The ghotul in muria society

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THE GHOTUL IN MURIA SOCIETY

S i m e r a n Man S i n g h G e l l

T h e s i s s u b m i t t e d f o r t h e D eg r ee o f D o c t o r o f P h i l o s o p h y

a t t h e A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y , C a n b e r r a .

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E x c e p t where o t h e r w i s e acknowledged in t h e t e x t , t h i s t h e s i s r e p r e s e n t s my o r i g i n a l r e s e a r c h .

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ABSTRACT

T h i s t h e s i s i s a f i e l d s t u d y o f t h e M u r i a o f B a s t a r d i s t r i c t , Madhya P r a d e s h , I n d i a . The M u r i a G o n d s a r e a t r i b a l ( a d i v a s i ) g r o u p p r a c t i c i n g p a d d y a g r i c u l t u r e i n a h e a v i l y f o r e s t e d a r e a . C h a p t e r s 1 t o 7 o f t h e t h e s i s d e s c r i b e t h e s e t t i n g , and t h e m a j o r f e a t u r e s o f M u r i a s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e . C h a p t e r s 8 t o 10 a r e d e v o t e d t o t h e m o s t d i s t i n c t i v e and w e l l - k n o w n M u r i a s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , t h e G h o t u l d o r m i t o r y f o r t h e u n m a r r i e d b o y s and g i r l s o f t h e v i l l a g e .

The m a i n o b j e c t i v e o f t h i s t h e s i s i s t o p l a c e t h e G h o t u l i n i t s f u l l s o c i a l c o n t e x t . The t h r e e i n t r o d u c t o r y c h a p t e r s g i v e d e t a i l s on t h e h i s t o r y o f B a s t a r d i s t r i c t , p r e s e n t d a y a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a r r a n g e m e n t s , a n d t h e e n v i r o n m e n t o f t h e f i e l d - w o r k v i l l a g e , h e r e c a l l e d M a n j a p u r . The w i d e s t c o n t e x t o f M u r i a s o c i e t y i s p r o v i d e d by t h e s y s t e m o f c l a n s h i p a n d a l l i a n c e . C l a n s h i p i s d i s p e r s e d and r e l a t i o n s h i p s b e t w e e n c l a n s a r e o r g a n i s e d a c c o r d i n g t o m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . C o n c e p t u a l l y a l l M u r i a c l a n s a r e e i t h e r ' b r o t h e r s ’ o r ' a f f i n e s ’ t o o n e a n o t h e r , b u t t h e r e a l i t y i s m o r e c a n p i ex and v i l l a g e a f f i l i a t i o n s a r e c r u c i a l . I t i s a r g u e d t h a t t h e n e e d t o a s s e r t l e g i t i m a c y w i t h i n a v i l l a g e p o l i t i c a l u n i t i s p a r a m o u n t i n a l l i a n c e p o l i t i c s . C a s e s t u d y m a t e r i a l f r om M a n j a p u r i s u s e d t o i l l u s t r a t e t h e u n d e r l y i n g t h e m e o f i n s e c u r i t y i n M u r i a v i l l a g e p o l i t i c s . I t i s a r g u e d t h a t t wo i n s t i t u t i o n s i n p a r t i c u l a r a r e e x p l o i t e d i n t h e a s s e r t i o n o f l e g i t i m a t e c l a i m s t o v i l l a g e m e m b e r s h i p ; t h e c u l t o f t h e v i l l a g e g o d s and t h e G h o t u l i n s t i t u t i o n .

The G h o t u l , i n w h i c h i t i s o b l i g a t o r y f o r a l l h o u s e h o l d s w i t h a d o l e s c e n t c h i l d r e n t o p a r t i c i p a t e , s e t s up a m e c h a n i s m o f i n t r a v i l l a g e e x c h a n g e and c o o r d i n a t e s t h e d e v e l o p m e n t a l c y c l e s o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l j o i n t f a m i l y h o u s e h o l d s m a k i n g up t h e v i l l a g e . The G h o t u l i s a l s o l i n k e d t o t h e r e l i g i o u s s y s t e m and s e r v e s t o m e d i a t e b e t w e e n men and g o d s a s w e l l a s b e t w e e n k i n and a f f i n e s .

The G h o t u l i s d e s c r i b e d i n d e t a i l i n a l l i t s a s p e c t s , and i t s i n t e r n a l o r g a n i s a t i o n , r u l e s , an d a c t i v i t i e s . The j o r ( s l e e p i n g p a r t n e r )

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r e l a t i o n s h i p i s o f c e n t r a l i m p o r t a n c e in i n d i v i d u a l s ’ G h o t u l c a r e e r s . T h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p i s c a r e f u l l y r e g u l a t e d b u t can on o c c a s i o n r e s u l t in l o v e a f f a i r s and e l o p e m e n t s which d i r e c t l y c h a l l e n g e t h e e l d e r g e n e r a t i o n ' s monopoly o f a l l i a n c e p o l i t i c s . R e s u l t s o f s uch c o n f r o n t a t i o n s a r e

i l l u s t r a t e d u s i n g c a s e m a t e r i a l s .

F i n a l l y , t h e G h o tu l and m a r r i a g e , two d om i n an t themes o f Muria l i f e a r e b r o u g h t t o g e t h e r . The G h o t u l i s a p r o f o u n d l y i n t e g r a t i v e mechanism w i t h i n Muria s o c i e t y as a w ho le, b u t h a s e x t r e m e l y d i s r u p t i v e c o n s e q u e n c e s , a t t i m e s , i n t h e l i v e s o f i n d i v i d u a l s . The p o s s i b l e r e l a t i o n s h i p bet wee n t h e Gh o tu l j o r r e l a t i o n s h i p and f or ms o f t o k e n p r e - p u b e r t y s e c o n d a r y m a r r i a g e p r a c t i c e d by l o c a l Hindu c a s t e s i s i n d i c a t e d .

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ABSTRACT iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS v

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS x

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

Fieldwork among the Bastar Muria 1

The Ghotul in Muria Society 5

An outline of the argument 8

CHAPTER 2: THE SETTING

Bastar District 14

Historical background 17

Administration: traditional and modern 23

Other Bastar communities: the Maria 29

CHAPTER 3: THE MANJAPUR ENVIRONMENT

The region and the market centres 36

The forest: utilitarian aspects 39

The forest: conceptual aspects 41

Swidden fields (dipa): utilitarian aspects 43

The dipa: conceptual aspects 45

Rice fields (vedang): utilitarian aspects 46

Vedang: conceptual aspects 49

Grazing land (bhat): utilitarian aspects 51

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CHAPTER 4: THE MURIA CLAN

Clans and Alliance 67

Clans in Manjapur 86

The clan and the nar 97

CHAPTER 5: THE VILLAGE, THE LAND AND THE POLITICS OF MANJAPUR

Village Studies 101

The caste composition of Manjapur 105

The Murias and the Maraars 108

The ownership of land 114

The politics of Manjapur 134

CHAPTER 6: THE EXTENDED FAMILY 151

CHAPTER 7: KINSHIP AND AFFINAL RELATIONS IN THE MURIA LIFE CYCLE

The life cycle and relationships in the nuclear family 165

The mother-son relation over the life cycle 167

The father-son relation over the life cycle 172

The mother-daughter relation 174

The father-daughter relation 176

Relations between brothers 177

The brother-sister relation 182

Relations between husbands and wives 184

Relations with saga 194

The preferred marriage 196

Mahala (betrothal) and marriage 204

CHAPTER 8: THE STRUCTURAL INTERPRETATION OF THE GHOTUL 213

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CHAPTER 9: THE GHOTUL

The Ghotul house and site 234

Going to the Ghotul 236

Becoming a manber 241

Induction of girls 244

Choosing and refusing a jor 247

The Ghotul as an Institution 254

Ghotul Offices 258

The Ghotul jor relation: the rules of etiquette 281

The jor in practice: Malika/Malu 284

Ghotul pregnancies: nashamaina 296

CHAPTER 10: THE GHOTUL AND MARRIAGE

Jor versus Mahala: Sentiment versus structure 315

Elopement 317

Nasia and Umra: an arro jor 319

Ranki and Dakka: an arta jor 323

The jor system and secondary marriage 329

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TABLE OF MAPS, TABLES AND DIAGRAMS

