Category Archives: Worship and rituals

“[P]eople believing in ‘Jal, Jangal and Zameen’ and having faith in nature worship are followers of this religion. They worship trees and hills and go all out to protect forests.” – Rabindra Nath Sinha in “Tribal Outfits Gearing up to Restart Stir on Sarna Religious Code Issue” (Newsclick.in, 15 September 2022)
https://www.newsclick.in/tribal-outfits-gearing-restart-sarna-religious-code-issue
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=22095

“There is no idol worship” – Poovadevi explaining her tradition in “Toda community forays into reviving traditional art” (Deccan Herald, 15 July 2011)
https://www.deccanherald.com/content/176591/toda-community-forays-reviving-traditional.html
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=4855

“Bomman thatha told me that our gods live in stones, big rocks and trees. We won’t cut aal maram (Ficus religiosa) because gods will be in that tree. Even the water in the area around the tree should be used neatly and not destroyed. In our community our god Ajji (grandmother) lives in Ellamalai mountain. She is also called Thrithri Eributham. […] Before fishing or taking tubers, we will pray to god and only then we will take it.” – Wildlife conservationist Ramesh in “Bomman thatha and his forest”, a conversation with his grandfather on “bonding between adivasi people and the forest” (At the Edge of Existence, 29 October 2014)
https://cultureandconservation.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/bomman-thatha-and-his-forest/
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=8262

“[T]he approach to understand ‘tribe/tribal’ within the social structure of Hinduism is doomed to fail because the religion is itself a conglomeration of various schools of thought, often contradictory to each other.” – Pradyumna Bag in “Denial of Differences: Examining the Marginalisation of Tribal Cultures and Languages” (“Tribes In Transition” conference 2017)
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=23073

“The philosopher-poet [Rabindranath Tagore] wanted a multi-cultural country rooted in egalitarianism, secularism and the right to dissent.” – Meghalaya-based women’s and democratic rights activist Angela Rangad in “Beyond Har Ghar Tiranga: Why Indians must plant Tagore’s vision of nationalism in every home” (Scroll.in, 9 August 2022) 
https://scroll.in/article/1029979/beyond-har-ghar-tiranga-why-indians-must-plant-tagores-vision-of-nationalism-in-every-home
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=35584

“History is an attempt to understand and explain what happened in the past, so as to understand the present better. So, you go for evidence, and it has to be reliable. You can’t say ‘such and such a God came and then this happened’ or ‘such and such a Rishi had supernatural powers and this happened’.” – Romila Thapar (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University) interviewed by Karan Thapar in “I Don’t Like Modi’s India, It Is Too Narrow and Limited” (The Wire, 12 August 2022)
https://thewire.in/history/full-text-karan-romila-thapar-modi-independence
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=20996

“Perhaps the most fundamental change [in Arunachal Pradesh] is that animistic beliefs and rituals are undergoing formalisation into a ‘religion’, with new visual images, permanent places of worship and a formal theology. This systematisation of the worship of Donyi-Polo places it alongside the other religions in the area: Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. Ritual practitioners have also formed a state-wide association of shamans. All these changes are fast-paced but largely undocumented.” – Research Description “Tribal Transitions at SOAS”
https://www.soas.ac.uk/tribaltransitions/description/
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=9346

“We do not have any concept of idol worship; our practices follow natural laws and are not codified ones that you see in other religions. Most importantly, we have always resisted the onslaught of any other religion. So, how is it that someone can come and claim Sarnaism as a part of Hinduism?” – Bandhan Tigga (“known as a Sarna ‘Dharmguru’ among the tribal people”) quoted by Abhinay Lakshman in “Being Sarna: a fight to define tribal identity in Jharkhand” (The Hindu, 23 July 2022)
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/being-sarna-a-fight-to-define-tribal-identity-in-jharkhand/article65670776.ece
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=11009

“Interventions intending to impose religion onto tribes have attempted to assimilate them into mainstream society by diluting their uniqueness. For tribes, the links between culture and religion are integral to shaping their ways of life. […] It is well-known that tribal communities in the northeast exist outside of Hindu society, even if there is a fluidity in the boundary between tribes and Hindu society in other parts of India. […] Then there are the tribes in the northeastern hill areas—Konyak, Abor, Dana and many others—who, because of their location on the frontier of more than one civilization, were better able to withstand the pressure to become castes, although the Ahom, now regarded as a caste, were once clearly a tribe, and the Khasi, still regarded as a tribe, were developing a state with unmistakably Hindu features.” – Richard Kamei in “Uncivilising the Mind: How anthropology shaped the discourse on tribes in India” (Caravan Magazine, 1 March 2021)
https://caravanmagazine.in/books/anthropologists-tribes-india
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=22844

