Tribal religions in India 1-2

Tribal religions in India

1. Tribal religions are under constant pressure from missionaries and outsiders. national political and economic integration has put pressure on their culture to change. Isolated tribes have been able to retain their religious features. Forests, hill, desert tribes like Mishmis

2. While tribals shifting from hunting or forest horticulture have integrated into religions like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity with a lower social status than their peers

3. Polytheism. Santhals believe that a supreme diety called Thakurji rules the world. But various spirits deal with various aspects of the world. they must be placated with prayers and offerings. The spirits are at village level to Mountains tigers water etc. Maran Buru is Great Mountain spirit who is consort of Jaher Era - lady of the grove. Rituals revolve around birth, death, marriage, harvest sowing etc with the help of priests and medicine man who also do magic. Among Santhals, there are 10% Christians and among Mundas and Oraon there were 25% CHristians in 1991 census

4. Animism - The Bhils—a tribal group found in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra—merge animism and Hinduism and many are Muslims and Christians. Traditionally, they believed in a pantheon of deities that over time absorbed Hindu gods. Important local deities include Wagh deo - tiger god, and Nandervo - agriculture, and Chagwam, the supreme deity. They also believe in an afterlife where one is reunited with family members, a pantheon of earth spirits that sometimes band together in groups and malicious individuals that cause harm through sorcery and witchcraft. Muslim Bihl were converted during Muslim invasions of India and interaction with Rajputs. Christians have adopted the faith relatively recently due to the efforts of missionaries. The dead were traditionally buried but Hindu influences has meant that many are cremated and their remains and are buried. People who die unnatural deaths it is believed can become malevolent spirits and those who die natural deaths become good spirits. Many tribes have priests that act as mediums, diviners and healers and undergo a long training period. For serious matters witch doctors are called in because they are said to have the power to battle sorcery and witchcraft. Among the important ceremonies are appeasements and exorcisms of ghosts, one of which is the exorcism of the cattle shed.

5. Animatism - . Hos of Singhbhumi, Bihar, there exists a similar kind of religious belief which Majumdar ( 1956) has called ‘Bongaism’. These people believe in the concept of ‘bonga’ which resides in trees, natural objects and sometimes in manmade articles like bi-cycles, etc. It is the manifestation of a vague supernatural power which is, according to believers, the cause of all energy. 

6. Totemism - The Toda’s economy, culture, morality and naturally their religious life revolves around the totemic animal (Rivers 1906). The God Aihn rules over Amunawdr, the realm of the dead. He is a dairyman and created the Todas and their buffaloes. Follow unique dairy temple rituals. As Totem is sacred, Only a Toda who undergoes elaborate ordination ceremonies can qualify as a priest and then milk the herd of sacred buffaloes, belonging to that temple grade, to ritually process it into butter, buttermilk, curd and ghee.