Map o f I n d i a and Madhya P r a d e s h

Map o f B a s t a r and N a r a y a n p u r T e h s i l

C u l t u r a l A t t r i b u t e s o f B a s t a r C o m m u n i t i e s

C r o s s S e c t i o n o f M a n j a p u r

S c h e m a t i c R e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f Land C a t e g o r i e s

K i n s h i p T e r m i n o l o g y

BD a n d FZ i n FZD c r o s s - c o u s i n m a r r i a g e

The D e s c e n t - c o n s t r u c t o f C l a n s h i p

The A l l i a n c e - c o n s t r u c t o f C l a n s h i p

The C l a n - a l l i a n c e s c h e m a s o f f i v e H a l l a m i f a m i l i e s o f M a n j a p u r

C l a n d i s t r i b u t i o n o f M a n j a p u r ’ s p o p u l a t i o n

O v e r l a p p i n g f i e l d s o f c l a n s h i p

Map o f M a n j a p u r b a s e d on P a t w a r i l a n d r e c o r d s

T o t a l l a n d o w n e r s h i p o f M a n j a p u r

M u r i a l a n d o w n e r s h i p o f M a n j a p u r

P a g e

30

35

36

69

71

82

82

85

87

98

100

122

122

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R e l a t i v e s t a t u s o f t h e s e x e s o v e r t h e l i f e - c y c l e 165

S t a t u s c h a n g e s o f m o t h e r / s o n and

f a t h e r / s o n o v e r t h e l i f e c y c l e 167

D i s t r i b u t i o n o f ma h a l a r e l a t i o n s h i p s in Manjapur 201

B/Z and BS/ZD r e l a t i o n in c r o s s - c o u s i n m a r r i a g e 203

T a b l e showing t h e p e r c e n t a g e s o f p e o p l e w i t h

ma ha la p a r t n e r s i n Manjapur 210

P r i m a r y and s e c o n d a r y c o o r d i n a t i o n p r o c e s s e s 219

The t r i p a r t i t e o p p o s i t i o n 222

The d i v i n e g e n e o l o g y o f Maria Dev 225

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The f i e l d w o r k on w h i c h t h i s t h e s i s i s b a s e d was c a r r i e d o u t o v e r two s e p a r a t e p e r i o d s o f f i f t e e n m o n t h s i n 1 9 7 6 - 7 7 , a n d s i x m o n t h s i n 1973 i n a v i l l a g e o f N a r a y a n p u r t e h s i l , B a s t a r d i s t r i c t , Madhya P r a d e s h . I r e t u r n e d f o r a f u r t h e r t h r e e m o n t h s i n 1981 i n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h a BBC f i l m on t h e M u r i a . The f i l m p r o j e c t p r o v e d d i s a s t r o u s and I h a d t o e v e n t u a l l y d i s s o c i a t e m y s e l f f r om t h e BBC e d i t e d e n d - p r o d u c t t i t l e d " M u r i a M a r r i a g e " ; h o w e v e r my s t a y i n t h e v i l l a g e p r o v i d e d me w i t h v a l u a b l e m a t e r i a l t h a t h a s b e e n i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o t h e b o d y o f t h e t h e s i s . The t i m e - s p a n c u r r e n t t o t h e t h e s i s h o w e v e r r e m a i n s t h e y e a r s 1 9 7 6 - 7 9 when t h e b u l k o f t h e f i e l d w o r k was c o n d u c t e d . I h a v e a d o p t e d t h e p s e u d o n y m ’M a n j a p u r ’ f o r t h e f i e l d w o r k v i l l a g e , a n d n o n e o f t h e n am e s o f p e o p l e m e n t i o n e d w i t h i n c o r r e s p o n d s t o t h e i r r e a l n a m e s . I am g r a t e f u l t o t h e A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y who g a v e me a s c h o l a r s h i p a n d who g e n e r o u s l y f u n d e d t h e f i e l d w o r k .

I am w e l l a w a r e t h a t t h e c r e d i t f o r l a s t i n g o u t a l o n g and a r d u o u s f i e l d w o r k i s d u e n o t t o my p o w e r s o f e n d u r a n c e w h i c h a r e s l i g h t , t o s a y t h e l e a s t , b u t t o t h e m an y p e o p l e who i n t e r v e n e d a t c r u c i a l s t a g e s w i t h o f f e r s o f c o n c r e t e h e l p and w h o s e u n r e q u i t e d k i n d n e s s e s w e r e m a i n l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r my s t i c k i n g i t t h r o u g h t o t h e e n d . O v e r t h e y e a r s my d e b t t o t h e s e p e o p l e h a s i n c r e a s e d i m m e a s u r a b l y a s I h a v e come t o a p p r e c i a t e t h e v a l u e o f t h e y e a r s s p e n t , a n d o f t h e f r i e n d s h i p s f o r m e d w i t h t h e M u r i a a s b e i n g u n d o u b t e d l y t h e m o s t r e w a r d i n g e x p e r i e n c e o f my l i f e . I m u s t r e c o r d my g r a t i t u d e t o Mr. J a n g l e y who made i t p o s s i b l e f o r us t o t o u r t h e d i s t r i c t and e v e n t u a l l y d e c i d e on a f i e l d - s i t e , a n d who c o n t i n u e d t o r e s p o n d t o o u r p l e a s f o r h e l p t h r o u g h o u t o u r s t a y i n B a s t a r , and Mrs. J a n g l e y who g r a c i o u s l y a c c e p t e d me a s a g u e s t i n h e r home when I t u r n e d t o h e r i n d e s p e r a t i o n on a t o r r e n t i a l , m o n s o o n a l d a y i n J u n e 1976 a f t e r a r r i v i n g a l o n e i n J a g d a l p u r o n l y t o f i n d t h e r e s t - h o u s e s f u l l and b u s s e r v i c e s s u s p e n d e d t o o t h e r p a r t s o f B a s t a r ! Of a l l t h e p e o p l e we m e t i n B a s t a r o u t s i d e o u r v i l l a g e we b e c a m e c l o s e s t t o Mr. P y a r e l a l C h a d h a , D i v i s i o n a l F o r e s t O f f i c e r and h i s f a m i l y ; we a d o p t e d t h em a s ’o u r ' f a m i l y i n J a g d a l p u r and t h e y a l w a y s w e l c o me d us w i t h o p e n a r m s on o u r h o l i d a y t r i p s t h e r e ,

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t r e a t i n g us t o H i n d i m o vi e s , l o c a l g o s s i p , and to t h e most d e l i c i o u s food t h a t we h av e e v e r e a t e n . In t h e c o u r s e o f our a c q u a i n t a n c e we d e v e l o p e d a deep r e s p e c t f o r Mr. Chadha whose v a s t knowledge and l o v e o f t h e f o r e s t s o f B a s t a r , and whose h u m a n i t y and d e c e n c y made a g r e a t i m p r e s s i o n n o t o n l y on us, we d i s c o v e r e d , b u t on most p e o p l e . C l o s e r t o home we had a f r i e n d and a l l y in Mr. Goswami, t h e n Deputy Ranger o f F o r e s t s s t a t i o n e d n e a r t h e v i l l a g e . Mr. Goswami p e r s o n a l l y e n s u r e d t h a t t h e i n c o m p l e t e , m u d - w a l l e d s t r u c t u r e t h a t was t o be ou r home was n o t washed down by t h e r a i n s by o r g a n i z i n g t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f a r o o f f rame in r e c o r d t i m e , and by b e g g i n g f o r a few s p a r e r o o f t i l e s from e v e r y ho us e in t h e v i l l a g e u n t i l he had enough t o c o v e r t h e b a r e w a l l s w i t h .

