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Profiles of some of the selected Indian tribes

Bhils

  • Constitute the largest tribal group in India.
  • Found mainly in Madhya Pradesh (Jhabua,Dhar,Kahnwa) and east Gujarat.
  • Martial race; primarily agriculturalist.
  • Badwas are witch finder,Pujaro are priests and Kotwal are drummers,Tadni is village headman.
  • Generally endogamous
  • Practice polygamy also.
Gonds
  • Second largest tribal group in India.
  • Dravidian background
  • Found mainly in Madhya Pradesh
  • Some of the tribal groups are Bastai,Marias,Murias,Prajas,Bhatras
  • Dependent mainly on agriculture, cattle rearing second main occupation.
  • Divided into exogamous sects or clans.
  • Speak Gondi dialect.
  • Lineage is traced through male lines.
Santhals
  • Third largest tribal group in India believed to be of Pre-Aryan origin.
  • Mainly in Santhal Paraganas of Bihar,West Bengal etc.
  • Speak Santhali language.
  • Naik is the village priest,Gorait is the messenger,Jogmanjhi is the headmentribal council is Parganait.
  • Singlonga or Sun God is the main deity.
Todas
  • Found mainly in Nilgiri Hills of South India.
  • Classic example of polyandry.
  • Call themselves Tora
  • Badaga,Kota,Kurumbaand Irula tribes
  • The word Toda is derived from Tundra, name of sacred tree of Topdas.
  • Divided into two moieties called Taratharal and Teivaloil.These are endogamous units.All the sacred herd and cattle are owned by Tartharal thus they occupy a higher status.
  • The clans are divided into families locally known as Kudupeli.
  • Fraternal polyandry found.
  • Divorce freely allowed.
  • Todas have classificatory type of kinship calling many relatives or friends by some designation.
  • Females have low status.
  • People are governed by council of five elders called as Naim.Three members of this council come from Tarthar clans,two from Teivali clans and one from Badagas.
  • Two of the main deities are Teikirizi and On.

Chenchu

  • Mainly found in Andhra Pradesh on the river Krishna.
  • They are mostly settled cultivators and very much influenced by neighboring plains people.
  • They speak dialect of Dravidian origin.
  • Now they have started living in semi-permanent huts.
  • They are divided into exogamous clans and have animal totems.
  • Divorce is common.
  • Chenchus have traditional leader Peddamanshi.
  • Bhaivov and Garelamaisama are popular local deities.
Khasis
  • One of the matriarchial tribes of world.
  • Have a rich economy influenced by industrialization and urbanization.
  • They are mainly in Jaintia hills of Assam.
  • Divided into four main sub-groups- Khynrian,Pnar,War and Bhoi.
  • They speak a dialect that belongs to the Mon- Khmer branch of Austric family.
  • Each of the sub-tribes is divided into a number of clans known as Kurs.
  • Marriage within the clan is prohibited.
  • Khasis are characterized by matrilineal descent.
  • The clan is further sub-divided into sub class known as kpoh (composed of descendents of one grandmother.