Children of the Forest God
First Online: August 15, 1997
Last Updated: January 01, 2015
Over hundred or so different
tribes spread over India have suffered the indignity of caste
discrimination for centuries. It was Mahatma Gandhi who fought hard to
recognize them as free citizens of India and called them the Girijans
or the Children of the Forest God. Upon independence in 1947, the
Government of India spent a lot of resources to improve the life of the
native Indians or Scheduled Tribes, as they are known in India today.
While much progress is made in reforming the tribals, the forced
change gave rise to numerous unforeseen problems in India, including
social conflict, loss of identity, and coerced religious conversions.
The following is a potpourri of topics on the Tribals of
India, mostly based on the first person studies and photographs by my
father K.L.Kamat. Many tribes believed (in the 1960s and 1970s) that
posing for the photograph caused their death, and the extent and the
pains Kamat has taken to document these itself is a subject for a
volume; he has shared meals with the poorest of the poor in their
habitat, waited hours to take natural photographs, coaxed and coerced
the villagers into providing information, and has studied works of other
Kamat has claimed that interaction with tribals provided
him with "true fulfillment of life" (see his introduction),
and by keenly studying this exhibit at Kamat's Potpourri, we hope that
you will learn about the little known, but very rich traditions and
cultures of the tribals of India.
Table of Contents
Stories of Bastar Travel
travels and lives among tribals of Madhya Pradesh. Read about the enrichment,
Women in Tribal Societies
Jyotsna Kamat's eye opening research paper on the role of women in tribal societies of Central India, and what we can learn from them.
World of Verrier Elwin
Story of a Christian missionary turned anthropologist who
devoted his life for the betterment of the tribals of India.
Halakki Tribals of Karavali
Articles and pictures of a farming tribe on the Indian west coast.
Dr. Kamat on his difficulties and joys of photographing the primitive lifestyles of tribals during 1976-77.
Kingdom of the Young
Article on the fascinating system of tribal education involving free sex, hunting, dancing, and music.
Primary sources such as diary entries, letters, sketches, and photographs documenting the various tribes of India.
Index of Pictures