Q. 9

Give a brief account of the people of Bastar.

Answer :

The people of Bastar belonged to different communities such as Maria and Muria Gonds, Dhurwas, Bhatras and Halbas. Though they spoke different languages they shared common customs and beliefs. The people of Bastar believed that the Earth was sacred and made offerings during agricultural festivals. In addition to the Earth, they respected the spirits of the river, the forest and the mountain. The boundaries of each village was well marked and the people looked after all the natural resources within that boundary. If people from one village wanted to take some wood from the forests of another village, they paid a small fee called devsari, dand or man in exchange. Some villages protected their forests by engaging watchmen and each household had to contribute some grain to pay them. Every year a big meeting is organised, where the headmen of villages meet and discuss issues of concern, including forests.

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