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Relocation is Not Our Fate, Simlipal Tiger Reserve: Part-2

BY: Madhulika Sahoo | Category: Issues | Submitted: 2011-08-29 08:59:27
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Article Summary: "This 2nd article provides information on tribals inside Simlipal Tiger Reserve; primarily the Kharia (Savara), Brihor (Mankirdia), Bathudis and Kolho tribes. The myths indicates that the Khaira and another community namely, Puran were the autochthons (natives) of Mayurbhanj. The Kharias trace their origin from a pea-fowl's egg. .."


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The Kharia (Savara):The myths indicates that the Khaira and another community namely, Puran were the autochthons (natives) of Mayurbhanj. The Kharias trace their origin from a pea-fowl's egg. They assert that the Bhanj royal family of Mayurbhanj came out from the yolk, the Purans from the white and the Kharis from the shell of the Pea-fowls egg (Patnaik, p.120, 2005). The primitive tribe Kharia has three sub-groups namely, the Pahadi Kharias or Hill Kharias, the Dheliki Kharias and the Dudh Kharia. The Hill Kharias are majorly found in Sambalpur, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj district particularly in and around the Simlipal hills of the district. The history of Kharia (Savara) settlement in Simlipal core area is not more than 100 years old i.e. before the rule of Maharaja Sriramchandra Bhanja Deo in 1882 they were staying in the buffer zone for some centuries having been defeated by Batudis. During Maharanj Bhanja period the Kharias were formally allowed to stay in the Nanjaghasara at Gudgudia and work for the king. The existing survey in the Simlipal indicates that the Kharias are mainly witnesses in Khejuri, Gudgudia, Jenabil, Baniabasa, Jamunagarh and Kabatghai village.

The economic pattern of Kharias majorly depends on forest produce where the primary occupation is food-gathering and hunting and the secondary occupation is agriculture. The Kharia consider forest as their nourishing mother which provides them food, shelter and enrichess their folklore. The minor forest product Kharias hugely depends on Geduli gums, Bahada gum, Charseeds, Sal seeds and leaves, Kendu fruits, Mahua flowers and seeds, Myrobalans, Kusum fruits, honey and bees wax, dateplam leaves, tasar cocoons, hydes and horns, lac, tamarind, tapioca, resin, broomsticks, karanj seeds and sticks. The Kharias of Simlipal forest are expertise in collecting honey and bee wax, arrowroots (Pallua). The Kharias are mostly engaged in the collection of forest produce round the year except the monsoon season when the activities slow down. They camp outside in the dense forest called Basa for several days till the collection is over. Most of the collections are individually owned except the collection of honey which is a group action. It is interesting to know that the Kharias collect and consume 60 verities of berries, more than 45 types of mushrooms, about 30 types of roots and tubers, 45 varieties of greens (Saaga) and 6 types of honey. Apart from the familiarity of forest minor produce the Kharias posses knowledge on medicinal plants such as Ashok, Sunari, Arjun, Sal etc. are collected in large quantity by them and sold to local businessmen. The Kharias before starting any activities related to hunting and food gathering is always practice ritual observances and propitiation. They have religious believe on various god and goddesses, Thakurani or Earth goddesses considered to be the supreme god (Patnaik, 2005).

The major festivals observe by the Kharias are Mahaguni puja where they offer prayer to forest deities, Jungle Puja (Kabadi) for collecting honey and resin, Raja parab, Asadi puja, Chitaou amisa, Gamha punein, Inda Purnima, Manabasa, Makara. Since these festivals are the only sources of entertainment for them, the entire Kharia communities get together and celebrate the festivals by consuming country liquor known as 'Handia' (Dash, 1998).

The social organization among the Kharias includes nuclear types of family which is the most common among them. No clan organization is found among the Kharias and the Lineage regulates marriage. The political organization among the Kharias consisted of traditional Panchayat and village headman (Pradhan) other leaders. Besides the village, there is a confederacy called Parha or Birha which is composed of a group of neighboring villages. The inter-village council is a sort of Kutumb Sabha. The headman of Birha is known as Dhira or Dandia who is the eldest, wisest and most influential Pradhan of the constituent villages. The disputes which cannot be settled at the village level are referred to the Birha confederacy for final settlement (Patnaik, p.125, 2005).

