Language, Religion and Rituals
Chhattisgarh is by and large considered as a tribal subjugated state. It houses a major population of the tribes in its territory. It is noted that in spite of the contemporary avant-garde influence prevailing in every nook and corner of the country, the tribal people of Chhattisgarh have retained their original culture and traditions. It shares its borders with Madhya Pradesh on the north-west, Maharashtra on the west, Andhra Pradesh on the South, Orissa on the east, Jharkhand on the northeast finally Uttar Pradesh on the north. As a result, although Hindi is the official language of Chhattisgarh, yet there are influences of Dravidian languages and other languages like Oriya, Marathi and the tribal dialects. The Chhattisgarhi dialect is chiefly an Indo-European dialect with heavy existence of vocabulary and phonetics from Dravidian and Munda languages. It was popularly acknowledged as Khaltahi by the local people belonging to the hilly areas, whereas among the Oriya people it was accepted as Laria. On the other hand the Surgujia sub-dialect is prevalent in places like Surguja, Koria and Jashpur. Interestingly, there are about 93 languages/dialects spoken in the state of Chhattisgarh. The main Munda languages prevailing in Chhattisgarh are Korba, Korku and Kharia. Apart from these, Muasi, Nihali-Mankari, Dhelki, Toori (in Raigarh), Khaerwari, Mahto, Kora Majhi, Mundari, Munda, Birhord, Santhali and other Munda dialects are also spoken. The dialects of the state which are categorized under the Dravidian Language Family are Gondi (spoken by the Gond tribes who identify themselves as Koitor or Koitol), Abujh-Maria, Dormi, Koya, Ghotul-Maria, Dandami-Maria and Bhuria. The dialects practiced by the Baigani, Agariya, Panka, Dindwar, Binjhwari, Dhanwar, Lariya, Bhuliya fall under the category of Indo European Languages. Sadri is one among this class that is used by the tribal communities to communicate with other people (mainly outsiders – Chhattisgarh, Orissa to West Bengal). Halbi is another such Indo European dialect spoken chiefly in southern Chhattisgarh.
A diverse blend of different social, cultural, political, historical and economic issues has been part of the cause of the evolvement of the state. The most familiar tribes found in the state are Miriam, Baiga, Kamars, Halbas, Gonds, Bhumja, Kawars etc. Out of these, few tribal families like the Gonds have exchanged cultural practices with the local Hindus, whereas on the other hand the orthodox tribes like the Baigas and the Kamars have maintained their originality till date. The rituals and festivals practiced by the tribal groups of Chhattisgarh are still being followed, respected and nurtured since the distant past to the present day. The tribes are so much attached to the nature, constituting the forests, hills, streams and their shelters that they believe their very existence is monitored by the supernatural powers co-existing along with them. They try to appease, follow and worship a wide range of Gods and apparitions, their constitutions being different from each other. While some are considered to be benign, a few are unbiased and there are others who are spiteful. Another very important aspect of their religious side is the practice of various forms of rituals and sacrifices. As they consider every step taken by them is according to the whims and fancies of Gods, even for the simplest activity they first try to mollify the supreme authority. Few of the remarkable festivals celebrated by the tribal societies comprises Bastar Dussera, Bastar Lokotsav, Koriya Mela, Fagun Wadai, Champaran Mela, Madai Festival, Goncha Festival, Pola Festival, Hareli Festival, Narayanpur Mela, Bhoramdeo Festival, Teeja Festival and others. Generally the tribal festivals and ceremonies are categorized into two groups > those observed in the home front among the family members and those which bring the entire community together in the name of celebrations. The personal or domestic affairs include occasions concerning marriage, death or birth of an infant whereas the whole village get together to celebrate events like rich harvest and mellow fruitfulness.