Telangana

Adivasis exhibit customary piety even in times of disquiet

Members of the Kolam tribe set out on their annual pilgrimage and ritual

One thought disquiet in the agency due to the anti-Lambada protests has diverted the attention of the Adivasis from their customary religiosity. However, members of the Kolam tribe - categorised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group - have begun their journey on foot to sacred water bodies for the most important annual ritual of piety, the Ganga te puja of ayyak or the bathing of Bheem god in this month which the tribals call Sathi.

The first ones to set off on the pilgrimage are the Kolams of Jaduguda in Jainoor mandal of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district carrying the three ayyaks, the carved wooden pieces decorated with peacock feathers on the top and a sharp bottom end. The three ayyaks are Kaplai ayyak, devoted to the holy place to be visited, Danthanpali ayyak, for the village from where the in-laws of Jaduguda villagers hail, and Pedda ayyak, symbolising the most important Bheem god.

Traditional totems

The ayyaks are made of ippa or mahua wood, or of a kind of softwood which the tribals identify as Ramkher and the wood is treated with edible oil as a mark of purification as well as giving life to the material. The ayyaks which are in the custody of the present generation are centuries old according to elders.

The ayyaks are in the company of tiktal of the small elongated pieces made of stone and iron which represent the spirits of the ancestors, treated at par with gods. The ayyaks have a seemingly large army of horses but only a few depict warriors on the horse back. “The warriors are ayyak ne bantu (body guards of ayyak),” revealed the president of Adivasi Kolam Sangham Abhyudaya Samithi, Sidam Mutha.

Colourful and festive look

Jaduguda wore a festive look, as festive as a habitation of utterly poor tribals can look, all through the day as the Kolams feasted before setting out on the pilgrimage in the evening. The feast consisted of mutton eaten with jonna gatka or a rice like dish made of jowar and lots of traditional rela dancing.

The ayyaks were taken to the house of the devari or the priest before the villagers marched towards their destination. The devari is the most important person in any given Kolam village and the patel, karobari and katoda follow in the heirarchy.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 2:11:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/adivasis-exhibit-customary-piety-even-in-times-of-disquiet/article30278588.ece

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