Tribes of Orissa


There is a tribal saying in Orissa, "the tribe that dances never dies" they say. There are 62 different tribal communities in Orissa and they include the Santhals, Hos, Mundas, Parajas, Kondhs and Oraons and many more. The tribal communities of Orissa constitute about 23% of the state population. Since prehistoric days the land of Orissa has been inhabited by various tribes and the earliest settlers were primitive hill tribes. Although prehistoric communities cannot be identified, it is well known that Orissa had been inhabited by tribes like Saora or Sabar which find a mention in the epic of Mahabharata.

The tribal culture of Orissa is rich in their own folk songs and dances, their drawings and their tattoos and they are very proficient in fishing and hunting as well. Tribal culture of Orissa is well reflected in the state culture as well; poems, art and craft or music, impressions of the elegant tribal culture is found in all the fields in Orissa.
Most of the tribal people and much of the population in Orissa belong to the Australoid group in racial history. The tribes of Orissa can be broadly identified with their three linguistic families, the Indo-Aryan language family, the Austric language family and the Dravidian language family.
Most of the tribes live in the hilly and the forested areas of Orissa. The major occupation of these tribes is agriculture and fishing and hunting. Although the tribes have over the years and centuries have adapted to Hindu traditions they have amalgamated their own culture with the Hindu culture and that gives a vague charm to the whole ethnicity of the tribes. Their dressing style varies from tribe to tribe along with the language dialects. Songs and dances are the soul of the tribal culture of Orissa. The traditions and the ceremonies for wedding, birth and death all are marked with songs and happier occasions are accompanied by dances and feasts. A feast normally includes local liquor and whichever meat is available though pork is important along with rice.