Govt urged to protect tribal culture

Govt urged to protect tribal culture

East Godavari agency is home to ancient traditions of tribals. Culture and social conventions of tribals are the jewels of those residing in forest area in the district.

Tribal traditions confined to remote habitats in East Godavari district

Rajahmundry: East Godavari agency is home to ancient traditions of tribals. Culture and social conventions of tribals are the jewels of those residing in forest area in the district. Though the western culture is touching the Eastern Ghats, these children of the forest are struggling to protect their identity and traditions.

The agency area in the district is home to dense forest, hillocks, rapid streams and wild life. Rare tribal groups are following their age-old traditions and living styles and attracting the attention of scientists.

These tribals live in habitats as groups and give utmost priority to forest Goddesses in their daily life. They resort to Goddesses at the times of happiness, sad moments and even during natural calamities.

They dance, sing and play drums at the abodes of their favorite Goddesses at the time of marriages and festivals. By the end of the third week of January, harvest season of Podu cultivation begins and the tribals filter the jungle to procure various forest products. There will be no boundaries for the joy of the tribals in the month of January, which caters to their needs for whole year. At this point of time, these Adivasis offer prayers to the forest Goddesses. They strongly believe that the Goddesses have been protecting them since several centuries.

They offer prayers to Goddesses Bapanamma and Saralamma before collecting millets, grams and paddy along with forest products Addakaya, Maredu Kaya, unripe tamarind and beans which are ready for harvest.

They strictly maintain the convention of not tasting any forest product or crop which is ready for harvest before offering it to their deities. Similar to the people in plain area who celebrate Sankranti for three days in grand manner, the tribals of East Godavari Agency offer prayers to forest Goddesses for three days.

During the time of harvest and procurement of forest products, these people offer prayers to their Goddesses in Jataras. The adivasis observe fasting from dawn to dust before offering cereals and forest products to their Goddesses. Persons who observe fast disappear into forests away from their habitats as groups. They call off their fast by tasting dishes cooked on bamboo sticks in the forest. The tribals who gather at the village, eagerly wait for the arrival of their warriors from hills. When the moon disappears to the back of the hill in the village, the youth who observe fast perform dances and play drums at their habitat.

When these people enter the habitats, even their relatives fail to identify them as they paste sandal on their faces. The villagers start festivities by offering prayers to their Goddesses and welcome the youth into the habitat. The Jatara continues for whole night and the tribal women perform Rela dances.

It is a beautiful scene watching unmarried boys and girls dancing to the tunes of their traditional songs.

Everybody including women, men and kids consume Jeelugu Kallu (Toddy) which is available in this season and enjoy the moment.

Many drastic changes took place in tribal habitats in East Godavari Agency in the last two decades due to the modern technology and communication system. Western culture came to the doorsteps of the tribal habitations due to the dish TVs and power supply.

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