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17
Jan

Mudhili Gadaba People Of Andhra Pradesh


Written by Dr Sunder Rao Bethapudy

The people belong to Gadaba sub-group in Andhra Pradesh refer themselves as Mudhili Gadabas. Gol Gadaba, Bodo Gadaba and Ollar Gadaba are the other Gadaba groups living in the states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh the Gadaba people are distributed in the agency tracts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaramand Srikakulam districts. Their population is around seventy thousand. According to the collected information Gadabas were the inhabitants of the Godavary deltas and from there they migrated to these areas. That’s why they are called as Gadabas. The Gadaba community is classified as a Scheduled Tribe (ST) by the government of Andhra Pradesh.

 

Geographical & demographical situation

Most of the Gadaba villages are surrounded by rocky hills so in the villages be get extreme climate in each season. In summer the temperature goes up to 50dc. Being the villages are surrounded by the rocky hills, in raining season, it is common to
have floods in the villages. Drivable roads are there to some Gadaba villages. These  roads connect different villages with the nearby city. Autorikshaws, rikshaws and  bicycles are the main medias for transportation. within one hour we can reach the nearest village from a village. People travel in groups by walk. Often theses people  travel to the nearby city by the means of transport. They won’t accept new ideas as a sudden.

But for some villages it is very difficult to have access with. More than six hours we need to walk to reach there. There are no proper roads to these villages. there people stay inside the village and once in a while they go the city for marketing and it will take two days to reach back to their home.

 

The life and settlement

Majority of the Gadaba villages are surrounded by the rocky hills so there is extreme climate in the villages. They have their cultivating fields in the vallies of the hills. Gadabas cultivates different kinds of vegetables and cereals. Their main food is raggi and rice who eat beef and pork. Both men and women drink toddy and alcohol and they teach their children to use these things. Many of the people brew it at their homes. Gadaba people live together in hamlets within the villages. They lives in single room houses with walls made of mud and stone and the roof was thatched with grass or tiles.


But now the State Government is providing some grants to construct small concrete houses for them. These people are very hard working community, some of them have their own cultivating field that might be encroached from the hill side in the
past. The landless among them work as daily wages labours. Gadabas have good contact with their own people in other villages.

They have relatives in all over the Gadaba areas. Men wear loin clothes and ladies have their own traditional dresses. Even now there are some people who use the piece of stone and iron to light the fire.


Marriage and family

Marriages are usually arranged but there is no inter caste marriage. Often they select their own spouse from their own blood relation. Marriage ceremony will long for more than one week. The bride groom will go to the bride’s house four days before the marriage with an younger brother, then up to the marriage day the bride groom should stay in the bride’s house. On the previous night of the marriage day all the relatives should go to the bride’s house and bring the bride groom and bride for conducting the marriage ceremony at bride groom’s house. When a boy get marry, if his father is not alive the marriage ceremony should be conducted at his elder brother’s house and the couple have to stay there for one year, only after that they can come to his own house. The groom’s family bears a major portion of the wedding expenses. They don’t have any legal proof for their marriage so any one can divorce his/her spouse at any reason. If it happens the village head (ejumani) call a village meeting to discuss the matter. If the divorced partners are from the different villages both the villagers should gather for the discussion. Then the partner who is responsible for the divorce should give a penalty to his/her divorcee. The amount will be decided in the meeting. A part of this amount will go to the village fund

For the Gadabas there is no any restriction for a widow to re-marry and they practice polygamy. They follow patriarchal family system so all the children in a family get equal share of the family wealth. Both man and woman work hard for the survival of the family. If there is any dispute in a family the society have more responsibility than their relatives to settle them. If there is any function in a family, the village representative is having the responsibility to invite the others for that function. Many of the relative families are staying in the same village so they have strong relationship between families.

 

Economic and political situation.

Gadabas are very much hard working people, many of them involve in agriculture and some collect and sell the forest materials. Flocks and cattle are the other source of income for this community. This people haven both individual and communal properties. For the individual property ownership and authority is rested upon the individual but for the communal property some one will be appointed for taking care of the same. Usually the village leader will be in charge of it. Barter system still exists in the community. Out side vendors are also coming to the village to purchase and sell the goods on barter system.

Among the Gadaba community wealth bring status and power to the persons. Always the wealthy person can have much influence and respect among the community. Some of the gadabas have deposits in insurance, bank etc. In each village there is a village leader named ‘ejumani’ who will be the chairman for the village meetings and decision making. Age is not matter for the person to become the village leader but he should have good acceptance in the community. He has the responsibility to look after the village funds so he should be accountable with the financial matters.

