Celebration time with the adivasis

Aug 10, 2017, 09:21 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Sway to the beats of dance and music, and tuck into savoury goodies at a cultural fest by central Indian tribes living in Navi Mumbai

Scenes from the previous edition of Vishwa Adivasi Diwas celebrations
Scenes from the previous edition of Vishwa Adivasi Diwas celebrations

According to statistics published on United Nations' official website, there are 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries, who make up less than five per cent of the world's population. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world's estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures. These include members of indigenous Indian tribes like Santhal, Ho, Munda, Oraon and Kharia, who migrated from parts of Odisha, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal post Independence and live in pockets of Navi Mumbai, from Vashi to Panvel.

This Sunday, the tribal community will come together to celebrate Vishwa Adivasi Diwas at an event organised by Chhotanagpur Cultural Club. "It's the second edition of the event. Coincidentally, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. To mark the date, we were keen to celebrate the tribal communities, who have been living in the city, despite struggles and difficulties. The idea is to unite and build the community, and reiterate that we support each other," says Bipin Jojo, one of the members of the club, that was formed three years ago as a community initiative to address the needs of tribals living in the city.

Nimki. Pic/Wikimedia Commons
Nimki. Pic/Wikimedia Commons

The 52-year-old arrived here two decades ago, from Sundergarh, a northwestern district in Odisha, has a PhD in social sciences and is faculty member at Tata Institute of Social Sciences. "We felt that as educated citizens, it was our responsibility to help lesser-privileged members of our community. In the last couple of years, we've been involved in rescuing domestic help who have been trafficked," says Jojo, adding the club derives its name from the forested plateau in eastern India.

Bipin Jojo
Bipin Jojo

The half-day programme will feature various dance performances where members will be dressed in tribal costumes, with peacock feathers as headgear, and move to the beats of folk music instruments like drums and cymbals. "Though they may look the same, the dances have differently nuanced movements," adds Jojo. For instance, Munda dance features girls forming a semi-circle while boys play instruments, while in Oraon dance, men and women join hands and sing along while dancing.

On the side, women from the community will also whip up tribal snacks like Arsa Roti and Nimki. "These are popular dishes in Jharkhand. No celebration or occasion is complete without them," says 35-year-old Anima Toppo, who hails from Rourkela in Odisha. While Arsa Roti is a sweet pancake made using rice flour and jaggery ("you can also add peanuts, cardamom and sesame seeds"), Nimki is a savoury snack, made with refined flour and speckled with onion seeds.

ON: August 13, 10 am to 2 pm
AT: Karadi Samaj Hall, near Aai Sweet and Marathi School, Kamothe, Sector 14, Panvel, Navi Mumbai.
LOG ON TO: Facebook.com/chotanagpurmumbai

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