Tribes of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is one of the most populated states in India and is also home to many tribal communities. Some of the main tribes in the state are Baiga, Agaria, Bhoksa, Kol and more and some of them have been recognized as the Scheduled Tribes by the Government of India. A comprehensive list of the tribes of Uttar Pradesh is provided below along with their details.
One of the Scheduled Tribes of India is the Agariya people who live primarily in the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states of India. During the years of the British rule, the ones who lived in and around Mirzapur were involved in the mining of iron. The languages that are spoken by the people of this tribe are Hindi, Agariya language and Chhatisgarhi.
In Gujarat, there is a small group known as Agariya who are the salt makers but no evidence has been found if they have any relation to the group of Agariyas in Mirzapur. The latter was divided into groups in the early 20th century. Although they were influenced by Hinduisim and called themselves as Hindus, they did not worship any Hindu deities which the other Hindus did.
An ethnic community of people in India, Aheria is mainly found in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Totaling to around 1,40,000, most of these people speak mainly Hindi as they are believers of Hindu religion. However, they also speak 17 other languages, the Harauti being one of the most common ones having around 2000 speakers from the community. Before the 1920s, they were mainly hunters but later on they became farmers.
Some of the other names by which they are known as are as follows - Aheri, Aheriya, Ahiria, Baheliya, Bahelia, Herbi, Beta, Heri, Hersi, karwal, Hesi, Karbal, Thori, Naik or Turi etc.
Commonly found in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, the Baiga tribe also has some sub castes like Nahar, Bijhwar, Narotia, Kadh Bhaina, Rai Bhaina, Bharotia etc. According to the census 1981, their population was around 2,48,949.
This tribe practices ‘shifting cultivation’ in the forest. As they never plough the same patch of earth again and again, they lead a semi-nomadic life. They believed in Bewar cultivation which means that they plough out of respect and not aggression until recently. Now, they practice slash and burn or ‘dahiya cultivation’ and for this reason, thousands of square miles of forests have got destroyed. As it was below their dignity to work for anyone else, this tribe worked as hunters and woodsmen and survived on the forest produce.
Baiga have tattooing as an integral part of their lifestyle. They are the successors of the Dravidians. One of the most distinguishing feature of this tribe is that the women sport tattoos of different kinds on almost all different parts of their bodies. The ones who work as the tattooing artists are known as Godharins and have extensive knowledge about the field.
Most of the Baigas communicate in Hindi with the outsiders and many of them know Marathi or Gondi depending upon their residence. The food that they consume is usually coarse and includes kodo, coarse grain, kutki, eat some flour and drink pej etc. They also hunt for small mammals and fish and eat fruits like char, mango, tendu and jamun etc. which are readily available in the forest.
A part of the Scheduled Castes, Beldar are originally from northern parts of India, especially Uttar Pradesh. The Kewat community is claimed to be their ancestors and have a history of moving from one place to another. The Beldar is an occupational caste and their traditional occupation is that of the navvies. However, they are also involved in the digging of wells, rivers and road construction projects carried out by the government. A few of them are involved in selling of vegetables and fruits. They are a part of the Hindu community and speak dialects of Hindi. A huge number of Beldars are found in Lakhipur, Barabanki, Gonda, Khari, Gorakhpur, Ginda, Sitapur, Faizabad etc.
Bhoksa/ Buksa people
Living mainly in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the Bhoksa people are indigenous people who have been granted the status of the Scheduled Tribes. They speak Buksa language which can be compared to Rana Tharu. After abandoning their animist traditions, they are now basically Hindus. They use Brahmin priests for all their religious activities and worship the tribal deity of Shakumbari Devi. Most of them are involved in cultivating land and many work as mountain guides as their secondary occupation. They do have some distinct settlements and they do not share the same with any caste of tribal grouping.
The Bind tribe is found in the North India, especially in Uttar Pradesh and belongs to the Other Backward Caste. This community claims that they it belongs to the Simha community and are different from the other castes including the Bin in Bihar. They have originated from the Vindhya Hills located in the central part of India. As per the traditions, when Nisadh’s daughter passed by a river on her way to her husband’s house, a nymph of the river charmed her. As she knew how to make a reed mat out of the nymph, she started doing so. Since then, this community has been manufacturing reed mats which are similar to chatai.
