East India is a portion comprising the states
of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand.
The diversity of East India is evident from its
population, individual count and of course the
intellectual stamina of the people residing in
this region. An even more wondrous fact that
can be given is that each state is vastly and
distinctly different from each other, with
novelty in the spheres of cuisine, costume,
culture, education, entertainment, forests,
ways of living, economy and travel. When
leaving aside the metropolitan population and
city living, tribal living in east India is
somewhat common in some spheres of
culture and entertainment. East Indian tribes
come to a significant numbering count under
the vast section of Indian tribes. This fact has
received national as well as vast international
recognition in the past several decades.
Munda Tribe •
Bhumij Tribe •
The Kharia tribes have occupied a major
portion of the rugged slopes of Ranchi,
Lohardaga and the furrowed incline of west
and east Singhbhum and Hazaribagh of the
Jharkhand. Although the Kharia tribes have
mainly concentrated in Jharkhand, yet they
can also be found in Orissa and West Bengall
in little number. Being a part of the `Proto-
Austroloid` family group, the language of the
Kharia tribes are known as Kharia language.
These Kharia tribes also speak languages
like Sadani, Hindi language and few other
dialects that have originated locally. As per
the ancient history of the Kharias, they are
the descendants of Nagvanshi Raja, Munda.
The major source of livelihood for this Kharia
tribe is agriculture. Some of them also
depend on small forest products like roots,
seeds, flowers, edible herbs, leaves, fruits,
wax, honey, etc. Instances are also not rare
when these Kharia tribes adapt to labor
works. Fishing, hunting as well as animal
husbandry is exercised as supplementary
occupations. They cultivate Bari crops like
marua, maize, vegetables and bean etc.
Their lands are of two types namely Tanr land
and Don land. They cultivate Til, Arahar,
Kurathi, Tisi etc. along with Vadai crops in
Tanr land and paddy in the Don land. They
practice wet cultivation to cultivate Rabi crops
like Masuri, Chana, Khesari etc. Apart from
these the Kharia people also grow brinjal,
lady`s finger, tomato, bean, potato, peas etc.
in their lands.
The houses of the Kharias are built with mud,
wood, bamboo, straw, Khar grass and rope.
There is no window in those houses and are
of rectangular shape. Doors are made with
wood and iron. Some of the people of this
tribal community build pigsty and cattle shed
for domestic animals.
The costumes of the male groups of this
Kharia tribe includes shirt, ganji, pants, half
Dhoti, Kurta and Gamachha. The female
groups of this community wear salwar-suits,
frock, Jhula, Saree, Sata. Ornaments are
highly sought after in their community and the
women wear earrings, nose rings, necklaces,
metal hair pins, wristlets, rings, anklets etc
are some of their favourite ornaments. They
use seed, shell, bronze, thread, brass, nickel,
silver, gold and silver imitation as the metals
of their jewelleries.
Several religious ceremonies are feted where
almost all the Kharia tribes revere the Giring
or Bero. Burha Burhi or Marsi Masan is the
progenitor of Kharia tribes whom also these
Kharia tribes worship and also are respected.
Their religion is a blend of the beliefs and
rituals of Hinduism, tribalism and Christianity.
They worship the deities of Nag Deo, Jal
Deo, Gram Deo, Dharati Mai, Burn Deo,
Thakur Deo, Fire God, Burha-Burhi Deo etc.
and the spirits. the Kharia tribes, a lot of local
festivals and occasions are also celebrated
by the people of the tribal community. Just
like other tribes of the region, these Kharia
tribes celebrate festivals like Karma, Sohrai,
Sarhul, Nawakhani, Ramnawami, Dussehra,
Diwali etc. Dance and music are an important
part of their festivals and occasions. They use
Kartal, Dol, Nagara, flute etc during their
musical performances. During their tribal
dance whistling and clapping also serve as
Baiga tribe is a primitive Dravidian tribe.
Baiga tribes are located in the states of Bihar,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, and
West Bengal. They are scattered over the
hilly forest provinces of India including
Shahdol, Bilaspur, Rajnandgaon, Mandla,
and Balaghat. As far as the origin of the
Baiga tribes is concerned, they have got a
rich history behind it. Baiga tribes belong to
the Dravidian groups and are one of the
ancient tribes of the central India including
Madhya Pradesh. In the regions of Mandla
and Balaghat, Binjhwar sub-caste is
considered as the civilised sub-division of
Baiga tribe. Bhainas are another off-shoot of
The Baiga tribes practice shifting cultivation in
forest areas. They say they never ploughed
the Earth, because it would be like scratching
the breast of their Mother, and how could
they possibly ask Mother to produce food
from the same patch of earth time and time
again – she would have become weakened.
