The Lesser Known Indian Tribes

Chenchu_tribal_hunting

India is a country full of fascinating cultural diversity, it has more to offer than one can experience in one lifetime. There are numerous tribes following and preserving their distinct culture and traditions, that has been practiced by their ancestors since time immemorial. Below is the list of seven lesser known tribes of India and a few lines about them.

  1. Bnei Menashe

They claim to be the descendants of the lost Israeli tribes who came to Manipur after being exiled from their motherland when it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 772 BC. In the 19th century they were converted to Christianity, but in the late 20th century, their claims of being descendants of the Israel’s exiled tribes were finally confirmed by a rabbi from Israel. They then converted back to their original religion.

  1. Sentinelese

This is one of the most elusive tribe in the world. They have no desire of mixing with the rest of the world, and become extremely hostile when an outsider tries to break into their sanctity of elusiveness. Several attempts to establish contacts with them have been made, which were responded by arrows and javelin causing injuries and deaths. Today, the indigenous tribe of Andaman, enjoys complete autonomy with the occasional patrols from the Indian government.

  1. Chenchus

This tribe lives in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Odisha. They are still dependent on forests and do not cultivate land but hunt for a living. Non-tribe people living among them rent land from the them and pay them a portion of the harvest. These allow a man or a woman to marry without any parental pressure. Widow remarriage is also not a very big deal for them.

  1. Bishnoi

This tribe of Rajasthan were the original environmental conversationalists of India. In the year 1730, 363 Bishnoi men and women sacrificed their lives to save trees from being cut down by the king of Jodhpur. The Bishnoi community have dug up wells, cultivated vegetation and made the land liveable with their bare hands, where they lead a peaceful and simple life.

  1. Siddi

This tribe is scattered all over India and Pakistan and owes its origin to Southeast Africa. They came to India around 700 A.D as slaves of Arab and Portuguese merchants. Goma, a dance and music form of the African Bantu tribe is still practised by the Siddi tribe in parts of Gujarat where it’s called Dhamaal.

  1. Muria

The Muria tribe is from Chhattisgarh. Traditionally they are economically homogenous and strive to work as a collective. They have mixed-sex dormitories where adolescents are sent to practice premarital sex, sometimes with a single partner and sometimes serially. They have an omnivorous diet, with liquor playing a key role in their society.

  1. Drokpa

They live in Ladakh and are believed to be the descendants of the soldiers of Alexander who came down to India in 327 BC. Drokpas do not marry out of their community to preserve their ethnicity. Dressed magnificently in luscious fur coats and flower pots that sets them apart from the rest of the tribes in the region. They are open about pre-marital sex, polygamy, polyandry and public display of affection are also known to consider wife swapping as a part of their culture and tradition.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga

Today being international yoga day, I felt it only necessary to write a couple of lines about yoga and its benefits.

What is yoga?

Yoga is a way of living that aims towards ‘a healthy mind residing in a healthy body’. Contrary to the belief, it is not a religion. Which means that even if you hate Hinduism you can still safely practice yoga. Although just like everything that has originated in this country and been there since millenniums, yoga has its roots in the Hindu culture.

What is the use of yoga?

The benefits of yoga mostly depend on the lifestyle one follows and the kind of asanas one practices. But even after regularly practicing yoga for just a few weeks, here are some of the benefits one may experience:

  1. Improved flexibility
  2. Muscle strength
  3. Better posture
  4. Better blood circulation
  5. Lower stress levels
  6. Relaxed body and mind
  7. Better focus

What are the advantages of yoga?

The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia. The various poses and deep breaths help the heart do its job, increasing blood flow throughout the body, and improving the entire circulatory system. Yoga is also known to relieve stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation. It also sharpens attention and concentration.

Can yoga get you in shape?

While yoga is not an intense workout as running or aerobics would be, but you can still get in shape if you stick to a regular workout schedule.

What is the ultimate purpose of yoga?

The goal of yoga is to help the individual transcend the self and attain enlightenment.

यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते |

नि:स्पृह: सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा ||

Which means, when a perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires and becomes absorbed in the self alone, a person is said to have achieved yoga.

But this is easier said than done and takes years of devotion, practice, dietary restrictions and control over senses to reach such a state. As for the ordinary person, it improves circulation, posture, flexibility, muscle strength, helps relax the body and the mind, brings down stress levels and helps sleep better.

In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested United Nations to celebrate June 21 as the International Yoga Day as it is the summer solstice; the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in wellbeing. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” — Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly, September 2014.

If you still haven’t welcomed yoga into your life, it’s never too late.

Circumcision is a Human Rights Violation

Mutiliation

Even in this century many parents believe that getting their child circumcised is not only their religious duty but also a social responsibility. Should this not be the decision of the person who owns the organ? Does performing such a procedure on non-consenting adults (mostly infants) makes this an in-humane act?

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is surgical removal of skin from the very tip of the penis.

Benefits of getting circumcised?

One of the epic benefit that people acclaim about circumcision is that they have a less chance of catching an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). The important thing to remember is that this procedure has questionable safety against protecting an individual from STDs. Also, many people would agree that there are many better things to do in life than being a whore-monger, and having unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Dangers of getting circumcised?

Below are the few complications that may arise:

  1. Bleeding, people suffering from haemophilia may even die.
  2. Infection or improper healing.
  3. Blockage of the urethra, the opening where urine leaves the body.
  4. Removal of too much or too little foreskin.

Religion and circumcision

The reason circumcision is performed is because it symbolises faith in God. Although Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs do not get their children circumcised but they are as religious and God fearing as people practicing other faiths, who get their infants circumcised.

While circumcision is primarily done for religious reasons, but this necessary does not make a person a good human being. If that was the case radical Sunni Islamic believers wouldn’t be killing Shias and waging a global war against all non-believers of Islam, or those who do not agree with their Wahhabi and Salafi ideology.

Message

We live in the 21st century where even an animal has rights and culling an animal on the road is not only considered uncouth but is also a punishable offence. While a blanket ban on circumcision would be unnecessary, but circumcising non-consenting adults and infants is also not civilized. Since we neither live in a theocratic society or in the dark ages, religious rituals should not eclipse the fundamental right to bodily integrity.