Kinship

Kinship is the relationship between members of the same family. Kinship is not much prevalent among the Mudhili Gadaba community. A man can marry his own sister’s daughter and they follow patriarchal family system.

Marriage and family

Marriages are usually arranged but there is no inter caste marriage with the other groups. Often they select their spouse from their own blood relation. Marriage ceremony will long for more than one week. The bridegroom will go to the bride’s house four days before the marriage, then up to the marriage day he should stay in the bride’s house with two boys younger than him. On the previous night of marriage all his relatives should go to bride’s house to bring the bridegroom and the bride to his house and conduct the marriage ceremony at the bridegroom’s house. On that night they have some religious ritual practices as a part of the marriage. Both the bridegroom and the bride will have their traditional dresses and after the marriage there will be a ritual bath for the couple in the turmeric water. When a boy gets marry if his father is not alive the marriage ceremony should conduct at his elder brother’s house and the couple have to stay in that house for a year only after that they can come to his own house. The bridegroom’s family bears major share of the wedding expenses.


They don’t have any legal proof for their marriage so any one can divorce his/her spouse at any reason and if it happened, the village head should call a village meeting to discuss the matter. If they both are from the different villages both the villagers should gather for the discussion. Then the partner who is responsible for the divorcee should give penalty to his/her divorcee a part of that amount will go the village fund There is no any restriction for a widow to remarry. All the children in a family get equal portion share of the family wealth. Both man and woman work hard for the survival of the family. If there is a dispute in a family the society have more responsibility than their relatives to settle them.


Language

The Mudhili Gadaba people of Andhra Pradesh speak a dravidian language called Mudhili Gadaba. They are bilingual. They can understand and speak Telugu the state language. They have very strong positive and language maintaining attitude towards their Mother Tongue. The key domain for the use of Mother Tongue is the home and inside the village. The state Government is running schools in each village but majority of the children do not go to the schools, even if they go they skip the studies after the second or third class and they go to tend the flocks and herds. Due to the lack of educated people in the community outsiders come to teach in these village schools so in the beginning the communication between the teacher and the student find little difficult. Lack of health and hygiene bring various diseases among the community. Child death is also very common in this community.


The religious situation and practice.                                            

The Mudhili Gadaba people follow both the Hinduism and the traditional tribal religion. 1991 census records 99.9% of them are Hindus and the rest are Muslims, Christians and the followers of other religions. But now it has been changed. The Christian percentage is increased. Gadabas consider the Earth as their god because she provides food for them. They think the sickness comes due to the attack pf the evil spirit. So in sickness they sacrifice poultry to please the evil spirit and burn the body parts of the sick to drive out the evil spirit. There are big temples but some small shrines are found in each village and there stones are also erected as the objects of worship. There are religious functionaries who officiate at festivals and perform special rights.
   
If a baby born in a family on the 9th day they will arrange a feast for all the villagers and relatives.  For that they cut pig or poultry and with its blood they write the name of the baby. According to their belief the chick has to tell the name of the baby. For that they will put the rice before a chick by holding it. Some ones will tell many names and on which name the chick peek the rice that name will be given to the child.

If some one dies in a house all the villagers have to take part in their sorrow by stopping all the works even cooking till the burial. If some one died out side the house they won’t take the dead body inside the house as the same if some one died out side the village they won’t take the dead body to the village. Gadabas do not keep the dead body for a long time. Within one few hours they will bury them.


Festivals

Mudhili Gadaba people celebrate a variety of festivals. Dancing usually with the members of the same sex is common at their festivals and marriages. Drums are often used as a musical instrument. They have festival for each crop and only after celebrating that particular festival they use the particular crop. Gadabas have variety of songs for each festival. ‘Paramasul parup’ is one of the religious festivals and its celebrations longs for three week. In most of the villages there are some lady priests with long braids of hair they will take care of all these celebrations. ‘Karke parup’ is a social festival and it is celebrated as the festivals of mangoes at the time of mango harvesting. As a part of its celebration these people go for hunting in the forest. For that they have their traditional weapons. If they get some wild animal that will make the people victorious.

Agriculture and social gathering

Mudhili Gadabas are very hard working people. Some of them are land owning people. Some of the fields are given as hereditary and others may be encroached from the forests. Rice and raggi are the main crops. Apart from them different kinds of vegetables cereals pulses are also cultivated. According to their custom newly married girls should do the seedling of paddy to get more crops. Animals are used for ploughing and threshing.

Mudhili Gadabas have formal gatherings. Usually they gather under a tree. They have their own gathering place in each village. In winter people gather near the fire as a group. For celebrations also they gather at the common gathering place.    

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