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India’s Tribal Communities- The Dungri Garasia Tribe of Gujarat

  • The Dungri Garasia are a clan of the Bhil ethnic community found in the states of  Gujarat and Rajasthan in India. They have scheduled tribe status.
  • The word Dungri literally hills and Garasia means a clearer of forest in the Rajasthani dialect.
  • According to their traditions, this community of Bhils migrated from Mewar about three hundred years ago, to escape the Muslim forces attacking the Maharana Pratap.
  • They are now found in the talukas of Meghraj, Bhiloda, Vijaynagar, and Khed Brahma taheshil, Gujarat, where the community still speaks vagdi.
  • In Gujarat, the Adivasi Dungri Garasia are an endogamous community.
  • They consist of two sub-divisions, the Bhagat and Sansari, who do not intermarry.  ∙ These sub-divisions, in turn, consist of clans, which are exogamous.
  • The major clan groupings are the Balat, Kharadi, Pandor, Parmar, Moria, Damor, Gameti,  Taral, Bhagora and Katara.
  • The Rajput Garasia are the descendants of the Rajput who married Bhil women.
  • It is said that they originally were chiefs who were driven from their wealth by invaders.  ∙ During the thirteenth century, many poor Rajput fled to the Vindhya and Aravalli hills where they mixed with the Bhil settlers.
  • In time, the Garasia defeated the Bhil chiefs and their followers, settling near the foothills and in the forests.
  • There they were given land for cultivation as a reward for protecting the people and the area.
  • The name “Garasia” refers to the Rajput and other landholders living in the Gujarat and  Rajasthan regions.

DUNGRI GARASIA TRIBE OF GUJARAT 

POPULATION: 392,000

RELIGION: Hinduism (99.54%) and some Christians

LANGUAGE: Garasia, Adiwasi

LOCATION: Gujarat and Rajasthan

What Are Their Lives Like?  

  • Among the Rajput Garasia, the average landholding is small; therefore, the man of the household is able to do all of the work himself.
  • Maize is the staple food grown by all families.
  • Many also depend on forest produce as a means of support.
  • The people are generally vegetarians and are no longer addicted to alcohol like other  Bhil tribes.

VILLAGE AND HOUSE TYPE 

  • The Rajput Garasia typically live in one-room houses made with mud and bamboo walls.
  • Those with more money build flat tiled roofs, while the poorer people still use thatch.
  • Houses are usually built on the slopes of hills with their fields extending out in front.
  • There is usually a guest house opposite the house of the headman of the village.
  • There is no central village site where the people meet together.
  • In fact, there is very little unity or cooperation between the village clans.

WOMEN AND THEIR ROLES 

  • The Rajput women are not allowed to own property and are required to wear veils over their faces when in the presence of elder male relatives.
  • Ironically, however, they are not considered inferior to men.
  • The women’s responsibilities include cooking, tending to the cattle, milking the animals,  and looking after the children.
  • The men do physical labour such as ploughing, harvesting, and building the houses.

MARRIAGE 

  • The Rajput are allowed complete freedom in choosing a spouse.
  • Young men between the ages of 18 and 24 usually marry girls that are between the ages of 14 and 18.
  • The two live together without any official marriage ceremony, although this may vary in some regions due to Hindu influence.
  • The Rajput has a “joint family system” in which the sons remain with their families until their own children become adults.
  • Intermarriage with other Bhil tribes is permitted, but cross-cousin marriages are strictly forbidden.
  • A man is allowed to have more than one wife if his first wife is either infertile or bears him no sons.

DRESS AND ORNAMENTS

  • The women love to dress with many silver ornaments.
  • They usually wear black or red blouses with large petticoats.
  • The men are noted for their red or white turbans. Both men and women wear tattoos.
  • Now they started wearing modern clothes

OCCUPATION 

  • The main occupation is Agriculture
  • But now they are moving towards cities for works
  • Women do basic household works
  • Primary earnings come from their traditional agriculture, and animal husbandry remains second.
  • Collecting jungle‟s products, woodcutting, selling vegetables are very common to bridge the gap of earning.

FESTIVALS 

  • Adivasis are festival lovers.
  • They celebrate Uttarayan, Holi, Akhatrij, Diwaso, Janmashtami, Navratri, and Diwali and various other festivals during the year.
  • Their celebration starts some 15 to 20 days before the festival. During Holi they play the drums till late night, the woman plays lezim and wears a fancy dress during the time.
  • They dance in a group with a naked sword, and arrow in their hand.
  • They believe in revenge.
  • During Holi, Adivasi used to take revenge by murdering of their enemy.
  • Like Holi, their Uttarayan is also interesting.. Before the first Friday of 14 of January, Adivasi Uttrayan is celebrated.
  • People on that day gather to mukhi‟s house and go to the farm to catch god Canali, a bird.

BELIEFS 

  • Traditionally, the Rajput worshipped their horses, their swords, and the sun.
  • Today, they still practice ethnic religions, but their beliefs have been heavily influenced by Hinduism.
  • Even though they now worship millions of Gods and respect holy cow, as do Hindus,  they still hold onto their original belief in spirits, fearing ghosts, spirits of the dead, and black magic.
  • The Rajput believes that widows bring bad luck to the villagers.
  • Although it is now illegal, some widows will sacrifice themselves in the fire for the sake of the villagers.
  • The community then commemorates her noble decision to end her life.

IMPACT OF MODERN WORLD 

  • Lack of basic facilities like electricity, water, education, etc.
  • Poor village infrastructure
  • Migration due to Building of Dams in area
  • Started wearing modern clothes
  • Building pakka house
  • Land loss due to floods and dams
  • The water level is very low
  • No facilities are given to them while displacing due to dam construction