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At t h e A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y I was s u p e r v i s e d f o r a s h o r t t i m e by Derek Freeman and I h e r e a ckn owl edge t h e f a c t t h a t he was e x t r e m e l y f o r t h c o m i n g w i t h h i s h e l p d u r i n g my f i r s t f i e l d w o r k . A f t e r P r o f e s s o r Freeman my s u p e r v i s i o n was t a k e n o v e r by P r o f e s s o r Jim Fox and K i r k E n d i c o t t t o b o t h o f whom I owe t h a n k s f o r n o t o n l y many i n s i g h t f u l r ema rks and p a i n s t a k i n g c o r r e c t i o n s , b u t a l s o f o r t h e i r p a t i e n c e and s y m p a t h e t i c u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f my s i t u a t i o n a t a l l t i m e s : I am aware t h a t I h a v e been u n u s u a l l y f o r t u n a t e in t h i s r e s p e c t . A few c h a p t e r s were r e a d by Joh nny P a r r y who s p e n t a whole morni ng in d i s c u s s i n g them w i t h me. U n d o u b t e d l y h owever , t h e one i n d i v i d u a l u n c o n n e c t e d w i t h t h e t h e s i s whose i n t e r e s t and e nc o u r a g e m e n t was m a i n l y r e s p o n s i b l e in r e v i v i n g my e n t h u s i a s m f o r i t a t a v e r y d i f f i c u l t t i m e was Dr. C h r i s G regor y. I owe him a s p e c i a l t h a n k s f o r a l l he h a s done.

My p r o f o u n d e s t d e b t i s t o my p a r e n t s , b u t a f t e r i t , i s t h e one owed to my h u s b a n d , A l f r e d G e l l . Whi le n o t w i s h i n g to b e l i t t l e t h e e f f o r t s o f my t e a c h e r s i n t h e p a s t , i t i s A l f r e d who h a s t a u g h t me most o f what I know o f a n t h r o p o l o g y , and who has been my g u i d e and m e n to r t h r o u g h o u t . His i n v o l v e m e n t in t h e t h e s i s a t e v e r y s t a g e i s u b i q u i t o u s and h i s p r e s e n c e , more t h a n any o t h e r f a c t o r , h a s been i n d i s p e n s a b l e to i t s i n c e p t i o n , e x e c u t i o n and c o m p l e t i o n . In t h e f i e l d A l f r e d t a u g h t me t h e r u l e s o f Gondi grammar, u n c o m p l a i n i n g l y t o o k upon h i m s e l f t h e t a s k o f c o o ki n g our food so t h a t I would be f r e e t o v i s i t h o u s e h o l d s i n t h e v i l l a g e d u r i n g t h e t i m e t h a t most women were p r e o c c u p i e d in c o o k i n g t h e f a m i l y s u p p e r , s u g g e s t e d l i n e s o f e n q u i r y and q u e s t i o n s f o r me to f o l l o w , and m a g n i f i c e n t l y a b s o r b e d and d e f l e c t e d my f r u s t r a t i o n s , moods and t emper t a n t r u m s w i t h h i s i n e x h a u s t i b l e s t r e n g t h o f w i l l and p a t i e n c e . During t h e y e a r s o f " w r i t i n g up" vhen in f a c t whole months p a s s e d w i t h o u t a s i n g l e s e n t e n c e w r i t t e n , w i t h me s i t t i n g in an agony o f h e l p l e s s n e s s o v er a few f a c t s t h a t s e e m i n g l y d e f i e d a n a l y s i s , A l f r e d i n v a r i a b l y came t o my r e s c u e by a p p l y i n g h i s mind ( f o r h a l f an hour!) and s u g g e s t i n g an a n a l y t i c a l c o n t e x t t h a t was j u s t what I w a nt ed . I h a v e made f r e e use o f many o f h i s i d e a s which a r e so p e r v a s i v e t h r o u g h o u t t h e t h e s i s t h a t many o f them r ema in unacknowledged s p e c i f i c a l l y . However a l t h o u g h a l a r g e p a r t o f t h e i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n t e n t o f t h e t h e s i s i s owed t o him i t would be wrong to h o l d him r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e e r r o r s and s h o r t c o m i n g s t h a t r em a i n : had he been in c o m p l e t e c o n t r o l a

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very different standard of work would have been produced. I have also used Alfred as a dictionary and Thesaurus, and he has also gone over the draft of almost every page correcting grammatical mistakes and improving its sense. He has drawn all the maps and diagrams as well.

No words are adequate to describe the role played by ray parents in this

enterprise - mercifully I come from a culture where ’thanks’ by a daughter

to her parents are considered out-of-place and presumptuous. I am also sensitive to the fact that a ’thank you' creates a distinction between my parents and me which has hitherto never existed: my achievement and my happiness has always been indistinguishable to my parents from their own happiness and achievement as theirs has been to me. In such a situation it is impossible to say what thanks are owed and to whom. I would nonetheless like to say that my prime motivation all along has been their love and dedication, as has been the desire to see the efforts of the one, most

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1. INTRODUCTION

F i e l d w o r k among t h e B a s t a r Mu ri a

I was o r i g i n a l l y u r g e d t o u n d e r t a k e f i e l d w o r k among t h e M u r i a s o f B a s t a r D i s t r i c t b y t h e e m i n e n t I n d i a n a n t h r o p o l o g i s t and e x p e r t on t r i b a l ( A d i v a s i ) s o c i e t y , S u r a j i t S i n h a who a s s u r e d me t h a t i t was a m o s t b e a u t i f u l p a r t o f I n d i a and t h a t t h e Muri a t h e m s e l v e s we re f a s c i n a t i n g p e o p l e . T h e r e w e r e many mo me nt s, d u r i n g t h e l o n g m o n t h s o f f i e l d w o r k i n B a s t a r w h i c h f o l l o w e d , when I h a d o c c a s i o n t o r e f l e c t a t r i f l e s o u r l y on t h e g o l d e n p i c t u r e p a i n t e d f o r me, i n P r o f e s s o r S i n h a ’ s e n t h u s i a s t i c w o r d s , o f a c o o l g r e e n f o r e s t i d y l l , s e c l u d e d f rom t h e h u s t l e and b u s t l e o f I n d i a ’ s d e n s e l y - s e t t l e d h e a r t l a n d s , i n h a b i t e d by s i m p l e and a g r e e a b l e p e o p l e . F or m o n t h s on end t h e f o r e s t i d y l l i s a s e a o f i m p a s s a b l e mud and r a g i n g t o r r e n t s , a t o t h e r t i m e s v i c i o u s h e a t m u s t b e e n d u r e d w i t h o u t b e n e f i t o f f a n s o r s u p p l i e s o f c o o l i n g i c e d d r i n k s , w h i l e t h e w i n t e r m o n t h s , d e l i g h t f u l e n o u gh b y d a y , c h i l l t h e m a r r o w - b o n e s w i t h a r c t i c n i g h t s . And t h e M u r i a , b u r s t i n g w i t h c o n f i d e n c e i n t h e r i g h t n e s s o f t h e i r way o f d o i n g t h i n g s , q u i t e u n a c c u s t o m e d t o g i v i n g t h e a l m o s t i n s t i n c t i v e d i s p l a y s o f d e f e r e n c e w h i c h g r e e t t h e member o f t h e u r b a n e l i t e c l a s s e s e l s e w h e r e i n t h e s u b c o n t i n e n t , r e f u s e t o t r e a t s e r i o u s l y an i n d i v i d u a l , s u c h a s a w a n d e r i n g a n t h r o p o l o g i s t , who seems t o them t o l a c k e ve n t h e m o s t b a s i c s o c i a l q u a l i f i c a t i o n s .