“If the tribal gods are comfortable on the trees, let them be…why make them a Hindu?” – Niranjan Mahawar, author of a book titled Bastar Bronze, interviewed by Suvojit Bagchi (The Hindu, 24 October 2012)
https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/i-have-a-problem-with-the-makeover-of-tribal-culture/article4026265.ece
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=16409

“All the tribals in the country have been following many different religions like Gondi, Koya Punem, Adi, Sarna, etc. However, none of them have been recognised. The government should provide a separate code for tribal religion so that their identity can be preserved. […] No matter which community we belong to, we will follow our beliefs, customs, deities, rituals, culture, in our own way.” – Satyanarayan Singh (tribal activist from Bihar), quoted by Santoshi Markam in The Wire.in (2 April 2019)
https://thewire.in/rights/adivasi-religion-recognition-census
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=11009

“The Bhils of the area [remote tribal villages in northern Maharashtra] practiced their own unique religion, a form of animism and ancestor worship with a heavy dose of magic. But it was clear even at that time that their ancient religious tradition would soon disappear: many Bhils in the area had become devotees of wandering Hindu sadhus and Christian missionaries. Soon, their religious tradition would be looked down by others as ‘primitive’.” – Yoginder Sikand in “Simple ways of life” (Deccan Herald, 23 December 2012)
Address : https://www.deccanherald.com/content/300193/simple-ways-life.html
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=10420

“What I wish India to do is to assure liberty of religious profession to every single individual. Then only India can be great, for it was perhaps the one nation in the ancient world which had recognized cultural democracy, whereby it is held that the roads to God are many, but the goal is one, because God is one and the same. In fact the roads are as many as there are individuals in the world.” – Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi in Harijan (31 August 1947); quoted by Vinay Lal (Professor of History & Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles UCLA) in “Gandhi, Secularism, and Cultural Democracy” (2 October 2020)
https://vinaylal.wordpress.com/2020/10/02/gandhi-secularism-and-cultural-democracy/
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=20996

“While recent instances of religious intolerance and bigotry may have shocked many, data on Indian attitudes and behaviours – particularly among young people – show that these attitudes are the mainstream, and not the fringe.” – Rukmini S., book excerpt from Whole Numbers and Half Truths: What Data Can and Cannot Tell Us About Modern India in “Liberals are really India’s fringe: What a new book on data says”
https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/liberals-are-really-india-s-fringe-what-new-book-data-says-159529
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=21540

“The structural violence of slavery or untouchability doesn’t need intentionality precisely because the intent is encoded in the collective memory of the tremendous violence that, in the distant past, accomplished the subjugation of a community. It is this memory, passed on through generations, that enforces a violent act of ritual humiliation so very ‘non-violently’.” – G. Sampath on Ritual humiliation in “The Violence in Our Bones: Mapping the Deadly Fault Lines Within Indian Society’ review: An ideology of hatred” (The Hindu, 6 November 2021)
https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/the-violence-in-our-bones-mapping-the-deadly-fault-lines-within-indian-society-review-an-ideology-of-hatred/article37337087.ece
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=6771

“The religion [Tagore] preached was the religion of man, the renunciation he extolled was not of this world but of the base passions of cupidity and hatred, the freedom he fought for was not of one people to exploit another but the freedom of the human personality from all that strangles it, whether it be the tyranny of an external organization or the worse tyranny of man’s own blind ego and lust for power.” – Krishna Kripalani in Rabindranath Tagore: A Biography (Oxford University Press 1962, reprint Santiniketan 1980)
https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.39366/2015.39366.Rabindranath-Tagore—A-Biography_djvu.txt
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=4348

“[R]eligious conversion is frequently perceived as an act of expediency undertaken by converts for purely temporal gains [wrongly assuming that] conversions take place only among deprived lower caste or tribal groups, which are considered more susceptible to allurement or coercion.” – Santali poet, scholar and translator Ivy Imogene Hansdak in “Pandita Ramabai Saraswati: the convert as ‘heretic’”; in Conversion and coercion: the politics of sincerity and authenticity (Groningen studies in cultural change, 2006)
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/63171256
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=23050

