Just last week, when I was sitting at my balcony, observing rain with a morning tea and being sulky with blemishes on the skin and stomach ache, is when my house help suggested me certain practices which are followed by her friend. She told me that her friend belongs to a tribe and she does meet her every time she pays a visit to the village. Then, I was in a phase where I didn’t bother much and let her words just brush off my ears. Exactly a few days later, I remembered what I was being told that day and tried to follow it.
Trust me, it worked! Then I asked my house help to elaborate to me about this friend of hers is when she told me that she belongs to the Gond tribe from Madhya Pradesh. That’s when I read more about them and matched all the practices that they have transferred onto us and how happy we keep trying them now and then. The Gonds are one of the most famous and important tribes of Central India. Not only do they have the highest population but are also known for their extremely unique customs and traditions. Predominantly Hindus by religion, this tribe loves to stay in groups and small villages. Their main language being Gondi, they are traditionally agriculturalists and also practice shift cultivation. Not only this- but they also practice fishing, hunting, forging metal goods and collecting forest produce.
This tribe is famous for its special skills that have been passed down from generations which are the secrets of the medicinal plants. With no proper health facilities in various areas, Gonds still follow the traditional system of medicines and use plants as well as herbs to cure all kinds of ailments.
A lot of these practices have travelled through them to the villages, from villages to us and we despite staying in the modern household follow these traditions for the cure. Other than their quirky customs around marriages, divorces, remarriages; they do follow various practices to keep themselves healthy.
The Gonds, also known as Koitures are purely connected with nature. Their group or pantheon represents all the facets of nature. Badadev, their greatest god, is represented by the saja tree. They also tend to believe in the supernatural forces. Their guardians are the spirits, the gods and goddesses. A close bond with nature is evident in their songs, dance forms, customs, folk tales, myths and legends.
Not only this, but they also express themselves through various dance forms like Rina, Saila and Dadariya which are majorly performed during festivals. Oral narratives are believed to hold the community together. The tribe not only feels proud of such accolades but likes to attach another feather to their hat and that’s in the field of art. They decorate their houses beautifully decorated with digna and bhittichitra (fresco paintings) during weddings and various other festivals. They paint the inner and outer walls of their house with Digna, a traditional geometric pattern, while bhittichitra is a work of art inclusive of animals, leaves and flowers. Another form of creative expression is the tattoo known as gudna in Gondni. They usually get images of the sun, moon, birds and other elements of nature inscribed on their body.
The tribe stays together, practices various forms of art, heals all ailments with the help of nature and passes all such things to other generations. They have been practising Ikigai long before Japan adapted to this technique. The Gonds are the strongest tribe today is because they know their purpose to life and living it happily.