To b e g i n w i t h , and f o r many m o n t h s , I was u n a b l e t o s p e a k , u n a b l e t o e x p l a i n w h a t k e p t me i n t h e i r c o u n t r y , u n a b l e t o form s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h t hem and s e e m i n g l y w i t h o u t a n y r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h my own p r i v i l e g e d k i n d . I t h e r e f o r e e n d u r e d t h e m o s t u n f o r t u n a t e e x p e r i e n c e o f b e i n g nobo dy , d e n i e d t h e m o s t b a s i c i d e n t i t y . I c o u l d s e e , g o i n g on a r o u n d me, a co mp le x and e n g r o s s i n g s o c i a l e x i s t e n c e , l i t t l e d r a m a s e r u p t i n g and s u b s i d i n g a g a i n s t a s t a b l e b a c k g r o u n d o f s t r o n g , b u t i m p l i c i t , s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , b u t I c o u l d n e i t h e r i n t e r p r e t ( e x c e p t i n t h e m o s t f r a g m e n t a r y way) t h e c a u s e s o f t h e a l a r m s and e x c u r s i o n s w h i c h s w e p t t h r o u g h t h e f a m i l y w i t h whom I was l o d g e d , k e e p i n g t hem up h a l f t h e n i g h t e n g a g e d i n c o n v e r s a t i o n s

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which f l u c t u a t e d between h e a t e d arguments, w hi s per ed c o n f i d e n c e s , and h e l p l e s s l a u g h t e r . I had no r e a s o n t o d ou bt , from t h e v e r y b e g i n n i n g , t h a t P r o f e s s o r S inh a’s re ma rks on t h e f a s c i n a t i n g and charming n a t u r e o f t h e Muria and t h e i r l i f e - s t y l e were a b u n d a n t l y j u s t i f i e d , b u t I o f t e n had o c c a s i o n t o doubt t h a t I would e ve r become a c q u a i n t e d wi th them, s i n c e no Muria, w i th so much e l s e t o a b so r b h i s / h e r a t t e n t i o n , seemed l i k e l y t o spend long ho u rs e x p l a i n i n g Muria l a ng u ag e and customs t o someone as f r u s t r a t i n g t o communicate w i t h as m y s e l f . About t h e f i r s t remark made t o me i n Muria t h a t I r e a l l y u n d e r s t o o d was made by t h e ol d woman who l a t e r became my ’mother*. I t was: ’’L a h a r i , why don’t you t a l k ? Why do you s i t by y o u r s e l f and keep s i l e n t ? ” . My d e f i c i e n t Gondi was enough t o c a p t u r e t h i s i d e a b e c a u s e t h e c o n t e x t made i t so a b u n d a n t l y c l e a r what she meant. I t seemed l i k e a s t a l e m a t e : t h e Muria would n ot keep p a t i e n c e w i t h me b e c a u s e I c o u l d n o t s peak w i t h them, and I would n e v er l e a r n t o s peak w i th them u n l e s s t h e y showed more p a t i e n c e w i t h me. And in t h e v i l l a g e in which I worked, d e s p i t e t h e r e be i ng two men, t h e v i l l a g e headman and a n o t h e r who c o ul d communicate i n Hindi, t h e r e were no Muria a v a i l a b l e t o a c t as a l i n g u i s t i c a s s i s t a n t . Nor a r e t h e r e any t e x t - b o o k s on Gondi, or even a u s a b l e v o c a b u l a r y . I t was b o rn e i n on me t h a t i t was going t o be a v e r y l o ng h a u l . Moreover, t o make i t even more u n e n d u r a b l e , t h e f a c t i s , i f I may s a y so, t h a t I am a t a l k a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l , and t h a t I m a i n l y r e l a t e t o my s o c i a l s u r r o u n d i n g s by t a l k i n g t o p e o p l e , r a t h e r t h a n by wa tchi ng them. Some a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s can b u i l d up i n f o r m a t i o n even w i t h o u t u n d e r s t a n d i n g much o f t h e l a ngu age , b u t t h i s i s n ot my s t y l e . I have t o t a l k , n o t j u s t f o r a s k i n g q u e s t i o n s , b ut so as t o f o l l o w t h e g o s s i p , i n which most o f what i s o f r e a l i n t e r e s t t o me i s embedded. B e r e f t o f my e s s e n t i a l c h an n e l o f communication wi th t h e world and m i s s i n g t h e company o f my husband, I f e l t v e r y l o s t i nd e ed .

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more significant than the government itself. On hearing of my wish to work in Bastar district, my Uncle's contacts in the forest service in Bastar district laid on an elaborate and luxurious tour of the district for my husband and myself, accompanying forest officers in their normal duties as they visited the various forest ranges into which the district is subdivided. In the course of a visit to the forests around Narayanpur, in the heart of Muria country, we were accompanied at one stage by one of the very few literate Muria who have joined the Forest Service. This man revealed that he was half-brother to the important siyan (village elder) who is pseudonymously referred to in this thesis as 'Tiri', who resided at Manjapur, close to Dhorai in the Chhote Dongar range. He suggested that we all pay a call on his half-brother. Manjapur proved to be well off the road and it was only with difficulty that we were able to reach Tiri's rather splendid-looking house in the forester's jeep. Tiri was sent for and eventually arrived. He was a powerfully built man in his late thirties, and he obviously at once put on his mettle to impress both his half-brother and even more so the Forest Service top brass who had suddenly descended on Manjapur. No Muria, least of all an aspiring big-man with an eye as unswervingly fixed on the main chance as Tiri’s always was, could ignore such a splendid opportunity to get into the good books of the all-powerful forest department as seemed to be on offer. On our side, we were entranced by the extensive, neat and prosperous-looking village scene which Manjapur presented, and we also noticed that Tiri's house looked both large and weather-proof. Sweet palm-wine was offered and consumed and there and then a deal was struck, through the mediation of the half-brother. After the rains I would take up residence with Tiri, and later my husband would come too. But it was obvious that at the time, Tiri only faintly noticed the Punjabi lady and the white man - his prime concern was the forest officers and the prospect of them becoming indebted to him.

