Home to myriad tribes that trace their ancestry to mythological times, songs, dances and plays of the State of Chhattisgarh are unique and indeed a treat for the senses. The beat of the drums and lilting flutes beckon you to a world of unexplored charm.
Bakarwal, one of the largest nomadic Muslim tribes of India inhabits the militancy ridden vales of beautiful Kashmir and traces their ancestry to Georgia and other Central Asian Countries. The tribe in the last few decades is rapidly losing its identity and is struggling for survival in the midst of the crisis that has shrouded the Valley since the early 1990s.
Nestled amidst the mountain ranges of Mekal, Sihava and Ramgiri and watered by numerous rivers - Mahanadi, Shivnath, Indravati, Hasdo and Kharun – Chhattisgarh owns an ancient cultural heritage that begins from the Stone Age.
The Sondwa Block of Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh saw unprecedented commercial exploitation of its forests which upset the fragile hilly ecosystem. The Bhil livelihood was the most affected with dwindling forest resources on one end and the Indian Forest Act on the other which deemed them criminals in their own backyard. In 1983, the Bhil of Alirajpur began organising themselves to protect the forests - their lifeline.
Among the various transhumant tribes that inhabit the Himalaya, the Gaddi herders share a causal relationship with the deodar and chir forests. Guarded by ferocious dogs the sheep and goat owned or loaned by the herder, forage through ancestral tracks to reach the alpine meadows every summer. With the enactment of the Forest Rights Act in 2008, the lives of the Gaddi are slowly but surely changing for the better as historic injustice is being undone.
In India, snakes are sacred, held in reverence second only to perhaps the cows. The tribal people of Bastar, Chhattisgarh, have in fact adapted their lives around the reptiles and believe that snakes offer cures with great efficacy. Although modern medicine is known to use snake venom, but the traditional medicine systems of this region throw up challenges that are yet to be explored.
Linguistic and biological diversity are inseparable and the strongest ecosystems are those which are most diverse as diversity contains the potential for adaptation. Uniformity can endanger a species since it is always accompanied by inflexibility and non adaptability.
Tharu women, inhabiting the Valley of Don in the Valmiki Tiger Reserve, present a unique blend of tradition and progress worth emulating