An Introduction to the Gond Tribe
The Gond tribe of India is considered one of the largest tribal communities. The major source of livelihood of the people of the Gond tribe is agriculture or daily wages. This tribe lived in a widely spread forest region called Gondwana. The Gonds practiced shifting cultivation. The Gond tribe, which has a larger population, was divided into many other smaller groups of people who were related to each other (clans). They constructed their houses near a hill or river which were later fortified with dense forests.
Gonds are popular for their bravery in the battle against British rulers. The Gonds also attained control of Malwa after the downfall of the Mughals, followed by the Marathas in 1690. India is a land of such tribes and each tribe has some cultural and social specialty. We will have a closer look- the Gonds unique ideology and thought process of the Gonds tribe that makes this tribe stand apart from any other tribe in India.
The main location where the Gonds tribe is found is the Gond forests of central India. Some of the other places of inhabitation by these warrior and royal Indian tribes are the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, Chhindwara District of Madhya Pradesh, parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa. They are also found in south-central India.
Religious Beliefs of the Gond Tribe
In India, almost every tribe believes in the existence of supreme power. Similarly, even the Gonds believe in “Bhagawan” or a greater God. There are different Gods and Goddesses according to their belief system that represents natural features. The existence of spirits is one unique feature of tribal beliefs. The people of this tribe believe that every river, lake, hill, and tree, etc has a spirit.
They worship Janani (the mother of the creator). The Gonds tribe worships different Gods and goddesses such as Pharsa Pen (protector of all clan members), Mariai (the Goddess of plague and other diseases), and Bhimsen (the Hindu God). Hence the Gods can be considered as highly religious-minded people.
Though most of the Gonds follow nature worship, still there are a lot of people who has influence of Hinduism and follow this religion. Besides this, they also used to follow their own religion namley “Koyapunem”, the meaning of which is “the way of nature”. It was said to be fouded by “Pari Kupar”.
The society of the Gond tribe was divided into equal societies. Later these divided Gonds society got divided into unequal classes of the society that later eventually emerged as large states. The Gond Rajas grant lands to the Brahmanas and village priests and they become more influential people of the society. The priest of the village is given a lot of respect by the tribal people. The appointment of the village priest is done by the village council on the basis of heredity. The main duty of the priest is to do all the ceremonies and sacrifices in the village.
Caste & Houses
The society of the Gonds is divided into four groups known as sagas in Gondi. Clans (pari) have emerged from the division of the saga. The village council of the Gond tribe divides the tribe into castes such as Pardhan (board and singers), Ahir (cowherds), Agaria (blacksmith), and Dhuli (drummers), etc.
The village houses are made from mud and hutch. The houses contain a kitchen, outer space, shrine, and areas for women, etc. They also have guest rooms and welcome guests by presenting them tobacco leaves and fruits. The marriages in the tribe are chosen by themselves and later approved by the village council.
The major language spoken by the tribal people is Gondi which is an unwritten language of the Dravidian family. Moreover, the people of the Gond tribe also have a good command of different Indian languages such as Hindi, Telugu, Parsi, Marathi, and many other Dravidian languages
Their dress culture is also simple and traditional. The male population of the Gonds wears a long piece of cloth wrapped around the waist passing through the legs which are referred to as Dhoti in India. Women wear saris mainly woven from cotton with the blouse.
The main occupation of the people of the tribe is agriculture. They grow crops and raise livestock. The staple food of Gonds tribes is two millets known as Kodo or Kutki. They used to include rice in their meal during festivals and most of the population is meat consumers.
The famous folk art of these tribal people is painting. The tribal art of the Gonds consists of folk songs, folk dances, and paintings. The modern Gond paintings have come from their traditional painting Bhittichitra and Digna. The Digna is made on the walls and floors of the houses which can be called a traditional geometry. Bhittichitra includes images of animals, plants, and trees painted on the walls and floors of the houses. The women of the Gond tribe use natural colours to paint the walls and floors of their homes
Did you Know?
The famous story of The Jungle Book by author Rudyard Kiping featured the Gond tribe.
The society of the Gonds practices the culture of remarrying the widows so that the woman does not have to face the bad and hard circumstances of the society. Hence there are no widows in the Gond tribe.
India has a very rich culture and these tribal lives are part of Indian culture. Hence through the above article, we now get information about Gonds in detail and also about the cultural and social aspects of the society of the Gond tribes. This tribe is one of the oldest tribes of our country and had a brave history. We also get to know about the fascinating history of the Gond tribe.
FAQs on A Closer Look - The Gonds
1. What are the social problems faced by the people of the Gond tribe in India?
The people of the Gond tribes are facing different problems. The people of this tribe suffer discrimination and exploitation. Sometimes they are forced to live on less productive lands in remote areas where they do not get basic requirements. They also have the problem of unemployment hence they do agriculture or daily wages to live their life. Because of a rise in the number of landless labourers, and high levels of poverty they are experiencing increasing pressure on their land. The lack of education and low levels of literacy reduces their economic opportunities.
2. What are Gond tribes famous for?
The Gond tribe of India is popular for its beautiful and fascinating artworks. In the initial times, their artwork was limited to decorating their homes and was not famous to the outside world. But nowadays these art forms are exhibited in galleries worldwide; this community deserves all the attention for preserving one of the unique art styles of India, i.e., the Gond art. The beauty and charm of the paintings made by the tribal people attract the people from far and near to visit this region to get a closer insight and understanding of it.
3. What is the condition of the education system of the Gonds?
Tribal education is still facing education problems even after many efforts by the Government. The literacy percentage of the Gonds is variable in different states such as in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, it keeps fluctuating. Among women in Madhya Pradesh, it is comparatively lower than men. Where there are schools available for the tribal children, girls rarely continue past primary school and a few children attend school regularly. The government should take necessary steps to provide them basic education and the education that would help them to open economic opportunities.