When I eventually arrived, Tiri was as good as his word, placing one large room of his house at my disposal, together with his only bed. The room was windowless, noisy and the bed infested with itch-provoking mites but this was luxury by Muria standards. The Muria can be infuriatingly off-hand, even stand-offish at times, but they are never less than generous and honourable. Tiri did his best, but it was immediately apparent that I would need separate quarters if I were ever to get any sleep (or any work

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done), away from the hubbub of talk and work (beginning at 4 ajn. in Tiri’s house) and with light to see by and air to breathe during the long, hot, days of summer. My first months in the field were occupied with endless negotiations, both to find a plot on which to build a house and to obtain the labour and materials needed in the construction. I found out the hard way how jealously the Muria regard their land, even the tiny patch of low- grade bhat land needed to build a hut. It was soon apparent that none of Tiri’s neighbours who possessed such land would give it for this purpose for fear that Tiri would lay a claim to the plot and house once I had gone. Eventually, after much argument, my house was constructed on the other side of Tiri’s courtyard only yards from his front door. He felt this as a slur on his hospitality, but generously acquiesced in the situation. But for the building, no labour was available in the village itself. I was most astonished to discover this fact, since labour-shortage is the one kind of shortage which one does not expect to encounter in India. But in Manjapur labour is very short indeed. Eventually I imported Hindus from another village. Oily weeks before the monsoons descended, which would wash away the walls of an uncompleted house almost overnight, our house was rapidly erected and roofed over, its speedy construction ensuring that it also speedily fell down again two seasons later.

These concerns occupied the first three months of fieldwork. Though I had with great difficulty arranged for a place to live, and was in close daily involvement with one of the most important families in the village, I still felt I lacked any means of getting into the language and learning to communicate with people, other than the very few who (like Tiri) knew Hindi. At this juncture my husband arrived, bearing with him notes on the grammatical structure of the most nearly cognate Gondi language he could find described in the linguistic literature (Koya, spoken in N. Andhra: Tyler 1965). Shortly afterwards he managed to obtain an invaluable two- page summary of Muria Gondi verb paradigms from an anthropologist (Dr. I. Popoff) working nearby, who had in turn obtained this document from a

missionary linguist. This event proved to be the breakthrough. We

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p e r s o n i n Muria e y e s . I t h i n k t h a t t h e p r e s s u r e t o speak had been b u i l d i n g up a l l a l o n g , and t h a t I p r o b a b l y knew more th a n I s u s p e c t e d even when I f e l t I knew n o t h i n g . With t h i s p o we r fu l m o t i v a t i o n , which had l e s s p e r h a p s t o do w i t h a n t h r o p o l o g y t h a n w i t h resuming my accustomed p l a c e i n t h e w or ld , I s p e e d i l y g a i n e d c o n f i d e n c e and f l u e n c y i n Muria Gondi. As a Muria- s p e a k e r , I i m m e d i a t e l y became a p e r s o n o f wide r e p u t a t i o n w i t h i n and beyond t h e v i l l a g e , and I a l s o became more and more i n t e g r a t e d as a ’d a u g h t e r ' i n my a d o p t ed h o u s e h o l d . T i r i ceas ed t o be my prime p a t r o n , h i s p l a c e b e i n g u s u r p e d by h i s (and my) r e d o u b t a b l e mother, whom I had been always t a u g h t t o c a l l yaya (mot her) and who now r e a l l y became one t o me. Through he r e y e s , and h e r i n s t r u c t i o n , t h e p a t t e r n o f Muria v i l l a g e l i f e was l a i d open b e f o r e me. Yaya i s one o f t h e most f o r c e f u l and i n t e l l i g e n t women I h ave e v e r met, p e r h a p s t h e most; I soon found o u t t h a t h e r dynamism, p a ss e d on i n good me as ure t o h e r son T i r i , had r a i s e d an i m p o ve r is h ed f a m i l y , on t h e r un from t h e i r n a t a l v i l l a g e , t o a p i n n a c l e o f s o c i a l and economic p r e s t i g e in Manjapur from which t h e y a r e u n l i k e l y t o be d i s p l a c e d . The T i r i f a m i l y t u r n e d o ut t o be an e x c e l l e n t c h o i c e a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l l y , i n t h a t be i ng ' s t r a n g e r s ' i n t h e v i l l a g e t h e m s e l v e s , b u t a t t h e same t i m e always i n t h e t h i c k o f v i l l a g e a f f a i r s , t h e y were e x c e p t i o n a l l y a r t i c u l a t e , once t h e y c ou ld be p e rs u a d e d t h a t i t was worth t a l k i n g t o me a t a l l , a b o u t what made v i l l a g e s o c i e t y t i c k . Moreover, T i r i ’s two younger s i s t e r s were b o t h going t o t h e Ghotul ( d o r m i t o r y ) a t t h e t i m e o f my a r r i v a l , w h i l e h i s younger b r o t h e r , h i s w i f e and h e r i l l e g i t i m a t e son were a l s o r e s i d e n t , a l o n g wi th T i r i ' s wi fe and c h i l d r e n , n ot t o mention T i r i ' s f a t h e r ( a v e r y s u b s i d i n g f i g u r e , u n l i k e Yaya, f o r r e a s o n s t o be d i s c u s s e d i n due c o u r s e ) . In s h o r t I was s u r r o un de d by i n d i v i d u a l s a t e v e r y s t a g e o f t h e Muria l i f e - c y c l e , and moreover i n one o f t h e l i v e l i e s t j o i n t - f a m i l y h o u s e h o l d s i n t h e e n t i r e v i l l a g e , dominated by two o f t h e most i m p r e s s i v e and f i e n d i s h l y i n t e l l i g e n t o p e r a t o r s i n v i l l a g e p o l i t i c s . I had e v e n t u a l l y a c q u i r e d t h e means t o s t u d y t h e Muria. But what s h o u l d a s t u d y o f t h e Muria r e a l l y f o c u s on?

The Ghotul in Muria S o c i e t y

I t had been my o r i g i n a l i n t e n t i o n , when I s e t o u t from t h e A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y , t o c o n t r i b u t e t o t h e s t u d i e s t h e n be i ng c a r r i e d o u t by c e r t a i n a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s t h e r e , on c h i l d b e h a v i o u r , p l a y and c o g n i t i v e

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m a r r i a g e c e r e m o n i e s , t h e Ghotul g i r l s and boys seemed t o be t h e main p e r f o r m e r s , s i n g i n g t h e m a r r i a g e songs, d a n c i n g , a t t e n d i n g t o t h e b r i d e and groom as w el l as cooking and d i s t r i b u t i n g t h e food. How d e v a s t a t i n g Ghotul e n t a n g l e m e n t s c o u l d be p o l i t i c a l l y I was e n ab le d t o see when one o f T i r i ’s younger s i s t e r s e l o p e d from t h e Ghotul e a r l y i n my s t a y i n h i s hous e. T i r i was f u r i o u s and d e e p l y o f f e n d e d , n o t l e a s t b e c a u s e t h e m a r r i a g e n e g o t i a t e d by him f o r t h i s g i r l was one o f i mp e cc ab le o rt ho d o x y , which would r e s t o r e t h e ’image* o f T i r i ’ s h o u s e h o l d i n t h e e ye s, n o t o n l y o f Manjapur, b u t T i r i ’s f a t h e r ’s o r i g i n a l v i l l a g e Boorpal, where T i r i ’ s f a t h e r ’s r e p u t a t i o n had been under a c lo ud s i n c e he had e lo pe d t o Manjapur, many y e a r s ago, w i t h h i s Ghotul g i r l f r i e n d . However a m a r r i a g e ( t h e r i g h t one) was q u i c k l y a r r a n g e d , and one more Ghotul boy was b r o u g h t b e f o r e t h e v i l l a g e c o u n c i l , whose s e l f - r i g h t e o u s a n g e r i s n o t r e duc ed by t h e f a c t t h a t few o f t h e e l d e r s s i t t i n g i n judgement t h e r e have n o t been t h e c u l p r i t i n some e q u a l l y u n s a vo u ry b u s i n e s s on an e a r l i e r o c c a s i o n .

