Showcasing the lifestyle of the Koya community: Tribal museum and Sammakka–Saralakka Jatara festival at Medaram village – Telangana

The newly inaugurated tribal museum behind the altar of Sammakka Sarakka
at Medaram village © M. Murali | Learn more >>

With the exclusive tribal museum becoming operational on Tuesday, devotees thronging to the historic Medaram village for the Sammakka–Saralakka jatara can now get an insight into the life and culture of Adivasi and Koya tribes. […]

The circular museum building, decorated with murals, has been attracting the devotees to get to know the lifestyle and tools outside of tribal cultures. The visitors take an L shaped walk-through corridor displaying tribal lifestyles, customs and traditions.

Many visitors were observed taking ‘selfies’ and photographs inside and outside the museum. Enthusiastic visitors were also vying to take photographs with life-sized sculptures of traditional Koyas. […]

To showcase the tribal lifestyle, model bamboo machans (cots) have been laid out on the museum grounds. Some photos display the pre-historic stone structures such as dolmens and menhirs that are part of Koya tribal culture.

Source: “Insight into tribal life” by Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao, The Hindu 27 January 2018
Date visited: 10 June 2022

Members of the Koya tribe inhabiting the foothills of the northern Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh are worried. Their lives have been in disarray since India’s nationwide lockdown began on March 24. The government has restricted their movement through the forests, leaving them completely reliant on a few grocery stores in nearby towns, which open only for a few hours every day. Their incomes have also been plummeting, and they are often at the mercy of government agencies, and a few compassionate law-enforcement officials, for their staple foods.[…]

The Koya and Konda Reddi are the two largest tribal groups in the northern Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh. Other tribes include the Nayakpod, Khond, Gadaba, Bagatha, Savara and Paraja. The northern Eastern Ghats is contiguous with the Dandakaranya region in the west, a thickly forested plateau covering the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh and parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra. A large number of the Maria Gond (Gutti Koya in Andhra), displaced from Chhattisgarh over the last two decades due to armed conflict, also inhabit the northern Eastern Ghats.

These communities have lifestyles linked strongly to forests, sustaining themselves primarily through minor forest produce collection, shifting cultivation and seasonal employment in farms. More recently, they have also been forced to seek work in forest plantations and make occasional hunting forays. However, all these livelihood activities have come to an abrupt halt as entry into forests or movement outside villages has been prohibited.

As nations around the world grapple with the health, environmental and economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, we take a bird’s eye view of how the pandemic has affected India’s forest-dwelling tribal communities. […]

This article is part of the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-being (Project No. SA/PM-STAIC/ATREE/Biodiversity/2019 (G)), Principal Scientific Advisor’s Office, New Delhi.

Source: “How the Pandemic Has Affected India’s Forest-Dwelling Communities” by Vikram Aditya postdoctoral research associate) and G. Ravikanth (senior fellow), both at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bengaluru.
Date Visited: 10 June 2022

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

For how long will I have to
Bear the pain of development
Or is it that I will be done to death
Before attaining development?

Ram Dayal Munda in “The Pain of Development” (Vikas Ka Dard) courtesy Dr. Ivy Hansdak >>

“The British established mode of forest governance imposed restrictions on local forest-dwelling communities. In 1860, the Company withdrew all access rights for using the forests (food, fuel, medicine and selling forest products) since the forests and forest-dwelling communities provided refuge to the rebels during the Sepoy Mutiny.” – Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation >>

“Tribal population was spread all over India and most of them occupied wild tracts, hilly and forested areas, away from more civilized centers. In 1880 their population was estimated at about seventy million. They had existed for centuries with their own social traditions and beliefs and subsisted on natural resources. They had preserved their near isolation and way of life until the British administration and policies made inroads into their territories.” – Subha Johari in Tribal Dissatisfaction Under Colonial Economy of 19th Century >>

“Tribal communities have proven that they are the best guardians of the forest and die-hard conservationists”: Illegal mining destroys the life and culture of the conservators of forests >>

“Even though they are responsible for protecting the largest part of the global forest heritage […] a third of indigenous and community lands in 64 countries are under threat due to the lack of land tenure rights.” – Pressenza Rio de Janerio in “Indigenous people are heading to CoP26: ‘There is no solution to the climate crisis, without us’” (Down To Earth, 1 November 2021) >>

Usage in legal and historical records

“Two main streams within Indian anthropology influenced the literary and visual representations of tribes by mainstream writers, artists and film-makers.” – Dr. Ivy Hansdak clarifies how they are associated with “assimilationist” and “isolationist” positions or policies >>

In Marginalised but not Defeated, Tarun Kanti Bose (a seasoned public interest journalist) “documents the hard and difficult struggle to implement the Forest Rights Act, how the oppressed adivasis have united into forest unions, how they are now entering into new thresholds of protracted struggles and victories in a non-violent manner.” | Learn more: >>

“Tribal men and women mix freely, but with respect for each other [but] caste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals.” – Guest Column in India Today >>

Learn more about colonial policies, the Forest Rights Act, its importance for ecology, biodiversity, ethnobotany and nutrition, and about the usage of Adivasi (Adibasi) communities in different states of India: in legal and historical records, in textbooks, scholarly papers and the media >>

Up-to-date reports by Indian experts and journalists

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Add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the “Forest Rights Act” (FRA); and the United Nations “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “women’s rights”, or “children’s right to education”.

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For official figures include “scheduled tribe ST” along with a union state or region: e.g. “Chhattisgarh ST community”, “Scheduled tribe Tamil Nadu census”, “ST Kerala census”, “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Jharkhand”, “PVTG Rajasthan”, “Adivasi ST Kerala”, “Adibasi ST West Bengal” etc.

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List of websites covered by this Google custom search engine (platform for academics to share research papers) – –

Centre for Science and Environment –

Current Conservation – 

Development and Cooperation (D+C)

Down To Earth (India) –

India Environment Portal –

Harnessing Nature Magazine –

Mongabay-India –

M S Swaminathan Research Foundation –

Navdanya (protecting India’s biodiversity based food heritage) –

Third World Network (Penang, Malaysia) –

The Shola Trust (nature conservation in the Nilgiri region) –

Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

Note: hyperlinks and quotes are meant for fact-checking and information purposes only | Disclaimer >>

See also

Andhra Pradesh


eBook | Background guide for education

Forest Rights Act (FRA) | Nishad (Nishada, Sanskrit Niṣāda, “tribal, hunter, mountaineer, degraded person outcast”) | Vanavasi (Vanvasi, Vanyajati)

Forest dwellers in early India – myths and ecology in historical perspective


Sathya Mohan

Scheduled Tribes | Classifications in different states



Women | Safe search | President Droupadi Murmu on women’s empowerment

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Explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>