Bihar is home to a multitude of tribes that constitute the major chunk of social and culture map of Bihar. Before the year 2000, the number was even higher. But after the segregation of Jharkhand state, most of the tribes have moved to the Jharkhand. Most important and biggest of them all was the Santhal tribe. Their way of living is totally different from each other which makes it a great experience to know each one of them. Most of them possibly migrated from from Sub-Himalayan region. Like everywhere, tribals in Bihar as well earn their living from agriculture, including shifting cultivation and small cottage industries. Visiting one of their villages is trully an eye opening experience.
There houses are mud thatched with baked tiles for roofs. Most of the homes have their own gardens and farms from where the people obtain vegetables and necessary cereals. One can get to see a part of their culture and traditions on the walls of the houses itself. They are painted with different kinds of art work and images. Every tribe have their own rituals, dances, festivals and music witnessing which helps understand and enjoy their culture better.
Bathudi Tribe is among the most important tribes left in Bihar. They are the most colorful and artistic of all tribes in the state. There homes which are ordinary mud thatched houses are made extraordinary with some exquisite multi colored flowery designs. The dressing style is also different from other with men usually preferring coarse dhoti of cotton and women choosing saris of different colors. Silver ornament are also a must for Bathudi women. You will find most of the women sporting floral tattoos on their forehead or arms, which is a ritual of the tribe. The Bathudi people call this tattooing as Khada. The people of Bathudi tribe are mostly all Hindus and worship Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The common language spoken by Bathudi people is Bihari.
The Binjhia tribe is known for their rich culture and heritage. You will find this tribe mostly residing in forests and hilly areas. Anthropologists consider Binjhia tribe to be the most advanced of all. It is evident from the their homes which are built using tiles, wood, bamboo and are nicely and spaciously designed. Even the social structure is nicely laid out. A normal family consists of father, mother and their unmarried children. Father is the head of the family. Monogamy is more prevalent with widow remarriage being allowed. Binjhia tribe men wear dhoti, kurta, and ganji where as women dress up in sari, saya and blouse. Women also prefer wearing ornaments while going out.
Birjia is one of the largest tribes in Bihar today. Earlier they were mainly resident of hilly areas but because of difficulties in agriculture, they moved down to plains. Most of the Birjia people are farmers and only few of them indulged in occupations like gathering, hunting, fishing, basketry, and working as daily labors. There social structure is also similar to others with father being the head of the family and the main decision maker. Most of the Birjia tribe people practice Hinduism and worship Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Birjia folks also worship ancestral spirits for peace and prosperity.
Chik Baraik tribe is mainly found in the rural parts of Bihar. The most peculiar feature of this tribe is that you will not find any village or premises dedicated to them alone. They are considered very friendly and share space with other tribes. Chik Baraik is famous as a tribe of artists. They are involved in making cotton threads and cotton clothes. They also work as weavers, bird trappers, farmers and daily labors. The languages spoken by Chik Baraik people include Mundari, Sadani and Hindi.
Though a large part of tribal population has come under the state of Jharkhand, Bihar still boosts of most socially advanced and culturally rich tribes. Visit Bihar to witness a unique world of these tribes, uninfluenced by the outside ways and teach us a lesson or two in how to live peacefully with the nature.