Both my c o n v e r s a t i o n s w i t h women, and t h e dramas w i t h i n t h e T i r i h o u s eh o ld and t h e v i l l a g e g e n e r a l l y p o i n t e d i n s i s t e n t l y to wa r ds t h e Ghotul as t h e most i n t e r e s t i n g f e a t u r e o f Muria s o c i e t y . But what i s t h e Ghotul? We might have imagined t h a t we were in a p o s i t i o n t o know t h i s a l r e a d y , s i n c e t h e s t u d y by V e r r i e r Elwin o f t h e Muria a d o l e s c e n t d o r m i t o r y i n s t i t u t i o n (The Mur.ia and t h e i r Ghotul: Elwin 1947) i s t h e o n l y e x t e n s i v e s t u d y o f t h e Muria i n e x i s t e n c e and i s d evot ed t o e l u c i d a t i n g - i n a l l i t s 718 p a g e s - t h i s v e r y s u b j e c t . But as I came t o know Manjapur and t h e Muria b e t t e r , I became wholly d i s s a t i s f i e d w i t h Elwin's a c c o u n t o f t h e CSiotul, which i s f a r t o o r o m a n t i c and does n o t h i n g t o s e t t h e Ghotul in i t s s o c i a l c o n t e x t , t r e a t i n g i t m o r e - o r - l e s s as a dreamland o f a d o l e s c e n t s e x u a l b l i s s . I s t a r t e d t o v i s i t t h e Ghotul r e g u l a r l y , i n company wi th T i r i ’s r e ma i n in g un ma r ri e d s i s t e r , and I soon l e a r n t t h a t i t was n o t h i n g o f t h e k in d .

J u s t a s Elwin had, I came t o i d e n t i f y t h e Ghotul as t h e key t o a d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e p a t t e r n o f Muria s o c i a l l i f e , b u t havi ng made t h i s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n I became a l l t h e more d e t er m i n e d t o show t h e i n s t i t u t i o n in i t s t r u e c o l o u r s , and i n r e l a t i o n t o Muria s o c i e t y as a whole. I abandoned my p la nn ed i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f c h i l d h o o d , which seemed f a r too narrow, and began t o c o l l e c t m a t e r i a l s f o r a g e n e r a l a cc o u n t o f t h e Manjapur Muria, t o

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c e n t r e around t h e Ghotul and what happens t h e r e . The t h e s i s h e r e p r e s e n t e d i s t h e r e s u l t o f t h e i n v e s t i g a t i o n s I began t o c a r r y o u t a t t h a t t ime . I v i s i t e d t h e Ghotul e v e r y n i g h t and s t u d i e d i t s o r g a n i s a t i o n i n as much d e t a i l as p o s s i b l e . The c i r c l e o f my i n t i m a t e a s s o c i a t e s widened t o i n c l u d e n o t o n l y t h e T i r i f a m i l y , b u t t h e t h e n Ghotul c o h o r t , p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e young man h e r e i n c a l l e d Malu, who though n o t t h e head ( P a t e l ) o f t h e Manjapur Ghotul was c e r t a i n l y i t s b r i g h t e s t s p a r k , as w e l l as many o t h e r s , b o t h boys and g i r l s . I p a r t i c i p a t e d b o th in t h e i r e x p e d i t i o n s and me rry­ making, and a l s o in t h e t e m pe s t uo us d e b a t e s and a l t e r c a t i o n s which e n l i v e n

Ghotul l i f e t h r o u g h t h e d u l l months o f ha rd a g r i c u l t u r a l l a b o u r . Elwin did none o f t h i s , nor di d he s pe ak Muria Gondi, so t h i s a c c o u n t , whatever i t s many d e m e r i t s , does e n t e r i n t o e t h n o g r a p h i c a l l y u n e x p l o r e d t e r r i t o r y .

I a l s o s t u d i e d Manjapur v i l l a g e , and g o t on c l o s e t e r ms with o t h e r s i y a n b e s i d e s T i r i , n o t a b l y Panku Ram ( a n o t h e r pseudonym) T i r i ’s most s e r i o u s r i v a l as a p o l i t i c a l o p e r a t o r . I endured many b i t t e r r e p r o a c h e s from Yaya on a c co un t o f my u n h e a l t h y i n t i m a c y w i th t h e Panku Ram h o u s e h o l d , p r e s i d e d o v e r by a n o t h e r m a t r i a r c h o n l y s l i g h t l y l e s s d o mi n e er i n g t h a t Yaya h e r s e l f . Through t h e s i y a n , I began t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e complex u n d e r c u r r e n t s o f v i l l a g e p o l i t i c s , and t h e e s s e n t i a l i n s e c u r i t i e s which t h r e a t e n t h e p o s i t i o n o f even t h e most e n t r e n c h e d - s e e m i n g h o u s e h o l d s . I t became c l e a r t h a t t h e a s s e r t i o n o f u n e q u i v o c a l s t a t u s and l e g i t i m a c y i n s e t t l i n g i n t h e v i l l a g e , c u l t i v a t i n g i t s l a n d , and t a k i n g p a r t i n i t s p o l i t i c a l l i f e , i s b o th t h e g oa l o f e v e r y a m b i t i o u s man, and a t t h e same t i me t h e most d i f f i c u l t t h i n g t o a c h i e v e , s i n c e t h e v e r y s u c c e s s o f a h ou s eh o ld a r o u s e s j e a l o u s y and can s p a r k o f f a s e r i o u s c h a l l e n g e . Once a g a i n , i t proved t h a t t h e Ghotul pla y ed a c r u c i a l r o l e i n t h e a s s e r t i o n o f a l e g i t i m a t e ’v i l l a g e ’ i d e n t i t y , s i n c e i t i s by send ing i t s a d o l e s c e n t members t o t h e Ghotul t h a t t h e i n d i v i d u a l (and competing) h o u s e h o l d s i n t h e v i l l a g e a s s e r t t h e i r common u n d e r l y i n g i n t e r e s t , t h e i r ’b e l o n g i n g n e s s ' t o t h e v i l l a g e .

An o u t l i n e o f t h e argument

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to go on, and a comprehensive history of the area has yet to be attempted. There follows an account of the present day administrative system, the Government and the Forest department. The chapter concludes by looking at the caste communities present in the immediate vicinity of the fieldwork village, and places the Muria in the caste hierarchy as well as points to an important difference between the Maria Ghotul and the Muria Ghotul, a detail which assumes significance later in the thesis.

Chapter 3 ’The Manjapur Environment’ describes the basic layout of the

Muria village, and locates Manjapur in its regional setting. The village ecology is described both in its physical aspect, and in terms of the values attached by the Muria to different categories of land: forest, dry fields, paddy fields and grazing land. Chapters 2 and 3 are of an introductory nature only.

Chapter 4 'Muria Clanship' begins the analysis of the sociological background of the Ghotul. The problem discussed in this chapter is the general form of Muria social organization and the nature of clan units. This problem is discussed in a comparative perspective since in some parts of Bastar (where the Maria live) it seems that clanship and territory are closely linked, which is not the case in the vicinity of the fieldwork village. The argument that a fixed arrangement of agnatic clan-territorial units has 'decayed' due to economic change is rejected and the form of the present day dispersed Muria clan is attributed to the role of saga or dadabhai (agnates/kin) to one another and the question is raised whether the Muria are arranged in marriage moieties. In fact, this is not so, as local segments of dispersed clans have largely different complements of saga/dadabhai clans depending on local configurations around particular village units (nar). Nonetheless, the Muria conceptualise their social universe dualistically. The component clans of the fieldwork village and their alliance relationships within and outside the village are described. The intention in this chapter is to emphasise the central position of alliance relationships in Muria social structure.

