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India’s Tribal Communities- The Mankidia Tribe of Odisha

The Mankidia (also known as Mankidi, Mankirdia) are a nomadic tribal group found mainly in many districts of Odisha, India – particularly Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Sundergarh.

• They are classified as a Scheduled Tribe by the Indian government.

• The Mankidia are an ethnic offshoot of the Birhor Tribe.

• They specialize in catching monkeys (called Mankada in Odia), hence their name was derived from the name that neighbouring tribes called them.

• People believe that their origin is from Chota Nagpur Plateau.

• They might have migrated to different parts of Odisha and finally settled in the hilly areas.

• Lives in Simlipal Tiger Reserve

• Mankidia is one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) and is a marginalised group that critically depends on making rope with small fibre that’s richly available in Similipal.

• Mankidia tribe in Odisha as denied habitat rights inside the core area of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha under historic Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

• State Forest Department had objected their habitat rights on grounds that tribals could be attacked by wild animals, especially tigers.

POPULATION: 2,222

LANGUAGE: Austro-Asiatic / Munda

RELIGION: Autonomous Tribal Religion

LOCATION: Found mainly in many districts of Odisha, India – particularly Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Sundergarh

CULTURE: 

• The Mankidia are a semi-nomadic hunter/gatherer community.

• Traditionally skilled in rope making, catching, and hunting of monkeys, they are often employed by local people to drive away invasive monkeys in rural areas.

• They move around forests in small bands and stay at different temporary makeshift settlements called tanda/tandia.

• The tandia comprises a temporary dome-shaped leaf hut known as Kumbhas.

• They speak a form of Mundari language, and some can also speak Odia.

• Each Tandia is headed by a religious head man called Dehury.

• The Dehury has an assistant called Naya.

• They wander inside the forest in small bands and stay at different tandas- the temporary makeshifts settlements comprising of temporary dom shaped leaf hut known as Kumbhas.

• They speak a form of Murda language and some of them are also conversant in Odia.

• The nomadic hunter-gatherer exemplifies the past life of men in the forest in archaic conditions.

• The scenic Chhotnagpur plateau is believed to be their state of origin.

• From there they might have migrated to different parts of Odisha and ultimately chosen temporary habitations around the hill tracts.

FAMILY AND CLAN 

• They are mostly transhumance and very oiled move from one place to another depending upon the season convenient to them.

• As a result thereof they are seen changing their settlements, tanda repeatedly.

• Normally, they shift to the places where there is the easy availability of water and rho market is also not far off.

• They build cone-shaped leaf huts, known as kuothe, in their dialect and dwell therein in spite of several difficulties like rain, sunshine. etc.

OCCUPATION 

• Besides hunting they also engage in making baskets and ropes out of Siali fibre, Sabai grass and Jute, as well as making disposable plates made out of leaves called Khali

• They are one of the most primitive and little known forest-dwelling and wandering communities of the state as well as the country.

LIFE CYCLE AND RELATED CUSTOMS 

• They follow simple manage rituals among their clan.

• They practice monogamy and very often marriage is arranged by the practice of proper negotiation when the boys and the girls attain adulthood.

• Like most of the clans, payment of bride price is prevalent and it is decided after negotiation by the elders on both sides.

• The final decision in this regard is strictly adhered to.

• The members of the tribe believe in rebirth.

• They luny the dead and very often perform rituals of the clan, which are life cycle rituals operating as a prevalent custom.

• Dress and Ornaments. Men use loin cloth and women wear sari, bangles, and earrings.

BELIEFS AND WORSHIP 

• The Mankidia people’s religious beliefs are polytheistic.

• They believe in many malevolent and benevolent spirits and gods.

• Their supreme deities are Logobir and Budhimai.

• They also worship their ancestors for good health and success in hunting and harvesting forest produce.

FOOD 

• They trap and eat monkeys and therefore they are called Mankidih

• They also use rice, pulses, forest products and non-vegetarian food.

TRADITIONAL OCCUPATION 

• Very often they pursue hunting and gathering economy, make ropes and several kinds of rope made crafts out of Siali fibres and Jute.

• They work as labourers to supplement their income.

• Even women come out to cam as a labourer or to sell their goods in the market nearby

OCCUPATIONAL DISTRIBUTION 

• Their assets are very few as is evident of their economic status, they maintain a few silver bead ornament, earthen and aluminium utensils, axe, bow, arrow, date palm, mats, bamboo, baskets, monkey catching nets and other articles which they sell in the market nearby.

IMPORTANT FESTIVALS

• They observe the festivals of Santo, Fagna, Sohnn and Dussehra.

STATUS IN TRADITIONAL CASTE HIERARCHY 

• They do not accept food etc. out of the clan. Structure of Social Control

• They have a Council, known as Jan Panch, headed by a Malik, where the socio-economic disputes are sealed.

• The decision of the Council is binding on the members of the clan.

SOCIAL CHANGE AND MOBILITY 

• In the field of education, they have made a moderate amount of progress.

• They take advantage of governmental help through various schemes.

IMPACT OF MODERN WORLD 

• Lack of basic facilities such as Education, Health, Water, Electricity, etc.

• Poor irrigation facilities

• Migration for work in cities

• Poor literacy rate

• Lack of political representation

• Started wearing modern clothes and speaking different languages

• Don’t get the benefit of the forest even after forest act.

• Have no land for agriculture

• Improper implementation of govt. schemes

• Continuous decrease in population.