Versatile Tribe Dongria Kondha at Adivasi Mela-2014
Bhubaneswar (Odisha), February 7, 2014:Among the identified 13 PTGs of Odisha, Dongaria Kondha's one and only unique primitive tribal community living an isolated life in Rayagada Dist. from ages. Dongria Kondha ia a Sub-section of the great Kondha tribe, mostly stay on high land known as Donger. Dongaria Kondhs are well known for their indigenous practice and skilled in horticultural activities. It is believe that their expertise could be a bonus/advantage to the society. This primitive tribe is gradually joining the general life.
The Dongria Kandha inhabits the lofty Niyamgiri hill ranges spread across Bissumkatak, Kalyansingpur, Muniguda blocks in Rayagada district. It is an enchanting hill country endowed with bounties of nature. As a part of the Eastern Ghats, the Niyamgiris, situated on the borders of Rayagada and Gunupur sub-division rise steeply from 1,000 feet to a number of peaks, of which the highest is 4,970 feet above the sea level. It is indeed a feast to eye to see in the Niyamgiri hills, vast stretches of banana and pineapple plantations amidst jackfruit trees in the hill slopes raised by the Dongaria Kondh. Side by side they carry on shifting cultivation in the hills at a higher altitude close to the hill-top. Nevertheless the threat of the indiscriminate axe which is steadily vegetational cover is on frightening and real in the Dongria area as elsewhere.
As Sons of nature the Dongrias love to live in their natural abode far away from the madding crowds of civilization. The high altitude of the Dongria Kondh habitat has made the climate cool and peasant. The soil and climate are favourable for raising horticulture plantations. They are having their own autonomous language 'Kuvi' with a distinct culture. Their habitats are favorable for the fruit bearing plants like Jackfruit, Tamarind, Blackberry, Mango, Banana and other items. The Government of Odisha set up an exclusive body Dongria Kondh Development Agency (DKDA) to oversee the development of this region.
Shinde Waraka (45), a Dongria Kondh woman, lives in Khojuri village , of Rayagada district. Every Wednesday, Shinde Waraka along with her female friends walk around 20 km. crossing the primeval streams without bridge reach Chatikona Haat, where they sells their products in the weekly market. And every day, they goes to the Donger (Forest) for collection of fruits, leaves, and tubers. They grow oranges, bananas, ginger, jackfruit, pineapple and turmeric in the podu field near the village. It seems, their life and livelihood earning was very marginable. In cource of time, after formation of an SHG, they tied up with the Adivasi Mela, ST&SC Development Department of Govt. of Odisha, their problems meant to some extent. It is a platform where they could able to sell their products & artifacts. This Mela gives them a better opportunity to sell their products with good returns.
Therefore, they have great enthusiasm to participate in the exhibition. Every year different villages of three blocks namely, Bisamkatak, Muniguda and Kalyansingpur participate in the exhibition. So that the benefits can be shared/spread for all the Dongaria Kondh. This year two SHG groups have participated in the exhibition namely: "Maa Gadagada" of Khojuri village and "Maa Saraswati" of Khambesi village of Bisamkatak block of Rayagada.
Today's cultural evening was mesmerizing or compelling the audience with its traditional, folk and mix dance performances, which were presented by the school students of different ITDAs and Development Agencies, such as, folk dance by I.T.D.A. Karanjia, Folk dance by I.T.D.A. Champua & Bhumij dance by I.T.D.A. Nilagir, cultural program by Ramakrishna Mission, Bhubaneswar and folk dance by Sahid Lakhman Nayak Hostel Students and KISS school students. All the performances are graceful, stylish, lovely and attractive.