Note: A part of Uttar Pradesh
mainly tribal areas with the following districts such as Dehradun, Uttarkashi,
Tehri Garhwal, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Hardwar, Pauri Garhwal, Bageswar,
Pithoragarh, Almora, Nainital, Champawat and Udham Singh Nagar has been
formed into a new state Uttaranchal. So part of the tribal population
is now in the state of Uttaranchal.
The population of the tribal communities in the state is not large. They
constitute the weakest section of the society and form distinct ethnic
groups which have preserved their own separate culture identities in their
original environment despite the ravages of time.
The tribes live in three well-defined regions - the
mountain tracts of Garhwal, Kumaon and Uttrakhand, the terai-bhabhar area
extending from Dehra Dun to Bahraich district and the Vindhyan tracts
of Mizapur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Bundelkhand. They also live in Pithoragarh,
Uttarkashi, Tehri, Banda and Jhansi districts.
Garhwal, Kumaon, Pithoragarh, Uttarkashi and Chamoli
have the habitats of the Bora, Bhotia and Raji tribes. The Jaunsari type
of tribal groups include the Khasas of the Jamuna tract of Dehra Dun district
who claim to be Rajputs and Brahmins and the Aujis, Doms and Kolis, Koisor
Koltas who are Harijans. The Jaunsari types are also found in the adjoining
areas of Rawain (Uttarkashi) and Jaunpur (Tehri). The Bhoksas and the
Tharus inhabit the Terai-bhabhar area. The Vindhyan tracts have the largest
number of tribes, including Agaria, Bhil, Bhumiyar, Chero, Ghasia, Gond,
Kol, Korwaa, Oroan, Parahiya, Panika, Pathari and Sahariya. The Jaunsaris
are numerically the largest group.
Only five of the states tribal communities have been
recognised by the central government as scheduled tribes in terms of the
provisions of the constitution. They are the Bhotia, Bhoksa, Jaunsari,
Raji and Tharu tribes, inhabiting the sensitive border area. The remaining
tribes with the exception of Bhil , Bora and sections of the polyandrous
people of Uttarkashi and Tehri, are termed as scheduled castes.
Tharus and Bhoksas are of Mongoloid stock and the Khasas
of the Himalayan region of Indo-Aryan stock. The remaining Jaunsari types
are of mixed descent. Of the Vindhyan tribes, the Gonds and Kols belong
to Munda-Dravidian stock. The Bhils and Saharujas are of Indo-Dravidian
The tribal areas suffered from poor communications and
roads were unsuitable for the major portion of the year. There was extreme
scarcity of water during summer, specially in Mirzapur and Banda districts.
The Bhotias of the northern frontier suffered a severe setback on account
of sudden stoppage of trade with Tibet. The Jaunsaris, had little land
of their own and generally worked as labourers on farms or in forests.
The problems of Tharus and Bhoksas in the terai areas were quite different.
Those lands which were previously defined as fallow land, were captured
and developed by this community. The development had already been completed,
thousands of outsiders and fortune-seekers were trying to come over and
prosper at the cost of local tribes by displacing them from their paternal
land. The state governments efforts to meet the situation had met with
only partial success.
The Khasas are at the top in the Jaunsar tract and the
Gonds in the Mirzapur region. For the Khasas, the Koltas do the tilling
of land while the Bajgis are their tailors and the Lohars and Sonars their
blacksmiths and goldsmiths. The Agarias, Panikas and Ghasias do services
for the Gonds, though the Gonds have now lost their hegemony. All the
tribes love liquor. The Dangwarias and Kathawaras among the Tharus make
their own brand of rice beer. The Korwas and Rajis live on wild fruit
and tree roots. The tribals now wear the same kind of dress as non-tribals
but the tribal women's weakness for gaudy dress, ornaments and finery
The tribes have their own separate pantheons but they
also worship a few Hindu gods. The Kols of Banda are devotees of Rama,
Sita and Lakshmana because of their legendary association with them during
their sojourn in exile at Chitrakut. The Sahariyas claim their descent
from Shabari, the poor Bhil woman whose hospitality Lord Rama accepted
during his wandering in the Chitrakut forests. The tribals follow the
patriarchal and patrilineal order of society. Women have a high social
status. Among the Tharus of Naini Tal they play a more dominant role than
men. Polygamy is a status symbol. Polyandry is prevalent among the Jaunsaris.
The Korwas and Bhotias have a custom by which on the death of the elder
brother the younger brother can claim the widow. Song and dance are part
of the tribal way of life. Among the Jaunsaris and Bhotias, both men and
women dance. The Kols have only women dancers. For Bhoksa women dancing
is taboo, while Tharu women dance during Holi only. Bhoksas, Tharus and
Sahariyas have organized male-dancing parties.