Imagine that you are watching the Republic Day parade on TV with a friend and she remarks, “Look at these tribals. They look so exotic. And they seem to be dancing all the time”. List three things that you would tell her about the lives of Adivasis in India.
The three things I would tell a friend about the Adivasis in India would be:
(i) The Adivasis controlled vast tracts of forest land till the mid-nineteenth century and very often empires heavily depended on them for access to forest resources.
(ii) The Adivasis have their own languages which have influenced “mainstream” languages like Bengali and Santhali, commonly spoken in urban areas.
(iii) The Adivasi religions too deeply influenced major religions of dominant empires like the Jagannath cult of Orissa, Shakti and Tantric traditions in Bengal and Assam.