Throughout the Niyamgiri hills, the Dongria Kondh tribe lives in the spread villages. They worship the mountain God Niyam Raja. They communicate with each other in the Kui language, which has no written but spoken language among the Kondh people. These tribes are also known as Dangaria Kandha.
The traditional Dongria Kondh community has always been based on a fortified family structure that includes people from different generations and these are marked by geographically segregated tribes where each family was named after a male animal.
The Dongria Kondh tribe history reflects that the family identification is also divided based on the surname, where the surname of the oldest man in the most powerful family is often used to refer to that tribe. This family segregation program within the Dongria Kondh community is a family segregation program.
Life of Kondh people:
- In the forests, they gather wild foods such as wild mangoes, pineapples, jack fruit, and honey. Extraordinary remedies are also widely available, used by Dongria to treat many ailments including arthritis, diarrhea, fractures, malaria, and snakebite.
- Dongria Kondh families often spend days in their fields, keeping animals away from songs and drumming.
- Dongria also grows orchards in the forest, producing crops such as oranges, bananas, sweet papaya, and aromatic resin, that are sold in local markets.
- Dongria men collect the juice from large sago palm trees, a drink that gives strength to long-distance trekkers across the Niyamgiri Hills.
Dongria Kondh movement:
The Dongria are protesting Vedanta locally and are gaining support nationally and internationally. The reason behind the Dongria Kondh movement is, that for the past ten years, the FTSE (Financial Times and London Stock Exchange) 100 companies Vedanta has threatened to evict the Dongria Kondh tribe and destroy the barren areas of Niyamgiri, in order to remove Bauxite from under its hills.
Vedanta planned to build a mine that would not only violate the earth, but also the rights of the people who should be there. It can have devastating effects on the environment, the people, and the values of the international community.
Objectives of the movement:
The major objectives of the Dongria Kondh movement are given below:
- Preventing Vedanta from building their mine and extracting Bauxite.
- Preventing the removal of Dongria.
- Generating support and awareness on the issue of Dongria Kondh.
- Ensuring that Dongria guarantees their rights by the Government, against Vedanta and any other such companies.
A UK-based NGO i.e., Survival has been supporting Dongria and has called on the Indian and UK governments to suspend the mine. Along with the Survival NGO, there are various other organizations that support the rights of the Dongria tribe. They are:
- Wildlife Society of Odisha
- Mines, Minerals, and People (MMP)
- Wildlife Institute of India
- Delhi Solidarity Group
- Adivasi movement, and so on.
During the Dongria Kondh movement, the tribe blocked the roads, built a human chain on Mount Law, and lit a Vedanta jeep as they drove up to their sacred mountain. They are fighting for their own right, and they will not give up this war as long as they hear the threat of Vedanta.
Survival used all the tricks they could think of: Demonstrations, pressure on shareholders to directly solicit them, the archbishop of Canterbury was repeatedly asked in public about Niyamgiri, so there was public embarrassment about their meeting.
Survival ensures that it remains at the forefront of people’s minds, and they do a lot of the work of law enforcement officials to ensure that Dongria gets justice. A level of thunder was created so that anyone associated with Dongria’s rights violations would be identified.
The population of the Kondh Tribe is approximately 8,000 people living as the members of Dongria Kondh Tribe, which are inhabitants of about 100 villages spread throughout the Niyamgiri Hills. The social structure of the community is familiar with the surrounding forest area of hills, where they have lived for generations.
Style and customs:
The boys of the tribe wear two nose rings, while the women who are members of the tribe wear three rings on their noses and a lot of rings on their ears.
- The girls of this tribe also wear bracelets, hair clips, and necklaces around their necks. Overall, Dongria has unique hairstyles, pieces of jewelry, and tattoos.
- The structure of the Dongria Kondh family depends on the person’s surname as exogamy is practiced in this society, which according to some people is a very common sexual practice among these communities in their culture.
- These exogamous surnames have led to the emergence of prominent surnames resulting from the marriage process and long-term reproduction.
Within the mountainous region of the Eastern Ghats, in the south of Odisha lives desirable Kui-speaking folks referred to as Dongria Kondh. They live in the highlands of Niyamgiri in the district of Rayagada. It is concluded that the Dongria Kondh community is the most prevalent tribe of Odisha.