Odisha Tribes – The Tribal Culture of Odisha

In India, there is an admixture of 437 tribes, and the numbers of tribes of Odisha are 62. According to 1991 enumeration, in Odisha, the total vitality of tribal people is relatively seven million which establishes 22.21% of the total population of the whole state. The tribes of India are commonly classified into four categories which are as follows:

  • Indo Aryan speakers
  • Dravidian Speakers
  • Tibeto Burmese Speakers
  • Austric Speakers

The Tibeto Burmese speakers family are absent, however, the other tribes can be found in Odisha. Even though the tribes belong to three different linguistic divisions, still they share lots of social and cultural similarities among them.

These similarities show us the homogeneity of their cultures. Tribal society shares some common characteristics, and for which they are so different from other societies.


The hilly and forested areas are a big considerable portion of the tribal habitat. Mostly the tribal villages are found in the areas which are far away from carnal plains mostly close to rivers. Most of the villages are traditional in nature and smaller in size.


The Odisha tribe’s economy is substance oriented. Their substance economy mostly based on Collecting, hunting, and fishing anything for food. They do often plow using agricultural tribe.

The large tribes like the Santal, Munda, Oram, and Gond, often additive their economy with hunting and conclave.

They use very simple technology with a very small division of labor, it’s often limited for the family. They lose out in the sense because of the smallholdings and unproductive, this is due to the lack of irrigation.

For example, many tribes the Juanga, Bhuiyan, Saora, Dharua and Bonda, practice shifting cultivation or well known as “poddu chasa” also known as slash and burn.

The process of Shifting cultivation is they choose a plot of land which s generally on a mountain slope after that they slash down all the trees and then burn them into ashes.

Then spread the ashes properly over that plot, and then wait for the rain before they plant their crops. The soil of the land gets depleted due to the cultivation for two-three seasons on the same land, so they move on.

This is the way of life for tribes of Odisha. Tribal culture in a natural state is rich and extraordinary and for that, the Adivasis work really very hard to conserve it. A tribal village manages all its internal problems very smoothly. There are two institutions to manage it – the village council of elders and the youth dormitory.

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King Indradyumna first established the temple of Lord Jagannath here on the Nilachala hill with the Deity being installed by Lord Brahma himself.

The present temple was begun by King Chora Ganga deva and finished by his descendant Ananga Bhima Deva during the 12th century.

The temple complex comprises an area of 10.7 acres and is enclosed by 2 rectangular walls. The outer enclosure is called Meghanada Prachira. The walls are 20ft high. The inner wall is called Kurma bheda. The walls were built during the 15th or 16th centuries.

Bonda Tribe

Bondas live in the remote Bonda hills. The landscape is quite inspiring with steep roads to climb up the green hill slopes and amazing jungles that seem to go forever.

The Bondas are a national tribe of people approximately 5000 in number, living in the confined hill regions to the Malkangiri district of south westernmost Odisha, near to the confluence to the three states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh. Bonda has a scheduled tribe of India and is also known as Remo.

Bonda Tribe

They are fickle in behavior, and also dislike intervention. The men are very short and lean from walking up and down with the mountain slopes. Bonda women are almost covered with their religious costumes with strings full of beads and brass ornaments that hang lower waist to their bodies.

Bondas are different from other tribes of Odisha for their behavior to violence. They are loaded with bows and arrows, the Bonda male never hesitates to release his arrow towards his opponent that will mark straight to the heart.

Bonda marriage system is that the Bonda girls like to marry younger boys because they can have someone to earn for the old age.

Kondh Tribe

The Kondhs are one of the well-known tribes and one of the largest tribal communities in Orissa which has a population of around 1 million, they are famous in history for their Merial Sacrifice (human sacrifice). The Kondhs very much believe to be from the Proto-Australoid national group.

Konda Tribe

Their language is Kui. The Kondhs are accomplished land dwellers exhibiting great flexibility to the forest environment. Their playground is dense sal forests.

Their hunting instruments are of primitive races with bows and axes. They are mostly established in large numbers in Kandhmal (formely Phulbani), Bolangir, Koraput, and Ganjam districts of Orissa.

Gadaba Tribe

The Gadaba is an archaic tribe mentioned as Mundari or Kolarian on linguistic grounds. They are early settlers of this country and their origins date to the time of Ramayana. The word Gadaba means a person who carries loads on his shoulders.

They call themselves Guthan. They always speak a mundari dialect, called Gadaba after the tribal’s name. They are primarily called the tribe of agriculturists. They are also employed as bearers in the hills and carry palanquins.

Emigrated from the bank of Godavari River and settled in Nandapur, the former capital of Rajas of Jeypore. Besides Malkangiri, this tribe is could also be found in Koraput, Kalahandi, Sundergarh, Gangam, Sampalpur and Boudh Phulbani districts of Odisha.

Saora Tribe

The Saora or Sora is the tribe from Southern Odisha. The Saoras are second-most outstanding tribal communities in the Rayagada district of Odisha. They are also present in some specific places of Koraput and Gajapati districts.

They sometimes are called Lanjia Saoras because of their dress pattern of wearing a loincloth hanging from behind which could be mistakenly known as a tail by a stranger. Their highest concentration could be found in the Puttasingi area.

Juang Tribe

Juang is a jungle tribe of Odisha. They are found in only two of the tributary states, namely Dhenkanal and Keonjhar. The population is estimated to about 10,000.

Their language belongs to the Munda family. They have no traditions, and they broke all connections with Hos or the Santal and claim to be the true aborigines.

They are skilled in making baskets, which is in demand in nearby caste villages. The Juangs sometimes exchange their baskets for food and money with the village traders.

They increased contact with the Hindu villages and also took up the worship of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi. They slowly got mixed into the Hindu Caste system as a basket making caste group.

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