Chapter 5 ’The Village, the Land, and Politics of Manjapur' introduces the fieldwork village and describes the typical patterns of Muria small- scale politics. I propose that the fundamental unit of Muria society is

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t h e v i l l a g e u n i t ( n a r ) , and t h a t t h i s makes t h e Muria d i s t i n c t , a s a ’t r i b a l ’ s o c i e t y , from t h e g e n e r a l I n d i a n p a t t e r n , i n which, as Dumont and Pocock have a r g u e d , t h e v i l l a g e u n i t does n o t d e f i n e s o c i o l o g i c a l b o u n d a r i e s o f overwhelming i m p o r t a n c e . Manjapur v i l l a g e c o n t a i n s two c a s t e s , Muria and Maraar who i n t e r a c t o n l y m a r g i n a l l y (and a r e p h y s i c a l l y s e p a r a t e ) e x c e p t i n c o n n e c t i o n w i th v i l l a g e r i t u a l . The Maraars a r e p r e ­ e mine nt i n t h e c u l t o f t h e s t a t e g o dd e ss , t h e Murias i n t h e c u l t o f t h e e a r t h and f e r t i l i t y . The v i l l a g e i s a s i n g l e , i n t e r d e p e n d e n t r e l i g i o u s c o n g r e g a t i o n . I p r o c e e d t o t h e q u e s t i o n o f l a nd owne rshi p and t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e m i g r a t i o n s o f t h e p r e s e n t l y dominant l i n e a g e s i n Manjapur. Land and w e a l t h a r e n o t n e c e s s a r i l y c o n n e c t e d , b u t t h e dominant p o l i t i c a l f a c t i o n i n Manjapur ( l i n e a g e s o f t h e Korami c l a n ) own most o f t h e l a n d . I d e s c r i b e t h e i n s t a b i l i t i e s o f w e a l t h and p r e s t i g e in t h e v i l l a g e : t h e l i n e a g e o f t h e v i l l a g e P a t e l i s d e c l i n i n g , T i r i ’ s i s r i s i n g . The major f i g u r e s in i n t r a - v i l l a g e p o l i t i c s a r e i n t r o d u c e d and t h e i n t e r p l a y o f s e c t i o n a l i n t e r e s t s i s b r o u g h t o u t by means o f an e xt ende d c a s e h i s t o r y o f a d i s p u t e I w i t n e s s e d , i n which T i r i ’ s f a t h e r was accused o f murde ri ng t h e p r e s e n t P a t e l ’s f a t h e r . The theme o f t h i s c h a p t e r i s t o i d e n t i f y t h e s ens e o f i n s e c u r i t y which seems t o l i e b e hi nd so much Muria p u b l i c b e h a v i o u r , t h e f e a r o f l o s i n g s t a t u s i n t h e v i l l a g e or even be i ng e j e c t e d from i t . I c o n c l u d e by p o i n t i n g to wa r ds t h e r e l i g i o u s system and t h e Ghotul as t h e means a dopted by Muria t o e x p r e s s t h e i r dependence on t h e v i l l a g e community, and t h e v a l i d i t y o f t h e i r c l a i m s t o b el ong t o i t .

C hap ter 6 ’The Extended Family' d i s c u s s e s t h e form t a k e n by t h e I n d i a n ’J o i n t Family’ in t h e p r e s e n t - d a y Muria c o n t e x t . Thi s s h o r t c h a p t e r s e t s t h e f a m i l y in i t s p h y s i c a l , d o m e s t i c s e t t i n g and paves t h e way f o r Chapter 7 which p r o v i d e s an e xt en de d d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e Muria l i f e - c y c l e and t h e n a t u r e o f m a r r i a g e and b e t r o t h a l .

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w i t h i n t h e n u c l e a r f a m i l y , w h i l e t h e u n d e r l y i n g a l l i a n c e p a t t e r n remains one o f b i l a t e r a l c r o s s - c o u s i n m a r r i a g e , w i t h o u t asymmetric f e a t u r e s . The c h a p t e r c o n c l u d e s w i t h a d i s c u s s i o n o f saga ( a l l i a n c e ) r e l a t i o n s a t an i n t e r p e r s o n a l l e v e l , and t h e n a t u r e o f mahala ( b e t r o t h a l ) and t h e accompanying e xc ha n ge s.

Ch apt er 8 ’The s t r u c t u r a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h e Gh ot ul ’ i n t r o d u c e s t h e Ghotul from t h e p o i n t o f view o f a l l i a n c e and v i l l a g e p o l i t i c s which has been b u i l t up i n t h e p r e c e d i n g c h a p t e r s . I t i s argued t h a t t h e Ghotul p l a y s a s t r u c t u r a l r o l e in t h e i n t e g r a t i o n o f t h e v i l l a g e p o l i t i c a l u n i t ( n a r ) . The l i n k a g e between t h e Ghotul system and t h e r e l i g i o u s system o f t h e v i l l a g e i s a n a l y s e d . The Ghotul boys and g i r l s s t a n d as i n t e r m e d i a r i e s , p o i s e d between k i n and a l l i e s a t t h e s o c i a l l e v e l , and between men and Gods a t t h e r e l i g i o u s one. The framework o f major r e l i g i o u s f e s t i v a l s i s d e s c r i b e d , and t h e p a r t p l a y e d in them by t h e Ghotul members. Thi s c h a p t e r p r o v i d e s an o v e r a l l t h e o r e t i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e o f t h e Ghotul as seen from o u t s i d e . The n e x t c h a p t e r l o o k s a t t h e Ghotul as seen from t h e i n s i d e by i t s p a r t i c i p a n t s .

Chapt er 9 ’The C h o t u l ’ i n c o r p o r a t e s d e s c r i p t i v e m a t e r i a l , i l l u s t r a t e d w i t h e xte nd e d c a s e h i s t o r i e s , on t h e Ghotul as i t f u n c t i o n s on a d a y - t o - day b a s i s . Ghotul i n i t i a t i o n i s d e s c r i b e d , and t h e a l l o c a t i o n o f s l e e p i n g p a r t n e r s ( j o r ) t o new members. Ghotul g i r l s a r e a s s i g n e d a p a r t n e r a t a l l t i m e s , i n t h e o r y one o f t h e i r own f r e e c h oo s i n g , b u t t h e r e a l i t y i s much more complex t h a n t h i s . Next, an a c c ou n t i s p ro v i d e d o f t h e Ghotul as an i n s t i t u t i o n , and t h e v a r i o u s o f f i c e s h e l d by more s e n i o r boys , who a r e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r Ghotul d i s c i p l i n e and t h e pe rf or ma nc e o f Ghotul d u t i e s . Genuine o f f i c e s a r e d i s t i n g u i s h e d from Ghotul names, some o f which sound as i f t h e y went w i t h o f f i c e s , and were t r e a t e d i n t h i s way by Elwin, b u t which do n o t a c t u a l l y do so. The f a c t i o n a l p o l i t i c s o f t h e Ghotul i s d e s c r i b e d , and examples a r e examined o f r u l e i n f r i n g e m e n t s d e b a t e d w i t h i n t h e Ghotul, and t h e p u n i s h m e n t s imposed. I n s t a n c e s o f c o n f l i c t i n v o l v i n g r e l a t i o n s between t h e Ghotul and v i l l a g e e l d e r s a r e examined.

