"Aie Dongor ta amor ghar"
(This mountain is our home)
It was day light in the month of July five people in a car left from Kenojhar town went towards 'Juang Pidha' the homeland of Juang Primitive tribes of Odisha. The hilly tracks were shining with the fresh rain drops. The entire district could be visible from the road, the view was breathtakingly beautiful. The green mountain appears to be like a crown jotted with diamond and gems, green trees all over, while the natural stream quenches the thirst of the soil. I could able to connect my soul with the nature which was so refreshing and limpidness in itself. As the wheel rolled by we reached the lonely lane called 'Juang Pidha'. A cluster of 5-4 villages coming in one region traditionally termed as Pidha by the Juangs.
The lane was pucca road with few houses in distance, the car stopped next to the sacred tree calledgrama debi in the middle of a village. Voices of people could be heard from little distance, saying welcome to our Guptaganga village says the Sardar (headman) of the Pidha. It was the community hall sometime treated as sacred place during festival time of the village, where 4-5 people were sitting close to the fire burning perpetually in the middle. The room appeared to be spacious, well kept traditional musical instruments made up of deer skins. The instruments were hanged on the wild animal horns attached to the wall of the hall. The instruments were looking reasonably old and unclean; the drums were appearing as though they are ready to play their traditional music. The room was dark and the people were looking less active due to constant rain and cold. About two people came forward to talk to us they called us to sit inside the community hall. As I sat along with them they offered me a handmade wooden stool. It was like as though I was one of them dressed little differently, spoke different language migrated from a different community. The room itself was depicting many folk tales about their life. The utensils lay on the floor, the ropes for daily usage and the hunting and gathering weapons gave me the impression it had many hidden stories embedded in it.
As the time passed by, men folks who appeared to be of age between 60-70 years old communicating in Junag language which was interpreted frequently by the key informant (Bihra bhai). The old men came with traditional cigar in her mouth, fagging with smoke, narrated about their god and goddess, number of Pidha, the type of jungle, forest produces they rely upon, the stream, the mountain that was in use since childhood. I was deeply touched seeing them getting nostalgic, lost in their old memory, as though they were in their youth again and enjoying their freedom to access their own place. The memory captured the mind of the old people where they used to live like king inside the forest where no forest officer to punish them, no one to restrict them to use their own forest produces. Voices came from the group "ame agaru bhal re thilu sakrar asiki amaku alga kari dayechi" the infest of the mining crusher and restricting the Juang from their customary rights on forest are like violating their human rights. The expressions of the people as though they are living like birds caged inside the closed room with no freedom. The hall remained quite towards the end speechless and soundless, but there was silence remark on each one's wrinkled faces and gloomy eyes. It was trying to convey me a message that 'aie dongar ta amor ghar, amor janam bhumi' (this mountain is our home, this is our mother land) ...
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