Tribes and Adivasi – Characteristics, Cultures, Societies

Tribes,  Adivasi, Characteristics, Cultures, Societies

The word ‘tribe’ takes its origination from the old French tribe, referring Roman Ancient States (Ramnes, Tities, Luceres).


Historically Tribes have existed as social groups comprising of distinct people dependent on their regional land for their livelihood and their self-sufficiency makes them partially independent of being integrated into the national society.

Read: Tribal Communities in India

In India, the tribal people have known here as Adivasi a modern Sanskrit word that carries the specific meaning of being the original inhabitants of a given region.

Indigenous and tribal peoples are often known by national terms such as native peoples, aboriginal peoples, first nations, adivasi, janajati, hunter-gatherers, or hill tribes. Given the diversity of peoples it aims at protecting, the Convention uses the inclusive terminology of “indigenous and tribal peoples” and ascribes the same set of rights to both groups. In Latin America, for example, the term “tribal” has been applied to certain afro-descendent communities.

Geographically, the Tribes in India establish their presence throughout the country right from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand in the West to Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland in the northeast; some
percent in Odisha, Karnataka, TamilNadu, and Kerala in southern India, in Western India it’s in Gujarat and Rajasthan and in the union territories of Lakshadweep and on the Andaman Islands and Nicobar islands.

Despite such a diverse regional distribution, almost all Indian Tribes share similar characteristic features which include:
Well-demarcated geographical territory people live within a definite topography and this forms the basic foundation for their existence. Because in the absence of a common abode, the tribals might lose contact with one another which would cause a difference in the way of living.

The practice of endogamy happens within the tribe and can serve as a form of Self-segregation, and the community uses it to resist integrating and completely merging with surrounding populations.

Amalgamation Because Tribes are usually cut out from the rest of the state, there are unity and consensus on thoughts and opinions of people which is why a tribe or clan is headed by a chief.

• Common dialect They usually speak their own tribal language which the non-tribal people
might have never heard or known. Like the Chakma language which is an Indo-European language is spoken by the Manipuri, Assamese, and Bengali; and Mizo people of Mizoram speaking the Mizo language

Common culture produces a life of homogeneity among the tribals which includes
common language, food habits and dressing style like all Khasi (Meghalese tribe) males wear Jymphong or sarong and females wear Jainsem or Dhara along with crowns of silver or gold.

Kinship-It forms the basis of tribal social organization. Most Tribes are divided into exogamous clans and lineages. It includes people related by both descents of them like social relations happens with the development and also by marriage.

Animism( a rudimentary type of religion)-It is the worldview that non-human entities possess a spiritual essence and is used in the anthropology of religion and a term for the belief system of some indigenous people. Like Sarnaism, an animistic religion followed by the Tribes of Jharkhand.

Egalitarian societies Tribals are not a part of the caste system however many scholars
argue upon this tribal belief saying that it’s a larger political agenda.
• Power of authority The Tribes are headed usually by the tribal chief that is the single political authority to prevent people from intrusion and infiltration. The chief is then aided by a tribal committee.

Economic structure and occupation Most tribals are concentrated heavily in forest areas within nature and this determines their economic activity. which consists of hunting and

Hence even in this modern Days, the lifestyle of tribal society is primitive and it totally depends on characteristic ways of non-monetary transacted life. It’s astonishing and fascinating to know what a synthesized country India is, highly encapsulating macrocosm and microcosm.

Also, Check need for Protection of Tribals


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