That‟s why Baigas used to lived a semi-
nomadic life, and practiced Bewar cultivation
(slash & burn) – out of respect, not
aggression. Until fairly recently the Baigas
practiced 'dahiya' cultivation, that is, slash
It is believed that the ancestors of the Baigas
spoke an Austroasiatic language, however no
trace of it is left now. Some Baigas
(specifically those from the Mandla district)
have mentioned "Baigani" as their mother
tongue in the past: Baigani is now recognized
as a variety of Chhattisgarhi influenced
by Gondi and Western Hindi. Most Baigas
communicate with outsiders in Hindi, and
some of them also know Gondi
or Marathi depending on the region they live
There are different tattoos for different parts
of the body and these tattoos are also inked
at different times of their lives. „Chati Godai‟
means tattooing on the chest which can be
done any time after marriage. The tattoos
extend from the elbows to the finger tips. It
takes 20 to 25 years for the completion of all
the tattoos prescribed. In the whole process
of stretching the identity of their tribes on their
bodies, the most attractive items are the 10 to
12 long pointed needles which pierce the
skin. The process involves the use of a
prominent grape of this area. It gives out
carbon which is collected when the seeds are
burnt. This is collected in small boxes. And
after liquidation it is ready to be used as the
ink to draw the pictures with a thin bamboo
stick. After the outlining, the inking starts. The
Godhna (the tattoos) prepares the girl of the
pains of becoming a mother. This pain gives
her the strength to face all the different
challenges in her life. Second, it is their clan
identity. And thirdly they consider Godhna to
be the only earthly impression to accompany
them in the life after death.
Due to long hours in the Sun and outdoors,
the skin of the Baigas is dark. The men and
women get their hair cut once in a life time. If
a Baiga is asked why he does not clip his
hair, his instant response with immense pride
is that it is a Baiga tradition. This tribe wears
very few clothes. The men usually wear a
„fatka‟ to cover their private parts. This „fatka‟
is very similar to the loin cloth used for the
dhoti of the Gonds. Women wear a sari which
covers their body but their blouses are short
and chest hugging. It is evident from this that
their style of clothing is simple and hassle
free. Some of the Baigas tie a cloth around
their head which looks similar to a turban.
he Gond people do not believe that they are
Hindu. They also have Ramayana as one of
their epics and the characters and story is
similar to the one written by Sant Valmiki.
However, the language in which it is written is
different. They worship „Bahadeo‟ that is Lord
The Kalingas as a tribe are almost always
associated with the Angas and Vangas in
ancient Indian literature. These three tribes
along with the Pundras and Suhmas are said
to have been named after the five sons of
Bali, Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Pundra and
Suhtna who were called Baleya Kshatra and
also Baleya Brahmanas. These five tribes
evidently then lived conterminously and had
their distinct entities within respective
geographical boundaries to which they gave
the names of their respective tribes. In the
Markandeya Purana it has been mentioned
that a Kalinga tribe had their settlement on
the Satadru. In many of the Puranas Kalingas
have been described as people of the
southern region. It has been said that they
dwelt in the southern region along with the
Maharastras, Mahisakas, Abhiras, Vaisikyas,
Savaras, Pulindas and others.
Early It comprised most of the modern state
of Odisa , Andhra and region of the
bordering state of Andhra Pradesh.
Kalingas are in rice farming. Some of them
are skilled potters with pot making. They are
also excellent in basketry, loom weaving and
Women are dressed in colourful woven rap
around materials that is knotted. They use
blouse for upper body which is simple cut and
Men use G-string , woven fabric and they use
colourful beads as a part of the costume.
The culture of Banjara tribes has uniqueness
and exquisiteness flows from top to bottom.
Though, their history is still a mystery, the
dress sense, culture, customs and language,
of Banjara tribe in Orissa signify that they
originated from Rajasthan.
Colorful is the one word that comes to mind
when we think of this enthusiastic tribe of
India. They live in settlements called Tandas.
Urdu, Telegu, Kutni, Lambadi are amongst
the popular languages spoken here. A
woman of Banjara tribes in Orissa is
accustomed to wearing "ghaghra" and `choli`
(a blouse). Ghagra is a whirling skirt made of
red, black and white cotton, with pieces of
mirrored glass embroidered on it. The craze
for Jewels is of the highest degree amongst
these celebrated tribes of Orissa. Anklets,
silver earrings, hair plaits and bone bangles
add charm to the enriched culture of
Banjara tribes in Orissa are huge devotees of
Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati. The love and
dedication flourishes to such extent that, they
save money from their living to visit to the
pilgrimage of Tirupati Balaji.