The Brihor (Mankirdia):The term Brihor was originated from Austro-Asiatic language group, Bir means 'forest' and Hor means 'Men'. The Brihor are nomadic tribal communities majorly located in northern parts of Orissa. They are hunting and food gathering group which has reciprocal economic relations with their neighboring peasants. The Brihor are addressed in various names such as in places like Kalahandi and Sundergarh are called as Mankidi, where as in Mayrubhanj and Sambalpur they are called as Mankirdia. There are two types of Birhors, 'the Uthal' who are nomadic and the other type of Birhor is 'the Jagi' who are settled Birhors. The Birhors are called as Mankedi or Mankirdia because they are known to be as skilled monkey catchers (Patnaik, 2005). The Birhors (Mankirdia) in Simlipal are mainly seen in Sirrampur, Thakurmunda, Thungudihi, Podadiha, Kendumundi, Durdura village. One of the remarkable features of the Birhors is the shifting in groups from one place to another and staying in camp known as 'Tanda' the camps are usually done close by the market and peasant village. In every temporary Tanda there has to be a 'Mukhia' or headman, a 'Dehiri' or priest and Shaman has to be nominated through rituals, the selected leaders are there to take decision during ritual hunting, change of Tanda and selecting new site, selecting village sacred and secular functionaries. However the leadership changes along with the change of the Tanda (Dash, 1998). The Birhors are mostly nuclear families, multi clan in nature having inter-clan marriages.

The Brihors are known for making ropes out of the bark of Siali creepers (Lama Bayers) which are used for different purposes and also get income out of it. They are also aware of weeding, transplanting and harvesting of paddy which helps them to substitute their income. They also collect roots and tubers, fruits (kendu, jackfruit, mango etc.) and flowers from the forest for consumption purposes. The Birhors are technically sound in extracting oil from Kususm and Mahua seeds by using wooden oil press. They use nets made of Siali creepers for catching monkeys. They eat the flesh of the monkey and sell the skin.

The major celebration observed by the Birhors are Karma Naukhia (first eating of maize), Dasai parab and Dak Bonga, Sohrai, Makara, Magh Parab, Sendra Bonga (for hunting). In Pana Sankranti during mid April the Birhor set camps for ritual hunting known as 'Akhanda Sirkar' the mass hunting is known to be as sign of manhood i.e. if an adult boy doesn't kill a wild animal he is not accepted as reaching manhood (Wright and Mohanty, 2010).

The Bathudis: Bathudi is derived from the term 'Barthali' meaning 'Bar' means twelve and 'Thali' means land or place. The Bathudi's majorly inhabits in the areas bordering Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts of Orissa and known to be early settler in Simlipal. Oriya is the main language spoken while some speak Ho Language as their mother tongue. History depicts that the Bathudi came in search of Lord Ramachandra during the reign of Bharat from their ancestral home in Oudh (Ayodhya) instead of going back to their place of origin they got settled in Chotnagpur plateau. Latter on hearing about availability of land in Jamuna-Baradanda they migrated to Simlipal (Singh, 1994) The account given in 1931 census report of Mayurbhanj revealed that the Bathudis (1100 to 1400 A.D) under the leadership of Nanda Das defeated the Kharia chief and capture the Jashipur fort. With growing defeats of Gond King the Bathudi started ruling over Adipur, Jamuna Bardan, Karanjia and Jashipur blocks of Mayurbhanj district. Thus become most acculturate and dominant community in Jashipur, Gudgudia and Podhadia (Dash, 1998).

Bathudis are mostly endogamous clan, inter marriages are widely practices among them from Bhuiya and Sounti communities. According to their tradition, Tattooing, known as 'Khada', is popular among Bathudi women. So before marriage a girl has to tattoos one or two floral designs on her forehead or arm. Many follow Hinduism and worship all Hindu gods and goddess. The Batudhi houses are made up of mud with thatched roofs. The walls are seen decorated with multi colored floral designs .
The Bathudis who own land does agriculture for living. At times they go to other field for labour work. Rice is there staple food they also take Handia (country liquor), Kalie and Kurkuti (termite and ants).

The Kolho: The tribe Kolho is addressed as 'Kol' in Bihar and 'Kolho' in Orissa. However in Myurbhanj they are called as Ho or Kolho. Research says that the Kol, Kol-Lohara, Munda and Mundari belong to same ancestral stock and originally inhabited in the Kolhan region of Singbhum District in Bihar latter they migrated to Mayurbjanj district of Odisha (Russell and Hiralal, 1975). It was also found that during Ramchandra Bhanja Deo (1882-91) in order to protect the Simlipal forest some Kol people were brought from Ranchi and Singhbhum to work as laborer. After the work was over some of the laborers went back to their native place and some settled in Simlipal (Dash, 1998). The Kolho villages are mostly mixed population following a linear pattern of settlement with two rows of houses facing each other along a common road or footpath they are mostly seen in Khejuri, Kumaribil. Saharapat, Barigaan, Badkasira villages. The Kolho's are mostly exogamous and prefer to marry outside their clan. Cross-cousin, liverate, sororate types of marriages are widely seen among the Kolho's. The political organization of Kolho is constituted of traditional panchayat having village pradhan supported by village elders.

The economic pattern of Kolho's revealed that they used to subsist on hunting and collecting, but with gradual contact with other caste people led them to practice cultivation like paddy, vegetables, black gram, red gram, mustard, gundlu, tisi, ruma, jada etc. The major festivals observed by Kolhos are Megha pudi, Ba-Parab, Hera Parab, and Jamna Parab, besides they also celebrate Makar parab, Asadhi Parab, Gamah Parab etc. (Tribes of Orissa).

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