Let us begin

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I shall be sharing my research and findings on the folk lifestyles and art forms of North Chattisgarh on this blog. I hope I would be able to cater to all those, who love to explore and find new things about new cultures and regions. I hope this blog would also provide a much needed documentation of this untouched region.

I have collected this data during my research work under the research grant by University Grants Commission, New Delhi. This project covers the tribal districts of Raigarh, Jashpur and Sarguja and the data has been collected by me and my project fellows by personally exploring numerous villages in these areas.

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How clay becomes art

Clay or Mud is used in plethora of varied activities in folk cultures. It is not only an important element in agriculture, but is also used to create stunning sculptures and necessary household items in Jashpur and Sarguja districts. Using traditional designs, and more often than not, by innovating those designs a lot of villagers here create earthen pots, utensils and other religious and household items. Until recently, black or yellow soil was used to create these items exclusively, but now brown soil and smooth clay (terracotta) is also put to use.

गेरू मिट्टी मिले हुए लाल मटके और  दीये

Small lanterns and diyas made out of brown clay

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Pola: A festival of gratitude to the Oxen

On the 5th of September, apart from the Teacher’s Day celebrations, there was another reason to celebrate. And that is Pola (Pora). This festival is celebrated during Bhadrapad Amavasya. Oxen are a very important part of farming here, even today. By this day, the work on the fields is complete. And this special festival is to mark the gratitude to the oxen. This festival is also celebrated in different states, for instance, in Maharashtra the oxen are work shipped and fed nicely, or in some states there are races for oxen organised. But in Chattisgarh, and especially in Raigarh district, there is a distinct tradition of worshiping small idols of oxen made out of mud.

The oxen idol, wheels and the sticks ready for use.

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Bamboo Art: Where the livelihood and art converge

Every folk art form inspires itself from the local folk culture of its region. This is usually inherited by generations of knowledge sharing. The kids in the family learn it from the adults just by observing and gradually following them through the process. Let me take you on a journey – through pictures – to several handicrafts and especially the ones made from Bamboo.

This art form is practiced for two primary motives. The first one being livelihood, by making objects for daily use.

Goods like parra, dauri and supa being sold at local markets

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The technique behind making Jaggery

A lot of proverbs and sayings revolve around jaggery in our culture, here in Chhattisgarh. For instance, ‘Gud khakar gulgule se parhez’ or ‘Goonga kya batayega gud ka swaad’, slightly difficult to get their emotions if translated literally, but they all revolve around the notion that the taste of jaggery is indescribable. But the point being, the making of this jaggery is a very tedious and sticky process. It is made out of sugarcane, and to prepare sugarcane, it takes almost nine months, as much as it takes for a child to be born. Let us take a look at how this awesome indigenous sweetener is made!

A farmer carrying harvested sugarcane from his farms

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A special source of livelihood: Sona Jharna

In this post, I will take you to one of the most unexpected, unexplored and majorly ignored source of livelihood in this tribal land. The whole world is uniformly attracted to gold and its beauty in forms of jewellery, antiques and what not. In Jashpur district, the Bhuihar tribe collect tiny particles of gold from a river. Bhuihar in local language translates to the son of the land. This tribe speaks Sadri, which is a local tribal dialect.

अपने उपकरणों के साथ घर के बाहर बैठे भुइहर जाति के लोग

People of the Bhuihar tribe outside their home with their equipments

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Secondary sources of livelihood: More forest based activities

The districts of Raigarh, Jashpur and Sarguja also feature small activities which revolve around forest and its bi-products. The dominant ones are: plates and cups (known as pattal and dona) from leaves of Sal or Palash trees, broomsticks from a particular species of wild grass and ropes from the stem-covers of trees.

रायगढ़ जिले के ग्राम तिलगा में पत्तल-दोना बनाती महिला

A woman from village Tilga in Raigarh district making Pattal-Dona.

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Alternate sources of livelihood: Forest based products

साल बीज सुखाती हुई महिला

A woman drying the sal seeds

The districts of Raigarh, Jashpur and Sarguja are blessed with ample forest cover. Due to this, a lot of villagers collect forest bi-products like fruits, flowers, seeds, stem covers, leaves, roots et al. Essential products in useful quantities are stored by them, the rest of it is sold in village markets. This forest produce constitutes a large part of their livelihood, and is essential for survival. Continue reading