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The Transit Phase From Nomadic to Settled Life

BY: Madhulika Sahoo | Category: Issues | Submitted: 2011-12-07 11:53:35
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Article Summary: "Mankedia is one of the most primitive tribal group of Odisha. This article describes the transit phase from nomadic to settled life of the Mankedias.."

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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, Baniabasa, Uthania, Chatani, Malibasa village. As per 1971 census the total population was 3, 464 in Odisha. 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. The Mankedia (Brihor) make their houses in leave and wooden twigs popularly known as 'Khumba' which is conical in shape having an oval shaped base, the Khumba usually constructed like any modern house having a bedroom, kitchen and a place for storing things. In every temporary Tanda there has to be a 'Mukhia' or headman, a 'Dehuri' 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 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 collect roots and tubers, fruits 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).

With the passage of time the nomadic tribal group came into notice of the Government, where the Odisha Government decided to provide permanent settlement to the Mankedia community in the districts of Odisha. As per 1990s population figure the total Mankedia population in Jashipur and Karanjia block was 203 surrounding Mayurbhanj district.

Mankedia colony at Kendumundi
To explore the impact of the provision of rights under various Government schemes to the villagers, it was decided to visit Kendumundi Mankedia settlement colony at Karanjia block of Mayurbhanj district. The colony is located 10-15km from the Karanjia town. The Mankedia community people were brought to the Kendumundi colony 20-25 years back. The Mankedia colony has total 31 households, along with 3 khadia household who had built their own houses in the colony. The colony is provided with 31 cemented houses, school building, aganwadi, tube well, Job and BPL card to each Mankedia family.

Social and cultural system and traditional practices
Though the Mankedia people have started living in the cemented houses provided by Government under Mon Kudia scheme but the pity condition of the houses has compel the Mankedia to construct Khumba next to each houses, many villagers confessed that the modern houses do not give enough shelter to the family during summer they prefer to sleep inside the Khumba as the leafs keep the houses cool. To many women Khumba has still remained a sacred sign of giving birth to the baby inside it. At the time of labour pain the women is taken to Khumba for the delivery, once the baby is born the umbilical cord is cut with sharp snail. The Khumba where the umbilical cord is cut is then burn, a stone with a long thread is tied in front of the new born baby house which symbolizes the outsiders are barred from visiting the house due to some rituals. The ritual last for months, it is believe that a couple having children enjoy a higher status than a childless counterpart in the Brihor society. The Mankedia believe that when a baby is born in a household one of the ancestors has taken rebirth and therefore the family fortune and well-being have come back with greater potency and vitality (Patnaik, 2005)

The Mankedia people are spiritual in nature, they believe in various god and goddess. According to them malevolent who create trouble and cause illness and death. The practice is such that at the time of catching the monkey the Mankedias do some sort of rituals inside the forest, where the monkey's come automatically to the net trap for the sacrifice as narrated by the Mankedia tribes at Kendumundi. The net trap to catch the money was woven with jute or Siali creepers by the Mankedia's. The practice of collecting Siali bark still persist somewhere amongst the mankedia community, the Siali bark is used to make 'Tupa' a small basket used for pressing oil seeds. Except the baskets and the ropes used for tying the buffaloes which cannot be prepared by women, all other types of rope are made by both men and women.

Government intervention
It appears that the Government has put every small effort to provide livelihood options to the Mankedia people that will enable the tribals from nomadic to settlement life; the concept might be appearing splendid but the evolution for such kind of nomadic people was not an easy state of affairs. Although the Government took initiative to provide livelihood training on honey brewing, jute rope making, leaf plate stitching, poultry farm, goats for gotary but putting it into practice by the nomadic people like Mankedia have never had happened till yet. The villagers seems not using the skills been provided to them, the poultry farm has remained unused, the honey brewing boxes were rolling empty on the floor at the Mankedia colony. The young women appears to be less nostalgic, however, the older people still catch monkey as their dietary habit. The young boys prefer to work on the field to earn their livelihood for which they demanded plough and bullock to be provided by the Government. One can say that the settled life amongst the Mankedia has started prevailing, the crave for land for agriculture purpose, plough for cultivation, pond for fishing, electricity for the houses was insisted by the villagers in the meeting. Although inter community conflict with the Santals is present, where the Santal in the Kendumundi and Durdura are creating disturbances but the Mankedia are strong enough to tolerate them and trying their best for peaceful life, the Government also trying to bring harmony in those villages.

FRA in Mankedia colony
FRA in Mankedia has been a tragic, many are not aware of the provision of getting rights under FRA. Because the Mankedia's are nomadic in nature they can not avail individual rights under FRA. However, the community rights claim has remained a pathetic. Apparently the Mankedia tribes were called in a meeting at SCSTRI institute, Bhubaneswar in 2008 after few hours of discussion with the Mankedia's it was revealed that they had not applied for the community rights. To this the officers at SCSTRI tried to fill the claim forms hurriedly without following the proper process as narrated by the Hemram Mankedia. Not all the villagers had given their consent for the claim, the CFR title under Gosti jungle adhikar section it says 'hemram makedia and Kendumundi grama basi' which is wrong as per the act. Hemram Mankedia is graduate and a local representative of men group in the Kendumundi colony. The amount of land given under FRA is 42.76 HA in CFR. Many villagers are not aware of the CFR title given to them.
The individual and CFR rights given to Khadia and Mankedia -

From the above table it is revealed that about 7 villages i.e. 182 individual rights covering have been given where total 200.83 Ac land has been allotted. However, 18 villages have received the CFR rights. The process follow obtaining the rights was pretty much same as the process followed in Kendumundi. In most Khadia and Mankedia villages the development agency has facilitated the process to obtain the rights where people are less oriented on FRA and its process.

The Brihor (Mankedia's) might have stepped to modern civilization but they still long for their traditional practices somewhere within their heart. The freedom of free access to the forest to collect Siali bark, catching monkey for food and leading a nomadic life has always given them immense pleasure. The life in Kendumundi colony is literally suffocating the older Mankedia's who always desire to go to the forest. Although the government has injected settled life for the Mankedia's but for the sake of livelihood many young boys and girls are becoming seasonal migrants to travel to the nearby city in search of work. The Government should provide such livelihood options which will suit their existing skills and reciprocating to their culture and traditional practices.

Due to lack of awareness on FRA many Mankedia's are unable to have access to the CFR title given to them. Initiative to educate and creating awareness on Government provisions has to be taken by the existing worker like Multi Purpose Coordinator popularly known as MPC in each Mankedia resettlement colony. Although some try their best to equip the villagers and train them but a constant effort and cooperation from the line department along with the existing civil society will bring some changes in the colonies.

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Thanks for the precious information but the references of the articles are not listed in full. Can I know about the Patnaik 2005 refrence of Mankidia article? Narayani Prasad Kar 2014-04-09 04:47:37 2046

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