Madhya Pradesh is not only the geographic heart of India, but can also be termed as the cultural and religious nucleus of the country. The term 'diversity' gets best expression in the place. In fact, the people of the state provide the first glimpse towards its multi-faceted culture. It conjoins people, belonging to different religions, castes and communities, and presents a harmonious blend of the true ethos of India. As far as religion is concerned, Madhya Pradesh domiciles people belonging to all the major religions viz. Hinduism Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
Even though the state is home to people belonging to numerous religions
and ethnic backgrounds, it truly reflects the concept of Indian
secularism. If there are Hindu shrines in Ujjain, Jabalpur and
Khajuraho, there are also Muslim mosques and Buddhist monasteries in
places like Bhopal and Sanchi. In fact, peaceful co-existence and mutual
co-operation unify the people of Madhya Pradesh and present its unique
cultural conction. Add to it, the numerous tribal populaces scattered
around its regions and the cultural vibrancy of the place stands out
amongst all the states in India.
Tribal People of Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh has three distinct tribal groups, namely Gonds, Bhils
and Oraons. Gonds, who were once the ruling clans of most parts of the
state, are the highest in number. The western part of Madhya Pradesh is
home to the Bhils, a colorful warrior tribe. The Oraons is the other
distinct group and dominates the eastern side of the state. Other minor
tribes, like Kols, Bhilalas, Murias and Korkens, are scattered around
the state and contribute towards its animated tribal heritage.
These tribes were earlier semi-nomadic, but live in small and distinct
communities today and strive towards preservation of their age-old
beliefs and culture. For instance, the rhymesters and singers of the
Gond tribe still eulogize the legendary character of Lingo-pen, believed
to be the originator of the tribe. The Pondwani and the Lachmanjati
legends are very popular among the Gonds and are as mythical as the
Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
Apart from folklore, the tribal songs remain intrinsically fused with
the culture of the tribal people of the state, and cupy a place of
paramount importance in their lives. There are ceremonial songs
pertaining to birth and marriage. Moreover, the folktales, riddles, and
proverbs also form an important part of their tribal heritage. People
also engage in many fun activities, whih serve didactic purpose. The
most noteworthy amongst them is the practice of 'Ghotul' amongst the
'Ghotul' is actually a hut where young children of the clan gather and
learn about the moral standards and beliefs of the tribe. Another unique
traditional activity is the marriage ceremony of the Bhils and Bhilalas.
People of this clan choose their spouse in a festival fair known as
Bhagoriya. In case, both the girl and boy harbor mutual and positive
feelings, they elope with each other and afterwards are accepted as man
As a part of their vivacious culture and lifestyle, the Adivasis
of Madhya Pradesh display a colorful array of traditional dresses and
ornaments. Major male population wears a dhoti and a headdress. In the
eastern regions of the state, males wear a Safa (head cloth),
whereas Paga (turban) is preferred in the western parts of the
state. A jacket called Bandi or Mirzai forms important
attire in the Malwa and Buldelkhand regions. The tribal women generally
adorn themselves with colorful lehengas (skirts), cholis
(blouses) and traditional jewelry.