Tribes in India refer to a subset of the population that is indigenous to a certain state or area and lives apart from the rest of society. The geographical isolation, traits, features, culture, and backwardness of India’s 20 main tribes have all been categorised. The tribes of India are referred to collectively as ‘Adivasis.’ Orissa, Rajasthan, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have the highest population of tribes in India. Madhya Pradesh has the most tribes in India, followed by Bihar. There are no tribes in Delhi, Pondicherry, Haryana, Chandigarh, or Punjab.
1. Bhils Tribe: Tribes in India
- The Bhils are a tribe found mostly in the mountain ranges of Udaipur and in some districts of Rajasthan.
- The Bhils are the largest tribes in India. They speak the Bhili language. Their celebrations are the Ghoomar dance, Than Gair-a dance drama and the Baneshwar Fair.
2. Gonds Tribe
- The Gonds are India’s second largest tribe, living in the Madhya Pradesh district of Chhindwara as well as parts of Maharashtra, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh.
- They are famed for their bravery and speak a variety of Indian languages, including Dravidian Gondi.
- In the Gondi forests, they live in mud homes with thatched roofs.
- Agriculture is their primary source of income. Their festivals are Keslapur Jathra and Madai.
3. Munda Tribe
- The Mundas used to be hunters but now work as agricultural labourers.
- They practise the Sarna faith and worship a God named Singbonga. Killi is their primary language, while Nupur dance is their major form of entertainment.
- The Munda tribes commemorate the festivals of Mage, Karam, Sarhaul, and Phagu.
- This tribe inhabits Jharkhand as well as areas of Chattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal.
- Their way of life is simple and straightforward. They communicate in Mundari.
4. Santhal Tribes
- The Santhal tribes are a significant group in West Bengal. They may also be found in Bihar, Odisha, and Assam, and they are the biggest tribe in Jharkhand.
- They rely on agriculture and animals for a living and are excellent hunters. Santhali dance and music, in addition to traditional festivals such as Karam and Sahrai, are key draws.
5. Toto Tribe
- The Toto tribe lives in Totapara village in West Bengal’s Alipurdoar district.
- They have no script and are influenced by Nepali and Bengali.
- To sustain their basic lifestyle, they exchange veggies and fruits. Even though they profess to be Hindus, they worship God Ishpa and Goddess Cheima.
6. Bodo Tribe: Tribes in India
- The Bodo tribe lives in Assam, West Bengal, and Nagaland.
- They are said to be the first indigenous Assamese settlers. The Bodo language is a Tibetan-Burmese hybrid.
- Handloom weaving is an inseparable aspect of their culture.
- In the spring, they celebrate the Baishagu festival, which is devoted to Lord Shiva.
7. Angami Tribe
- The Angami Nagas are a significant tribe found in Nagaland’s Kohima region.
- Men wear white Mhoushu and black Lohe. The women wear Mechala and ornaments of beads, mask pendants, bracelets, etc.
- The tribe is well known for the renowned Hornbill Festival, which draws visitors from all over the world.
- Their unique art, woodwork, and bamboo and cane craftsmanship are stunning. They speak many dialects such as Gnamei, Ngami, and Tsoghami.
8. Bhutia Tribe
- The Bhutias are mostly found in Sikkim, West Bengal, and Tripura.
- They are of Tibetan descent and speak Lhopo or Sikkimese.
- They are well-known for their cuisine and art. Momos, steamed pork dumplings, are their main cuisine.
- Thukpa, or noodles in soup, is another of their offerings. The festivals commemorated are Losar and Loosong.
9. Khasi Tribe
- The Nongkrem celebration, which lasts five days, features ladies dressed in Jainsem and men dressed in Jymphong.
- This tribe is mostly found in Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills, as well as areas of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal.
- The tribe performs a variety of songs and musical instruments such as drums, guitars, flutes, cymbals, and so on.
10. Garo Tribe
- Garo tribes are mainly found in the hills of Meghalaya and parts of Assam, Nagaland and West Bengal.
- The tribe is one of the few matrilineal societies in the world. Garo architecture is quite unique. Nokmong, Nokpante, Jamadaal and Jamsireng are some of them.