Women are known to wear colorful and
beautiful costumes like phetiya and kanchalli.
They use mirror chips and often coins to
decorate it. Women put on thick bangles on
their arms (patli).
Their ornaments are made up of silver rings,
coins, chain and hair pleats are tied together
at the end by chotla.
Men wear Dhoti and Kurta (short with many
folds). These clothes were designed
especially for the protection from harsh
climate in deserts and to distinguish them
A step forward, in our Indian tribal tour takes
us to Santhal tribe. With a population of more
than 49000, Santhal tribes are the third
largest tribes in India. Belonging to pre Aryan
period, these tribes of India are found in
regions of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and
Jharkhand. Many call them as “the tribes
at extreme”, a visit to their place will surly get
your money‟s worth.
Santhali is the prime language spoken by the
Santhal Tribe. This Indian tribe also have a
script of their own called Olchiki. Apart from
Santhali they also speak Bengali, Oriya and
Dancing and music are the streamline of
these Indian tribes. Santhal women dress in
the red bordered white sari and dance in the
line sequence. These tribes in India play mind
soothing music with instruments like Tirio,
Dhodro banam, Phet banam, Tumdak,
Tamak, Junko and Singa
Santhal women dress in the red bordered
white sari and dance in the line sequence.
Munda tribe mainly inhabit in the region of
Jharkhand, Although they are well spread in
the states of West Bengal, Chhatisgarh,
Orissa and Bihar. Munda generally means
headman of the village.
For the occupation, Munda tribes in the
ancient days used to be woodcutters, cutting
down the forests and then selling the wood
and they have even taken up fishing and
earth cutting. Munda tribes have remained
hunters for centuries. Gradually they
converted into the settled agriculturist. Most
of them do not have land of their own and are
largely dependent on the labour work in the
fields to earn their livelihood.
Food and clothing
Mundas are animal eaters for a long time.
Their usual food inculdes frogs, snakes, rats,
earthworms, shells and snails. Mundas prefer
having Tari and Haria wine on the various
occasions. They are in close touch with the
Hindu society. Munda men wear pant and
shirts, While the women are seen wearing the
cotton saris with the cholis or blouse. Mundari
are generally short in height, dark
complexion, and good looking. They have
short curly hair.
Munda tribes are the largest tribe of India.
The main language spoken by them includes
"Munda" or "Killi" , Santali and Mundari. The
titleernative name of Munda is 'Heriki'.
These Indian tribes usually follow Christianity.
Munda tribes also have their own religion
called “Sarna”. They have an ideology that
God is one. These tribes of India also believe
in the supreme power of Singbonga, which
means the Sun God. One unique thing that
you rarely find in any of the tribes in India is
the willingness to marry people from other
tribes. Many people of Munda tribes of India
also worship Lord Shiva.
Bhumij are a tribal/Adivasi people living
primarily in the Indian states of West Bengal,
Odisha and Jharkhand, mostly in the old
Singhbhum district. In the western districts of
West Bengal, there are prominent groups of
Bhumijes, although numerically they are
considerably behind the Santals and Bauris.
They live in the territory between the Kasai
and Subarnarekha rivers.
They speak the Mundari language of the
Austroasiatic language family or sometimes
the predominant local language such as
Children of both the sexes go naked up to
four or five years. Then, they wear a towel (
Gamucha) or a pant till adolesence when
they start wearing clothes.
The male dress consists of a shirt, a dhoti
and a towel. The towel is kept on the
shoulder. In summer, men do not use shirt
when they are in the village.
.The women wear sari and blouse called
Jakit. The sari worn is generally of white
During winter, they also use sari or dhoti as
wrapper for protection against cold.
Their source of income is agriculture,
collection of forest produce from the forest,
lac cultivation and basketry.
Asur tribes are usually found in the state of
Jharkhand in the eastern part of the
subcontinent of India. One of the thirty major
tribes is Asur in Jharkhand who have made
the state of Jharkhand their home. The
people of this tribe form quite a big part of the
total population of the state of Jharkhand.
Asurs are traditionally iron-smelters. They
were once hunter gatherers, having also
involved in shifting agriculture. However,
majority of them shifted into agriculture with
91.19 percent enlisted as cultivators as per
the 2010 edition of the Encyclopaedia Of
Scheduled Tribes In Jharkhand.
