THE TRIBAL LIFE OF GUJARAT
A BRIEF PROFILE
Significantly enough, Gujarat bears a tribal name after the Gujars, who were supposed to be sub-group of the Huns. Gujarat continued to attract strangers both as conquerors and refugees such as Yadavs, Yavana, Greeks, Bactrious, Parsis, Arabs and finally the Europeans. Each one of these racial group has greatly influenced the ethnic composition of Gujarat. Its geographical and ecological factors have encouraged both immigration and emigration.
Early man in Gujarat probably roamed about at will along the river valleys. It is assumed that microlithic man lived in Gujarat. The existence of Harappa’s and' Indus valley civilization in this region confirm to the same.
However, with the advent of Aryan tribes with their superior striking power, the existing tribes were pressed back into the fastness of mountains and the forests. The tribes that we find today have probably descended from them.
The composition and distribution of tribal population in Gujarat today is interesting. Out of total population of 1, 61, 49,036 covering the eighteen.” districts of Gujarat, the tribal’s account for 20, 64,522 i.e. 12.78% of the total. The tribal population is concentrated in the. South-eastern region of Gujarat.
The important tribes may be noted viz. Bhil, Charan, Dhanka, Dhodia, Dubla, Bharwad, Gamit, Kali, Kolcha, Parashi, Rabari, Siddi, Vasava, Vagari and Wari, etc.
Tribal. Life in Gujarat reveals two distinct pattern of life. Firstly, purely primitive age, who live in the mountain region and secondly, a cultured communities, those who live in plain region. It is in the fastness of the hills and forest that we still meet with the early strata of tribal population.
The Dangs district is a short drive from Bulsar as well as Surat. The Dangs is a forested area where the Adivasi tribal community lives: As one travels from Waghai to Saputara, a distance of thirty two miles on the western and southern perimeter of Dang district of Gujarat State, rising from about four hundred feet to three thousand feet high, with the river Ambica playing hide and seek alongside, one become aware of awesome bounty of nature everywhere. And when one takes a panoramic view from sun set point at Saputara one becomes increasingly aware of epic expanse and majesty of nature with all its kaleidoscopic spender and ghastlinents vast stretches of green carpets unroll before one's eyes. , Here in the Dangs man and nature stand face to face with each other. They did so for hundreds and thousands of years and will continue to do so for long time to come.
Primitive man in Dangs has known nature in all her moods. She has infect provided him with the ethos of mental, spiritual and physical faculties, vision and powers. It is this ethos that one should constantly remember in one's approach to tribal art, life and philosophy.
To understand tribal people of this region, we have to understand the various facts of their life and the pattern of their culture. It is tribal ethos which is dominating factor. And it is these ethos which conditions all their activities.
The ecology of tribal belt affected the lives and habits of the people. The presence of acute and constant struggle for existence did not give them any opportunity for intellectual pursuits. Though this has not meant anything new to them through the ages, yet they have built a tradition, a culture of their own of which they are quite unaware.
The tribal in his response to his surroundings has evolved a pattern of relationship with his environment and of the utilization of natural resources, getting a bare subsistence and securing a material culture, which he call his own. As food quest takes most of this time, his entire social life revolves round it. Yet he has something which we have lost, and that is spirit of song and dance and the capacity for enjoyment.' Though his life is centered on rites and rituals, beliefs and superstition, and ancestor workshop, still his tribal society displays certain values which he cherishes.
Tribal art is not aesthetic but mainly utilitarian. Apart from satisfying a deep rooted want, art has helped to integrate the people and enrich their life. It has filled in certain gaps in their life of a mental and spiritual nature. It is a medium through which the vitality, zest and exuberance of their life have been expressed. In other words, the tribal art is intimately related to their life.
The artistic activities may be divided into (1) plastic and graphic art. (2) Music and dance (3) oral literature. Perhaps the oldest form ofart in which primitive man first expressed himself is dramatic art. Mimic art still exist in the optic or acoustic form. Fortunately this art along with the time honored tribaldances still survives in Gujarat.
Occasions like marriages and festivals like Holi provide them with opportunities for the development and expression of dramatic talent among tribal people of Gujarat. During the Holi festival, their dramatic groups visit nearby town and give performances. Similarly, dancing as a form of art is still alive in Gujarat tribals. Both men and women dress better for it, they have devised their own native musical instruments, some of which are marked by their inventivements and originality. During Holi festival Dongi tribals have their annual festival of Dance and song, which is known as DANG DARBAR.
Adornment of the body is another aspect in which the artistic impulse of the tribal people has found expression. It is in a way the exclusive art of the woman.
Another important aspect in which their artistic talent can be seen is their works in clay, wood and stone.
They are naturalistic in their conception and execution. The cult objects in clay and the funerary pillars in stone are positive examples of their artistic impulse and expression of their way of life.
It is a rare experience to visit Dangi tribal of Gujarat. The other tribals, which were settled in plains of this province, have almost lost their identity due to regular and constant interaction with urban and civilized society. And have more or less adopted life style and ethos of this civilized society. However, there are still some pockets in Vadodara, Panchamahal, Bhuj and Sabarkanta districts of Gujarat where you can experience tribal life its best. Tribal communities in these pockets are Rathawas, Bhil, Gracia, Paddar, Tunda, Bharwad, Miyana, Kali, Luhanas, Rabari, Dubla, Dhanka, Kotwalia, etc.
There are 29 cultured tribal communities in Gujarat. It is difficult to describe all of them. However we are mentioning a brief profile of these main tribes:
Most of them are found in Chotta Udaipur taluka of Baroda district and Panchamahal district. The history of Rathawa tribals says they are migrated from central India.
They are .mainly found in Baroda, Bharuch and Surat districts. They work as agriculturist and agriculture labor also. Worship Hindu God and Goddess.
The second largest tribal community of Gujarat is Dublas. They are found in plains of Surat and Valsad district. They are dark in complexion and short in stature. Basically agricultural labor.
They are found in Surat district. They have their own dialect mainly agriculturist and having of Hindu religion.
They are minor tribal group, scattered over Surat, Dang, Bharuch and Sabarkantha district. They are essentially forest tribe and livelihood is dependent on the labor work.
They are mainly inhabited the Dharampur, Beads, Chikli talukas in Valsad district. They work as farm labor and live with other tribal group. KOTWALLAS
They are scattered in the district of Surat and Bharuch, their main livelihood is basket making and bamboo work.
They are mainly found in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat, they are farm laborer. They are different from other tribe; their origin is from Rajasthan or Rajputs. They have whitish face, sharp nose and glittering eyes.
As mentioned, it would not be possible to cover all 29 tribes in a brief note. Hence, if there are any specified tribal whom you want to know, we would send you the note on that tribe.
YOU ARE INVITED TO HAVE A LIFETTME ERPERIENCE IN RARE WORLD OF THESE TRIBES.