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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.