Discover Tribes of Gir National Park for a Unique Travel Experience

Experiencing the tribal culture is one of the great things to do in Gir National Park. You can learn more about the historical relationship between Maldharis and the Siddis tribe and their natural environment by visiting this national park. One of the famous isolated settlements is Siddis, a unique tribe believed to be of African ancestry. They have a population of 50,000–60,000 and are predominantly concentrated in the Junagadh district. They practice Islam as their primary religion.

The other profoundly religious community is the Maldhari tribes that moved to Gir about 125 years ago despite the apparent risks and lack of infrastructure. They’ve done an excellent job getting along with the wild animals in the park, including lions. They feel the cattle escaping the park’s predators are gifts, or “prasad,” in exchange for living in someone else’s home. These tribesmen are vegetarians who live in nesses and are now inextricably linked to the surrounding forest.

Each year, the tribe holds a festival that gives visitors an excellent chance to get to know the tribes and learn about their culture. A few days before Holi, there is the Dangs Darbar celebration; a fortnight later, there is the Chitra Vichitra Fair. Visitors who attend the fair can partake in the cuisine of the tribes and dance with them. Scroll down to get a better outlook on the lifestyle of tribes.

Here is The  List of Tribes Living Close to Gir National Park

The deciduous forests of Sasan Gir are home to several indigenous tribes and local communities that are deeply connected to the land. Maldhari and Siddi communities have lived here for many years and are as much a part of the magnificent Sasan scenery as the famous lions. Learn more about them below.

Maldhari Community

Many news and article websites identify the Sasan Gir, or Maldharis, a tribal group living in Gujarat, as the long-established dairymen. In the past, the latter delivered milk and cheese to the rajas’ palaces in that area. They were nomads initially, but after settling in Junagadh, particularly in the Gir National Park, they became known as “Maldhari,” also their professional name. The Gujarati words Mal (cattle) and Dhari (keeper) were combined to create the term “Maldhari” (keeper).

Currently, there are 30 Maldhari nesses in the western portion of the wildlife sanctuary, compared to 24 nesses in the eastern part of the Gir forest. The nesses are home to approximately 4,000 tribe members and about 19,000 livestock.

Origin of Maldhari Community

The castes to which the Maldharis belong vary by area. Around 8,400 Maldharis reside in the Gir Forest National Park as of 2007. The Charan, Bharwad, and Rabari castes comprise most of Gir’s Maldhari population. The Koli, Kathi, Bawa, Meghwal, and Makranis are examples of minority castes. Even though these castes are not considered Scheduled Tribes outside of the forest areas, the Maldharis of Gir, Alech, and Barda have been included among the Scheduled Tribes since 1956.

Lifestyle of Maldhari Community 

The lifestyle of this community is quite simple. They don’t have access to power, schools, running water, or a reliable healthcare system because they live in tiny mud homes in the middle of the forest. Along with gathering wild honey and planting vegetables, they also get money by selling milk.

Their primary income source is selling pure, premium milk, ghee, butter, cheese, vegetables, wool, animals, and attractive handicrafts. In addition, they set up temporary stores at the entrances to the forest, where they sell homemade wall hangings and other decorative products to tourists visiting the Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.

Dressing style of Maldhari Community

The women of this tribe have their enormous hanging silver jewelry stretched and wrapped over their ears. They put on bracelets made of elephant tusks resembling hourglasses and fastened them around their wrists. For daily use, many of them choose plastic copies.

They also possess priceless ivory jewelry, which they keep in oil-filled cans. This method makes the ornaments less fragile and more accessible to put on. Since they feel their family’s honor rests on this status symbol, they wear these decorations throughout their traditional tribal festivities to give the impression of wealth and importance.

Culture of Maldhari community

Maldharis are descended from nomads who eventually settled in the Gir grasslands after sporadically migrating from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and other regions of Gujarat. Their principal settlements are Bharvad, Rabari, Ahir, and Charan.

These semi-nomadic herders traverse meager pasturelands with their flocks of sheep, goats, cows, buffalo, and camels for eight months out of the year in search of feed. The Maldhari typically return to their native villages during the monsoon season, as the rains cause more fresh grass to sprout nearby. Weddings are customarily only celebrated on one day each year in some communities: Krishna Janmashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday), which falls in the middle of the rainy season.

Girls are only allowed to attend school in some areas. Instead, they are expected to spend their formative years sewing elaborate garments for their wedding day or, if they were married off as children, as many were, for the ceremony held when each moves in with her husband, typically when she is in her early twenties.

Siddi Community

Descendants of Africa live in one region of India. They are known as Siddis. According to data, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 people comprise this community. They are descended from laborers who Gujarati traders imported to Zanzibar and other African nations in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The term “Habshi” is well-known to readers of Bengali historical fiction.

The terms “Siddis” and “Habshis” are used synonymously to refer to the same tribe that originated from the Bantu people of Southeast Africa. The Arabic word Habashi, taken from the Persian word for Abyssinian, is where Habshi gets its name. Kings and queens used Habshis as bodyguards in Bengali literature.

This portrayal is accurate because individuals once served in the armies of regional kingdoms. Some eventually even attained political influence. In the fifteenth century, one reigned over a portion of Bengal.

Origin of Siddi Community

The Siddi tribe, a community of people descended from Africans, continues to live in their settlement and has all the physical characteristics you would associate with those of the continent. Members of this tribe speak Gujarati fluently and adhere to traditional Indian customs just like any other family in the area, which makes for an impressive image.

Like many other minority communities rooted in the rural parts of India, the Siddi tribe also suffers from poverty and under-resourced conditions. Their means of subsistence include working as security guards, vegetable vendors, and other unskilled labor.

Lifestyle of Siddi Community

The brilliant and resilient Siddi women use their skills to make a living. While the males look for paid employment, the women sew and sow, ride scooters, and insist their children attend school. For the younger generation to find work in traditional roles, they need more professional exposure. Young workers are frequently discouraged from seeking employment in larger cities because of racism against the tribe.

Many Siddis live without electricity in the forest and rely entirely on nature for their food. With the help of various government subsidies and initiatives offered as part of ethnic group rehabilitation projects, living circumstances have improved inside and outside the forest. For this underprivileged ethnic community, however, opportunity and education are insufficient.

Dressing style of Siddi Community

The national dress for Siddis is the sari, the kameez, and their traditional African clothing for women. The men wear kameez, their unique clothing. At the same time, they have assimilated themselves in many ways into the culture of the rest of India.

When it comes to dressing, women and men dress in typical Indian fashion. Siddi women wear garments that are predominant in their locale, which can be colorful saris accessorized with bindis. Men wear what is generally appropriate for men in their communities.

Culture of the Siddi community

The Siddi’s culture reveals their East African ancestry and how long they have lived in India. They have integrated into the majority culture in many ways but have maintained some ancestral practices, particularly in music and dance.

The Siddi, like other ethnic groups separated by geography, have both unique and shared cultural practices. The Siddi typically associate with and marry people from their own communities. The Siddi rarely match outside of their communities.

Despite being considered a tribe by the Indian government, Siddi communities primarily reside in rural areas where men are responsible for farming and women are in charge of the household and children. Men also typically work as farm workers, drivers, manual laborers, and security guards outside their towns.

Exploring Gir National Park is an excellent choice for wildlife enthusiasts, as you might see endangered lions and other exotic animals in the park. But, the icing for travelers is that they can learn from the tribes about their culture and lifestyle. You will be amazed by the traditions and practices of the tribes in the park. Are you also excited to meet the tribes of the national park? So, contact Indian Visit now to book your Gir National Park tour packages.

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