About us - Tribals


Orissa occupies an unique position in the ethnographic map of India for having the largest variety of tribal communities.Although they are found in all the districts of the State, yet more than half of their total strength are found in the districts of Koraput, Rayagada, Naurangpur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Nauapara, Kandhamal, Baudh, Keonjhar, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj.

In the tribal district of Malkangiri mainly there live 10 kinds of tribes such as Koyas, Paraja, Dharua or Durua, Matia, Bhumia, Bonda, Kandh, Gadaba, Halwa and Didayee. Even though the presence of tribes like Rana , Mali and Gouda exist, they have not been recognised as tribes by the Government. According to 1991 Census the population of tribal people was 2,46,214 and the Harijans were 84,208. The main tribal communities of Malkangiri district are as follows.


The Bondas

The Bondas known themselves as Remo (men) are a small tribe of the type now often called Austro-Asiatic country is the wild and mountainnous region north-west of Machakunda river, and here they have preserved themselves comparatively unaffected by the march of civilisation. Indeed, by plainsmen and officials, the Bondas are regarded as entirely savage, almost as the classic savage type. The strange dress and appearance of their unfamiliar tounge they speak a different Astro-Asiatic language. The inaccessibility of their abode seperate them from other tribes of the district The origin and affiliations of the Bondas are obscure, but one may accept the possiblility that they are members of a group of Austro-Asiatic tribes which at some remote date took shelter in the wild Jeypore hills. There is every reason to suppose that the Bondas have changed very little during their long history and in them one can have a change of studying a type of character and it's material expression that may be millennia old. The Bondas have been enlisted as a Scheduled Tribes. Bondas are the oldest tribal people of Malkangiri District.They live on the mountains at the height of 3000 feet. In 1971 census their number was 5,245 and in 1981 census they were 5,895 in numbers but in 1991 census they were decreased to a number of 5,129 in which male number was 2,414 and female number was 2,715. These people live in Bonda Hill under Khairput Block.They are mainly two types like Ontal and Kilo. Bondas are found of Podu Cultivation and Bonda ladies help them in this job. In Bonda community the bride is older than the groom. Ladies of the Bonda community are half nacked. In the month of Magha "Patkhanda Yatra" at Mudulipada is the main festivals of Bondas.By nature Bondas are short temper and they get angry at the simplest thing and forget the relationship and commit murder. Murder is a simple thing for Bondas, because of this a lot of person has been life imprisoned at the Koraput Jail. Due to this Bonda population has been reduced a lot during the last decade. Hence it is important that this community should be taken protected from its extinction.

The Koyas

The Koya are a tribe inhabiting the hills in the north of the Godaviri district and are also found in Malkangiri district. They are said to belong to the great Gond family. The Koyas have a tradition that about two hundred years ago they were driven from the plateau in the Baster countary by famine and disputes. The Koyas are a Scheduled Tribes. Koyas are found in Kalimela, Podia, Malkangiri and Korukonda area of Malkangiri District. Koyas are the largest in population. In 1971 Koyas population was 58,730. In 1991 census their population was 1,40,000. By this time it has increased a lot. At Mathili and Manyamkonda area ancient Koyas tribes are generally found. Their village consists of 30 to 40 families. They don't settle at any place pernmanently because it's a belief that they may be some natural calimaty or the local God will be displeased. They rear Pigs, Goats, Cows and Hens. The main festival of Koyas is "Bijapandu" festival celebrated in the month of Chaitra. They live in low thatched houses . They cultivate Tabaco leaf, Mandia, Maize, Bhatta Paddy. Mahula and Salapa is their ideal drink. They believe in puja and local medicine for their illness and desease and moreover they use very little quantity of milk. The head of the Koya village is called "Peda" and it's heridiatery. Few villages consittutes a "Mutha" or "Panchayat" and the head of the Mutha was called "Muthadar". A "Katual" was there to help Muthadar in the village. Koyas are found of unity and patriatic. In 1880 there was revolt against British rule by the great Koya leader Tama Dora, which was famous as "Koya Revoulation" in the Indian history.

The Bhumiya

Bhumias of Malkangiri District are also generally found in un-divided Koraput, Phulbani, Gangam and Sundergarh districts of Orissa. After Koyas,this tribes occupies the second position in population. The head of the village is called "Mukhia". One "Bhattanaik" is for 20 number of villages. Mostly Bhumias took part in the freedom struggle of this district and their contribution to the freedom struggle was a unforgetable event. There is marriage system and the groom elopes the bride. Balijatra is their main festival Laxman Naik was the proud freedom fighter of Bhumia.

The Paraja:

The Porajas or Parajas are the hill cultivators found in the district of Ganjam and undivided Koraput. There are seven classes of these Parajas, which differ from each other in points of language, customs and traditions.The Parajas seem to have been inhabiting this country from about the second century of the Christian era. The servitude in to which the Parajas has been reduced and the cruel treatment given to him. Master made him faithless and dishonest.The Parajas are divided into 12 tribes and each tribe is called after the region in which it lives. They have been enlisted as Scheduled Tribe. Other than Malkangiri Parajas are found in un-divided Koraput, Kalahandi, Sundergarh, Dhenkanal, Phulbani, Puri, Cuttack and Maurbhanj districts of Orissa. In 1971 their number was 11,361. They occupy the third position in population in this district. They have been divided into Jhadia, Barenga, Penga and Konda.

