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Madhya Pradesh
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The People

Introduction | Tribes | Customs and Traditions | Ornaments


Madhya Pradesh has the largest population of Scheduled Tribes of all states and a high proportion of Scheduled Castes. Of the total 45 districts, 23  are predominantly tribal. The major tribes of  Madhya Pradesh are Gonds, Bhils, Oraons, Korkens, and Kols.  The state presents in all a varied matrix of tribal culture ranging from animists and fowlers to advanced cultivators and factory workers.

Away from the tribal stock of Madhya Pradesh the rest of the population consists of  Hindu communities.  They include Rajput landholders, traditional merchant classes and established agriculturists such as the Ahirs, the Khatis, the Kunbis, the Lodhis, the Malis and others.  The industries and factories in the urban areas have drawn labour from all the classes.  A small percentage of Parsis, Muslims and Jains also add to the racial mosaic of Madhya Pradesh.  

By its geographical position, Madhya Pradesh  has  remained exposed to cultural influences.  The central region of the state was directly under the Indo-Aryan culture. The Vindhyas sheltered primitive tribes since the early dawn of history. No communication was possible with the south from the north because their existence was an effective barrier until the Marathas entered Malwa and  its nearby territories. On account of the sturdy barrier of these mountainous ranges, all the racial movements, incursion and migration, took place in central Madhya Pradesh, from the Gangetic plain, Rajasthan and Gujarat through the gap in one of its arms. Fertile lands of the state have drawn people from distant directions.

The interpenetration of the culture of the hills and the forests and the plains has been going on from time immemorial. It is only in the lower part of Madhya  Pradesh that the Adivasis maintain their indigenous culture. 

The socio economic condition of the people has improved considerably since independence. People have become conscious of their rights. The economy of the state has developed to a desired satisfaction. Social changes were bound to occur in the tribal section of the population of the state. Social welfare agencies made them aware of many things. There are instances of adapting traditional Hindu manners and ritualistic patterns by some of the Adivasis.

 

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