Tribal rituals for lockdown
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Art and Culture
The term 'Scheduled Tribes' first appeared in the Constitution of India. Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as "such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution". Article 342, which is reproduced below, prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.
The essential characteristics of these communities are:
- Primitive Traits
- Geographical isolation
- Distinct culture
- Shy of contact with community at large
- Economically backward
Tribal communities live, in various ecological and geo-climatic conditions ranging from plains and forests to hills and inaccessible areas. Tribal groups are at different stages of social, economic and educational development. While some tribal communities have adopted a mainstream way of life, at the other end of the spectrum, there are certain Scheduled Tribes, 75 in number known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) 2019 PT, who are characterised by
- pre-agriculture level of technology
- stagnant or declining population
- extremely low literacy
- subsistence level of economy
In News: Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh have revived indigenous lockdown rituals to contain the spread of COVID-19.
- The State of Arunachal Pradesh is geographically closest to China’s Hubei province where the COVID-19 outbreak began.
Rituals by Different Tribes
- The Galos, which are one of the 26 major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh that dominate West Siang district practised the Arr-Rinam ritual.
- The Galo community has been recognized as a Scheduled Tribe in the Amendment to the Constitution (ST), Order, 1950, Part-XVIII.
- Mopin is the main festival in Galos which is celebrated for the prosperity of the villages. The Galos perform Popir dance.
- Arr-Rinam is the Galo equivalent of lockdown imposed by consensus for 48 hours whenever an epidemic strikes.
- The Arr-Rinam follows the Ali-Ternam (the word Ali means epidemic and Ternam means forestall) ritual to ward off an epidemic.
- These rituals were last performed almost four decades ago when a water-borne disease had affected many members of the community.
- However, these rituals have been performed periodically for livestock, primarily the semi-wild animal mithun, that are prone to contagious diseases.
- This is for the first time in 30-40 years that the rituals were performed for the safety of humans.
- The Bos or deputy priests performed the Ali-Ternam under the guidance of a Nyibo (shaman).
- The ritual ended with the community leaders sealing five major entry points of the district.
- The Adi community also performed a similar ritual called the motor or pator system in the Adi (tribe) dialect.
- This is a customary self-restriction, where the locals lock down several villages by erecting barricades to prevent the entry of outsiders. No person is allowed to enter or leave the villages.
- They believe that this ritual lets shamans with legendary powers to locate wild herbs to combat an epidemic.
- The Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is believed to have come from southern China in the 16th century.
- They are the Tibeto-Burman language speaking population..
- They reside in the far north inhabiting East Siang and Lower Dibang Valley districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
- The Adis are experts at making cane and bamboo items.
- Solung (harvesting festival where animal sacrifices and rituals are performed) and Aran ( a hunting festival where all the male members of the family go for hunting) are two major festivals of the Adi tribes.
- In districts such as Papum Pare and East Kameng, the dominant Nyishi community observed Arrue involving self-quarantine.
- Nyishi Tribes also called Bangni are the tribal people of eastern Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh (formerly North East Frontier Agency).
- Nyishi is a Scheduled Tribe. It is the single largest tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.
- They speak the Tibeto-Burman language of the Sino-Tibetan family.
- The Nyishi support themselves with slash-and-burn agriculture and with hunting and fishing.
- They live together in a longhouse without partitions but with a separate fireplace for each conjugal family.
- Aside from a patrilineal household there is no formal social organization or village government.
- Their religion involves belief in spirits associated with nature.
Jai Hind Jai Bharat