The Kandha

Kandhas are to be found throughout Orissa and mostly in the districts of Ganjam, Baudh, Kandhamal, Kalahandi and parts of Bolangir and Sambalpur districts.In Malkangiri these people are called "Deshia Kandha". These Deshia Kandha like group life. There are 58 subdivisions of Kandhas. The list includes many names of other castes, a fact, which must must be in part ascribed to the impossiblilty of distingushing the true Kandhas from persons returned as Khondavandhu, Kondalu, Kotuvandlu and are applicable to all the hill tribes. Their height is about the average standard of the persons of the Peninsula . Their forms are characterised by strenght and symmetry. The musculus of the limbs and body are clear and glossy, it's colour ranging from light bamboo to a deep copper shade, the heel in a line with back of the leg. As regards their character, the Kandhas possess a great love for liberty. They are faithful to their friends. Their worst vice is drunkennes. They can be divided into three major econimic classess which are as follows:

  • Owner-cultivators or non-owning cultivators of the plains.
  • Dependent upon shifting cultivation.
  • Having occupation other than cultivation.

The Kandhas are the biggest Scheduled Tribe of Orissa.Even though family member increases they like to stay all together. Family is ruled by the head member and there is a joint family life amoung them. The post of the head of the village is heriditary. The main cultivation of Deshia Kandha is Maize and they are found of Podu Cultivation. In Malkangiri these people are called Deshia Khanda.

The Gadaba

The Gadava are a primitive tribe classified as mundari or Kolarian on linguistic grounds. The word Gadava, Mitchell states, signifies a person who carries loads on his shoulders. The tribe call themselves Guthan. They speak a mundari dialect, called Gadava after tribal name and are one of the two-mundari tribes found so far south as Visakhapatnam . The Gadavas are a tribe of Agriculturists, coolies and huntres. The Gadavas are also employed as bearers in the hills and carry palanquins. There is a tradition that the tribes owes its name to the fact that its ancestors emigrated from the bank of Godavery river and settled in Nandapur, the former capital of Rajas of Jeypore. The Gadavas are also employed as bearers in the hills and carry palanquins. The Gadavas have a language of their own, of which a vocabulary is given in the Vuzagapatam Manual. The Gadavas living in such villages in the vicinity of the more civilized people forget their native tongue, dress and custom and took up those of the civilized man. It is now very hard to identify the tribe of such men unless they themselves tell us what their tribe is.They are enlisted as Scheduled Tribe. Besides Malkangiri this tribe is found in Koraput, Kalahandi, Sundergarh, Gangam, Sampalpur and Boudh Phulbani districts of Orissa. They like to marry within their relations. Cultivation and cattle rearing is the means of their livilihood.

The Matia

Including Malkangiri Matias live in Dhenkanal, Bolangir and Kalahandi districts of Orissa. Matias were cloth and live a simple life. They cultivate Maize, tabbaco leaf and vegetables. In Malkangiri Matias are treated as low amoung the tribes.

The Dharua

Dharua are found in the block of Korukonda of this district. Also these people are seen in the boarding district of Madhaya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Dharua are also called as Durua. This tribe has got their own language, culture and traditions.

The Holuva

The pentiyas call themselves Holuva. Numbers of them migrated thither from Bastar. Their language is holuva, which is easily understood by those who speak Oriya. They have enlisted as S.T. Holuva are found in the block of Korukonda of this district. Also these people are seen in the boarding district of Madhaya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Like Dharua this tribal people have their own language, culture and traditions. They are quite disipleaned and maintains peace and harmoney in their life.

The Didayi

Didayees are the important tribal race. These people have rich heritage. They said to be the progency of Bondas. Thurston holds the view that the Didayis are part of the Paraja tribe. Dr. Elwin quoting a Bonda myth says “The eldest brother was a Bhoi Gadava, the next an Asur Gadava and the remaining ten Kondo, Bondo, Didayi etc.”. The relationship of the Didayis of the Bonda, Paraja and the Gadava is very intimate and matrimonial relationships between the Didayi and others, though clandestine in nature, are not found wanting. In spite of all these they maintain their distinctive identity and cannot be regarded as a part of any tribe. They have been enlisted as a scheduled tribe. Didayees are setteled in Malkangiri on the both sides of the river Machhakunda in the centre of Kandakamberu Hills. Didayees live in five panchayat of Kudumulugumma Panchayat Samiti. Didayees have their own langauge. They live in houses made of wood and bambo. They color the walls of the houses. Thier houses are very neat anc clean, hunting, fishing and cultivation are the main occupation of Didayees. They are very religious in faith. The cultural life, hospitality and method of treatment of deases are most praise worthy. For the development of Didayees there is a Didayee Development Organisation formed by the Government is working here.