- The tribal women wear a variety of traditional ornaments. The men wear their traditional dress with a turban with feathers stuck in them. The festival of Wangala is their celebration.
11. Nyishi Tribe
- This tribe is found in Arunachal Pradesh’s mountains, with the bulk of them living in the districts of Kurung Kumey, Papum Pare, Upper and Lower Subansiri.
- Their native language is Nishi. The vast majority of them have become Christians.
- The remainder continue to practise a religion based on natural spirits. The Nyokum festival, held in February, is devoted to the goddess Nyokum.
12. Warli Tribe: Tribes in India
- The tribe is found in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. This tribe is highly recognized for their Warli Art, which is created with a mixture of cow dung and soil, rice paste, bamboo stick, and red ochre.
- They organize the Tarpa dance during the harvest season and the Warli Folk Art Dancing People Festival in March.
13. Chenchu Tribe
- This tribe is native to Andhra Pradesh and lives in the jungles of the Nallamala Hills.
- They may also be found in Kurnool, Nalgonda, and Guntur.
- They forage for and trade in forest items such as honey, roots, gums, fruits, and tubers. They speak a language with a Telugu accent and follow strict rituals.
14. Siddis Tribe
- According to legend, the Portuguese brought the people in as slaves. They may be found across Karnataka.
- The bulk of them are Christians, although some practise Hinduism and Islam. They like ritualistic practises, dancing, and music.
15. Soliga Tribe
- The Soligas live in deep forests in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- This indigenous group is made up of five distinct groups: Male Soliga, Kadu, Burude, Pujari, and Urali Soliga.
- The Soligas speak the Sholaga language, which is influenced by Kannada and Tamil.
- Their major source of income is the selling of Raggi, honey, wild turmeric, algae, bamboo, and other products that they have gathered.
16. Kodava Tribe
- This Mysore, Karnataka clan is located in Coorg. The tribe is a patrilineal tribe from Kodagu or Coorg, and they are well known for their courage.
- They communicate in Kodava.
- They are primarily agriculturalists. The tribe’s members, including men and women, are ardent hockey fans.
- Every year, in addition to the traditional festivals of Kailpodhu, Puttari, and Kaveri Sankraman, the Kodava Hockey festival is held.
17. Toda Tribe
- The Todas may be found in areas of Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris mountain range.
- Their livelihood is dependent on cow farming and dairy production. Their architectural expertise is evident in the oval and tent-shaped bamboo dwellings with thatched roofs.
- Pukhoor’s Toda embroidered work is highly known. Modhweth is their most significant festival.
18. Irular Tribe
- The tribe lives in the Nilgiri mountain ranges of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- They are Kerala’s second-largest tribe and are largely located in the Palakkad area.
- They are mostly farmers who rely on the cultivation of rice, dhal, Raggi, chillies, turmeric, and plantains.
- They are ritualistic, believe in their own Gods, and are recognised for their black magic abilities.
19. Kurumba Tribe
- This is a large clan located in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They were among the first settlers in the Western Ghats.
- They live a simple existence based on agriculture and honey and wax harvesting.
- They are skilled in creating traditional herbal medications. They are well-known in the area for their witchcraft and magic abilities.
20. Great Andamanese Tribe
- On the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, this tribe comprises the Jarawa, Jangil, Onge, and Sentinelese.
- They are thought to be the island’s initial occupants. They communicate in the Bo, Khora, Jeru, and Sare languages.
FAQs: Tribes in India
Q1 Who is India’s biggest tribe?
A1 The Santhal are India’s largest and oldest tribes, living in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal.
Q2 What is India’s second biggest tribe?
A2 Gond is the second biggest tribe, accounting for 35.6 per cent of the total population.
Q3 India has how many tribes?
A3 The Indian Constitution recognises tribal communities under ‘Schedule 5’ of the constitution. As a result, the tribes recognised by the Constitution are referred to as “Scheduled Tribes.”
Q4 What is India’s smallest tribe?
A4 Toto is a primitive Indo-Bhutanese tribe that lives in Totopara, a tiny enclave in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, India.
Q5 What are the Gond tribes?
A5 Gond, a tribe of around two million aboriginal peoples from central and south-central India.
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