As per their occupation, the binds have been divided into seven sub-groups, Nisadh, Suraia, Mallah, Kulawat, Kewat, Guria and Bind proper. Each of them have a specialized occupation. The Nisadh, Kewat and Kulawat catch fish; the Guria and Mallah are boatmen. Since the Binds in Bihar and Binds in Uttar Pradesh are different due to their traditions, in the UP, they are well known as Nunera, Bind and Beldar. Apart from their main occupation of making the reed mats, some of the Binds practice farming and some raise the milch cattle too.
The eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh are where they are highly concentrated. They speak Awadhi and Bhojpuri in Uttar Pradesh. Their traditional caste council strictly controls all the members in terms of social norms. Most of them practice Hinduism and follow its customs.
Found in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the North India, the Chero is a scheduled caste, a community that claims to have been originally the Chandravanshi Rajputs. Some of the other members of the tribe are Nagvanshi. They belong to one of the tribal communities that are resident of the southeastern parts of Uttar Pradesh like the Kol and Bhar. They ruled northern parts of Bihar until the Rajputs disposed them off. Now, they can be found in the areas that extend from Muzzaffarpur to Allahabad. They are sub-divided into Chaudhary and Mahto.
They are mainly involved in agriculture and animal husbandry. They also collect the Mahua flower that is available locally to be sold in the markets. Some of the members also work as wage laborers and similar to the other scheduled castes, they live on marginal grounds. They are basically Hindus and at the same time, also worship the many tribal deities like Dulha Deo, Ganwar Bhabhani and Sairi-ma. They are controlled by the traditional caste council. They marry their children in Baiga and Kol, their neighboring communities and are not endogamous.
Ghasiya or Ghasia
The Ghasia also known as the Ghasiyara are a Hindu caste. They have the status of the scheduled caste and are found in Uttar Pradesh. Traditionally, the word ghasiya means the grasscutter. They are one of the many tribal communities from Sonbhadra and Mirzapur in the southern parts of Uttar Pradesh. According to their claims, they have migrated from Madhya Pradesh’s Surguja district and at some point of time, they were the rulers but since they lost their rulings, they started cultivation.
They follow clan exogamy strictly. Referred to as the Kuris, the main clans are Banger, Arilkhanda, Bhainsa, Katihari, Janta, Surajbansi and Sonwan. The name of the Sonwans has been derived from the word Sona in Hindi which means gold and claims a higher status. The Bhainsa have derived from the Bhainsasur Godling. Basically they are Hindus but also have their tribal deities like Sheetla Devi, Dulhadeo and Burhimal. The language spoken by them is Hindi in Bundelkhandi dialect.
Many Ghasiya still work as grass cutters and some of them manufacture Mandau, a type of comb. They usually live in their own settlement and interact a bit with the neighboring communities.
A Nomadic traditionally ethnic group known as Kanjar is found in the Northern parts of India and Pakistan. This community is also known as Marwari Kumar, Banchra and Nath. Derived from the Sanskrit word Kanana-chara which means the jungle wanderer. The Kanjar claim that they originated in the Indian state Rajasthan. In order to avoid the prosecution of the Mughals, they had to flee to the nearby jungles. Ever since, they have lived in the jungle and make their living by hunting.
The Kanjar community is said to have been descended from Manu Guru and Nathiya Kanjarin, his wife. They are divided into Superala, Callad, Rachhband and Diyal. The Patharakat, the fifth group is now a distinct group which no longer marries with the other Kanjar groups. Late Sri Nath was one of the most popular persons in India who had the first LLB degree from the Kanjar community.
Although, traditionally, their main occupation was hunting, many have taken to agriculture. They have a great deal of dependency upon the forest in order to extract the khas grass roots, collect the reeds from the river banks. From palas trees’ roots and munji grass’ stalks, they make ropes which are sold in the villages. They are also involved in the skin tanning from which the drums are made and sold. The ones who have moved into the cities pull rickshaws and are wage laborers.
