Photo Story : A Kutia Kondh Tribal Settlement

by | Jul 23, 2023

The Kutia Kondh is one of the many tribes living in Kalahandi, Odisha. They are a sub-section of a larger tribal group called Kondh, and are classified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Among Kondhs, those who live on the hills are called the Kutia Kondhs. The term ‘Kutia’ refers to the distinctive type of huts they traditionally live in.

Also read: Who Are The Katkari?

They practice shifting agriculture, also knows as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture and speak a variant of Kui, a Dravidian language primarily spoken by tribal groups here. People in this tribe have a rich history and culture shaped by their deep relationship with the natural environment around them. Hence, there’s also dependency on the forest for food and survival. Here, I show a typical village settlement of people belonging to the Kutia Kondh tribe.

The Kutia Kondhs build houses in two parallel rows, facing each other. In between is a Gudi, a small temple like structure where they come to worship. People centre their festive celebrations around the Gudi.
The tribe follows animism, a religious belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. They worship nature. There are no deities. However, those who migrate out for work and come back, bring some elements of Hinduism with them to the settlements.
The Gudi is usually the most colourful structure in the village. The more elaborate the decor and grand the structure is, the better is the financial condition of the local residents around it. Animal sacrifices happen here, and people hang drums made of animal skins alongside grains.

They have a democratic and autonomous political organization, with village affairs usually handled by a council of elders. In recent years, like many indigenous groups, the Kutia Kondh have faced challenges due to rapid development, changing agricultural practices, and the encroachment of their lands.

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