Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Thousands of tribals with traditional attire, dance and music thronged into the town from three sides- Majhighariani Temple, Siriguda and Tumbiguda to commemorate World Indigenous Day. The jamboree, which was organised by local Adivasi Samaj, assembled at Railway Abhinandan Hall and discussed various issues pertaining to language, culture, tradition, health, education, rights over natural resources, employment, role of youth, etc.
Smt Bidulata Huika as Chief Speaker described the daily life cycle of a tribal woman in the village. She emphasised on how the tribal woman from dawn to dusk spent her time by conserving the environment by adhering to tribal tradition and culture.
“A Kandha tribal woman does not need an alarm clock to rise in the morning. It is the cock’s crow which alerts her. She then starts sweeping the house not with a plastic broom but with a broom made out of local shrub. She pounds the millets with the traditional pouding stick called “Kutuni”. She uses a live twig for brushing her teeth and avoid tooth brushes having plastic bristles and tooth paste containing so many chemicals. After attending the call of the nature, she uses leaves and not wastes or pollutes water. Uses ash to wash her clothes and a kind of soil as bathing soap. She climbs the hills with millet porridge in a specially made bottle from bottle gourd. She still uses traditional seeds, organic manure, mulch, etc for agricultural activities. She practises natural farming much before Masanobu Fukuoka of Japan spread the message of Natural Farming. She still uses earthen pots. Hardly any plastic is used. In worshipping the village deities, lots of leaves and local flowers are used”, said Huika.
In the context of this year’s theme of the world indigenous day, she emphasised on pre-primary and primary education of the tribal children in their mother tongue. “Odisha has 62 types of adivasis and a dozen more are demanding to to declare them as adibasis. Research says that there are only 30 tribal languages spoken and the rest have become extinct. Mother Tongue based Multi-Lingual Education(MTMLE) should be promoted by the Government where education is imparted in tribal language as a foundation or base along with other languages like Odia, English, Hindi, etc. We have many educated unemployed tribal youths, who can be trained and employed as MTMLE teachers at par with other teachers. All our Anganwadi Centres should be equipped with tribal children friendly teaching and learning materials. The Anganwadi Workers must be from the tribal community. There are four tribal scripts like Sora Sompeng, Olchiki, Kuvi and Mundari. It is high time that these scripts must be promoted. If the teachers are bilingual, it instils a confidence among the tiny tribal tots. There will be no drop out. Thus the Govt can create a conducive atmosphere to conserve our tribal language. Or otherwise a day will come when the recorded audios in tribal languages can be found in museums and nobody can comprehend that. Language is the identity of tribals. It is an intrinsic part of culture and values of tribals. If this dead, a whole of that tribal community loses its identity. We adivasis are only hope. Our youth must shoulder the responsibility of conserving the language, culture and tradition. The Govt is one step ahead and two steps backward”, lamented Huika.
Dignitaries who spoke on the occasion are Sri Jagannath Saraka, Minister-SC-ST as Chief Guest, Sri Saptagiri Ulaka, MP, Koraput, Sri Lal Bihari Himirika, Ex-Minister, Sri Appalaswamy Kadraka, Sri Basanta Ulaka, Smt Anusuya Majhi, Sri Kantaru Bidika, Sri Jitu Jakesika, Sri Jalandhar Pusika, Sri Brundaban Mandingi, Sri Jhinna Hikaka, Sri Purna Chandra Majhi, Sri Kaliram majhi, Sri Raising Bidika and a few other tribal leaders. This is the first time ever this international indigenous day was observed with such a pump and ceremony. The organisers have taken a vow to celebrate the event in future with a much more organised way eliciting a wider participation.