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The Kondha are indigenous tribal groups of India. They live in Orissa, a state in Eastern India. Their highest concentration is found in the blocks of Rayagada, Kashipur, Kalyansinghpur, Bissamcuttack and Muniguda.
The Kondhas are believed to be from the Proto-Australoid ethnic group. Their native language is Kui, a Dravidian language written with the Oriya script. The Kondha are adept land dwellers exhibiting greater adaptability to the forest environment. However, due to development interventions in education, medical facilities, irrigation, plantation and so on, they are forced into the modern way of life in many ways. Their traditional life style, customary traits of economy political organization, norms, values and world view have been drastically changed over a long period of time.
One sub-group of kondhas is the Dongria Kondhas. They inhabit Rayagada, Koraput and Kalahandi districts. Their major concentration is found in the blocks of Kalyansinghpur, Bissamcuttack and Muniguda. They are called Dongria or dweller of donger ("hill" in Oriya) and settle in higher altitudes due to their economic demands. The Dongria Kondh call themselves Jharnia meaning those who live by the Jharana (streams). Hundreds of perennial streams flow from Niyamgiri hill, and there are hundreds of Dongria villages by the streams. The Dongria are considered the protectors of these streams, hills and jungles by the people of the nearby plains.
They have a subsistence economy based on foraging, hunting & gathering but they now primarily depend on a subsistence agriculture i.e. shifting cultivation or slash and burn cultivation or Podu. The Dongria Kondh are excellent fruit farmers. The most striking feature of the Dongria kondhas is that they have adapted to horticulture and grow pineapple, oranges, turmeric, ginger and papaya in plenty. Forest fruit trees like mango and jackfruit are also found in huge numbers, which fulfill the major dietary chunk of the Dongrias. Besides, the Dongrias practice shifting cultivation or "Podu Chasa" as it is locally called, as part of an economic need retaining the most primitive features of underdevelopment and cultural evolution.
The Dongria family is often nuclear, although extended families are found. Female family members are considered assets because of their contribution inside and outside the household and women are on equal footing with the male members in constructing a house to cultivation. Women do all the work for household ranging from fetching water from the distant streams, cooking, serving food to each member of the household to cultivating, harvesting and marketing of produce in the market. Due to this, the bride price is paid to her parents when she gets married which is a striking feature of the Dongrias. However, the family is patrilineal and patrilocal.
The Dongrias commonly practice polygamy. By custom, marriage must cross clan boundaries (a form of incest taboo). The clan or "Puja" is exogamous, which means marriages are made outside the clan (yet still within the greater Dongoria population). The form of acquiring mate is often by capture or force or elopement. However, marriage by negotiation is also practiced. The Dongrias have a dormitory for adolescent girls and boys which forms a part of their enculturation and education process. The girls sleep at night in the dormitory (Daa Sala) and learn social taboos, myths, legends, stories, riddles, proverbs amidst singing and dancing the whole night, thus learning the way of the sacred feminine.
See another tribal lady and explanation at this market
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