Asur's culture is found embedded in their
household possession which includes
utensils, furniture, war weapons, hunting
implements, iron-smelting implements,
baskets, dress, ornaments etc. The Asur
build their house with the help of mud,
wooden poles, bamboo, leaves, grasses and
tiles. The house is rectangular in shape. Each
house consists of one or two rooms with a
balcony. There is door and wooden gate and
The Asur Tribal men wear Dhoti and have a
Gamchha on their head or shoulder. They
wear ganji and kurta when they have to go
out of the village, they use plastic shoes or
slippers at the time of going to market or to
some other villages. The women wear Sari,
Saya and Blouse. Previously Asur woman
used to cover their entire body with the same
sari without Blouse and Saya. The Asur
children wear Pant, Ganji, Shirt and Salwar
Suit in late childhood. In early childhood, the
children wear Ganji or Shirt only. They
purchase clothes from the local Haat. Asur
women are very much fond of ornaments
which they wear in fingers, wrist, neck, ear
and feet. Their ornaments are made up of
bronze, steel, glass, thread, wild seeds and
imitation of gold and silver. Now-a-days
tattooing is not so popular.
Magh tribes of East India have actually
migrated from the hilly neighborhood
countries of India. The term `Magh` has got
etymological significance as it means
The Magh society has rich heritage as
exemplified in its cultural aspects. Magh
tribes have their own local dialect for carrying
on conversation amongst each other.
Riddles, proverbs and folk tales are part and
parcel of the Magh tribal community. In the
social structure, the priest who is locally
known as Phongyee and also village or Roa
schools, play a significant role for the
preservation of conventional education
system in the Magh society.
The main occupation of Magh tribes is
agriculture. People those who live in the
mountainous terrains, undertake the practice
of `jhum cultivation`. While some people
residing in the plains plough cultivation.
Weaving and fish catching are also taken up
by many of them. Business community,
traders and service holders are barely ever
found in their society. Child labor is
unfamiliar, and also Magh females are seen
working in the construction sites and field.
These Magh tribes are religious minded,
widely practicing Buddhism. They are mainly
the followers of theravada (hinayana)
Buddhism. Tripitaka is the sacred book of
these Magh tribes, written in the Pali
language. The Monastic Community and the
Laity are religious communities. The priests
wear yellow robes and live in the religious
residence, while the Laity leads a family life
with wife, children and relatives.
Festivals are an integral part of Magh tribes,
mostly associated with the full moon of each
month, which they call labray, a Burmese
word for full moon. To them the full moon is
sacred and they believe that most religious
events take place on the day following the
night of the full moon. On this occasion,
Buddha is worshipped and various
ingredients like food, fruits and flowers and by
lighting candles and incense sticks are being
Amongst dresses of these Magh, males are
lungis or sarongs, shirts and slippers. As
festival wears, they prefer to wear tight fitting
coat called `prakha angyi` over the shirt
buttoned at the throat. They also use a white
kerchief called `goungpoung`. It is a type of
headdress. Tattooing, locale known as
`matoray`, beautifies their bodies. Usage of
shirts and trousers are common among the
aristocrat people of this community. The
women of Magh tribal group wear angyi
(blouse) and thami along with a tuft known as
chaungtung on head. Flowers and jewelleries
are also used by the women folks to bedeck
their hair. Salwar kamiz is also popular
among the Magh women.
Karmali tribe is one of the artisan tribes of
Chhotanagpur. They smelt iron and prepare
iron tools. Iron tools are supplied to the tribes
who are engaged in agricultural tribes and
castes. They have been associated with the
occupation of the craft making.
Culture of Karmali Tribe
Karmali tribe erect their houses with mud wall
that is thatched with bamboo and tiles. Their
houses are rectangular that has wooden
doors which they prepare themselves. There
are no separate cattle sheds and they are
accommodated in the Veranda of the house.
As they rear and eat pigs, the Munda and
other tribes consider them untouchable and
do not have food and water relation.
They also weave different types of baskets.
They prepare sickle, knife, karahi, cholani,
dabu, axes, Basula, Rukhani, Bhala, Ber,
Garasa, bow and arrow. The women wear
ornaments in neck; earn nose, hand, wrist,
feet and fingers that are made of brass,
bronze, steel, thread, shell and seeds.
Religion of Karmali Tribe
Singbonga is the chief deity of the Karmali.
Pahan is their religious priest and head.
Other deities include Grambonga, Dihwar
bonga, Nagbona, Beghbonga, Banshbonga
and so on. Karmali tribe also believes in a
number of ancestral spirits. Their ancestral
spirits reside in the house. In order to please
the spirits and deities they offer sacrifices
with the help of the priest. They also believe
in witch craft.
The women wear ornaments in neck; earn,
nose, hand, wrist, feet and fingers that are
made of brass, bronze, steel, thread, shell
They wear saris.