Monday, 21 November 2011

Posted by jinson on 10:37 4 comments


There are more than 100 uncontacted tribes worldwide, that chose to keep their ancient ways of living struggle, to resist modernization. Most of them are in Brazil and Peru. In India, one can find still find such a tribe in the northern islands of Andaman and Nicobar, in the Bay of Bengal. North Sentinel Island  lies to the west of the southern part of South Andaman Island, A group of indigenous people, the Sentinelese, live on North Sentinel Island. Most of the island is forested. The Sentinelese people are called by media ‘the most isolated in the world’. They speak the Sentinelese language and their present numbers are estimated to be anywhere between 50 and 400 individuals. They reject any contact with other people, and are among the last people to remain virtually untouched by modern civilization.


But whenever we talk of tribes and tribal culture of India, the North East India comes to mind. Northeast India is ethnically distinct from the rest of India and has strong ethnic and cultural ties with Southeast Asia. All of them are quite soft-spoken and simple. The language is predominantly influenced by the Tibeto-Burman languages. North East India covers the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Sikkim - much of it is untouched by commercial mainstream tourism. Apart from sheltering a magnificent tribal life, North East is also rich in terms of landscape, flora and fauna. 

The North East Indian tribes can be separately marked for their cultural trends which are marked by their festivals, customs, dances and other social occasions. They can be largely associate with the ethnic groups of Indo Mongoloids, Tibeto-Burmese and proto Austrioloids which represent the Asio-Austric culture on Indian hilly regions. Their existence can be traced back to the pre-historic times. Here are some of the most interesting and unique tribes in North East India :


clip_image004 clip_image006  clip_image008The Thai Village in Assam: The Namphake village in Assam is a small village of the Tai (Thai) Phakial tribe. They are Buddhists of the Hinayana sect. The amazing thing about this group of people is how closely they resemble the Thais of Thailand. They speak a language that is very similar to modern day Thai, and also have the same customs and celebrate the same festivals. They are small in population and are found only Naharkatia and in the vicinity in Margherita. Now their population numbers only about two thousand in total.


clip_image010 clip_image012 clip_image014 Konyak Tribe in Nagaland: The Konyaks are one of the most colourful tribes in the North-East, in terms of the way they have managed to retain a lot of their old ways and customs, far more than the other tribes. You can still see tattoos on the faces of some of the elders, which signifies that they have partaken in the practice of headhunting, which occurs when there are inter-tribe or inter-village wars. The last time there were incidents of headhunting was about 10-12 years ago. The Aoling festival of the Konyaks held in April of each year is also a good time to visit Nagaland and experience the festivities. The other thing that makes this tribe special that they are often still dressed up in their traditional outfits, on an everyday basis. It is still common to pass a Konyak in his full traditional costume, complete with the head-dress. They are sometimes referred to as “the naked Nagas”, and are very isolated from the rest of the state.


clip_image016 clip_image018 clip_image020 Zekhring tribe in Arunachal Pradesh: This particular tribe is special because they are so few of them! They occupy just one village in an isolated spot on the banks of the Lohit River on the Indo-China border and number only about 300 people. The sad thing about this is that this tribe will probably disappear in a few years time since there are too few of them and they will have to gradually inter-marry with other tribes and eventually cease to exist as a separate tribe unto themselves.


clip_image022clip_image024 clip_image026 Lost Tribes of Israel in Mizoram: This is not a particular tribe, but a collection of different tribes all over Mizoram. They claim to be members of the of the Bnei Menashe, or the children of Menashe, one of the 10 “lost tribes” of Israel, which according to legend, disappeared over 3000 years ago. It is said that the Mizos' Jewish connection goes back more than 1,000 years to a remote cave in China. They called themselves Chhinlung,

Lobha Tribe in Arunachal Pradesh: Similar to the Thai village in the middle of Assam, there is also a small group of Chinese settlers in a small village in the Dibang Valley of Arunachal. They too, speak a language that is very similar to Chinese or Mandarin, and numerous Chinese customs and festivals.


clip_image028Other must see tribes are Khasis, Garos and Pnars of Meghalaya: Bodo, Dimasa, Kalitas, Karbis, Khamti, Kuki and Misings of Assam.

clip_image029Festivals are an integral part of all the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, reflecting the cultural exuberances and artistry.  Monpa tribal groups are reckoned for their artistic ability in painted wooden vessels, beautiful rugs and carpet weaving. .

clip_image031The tribes in Sikkim have really contributed a lot in the transformation of the state of Sikkim into one of those, state in India that are recurrently visited by the tourists. The major tribal communities are Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese.

clip_image033Nagaland is the home of  fourteen major tribes - Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunger and Zeliang.

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