The Kanjars follow Hinduism and Sikhism and all of them worship the community deity, Mana. Usually, they can speak four to five languages and also have a secret language known as Narsi Parsi which consists of sounds of the birds and animals, signs and coded words.
The Kewats belong to the Hindu caste and are found in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. They have been the boatmen of North India traditionally. They are basically businessmen related to the boating and other businesses. They are called as Roy and Mandal in who live in the Indian sub-continent. Their name has derived from the Sanskrit word Kaivarta which means God Vishnu. They believe to have been descended from the son of Venu, Nisad and are the Suryavanshi Kshatriyas. Their main clans are the Dhivar, Banaphar, Chay, Balavarna, Tiar and Kairata. As compared to the other groups, the Banaphar are considered to the superior.
The Kewats live near the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh and are involved in their own business. They are controlled by the Charghat Panchayat which covers the region of the Awadh. Allahabad region is covered by the Baraghat panchayat. The disputes take originate within the community are dealt with by these caste councils.
Found in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the Khairaha is a Hindu caste that has the status of the scheduled caste. They are found in the Allahabad and Mirzapur districts in UP and are a sub-group of the tribe Khairwar which belonged to Central India. In the 18th century, some of the tribesmen migrated to Mirzapur in small groups. In the present times, they are separate from the parent community. They communicate in Hindi language.
They are divided into many clans that are exogamous in nature and some of the main ones are the Nagria, Chouria, Tengriha. They make use of the surname Kashyap and live mostly in forested terrains. They practice agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry. Many of them work in mines that are available in the southern parts of Uttar Pradesh. Firm believers of Hinduism, this community also has tribal deities like Dulhadeo and Goerdevi.
Kharot is an endogamous sub group which has got the title of the Scheduled Caste. They are mainly found in the eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh. Derived from Sanskrit word, khata, the Kharot is related to grass. Historically, they have been associated with the mat manufacturing which was done out of grass. They are found mainly in District Basti and just like the other Scheduled Castes, their traditional occupation has disappeared over the time. Most of them are agricultural laborers who do not have their own land.
Mainly found in the Allahabad, Varanasi, Banda and Mirzapur districts, the Kol is the largest tribe in Uttar Pradesh. As stated in the history, this community migrated from the central parts of India almost five centuries ago. They are one of the Scheduled Castes available in UP. Divided into exogamous clans like Monasi, Rautia, Thaluria, Rojaboria, Bhil, Barawire, and Chero, they are followers of Hinduism and speak in Baghelkhandi dialect. Most of them do not have any land and depend upon the forest for the income. The leaves and firewood is collected by them and sold at the local markets.
The Korwas, a Scheduled Tribe found in the Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Uttar Pradesh is economically and socially poor community. They receive many facilities from the Indian Government for their upliftment. In UP, the community is divided into four sub-groups, Dam Korwa, Agaria Korwa, Pahar Korwa and Dih Korwa who are further divided into Guleria, Huhar, Haril, Leth, Mura, Munda and Pahari.
They are isolated tribes and most of them are hunter gatherers. A few of them practice settled agriculture and are a part of the Hindu community. However, they worship their own tribal deity, Dih. Each settlement has a shrine of Goddess known as Diwar.
Korwa people communicate in their mother tongue Korwa which is also known as Singli and Ernga alternatively. As a second language, Korwa people speak Chhatisgarhi and Sadri too.
A tribal community, Kotwar, Panika caste’s sub-group is found in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The corruption of the word Kotwal meaning the keeper of the caste in Hindi, is from where the word Kotwar came. Traditionally, they were village watchmen and said to have acquired their name on that account.
They are now a part of the Hindu caste and are found in Mirzapur and Sonbhadra districts. They inhibit the forested and undulating terrains and have the status of the Scheduled Caste. They have many tribal deities such as Sheetla Devi, Maharani Devi and Dulha Deo and communicate in Hindi. They are medium and small sized farmers who practice agriculture in the present times.
Panika or Panka is a Hindu caste that is found in Uttar Pradesh, Chhatsgarh and Madhya Pradesh. They were earlier a sub-group of Kotwar which have now got separated. As per the history, their name originated from the word Pankha, which meant hand fan. Historically, the community was involved in fan manufacturing and hence the origin of their name.
