a motive behind this custom, girl’s parents analyze the nature of the boy and check if the boy is perfect for their girl. It is to check a boy’s efficiency. If they reject him then the girl and boy can’t marry. If parents found him efficient, only then the marriage can happen. This is a custom for selection. In the Meena Tribe, there is one more surprising ritual. Barbers become Sima Taparia of Indian Netflix show, ‘Indian Matchmaking’.
Actually, in the show, Sima is a matchmaker who makes the perfect matches. And in the Mina tribe, barbers do the same thing. It is like a responsibility to them. They find the bride and groom and then fix the marriage. Meanwhile, watching the marriage of children is the dream of every parent. But In this tribe, Mother and Father of the bride don’t present at the time of the ritual of rounds around the fire. Because people believe it is for the happy life of a couple. And if they would present at the time of this ritual, then the couple can not have a happy married life. There are also some other rituals of this tribe, but people of this tribe have adopted modernization and stopped following some customs and rituals.
International Tribal Day: 12 DIFFERENT WAYS TO GET MARRIED
Jharkhand is the only state which is created based on tribe. There are many tribes in the state of Jharkhand like Santhal, Oraon, Munda, Asur, Baiga, etc. In these tribes, cultural and traditional values play a vital role. They do their marriages with traditional customs and rituals. Like all other tribes, people of Jharkhand tribal groups prefer doing marriages in their tribe. Marriage Rituals could differ from one tribe to another. In the Santhal tribe, there is a different tradition. There are 12 different ways to get married. One of them is ‘Saday Bapla’ this is an ideal type of marriage, in which permission of both families is required. Another one is ‘Ghardi Javay’ this form of marriage happens only when the brother of the bride is minor. Groom lives in the house of the bride for five years or more. They wait for the minor to become major. Groom goes back to his home with his wife after the marriage of the brother.
Likely there is a ‘Heeram Cheetan Bapla’, this type of marriage allows the boy to do second marriage with the permission of the first wife. This happens only in a situation when the boy and first wife don’t have any child and have only the girl child. There are other 9 kinds of marriages also. In the Santhal tribe, the bride and the groom mark a cut on their little finger and mix their blood and then apply it to each other’s forehead. In the Oraon tribe of Jharkhand, there is an exceptional ritual. According to that, the boy’s family goes to a girl’s home with the proposal of marriage. Boy’s family would go to the girl’s home and says that “we are crossing the road and we like your crop or cow”. It means the boy’s family likes the girl. After this, the boy’s family completes a ritual named ‘Dali Taka’. According to this ritual, the boy’s family gives money varying from Rs. 0.75 to Rs. 1.25. If the girl’s family accepts the money, that means both families agree for the marriage. In this Tribe, everyone keeps bow and arrow with them. The bride also takes one with her after marriage.
“GHOTUL: AN EXCEPTIONAL TRADITION”
Live-in and relationships before marriage are common in western culture. But in India, this is not so common. Indian society is a little conservative regarding this. But there are some tribal communities where a boy and girl can live together and make physical relations before marriage. One of those tribes is the ‘Gond’ tribe. This tribe is prominently found in the state of Chattisgarh. The tradition in which a boy and a girl can live together is known as ‘Ghotul’. Ghotul is known by the name of ‘Chelik – Motiyaari’ in the regional language. Boys and girls meet each other and if they think that their thoughts have a good match then they continue the talk.
The place where they meet is also called ‘Ghotul’. This ‘Ghotul’ ritual is compulsory in the ‘Gond’ tribe, every person of this tribe has to participate in this at least once in a life. But there is a predefined age for ‘Ghotul’. Only youth above the age of 10 can participate in the ritual. In Ghotul if a boy has to attract a girl then he follows another ritual, in which the boy makes a comb to attract girls. It is a game that has an impact on the selection process. And if the girls find the boy attractive then they start living together in the ‘Ghotul’, where they learn different lessons related to life. And after spending some days or months together, they can get married with the permission of parents.
Adopting modernization is a new trend. Nowadays, most of the people are forgetting their root values. After the introduction of technology, people are going closer to modernization day by day. It is a new international competition to look more modern and fancier. But there are still tribal communities are trying to preserve their culture in this modern world. They are keeping ancient traditions and ways of life alive. Their preservation and their way of living life are important for the whole world. Tribal customs reflect traditions, diversity, unity, and beauty in the age of cultural modernity.