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Change in ethos of tribals

S. Harpal Singh
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Some Gonds begin selling puja material near the temple

A tribal shopkeeper sells puja material .— PHOTO: BY ARRANGEMENT
A tribal shopkeeper sells puja material .— PHOTO: BY ARRANGEMENT

Did the handful of Gond shopkeepers selling puja material at the recently-concluded Nagoba jatara denote onset of a significant change in the ethos of the aboriginal tribes?

As trade and commerce is unknown as a calling among Rajgonds, Kolams or other hill tribe communities in Adilabad and neighbouring districts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, the assumption may only be true, say observers.

All hill tribes are primarily agrarian communities whose only relation with “business” lies in purchase of essentials usually at weekly shandies and annual fairs and in sale of their meagre agriculture produce or non-timber forest produce to middlemen once every year. Finding some “enterprising” tribal people at the jatara and their motivation for taking to business therefore, has come as a pleasant surprise to many.

Atram Hanmanthu, a Gond from Ginnera village in Indervelli mandal, said he began selling puja material like coconuts and puffed rice near the temple of the Serpent God since the last jatara. “It is only proper that tribal people earn profit out of business at the tribal fair”, he puts forth his logic for setting up shop.

Pendur Kausalya, another Gond from Narsapur village in Utnoor mandal, was manning the shop by herself next to Hanmanthu’s outlet. She did not look out of place selling the packages of puja material to others of her ilk.

Tribal people taking to business, even if temporarily, is noteworthy because they have done so of their own accord. They had in the past rejected many self employment schemes.


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