“To relieve themselves from poverty, illiteracy, shamans, exorcisers, witch-hunting, to impart modern education to their children, many Santals have voluntarily converted to Christianity.” – Santal educationist Boro Baski in “Discussion is the Need of the Hour, Not Banning”
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=22844

“Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis are all equal citizens [as guaranteed by the Indian constitution]. All citizens have the right to debate and discuss their duties towards the state and also the obligations of the state to ensure that the claims to human rights of all citizens are met by the state to an equal degree.” – Romila Thapar (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University) quoted in “Nationalism does not allow the Hindu in India to claim primacy” by Ziya Us Salam (The Hindu, 2 March 2016)
https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/historian-romila-thapar-says-nationalism-does-not-allow-the-hindu-in-india-to-claim-primacy/article8300752.ece
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=20996

“In many ways, the 19th-century ‘science of religion’ invented what it purported to describe. According to its theorists, religion was an ancient, eternal fact of human existence, and the study of it was as old as the philosophical schools of Greece, enshrined by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.” – Anna Della Subin in Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2021), pp. 174-5
https://www.worldcat.org/title/1151100898
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=2299

“Whether we think of the Indian, Egyptian or Greek cultures, or of the Jewish- Christian, or Islamic religions, we are in the middle of a patriarchal world, with its male gods, over whom one chief god reigns, or where all gods have been eliminated with the exception of the One, the God.” – Social psychologist Erich Fromm in The Art of Loving (New York: Harper & Row, 1956), p. 66
https://archive.org/details/TheArtOfLoving/page/n80/mode/1up
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=31882

“Adivasi concerns caste while Sarna is about religious affinity. Tribals across the country for decades have been fighting for religious identity in the form of a separate code in the census.” – Jharkhand tribal lawmaker Bandhu Tirkey on his opposition to a so-called “Sarna/Adivasi” code during a Jharkhand special Assembly session, reported in “It’s Sarna, not adivasi, code for tribals” (The Telegraph, 8 November 2020)
https://www.telegraphindia.com/jharkhand/its-sarna-not-adivasi-code-for-tribals-bandhu-tirkey/cid/1796860
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=11009

“Whether it is Koya Punem, Adi, Sarna, or any other, they all believe in aboriginal philosophy.” – Aakash Poyam, Researcher and founder editor of Adivasi Resurgence, quoted by Santoshi Markam in TheWire.in (2 April 2019)
https://thewire.in/rights/adivasi-religion-recognition-census
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=11009

“Indian culture does not represent one particular religion or cultural trait. It is an assimilation of various cultural traits; it is syncretic in nature.” – Suranjan Das, Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University Kolkata (The Telegraph, 30 September 2020)
https://www.telegraphindia.com/west-bengal/calcutta/the-relevance-of-vidyasagar/cid/1793177
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=35639

“Many ashram schools covertly became Hindu nationalist, yet followed patterns set by Christian mission schools, with uniforms, strict (often brutal) discipline, a deeply hierarchical structure, alien ‘knowledge’ learnt by rote, short haircuts, and Adivasi names replaced with Hindu ones.” – Felix Padel & Malvika Gupta in “Are mega residential schools wiping out India’s Adivasi culture?” (The Hindu, 13 February 2021)
https://www.thehindu.com/society/children-from-tribal-communities-are-being-corralled-into-mass-schools-that-are-wiping-out-cultures/article33818793.ece
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=21733

“The Santals are non-idol worshipping theist people. They have no temples, nor images to worship and no fixed place to worship in; no holy mountains and no sacred drivers for pilgrimages and yet they hold an unassailable religious faith which can be traced through the tradition of the creation narrative, through their festivals, their cleansing ceremonies performed during their birth, wedding, and death, and through their belief in the continuation of life after death.” – Writer, editor, singer-musician, and songwriter Timotheas Hembrom in The Santal and the Biblical Creation Traditions: Anthropological & Theological Reflections – a work “on a group of people, whose faith declaration of creator-creation relationship, as expressed through their ancestral creation narrative, is compared and discussed with that of the Biblical one” (Adivaani, Kolkata 2013)
https://adivaani.org/2013/10/07/timotheas-hembroms-new-book-is-out/
https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=13041

Tribal voices worth listening to: On culture, land rights, employment, education and indigenous languages – Andaman, Kerala & Odisha

“Unless we affirm our culture and right and language, we won’t live. Our colour is good, our language is good, our art is good, our way of living is good. If we can respect your religion and your practices, why … Continue reading

