[Kurukshetra June 2024 Summary] Agricultural Festivals- Integral Part of Tribal Culture- Explained Pointwise

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The agricultural festivals form an integral Part of Tribal Culture. Various agricultural activities like sowing, caring of crops, harvesting are dependent on nature and weather. Any adversity in weather conditions pose a big challenge to ancient agrarian societies for their survival and sustenance. Hence, to keep their crops safe from any natural calamity, the tribals have started worshiping the agricultural fields and related deities with songs, dances and various offerings.

Agriculture Festivals
Source- Kurukshetra
Table of Content
What are the various agricultural Festivals celebrated by the tribal communities in India?
What is the significance of agricultural festivals celebrated by tribal Communities in India?
What are the challenges/ threats to the tribal culture of agricultural festivals?
What Should be the way Forward?

What are the various agricultural Festivals celebrated by the tribal communities in India?

Most of the agricultural festivals are celebrated twice a year, one at the beginning of cultivation and the other at the time of harvest. These are community celebrations wherein deities are worshipped along with traditional food, music, dances. Nowadays, tourists are also warmly welcomed into these celebrations where they experience rich and varied tribal culture of India.

Tribal agricultural festivals are celebrated in each corner of the states. These begin from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Kerala in the south, to Gujarat in the west, and Manipur in the east. Such festivals are also part of tribal culture in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.

Some of the major Tribal Festivals in India

Bhagoria Tribal FestivalBhagoria Haat or Bhagoria tribal festival is celebrated by Bhils and Bhilalas tribes during the month of March every year. The festival celebrates completion of harvests in fields.
Karma or Karam FestivalKarma or Karam is a festival largely celebrated among tribes of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar, and Assam. It is dedicated to the worship of Karam-Lord to seek his blessings for good harvest and health.
HareliHareli is a very popular tribal festival of Chhatisgarh dedicated to crop harvests, trees and greenery. It is celebrated mainly by Gond tribe with great pomp and show on the new moon day in the month ‘Shravan’ (July-August). The GoddessKutki Dai‘ is worshipped during this festival to seek blessings for good monsoon and bumper crops.
Redgram Week FestivalSavara and Jatapu tribals celebrate Makar Sankranthi as traditional ‘Redgram Week Festival‘ with a set of their own rituals and customs. Newly harvested crop of redgram is first offered to God with prayers, and then cooked for family.
Ali-Aye-Ligang and PoragIn Assam, Mising is the major tribe is the major tribe which celebrates two major agricultural festivals namely Ali-Aye-Ligang and Porag. Ali- Aye- Ligang marks the beginning of cultivation while Porag is a post-harvest festival.
Aelong FestivalNagaland consists of 17 tribe dwelling communities. They celebrate various agricultural activities as festivals such as the sowing of seeds, cleaning of fields after sowing, and completion of harvest. Aelong festival is celebrated after sowing of new seeds in the fields to seek divine blessings for bumper harvest.
MyokoMyoko is one of the most important festivals of the Apatani tribe In Arunachal Pradesh. This festival reinforces their age-old belief that by performing the rituals they can ensure fertility, both in the fields and its people.
Losoong or Noomsong Losoong or Noomsong festival celebrates the end of reaping season of crops. It also marks Sikkimese new year.

What is the significance of agricultural festivals celebrated by tribal Communities in India?

The agricultural festivals celebrated by the tribal communities in India are significant for several reasons:

1. Celebration marking the end of agricultural cycle- Harvest festivals commemorate the end of the agricultural cycle and the beginning of a new year.

2. Expression of gratitude for a bountiful harvest- These festivals are a way to recognize the hard work and labor involved in growing crops and to give thanks for the abundance of the season.

3. Means of community celebration- The tribal community is a close knit community. These festivals help the people come together to celebrate the end of the growing season. This provides an important social and cultural bonding experience.

4. Religious and spiritual origins- Many agricultural festivals are linked to ancient agricultural rituals or celebrations of deities associated with agriculture. For ex- The Goddess ‘Kutki Dai‘ is worshipped during the Hareli festival to seek blessings for good monsoon and bumper crops.

5. Reflective of contemporary values and needs- The celebration of harvest festivals underscore the importance of sustainability and environmental protection for prosperous and productive agriculture.

What are the challenges/ threats to the tribal culture of agricultural festivals?

1. Displacement, Marginalization, and Assimilation of Tribal Communities- Tribal communities have been facing challenges such as displacement, marginalization, and assimilation. These have have threatened the very existence of their cultural heritage like agricultural festivals.

2. Shifting Preferences and Globalization- Rise in globalisation and shifting of preferences of the tribal communities, is threatening the tribal cultural practices. For ex- The shift of the tribals to cities and loss of community bonding due to increasing globalisation and interconnectedness.

3. Limited Exposure and Awareness- The lack of educational initiatives, museums, and galleries specializing in display of tribal cultural practices such as agricultural festivals.

4. Spread of monoculture crops and plantations- The spread of monoculture crops and plantations under the garb ofdevelopment‘ as well as other displacement projects implemented without understanding the value of tribal farming. This harms the self-reliance of tribal communities and the traditional systems that sustain their festivals.

5. Climate Change- Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and an increase in extreme weather events threaten traditional food systems and make it more difficult for tribes to produce, harvest, and access the foods and ingredients needed for their festivals.

What Should be the way Forward?

1. Increased Government Support- The govt should provide funding support for tribal research institutes to document and study tribal agricultural practices and festivals.
Schemes like the “Support of Tribal Research Institute” and “Tribal Festival, Research, Information and Mass Education” should be strengthened to ensure quality research, training, and awareness generation about tribal cultures.

2. Community Engagement- Tribal communities should be empowered to take a lead role in preserving their own cultural practices through community-based conservation efforts.
Initiatives like the Van Dhan Yojana that form clusters of tribal self-help groups and producer companies can help sustain traditional livelihoods linked to agricultural festivals.

3. Protection of Intellectual Property- Geographical Indication (GI) tags should be used to protect and promote unique tribal products showcased at festivals.

4. Establishment of Living Museums- Living museums offer interactive experiences that allow visitors to engage directly with cultural practices and daily life activities of tribal communities. These museums provide a unique opportunity for cultural education and appreciation, bridging the gap between the past and the present.

5. Cultural exchange Programs- International cultural exchange programs, exhibitions, and collaborations can bring tribal art to a broader audience. This would ensure that these practices are not only sustained financially but are also appreciated as essential elements of the global cultural mosaic.

Read More- The Hindu
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