Places they inhabit :
The Gonds are the tribal community mostly found in the Gond forests of the
central India. They are widely spread in the Chhindwara District of Madhya
Pradesh, Bastar district of Chhattisgarh
and also in the parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa. The name
by which the Gonds call themselves is Koi or Koitur which means unclear.
Gonds are one of the largest tribal group in the world.
of Gonds :
Gonds finds mention in almost the historical books of India. Gonds settled
in the Gondawa in the ninth and thirteenth century AD. In the fourteen
century they ruled several parts of the central India. They built number of
forts, palaces, temples, tanks and lakes during the rule of the Gonds
dynasty. The Gondwana kingdom survived till late 16th century. Gond
dynasties ruled in four kingdoms - Garha-Mandla, Deogarh, Chanda, and Kherla
in the central India. Gonds have been the warriors since the British period.
During the British regime in India, Gonds challenged the Britishers in
several battles. They also gained control over the Malwa after the decline
of the Mughals followed by the Marathas in the year 1690.
Language and Identification :
Gonds tribe speak Gondi language which is related to the Telgu and the
other Dravidian languages. In the northern parts Gonds are often seen
speaking the local Hindi and Marathi. Some of the Gonds in the southern
parts also speak Parsi or Persian. Gonds are mainly divided into four tribes
namely - Raj Gonds, Madia Gonds, Dhurve Gonds, Khatulwar Gonds. Gonds men
wear Dhoti, which is the lonf piece of cotton cloth wrapped around the waist
passing through the legs. Women wear soft cotton saris along with the Choli
or blouse. The staple food of Gonds are the two millets known as Kodo or
Kutki. Rice is the ceremonial feast of the Gonds, which they prefer eating
during the time of festivals. Most of the Gonds are the meat consumers.
Gonds have been largely influenced by the Hindus and for the long time have
been practicing the Hindus culture and traditions. Gonds are the worshipers
of Janani or the mother of creator. They use the title Thakur. Gonds mainly
worship Pharsa Pen, who is worshiped under the form of the nail and
sometimes a piece of iron chain. Besides Pharsa Pen, they also believe in
several other Gods namely Mariai the Goddess of plague and other
diseases, and Bhimsen the Hindu God. Apart from these God and
Goddess, their exist great number of deities and spirits in the beliefs of
Gonds. According to them every hill, river, lake, tree is also inhabited by
a spirit. They say that the the earth, water and air are ruled by the great
number of deities which must be appeased by sacrifices. They have priests
(devari) who perform all the religious formalities on all the occasions.
Gonds also pay homage to the Gods of household, Gods of Cattle, Gods of
fields. Animal sacrifice on the religious occasions is the common practice
among the Gonds.
Customs and Festivals :
Gonds fair and festivals are
influenced from the Hindu traditions. Keslapur Jathra is the important
festival of the Gonds. In this festival they worship the snake deity called
Nagoba, whose temple is found in the Keslapur village of Indervelly mandal
of Adilabad district. Gusadi dance is the most famous dance perfomed by the
Gonds. It is performed by wearing head gears decorated with the peacock
feathers. They wear cotton cloth around their waist. They smear ash all over
their body and beards made of animal hair is also important part of the
dance costumes. Madai is the another major festival celebrated among the
Gonds. It is the festival when Gonds meet their relatives settled in various
parts of the country. During this festival they also sacrifice goat beeath
the sacred village tree to appease the tribal Goddess. In the night they
enjoy liquor and dance along with the tribal music. Apart from this they
also celebrate Hindu festival called Dusshera.