Posted in Assimilation, Childhood, Commentary, Community facilities, Crafts and visual arts, Cultural heritage, De- and re-tribalisation, Democracy, Dress and ornaments, Ecology and environment, Economy and development, Education and literacy, History, Languages and linguistic heritage, Misconceptions, Modernity, Names and communities, Nature and wildlife, Networking, Organizations, Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), Photos and slideshows, Quotes, Regions of India – Tribal heritage & indigenous knowledge, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Southern region – Southern Zonal Council, Storytelling, Success story, Tribal identity, Wayanad, Western Ghats – Tribal heritage and ecology, Worship and rituals | Tagged , | Comments Off on Tribal voices worth listening to: On culture, land rights, employment, education and indigenous languages – Andaman, Kerala & Odisha

Tip | How many ‘Scheduled Tribes’ are there in India? And what distinguishes them from other communities? (‘tribal’ or otherwise) – Information provided by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

There are over 700 tribes (with overlapping communities in more than one State) which have been notified under Article 342 of the Constitution of India, spread over different States and Union Territories of the country. The largest number of main … Continue reading

Posted in Adivasi / Adibasi, Assimilation, Constitution and Supreme Court, Customs, Democracy, Economy and development, FAQ, Figures, census and other statistics, Government of India, History, Organizations, Press snippets, Quotes, Regions of India – Tribal heritage & indigenous knowledge, Resources, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Rural poverty, Scheduled Tribe (ST), Tips, Tribal identity, Worship and rituals | Comments Off on Tip | How many ‘Scheduled Tribes’ are there in India? And what distinguishes them from other communities? (‘tribal’ or otherwise) – Information provided by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

Poetry on the beauty of nature and its close association with mankind: “Tribal literature is as rich as any other literature in the world”

Mizo writer Darchhawna, who was awarded the Padmashree recently, praised tribal literature at a conference here today. He spoke on the concluding day of the Tribal Literary Conference and said tribal literature is as rich as any other literature in … Continue reading

Posted in Crafts and visual arts, Cultural heritage, Customs, Education and literacy, History, Languages and linguistic heritage, Literature - fiction, Misconceptions, Music and dance, Nature and wildlife, Organizations, Poetry, Quotes, Revival of traditions, Social conventions, Storytelling, Women, Worship and rituals | Comments Off on Poetry on the beauty of nature and its close association with mankind: “Tribal literature is as rich as any other literature in the world”

Learn more about tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh

When it comes to protein and calorie counts, milk and bananas do not match up to eggs, particularly for [Madhya Pradesh], where development indicators are among India’s worst: Almost 51% of children under five years of age are underweight, and … Continue reading

Posted in Adverse inclusion, Anthropology, Archaeology, Central region – Central Zonal Council, Childhood, Community facilities, Crafts and visual arts, Cultural heritage, Democracy, Eco tourism, Ecology and environment, Economy and development, Education and literacy, Ekalavya (Eklavya, Eklabya), EMR & Factory schools, Endangered language, Figures, census and other statistics, Forest Rights Act (FRA), Government of India, Health and nutrition, History, Languages and linguistic heritage, Literature and bibliographies, Multi-lingual education, Museum collections - India, Music and dance, Narmada, Organizations, Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), Resources, Revival of traditions, Seasons and festivals, Tips, Tourism, Women, Worship and rituals | Tagged , | Comments Off on Learn more about tribal communities in Madhya Pradesh

From Adivasi and Scheduled Tribes to Indigenous Peoples: “Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative” (National Conference) – New Delhi

Parallel Session 3: The ‘Tribe’ defined in Social SciencesChaired by: Prof. Bipin Jojo, TISS, MumbaiPaper Presenters: Shreya Jessica Dhan (JNU, New Delhi), Anu Krishnan (TISS, Mumbai), Pradyumna Bag (JMI, New Delhi), Evy Mehzabeen (JNU, New Delhi). Shreya Jessica Dhan, in her … Continue reading

Posted in Adivasi / Adibasi, Adverse inclusion, Anthropology, Assimilation, Colonial policies, Constitution and Supreme Court, Democracy, Economy and development, Forest Rights Act (FRA), Government of India, Literature and bibliographies, Misconceptions, Modernity, Names and communities, Nature and wildlife, Networking, Quotes, Revival of traditions, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Scheduled Tribe (ST), Social conventions, Storytelling, Tribal identity, Worship and rituals | Tagged , | Comments Off on From Adivasi and Scheduled Tribes to Indigenous Peoples: “Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative” (National Conference) – New Delhi