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Children of the Forest God

First Online: August 15, 1997
Last Updated: January 11, 2018

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 anthropologists. 

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.

-Vikas Kamat

Table of Contents

Stories of Bastar Travel
Krishnanand Kamat travels and lives among tribals of Madhya Pradesh. Read about the enrichment, and exploitation.
Tribal WomenWomen 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.
Tribal 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.
Tribal PhotographyPhotographing Tribals
Dr. Kamat on his difficulties and joys of photographing the primitive lifestyles of tribals during 1976-77.
Jungle SchoolsKingdom of the Young
Article on the fascinating system of tribal education involving free sex, hunting, dancing, and music.
Indigenous Indians
Primary sources such as diary entries, letters, sketches, and photographs documenting the various tribes of India.


Index of Pictures


See Also:


The Tribals
Tribals of India

Tribal Women in Town trying to Get a Glimpse of Inside of a HouseWestern style <b>dating</b> is an integral part of tribal education system among the Murias of Madhya PradeshBuffalo-horn head gear, Madhya PradeshLight heart cures povertyA Halakki woman going to market to sell vegetablesTribal BeautyWhat is Nuclear Testing?
Tribals decorating  a head-gearTribal Women Gathered for All-Night Long DanceA Toda Village Elder in Nilgiri MountainsA Lambani Woman and her JewelryA Tribal woman wearing self-made jewelry, Madhya PradeshBorn in poverty, raised in poverty….Tribal Women at a Weekly Marketplace
Halakki Women in a Group DanceBells of a Adivasi DancerKorku Tribal with his Stick ToolTribal  Dancer at a Tribal Education InstitutionDecorated Headgear of a Tribal StudentGramokkal Lady of Hebbar Hittal, 1987Silver Jewelry of a Gondati
Halbi Tribal Man Praying in front of a TulasiTribal Women on their Way to MarketDaughter of the ForestDancing Tribal WomenMan Belonging to the Korku TribeA Girl Belonging to the Santhal Tribe and her PetTribal Girl in Unicloth
The Female of the TribeMan Belonging to the Kadu Kuruba TribeBangles that resemble AnkletsTattoos of a Tribal WomanA Sundi TribalA Youngster belonging to the Gonda TribeBison Horn Maria Drummer
Dancers Walking on Stilts Finely Crafted Bangle Long Distance Walking

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