Tribes of Mount AbuRajasthan as a state is highly populated by various tribal communities. After, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar and Gujarat, Rajasthan has the highest population of tribes. Mount Abu has grown from a tribal dominated hill station to a famous Indian tourist spot, with thousands of visitors traveling each year. Due to the fragile and beautiful ecology of the area, the state tourism department takes special steps to protect the area. In 2009, the government of India accorded the status of Eco-Sensitive Zone to Mount Abu, in a bid to prevent the sensitive flora, fauna and tribal ecology from the rampart activities of modernization.
A major portion of the Sirohi district is inhabited with tribal communities, accounting to over 43% of the total population. The majority of the tribal population is dominated by the Bhil, Meena and Garasia tribes. These tribes till today have been exposed to the minimal urbanization, thus allowing them to still maintain their primitive lifestyles.
Major Tribes in Mount Abu
Bhil TribeThe Bhils are generally referred to as the “bow men” of Rajasthan and are the largest tribe of the entire South Asia. Two types of Bhils are generally found. Amongst them, the Pure Bhil is the largest clan and Rajput Bhils follows them in terms of numbers. Mount Abu has a huge number of pure Bhils residing in the territory, who are revered as great warriors having played major role in India’s struggle for independence. The Bhils maintain a patriarchal form of society and are traditionally good archers. They live in small mud houses in the forest of the Aravallis. Linguistically, the Bhils majorly speak in “Bhili”, which is a derivative of the Indo-Aryan language.
The Bhils have a nomadic life and are generally stuck in the lowest strata of the economic spectrum, with very low per capita income. However with the advent of time, this tribe has stopped being nomads and have changed their lifestyle into agricultural activities. More than 86% of the total Bhil population are into agriculture at present, with the remaining people engaging themselves as farm labourers and huntsmen. “Chimata” and “Dajia” are two types of agrarian activities practised by the Bhils. Maize is the main crop grown over here, beside wheat. The Bhils do farming majorly for self consumption. Bamboo plantation is also maintained by this tribe. The Bhil tribals are simple people and give lot of value to honour and courage.
They are vibrant people, enjoying their life with variety of festivals and fairs. Mount Abu tourists can enjoy Baneshwar Fair during the month of January, which celebrates the Shiv Ratri. The hill station gets crowded with tourists during this season, who throng the hill station to enjoy various cultural shows and acrobatic feats. Holi and Dusshera are celebrated with grandeur by the Bhils.
The costumes of the Bhil people are predominantly ethnic with women normally found in traditional colourful sarees and men wear loose long frock along with pyjama and turbans. Brass ornaments are commonly worn by the Bhil people. They worship local deities like Khandoba, Kanhoba, Bahiroba, and Sitalmata. The tribe is superstitious in nature and have “Badvas” (hereditary sorcerer) and gurus for each village. Ghoomar is the famous dance form of Bhil tribe. Gair is a form of religious dance drama performed by the Bhill men during festival season.
Meena TribeMount Abu has a very little Meena population as mostly these tribals have urbanised with time and have moved ahead of their tribal lives. They have taken up Zamindari (landlordship) and Chowkidari (security guards) as their primary professions. Education has also started taking baby steps and entering their communities. Although many people from the Meena tribal society engage in agriculture to earn their living, they are letting their present day generation go to schools to study to explore other professions and different avenues of incomes.
Garasia TribeGarasia tribes have got their prominence in the Indian culture with their advanced lifestyle. They are a part of the Rajput community and are the third largest tribal community of Rajasthan. The Garasias are peace loving people and maintain harmony in their society. They live in small huts in the forest mainly on the hill slopes. Their huts are very crude and are made of mud and bamboo. They earn their livelihood through agricultural activities and animal husbandry. Traditionally a patriarchal society, Garasia men do all the work outside home with women taking care of the family. Inter caste marriage is allowed and the joint family tradition is still prevalent. The Garasia tribe has a very unique and custom in marriage. The men folk generally elope with the bride of their choice to formalize and solemnise their wedding commitments.
With the turn of time, the Garasia tribe has become an agrarian community. They have mastered the process of production of Maize, Rice, Jowar and Wheat. However, they concentrate their efforts in pursuing a single crop during the year and through the rest of the time remaining in the year, they depend upon wood logging, cattle grazing, hunting and working as casual labourers for their subsistence. The Garasias are mostly vegetarian in nature and have no addiction to liquor. Lapsi, Malpua and Churma are savouries generally prepared to mark special occasion and festivities.
The men wear red or white turbans which are also called safa or potiyu. They wear Angarkhi, Kurta and Dhoti while female folk wear Gherdar ghagra, Odni and Jhulki. Adorning themselves with several silver ornaments and tattooing is a popular fashion. Poultry Farming is practised by almost all the households. Goats, Hen, Partridges and Quails are reared and sold in the market. They worship Kalaji-Goraji, Dharamraj, Lord Ganesh, Amba Mata, Chamunda, Thakurji, Hawlo, Abu and Sitala. Main festival celebration is during Baisakhi Krishna Panchami, which they celebrate with folk songs and Tribal dance. Festivals like Holi, Rakhi, Diwali, Navratri, Akha Teej, Dussehra are also celebrated.