They were fully involved in the music, dance and party during celebrations like the marriage, Barahon, Ramleela etc. The Kotwar Panika worked as the watchmen in south eastern areas of Uttar Pradesh. They are usually found in the areas of Mirzapur and Sonbhadra and have now been incorporated into Hinduism. In the olden times, this tribe was known amongst the other tribes for their honesty. However, in the recent times, this characteristic seems to have been disappeared.
Although they lived in hilly terrains in the olden times, they prefer to live in cities and villages lately. They are divided into exogamous clans called kuris and main ones are Chikongia, Kumaria, Maria, Parwar, Sarima, Janta Thari, Phungi, Kothi and more. They are endogamous like the other Hindus. Since the educational qualification of the Panika community ha simproved, these people are being employed as government employees apart from being involved in farming, weaving etc. A small number of them practice business also. They have many tribal deities such as Sheetla Devi, Dulha Deo and Maharani Devi and followers of Hinduism.
Parahiyas are the followers of Hinduism and inhibit Uttar Pradesh. The name Parahiya has been originated from the Gondi language which means the forest burners. Traditionally, they have been practicing slash and burn agriculture technique. The other meaning is a hill dweller. They live on the foothills of the Vindhya ranges just like many other tribes in the state. They speak a Hindi dialect.
They are endogamous and divided into a number of clans called as the kuris namely Bhaloa, Bhusan, Bengeha, Bhania, Gurgur, Gohawa, Sira and Monnoor. Followers of Hinduism, the Parahiyas also have a few tribal deities like Dharti Mata and Jawalamukhi Devi. Presently, they are leading a settled life against the hunting which was their predominating occupation.
Recognized as the Scheduled Caste, they are tribal group that is found in District Sonbhadra of the Indian state Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh’s nearby areas. As far as their origin is concerned, the Pataris are originally the Gond tribal who advised the Gond Kings and also specialized in the rituals. Previously, they spoke Chhatisgarhi but in recent times, they communicate in Hindi.
They have four sub-divisions and each of them has separate kuris. Some of them are Poija, Neti, Soi, Tekam, Pusan, Sarota, Kuram and Armon. They are endogamous clans but practice exogamy in kuris. They are usually the priests for the Chero, Majhwar and Bhuiyar tribes in South east Uttar Pradesh. Many pataris practice agriculture and are sharecroppers and also animal husbandry. Many of them have migrated to the cities in search of livelihood and so far, they have maintained their distinct identity.
Patharkat, also known as Sangtarash are basically Hindus found in the state of Uttar Pradesh and other parts of North India. The literal meaning of their name in Hindi is the stone cutter. Although they were a sub group of the Kanjar community, they broke their links from the parent community once they took up the profession of stone cutting to the extent that there are no marriages between the two. Although found mainly in Awadh, they are also located majorly in Lucknow, Raebareli, Sitapur, Hardoi and Unnao. In Lucknow, there is huge concentration is in localities like Saafatganj, Qaisar Bagh, Bangla Bazar, Lal Kuan and more. They communicate in Ghiarai amongst themselves and speak in Hindi with the outsiders.
Some of the Patharkats still practice their traditional occupation and manufacture Hindu idols. Many of them have taken to wages labor. Hindu by religion, they have similar customs like other Awadh Hindus. They have received the status of Scheduled Caste and thus, receive access to many action programs that are affirmative.
These are the Scheduled Caste that is found in the Bundelkhand region. They are also referred to as the Banrawat, Rawat, Soarain and Banrakha. The name Saharia originated from the Hindi word sahra which means the jungle. And, thus, Sahariya means the dwellers of the jungle. Many claim to have descended from Baiju Bheel, the worshipped or Shiva, the Hindu God and others trace the origin from Ramayana’s Shabri. The division of the community is done in various gotras naming Lodhi, Sanauna, Solanki, Bagolia and more.
The traditional occupation of the Sahariya community includes collecting honey, wood cutting, mining, making basket, breaking stones etc. as they are majorly dependent upon the forests for their livelihood. Essentially followers of Hinduism, the Sahariyas also have numerous deities such as Gond Devi, Bhavani, Bijasur and Soorin.