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Ancient temple, OrissaThe tribal-society of Orissa is the potpourri of diverse ethnicity, values and viewpoints that bond the people together.  These tribal societies embrace the faction of people who understand the meaning of living together and join hands to work together to achieve any shared interest to cater to the benefits of their society. Every society has its own set of rules with respect to business and trade. These enhance and strengthen their unity to live and toil collectively as one. The tribal groups although have undertaken various forms of odd jobs at present, yet their basic livelihood depend on hunting and cultivation. In the past eras, the tribal land areas were never surveyed and they did not lead a settled life. The tribal people carried out shifting cultivation, taking into consideration that they were the possessors of the natural resources like the river water, forest trees and the lush green lands. This practice of self cultivation still continues till date. The tribes of the state can be categorized into six classes, like the hunters, gatherers and collectors, simple artisans, cattle herders, hill and shifting cultivators, advanced agriculturists and urban factory goers.

Orissa bears the credit of ranking an exclusive position for hosting the largest category of tribal population in the ethnographic map of India. One can hit upon them, more or less, in every part of the state, especially in the hilly or forested areas. More than half of the entire population is seen in the districts of Rayagada, Malkangiri, Nauapara, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Koraput, Naurangpur, Sundargarh, Kandhamal, Baudh and Kalahandi respectively. However, their lifestyles vary from region to region. The tribes of Orissa are chiefly categorized into three linguistic divisions, namely, (1) Indo-Aryan speakers, (2) Dravidian speakers and (3) Austric speakers. The Indo-Aryan language line comprises Matia, Haleba, Dhelki-Oriya, Saunti, Laria, Jharia and Oriya. The Austric group includes primarily eighteen tribal languages like Parenga, Kisan, Mahili Bhumiji, Koda, Birija, Munda, Ho, Juang, Didayee Karmali, Savara, Mundari and others. Finally the Dravidian family constitutes nine languages in Orissa chiefly, Kisan, Koya, Gondi, Kuvi, Kui, Oraon, Pengo, Parji and Konda. All the three classes enjoy a number of socio-cultural resemblances among them. 

The rituals and festivals practiced by the tribal groups are still being followed, respected and nurtured since the distant past to the present day. The tribal people of Orissa are not only religious but overtly superstitious as well. Every aspect of their life revolving the yearly actions is through and through linked with the numerous rituals and religious convictions. Another integral part of the festivals and ceremonies is their affluent and diverse tradition of music and dance which they have retained and gracefully maintained since ages. They exhibit their emotions through the medium of music – their happiness and pathos, their cravings and yearnings, their passion and lifestyle, their fondness for nature and outlook towards the human society. Although the art of performing the songs and dances differ from one clan to another, yet certain features are generally familiar to all. The tribal dances are complemented with rhythmic beats of drum-beats, clapping of hands (by the dancers / spectators) or a diminutive arrangement of musical instruments. The tribal people are supposed to be born poets or musicians. They compose and sing their own melodious numbers to pour out their heart’s content.  The tribal people get wings to their flight of fantasy through the medium of art and craft. Their rich handicrafts help one to envisage their artistic susceptibility and creative nature. It gives an insight to their absolute sense of various geometrical measurements and attractive colour combinations. They are equally expert in weaving clothes on looms, making embroidery work or crafting hand made jewelleries.

In Orissa there is a fusion of about sixty two tribes which comprise about 22.21% of the total state population. The typical common distinctiveness shared by the tribal societies distinguishes them from the so-called complex or urban societies. The origin and legacy are related to their ancestry and authority is hierarchical among all the tribal societies of Orissa.



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