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Voices of the heartland

Author: admin

Humans of Gondwana brings the stirring stories of middle India’s tribal population to the fore

Deep inside the jungles of middle India lie the vestiges of another time—a single fire is kept alive for days on end, cocks fight to the death, and the chutney is made of red ants.

Hundreds of tribes known collectively as the Gonds inhabit the forests of the central Gondwana region, where they revere the earth and forests they inhabit. Spread across Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, northern Telangana, western Odisha and southern Uttar Pradesh, the Gonds are a repository of ancient traditions, beliefs and practices.

For years, we have looked at them with curiosity and intrigue from afar, through their distinct art and storytelling imagery. We have read about them in the news as the battered Adivasis of India’s Red Corridor, caught in the middle of an insurgency that has affected the region for decades. But over the past two years, we’ve got a closer glimpse at them, thanks to Chhattisgarh-based Ramesh Kasa, Shatali Shedmake, Harshit A Charles, Kaushik Madiya and Lalsu Soma Nogoti, who are behind the Facebook page titled Humans of Gondwana.

Through their lens, we look into the world of these indigenous people, their fascinating rituals, and raw and rugged practices. We also get to hear from the Humans of Gondwana, as their messages are presented to us in the Gondi language as well as in Hindi and English.

A recent exhibition at Hyderabad’s Lamakaan cultural centre, Humans of Gondwana showcased stirring tales of this section of India’s tribal population—stories of their food, politics, music, agricultural practices and tattoos. All we can do is watch how the 21st century, virtually an intruder in the Gond homeland, now forces these tribals to adapt to the demands of ‘modern-day’ living.

Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
October 2017