This c h a p t e r p r o c e e d s w i t h a d e t a i l e d a n a l y s i s o f t h e a c t u a l c o n t e n t o f t h e a l l - i m p o r t a n t j o r ( p a r t n e r ) r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h i n t h e Ghotul. A l e n g t h y c a s e h i s t o r y i s p r o v i d e d o f one such r e l a t i o n i n v o l v i n g c o n s i d e r a b l e

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e m o t i o n a l commitment by t h e c o u p l e c on ce r ne d , and i t i s shown how t h e Ghotul a s a body a t t e m p t t o d e f u s e such r e l a t i o n s h i p s b e f o r e t h e y c u l m i n a t e i n an el op ement , t hough o f t e n w i t h o u t s u c c e s s .

The f i n a l s e c t i o n o f t h i s c h a p t e r d i s c u s s e s t h e n a t u r e o f s e x u a l r e l a t i o n s w i t h i n t h e Ghotul, and t h e c ons eque nc es o f pre gn a nc y (nashamaina l i t e r a l l y , ’s p o i l i n g ’ ) . I t i s shown t h a t , c o n t r a r y t o El wi n's a c c o u n t , s e x u a l i n t e r c o u r s e w i t h i n t h e Ghotul i s frowned on, and i s n o t common. Muria b e l i e f s a b o u t c o n c e p t i o n a r e d e s c r i b e d . Conception i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h maiya ( l o v e ) and a d e f i n i t e wish t o become p r e g n a n t on t h e woman’s p a r t . This r u n s c o m p l e t e l y c o u n t e r t o t h e Ghotul e t h o s o f d i f f u s e s o l i d a r i t y and r e s u l t s i n t h e e x p u l s i o n o f t h e g i r l from t h e Ghotul and t h e p unis hme nt o f t h e boy r e s p o n s i b l e . The p o s s i b i l i t y o f a g i r l ’s becoming p r e g n a n t i n t h e Ghotul i s a major worry f o r p a r e n t s , and a t h r e a t t o p r e v i o u s l y - m a d e b e t r o t h a l a r r a n g e m e n t s . This l e a d s t o them p u t t i n g p r e s s u r e on t h e p r o s p e c t i v e hu sband’s f a m i l y t o h a s t e n t h e m a r r i a g e : b u t a g a i n s t t h i s must be s e t t h e c o u n t e r v a i l i n g m o t i v a t i o n on t h e i r p a r t t o hang o nt o d a u g h t e r s as long as p o s s i b l e so as n ot t o l o s e t h e i r l a b o u r c o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h e f a m i l y economy.

C ha pt e r 10 ’The Ghotul and M a r r i a g e ’ d i s c u s s e s t h e i mpact o f t h e Ghotul on t h e m a r r i a g e s yste m. I t i s shown t h a t i n c e r t a i n c i r c u m s t a n c e s , young p e o pl e can e x p l o i t t h e freedom o f a c t i o n t h a t t h e semi-autonomy o f t h e Ghotul g i v e s them, t o d e t e r m i n e t h e i r f u t u r e m a r r i a g e s in d e f i a n c e o f p a r e n t a l p l a n s . But such s u c c e s s f u l e l o pe me nt s or f o r c e d m a r r i a g e s must r e s u l t from j o r p a i r i n g s which a r e ’good’ ( a r t a ) a c c o r d i n g t o t h e a l l i a n c e schema o f t h e c l a n s c o n c e r n e d . The d i s t r i b u t i o n o f ’good’ and ’bad’ ( a r r o ) j o r p a i r i n g s i s d i s c u s s e d . Two c o n t r a s t e d c a s e h i s t o r i e s a r e p ro v i d e d o f e l o p em e nt s from t h e Ghotul and s u b s e q u e n t n e g o t i a t i o n s w i t h i n t h e v i l l a g e between t h e groups o f saga whose i n t e r e s t s a r e i n v o l v e d . Ghotul freedom i s l i m i t e d by a l l i a n c e and p o l i t i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s .

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among t h e n e i g h b o u r i n g H i l l Maria, may r e f l e c t t h e c l o s e r r e l a t i o n s t h e Muria have wi th Hindu c a s t e s in t h e a r e a , among whom p r e - p u b e r t y m a r r i a g e i s t h e r u l e . The l o c a l Hindu m a r r i a g e system i s d e s c r i b e d ; t h e s e groups p l a c e female r e p r o d u c t i v e power under s o c i a l c o n t r o l from t h e o u t s e t by c ompulsory m a r r i a g e o f p r e - p u b e r t a l g i r l s , t o a p ot i f no l i v i n g groom i s a v a i l a b l e . Among t h e Muria t h e s e v a l u e s no l o n g e r have t h e same r i t u a l meaning, b u t none t h e l e s s t h e Muria r e g a r d i t a s shameful t o keep a d o l e s c e n t g i r l s i n t h e d o m e s t i c u n i t , t r a n s f e r r i n g them t o t h e c o n t r o l o f t h e Ghotul and a male j o r p a r t n e r . This i s a p r e l i m i n a r y t o m a r r i a g e , and may in de ed be i n t e r p r e t e d as having c e r t a i n f e a t u r e s o f ’s e c o nd a ry m a r r i a g e ' g r a n t e d t h a t i n t h e I n d i a n c o n t e x t m a r r i a g e i s v e r y f a r from b eing an a l l - o r - n o t h i n g a f f a i r . I t can be t e n t a t i v e l y s u g g e s t e d , t h e r e f o r e , t h a t t h e form o f t h e Muria Ghotul, f a r from r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e promiscuous i nn o c e n c e o f ’t r i b a l c u l t u r e ’ i s , i n f a c t , a m o d i f i c a t i o n o f a b a s i c t r i b a l i n s t i t u t i o n ( t h e male d o r m i t o r y ) i n t h e d i r e c t i o n o f Hindu m a r i t a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , i n p a r t i c u l a r , t h e p e r fo rm an c e o f a s e c o n d a r y form o f m a r r i a g e p r i o r t o t h e main one, as a means o f g e t t i n g over t h e b e t w i x t - a n d - between p e r i o d between t h e o n s e t o f menarche and t h e a ss umpt ion o f a f u l l m a r i t a l d om e s t i c and r e p r o d u c t i v e r o l e .

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v e g e t a t i o n . C h a t t i s g a r h i s a d i s t i n c t c u l t u r a l r e g i o n (Babb 1975) whose p e o p l e s pe ak a d i a l e c t o f Hindi and l i v e i n t h e compact, n u c l e a t e d v i l l a g e s t y p i c a l o f n o r t h e r n I n d i a . B a s t a r ’s major e t h n o g r a p h e r , V e r r i e r Elwin, was so s t r u c k by t h e c o n t r a s t i n l a n d s c a p e between B a s t a r and C h a t t i s g a r h t h a t he e xclaimed a l mo s t i n t h e f i r s t p a r a g r a p h o f h i s book: ’’. .. as t h e t r a v e l l e r moves toward t h e B a s t a r p l a t e a u t h e c o u n t r y s i d e b r e a k s i n t o song a bou t him; he i s g r e e t e d by hardy, s m i l i n g woodmen s i n g i n g a t t h e i r work; t h e s k y l i n e i s broken by f a n t a s t i c p i l e s o f ro ck; a l l around i s e v e r g r e e n s a l f o r e s t ” (Elwin 1947: 3 ). Elwin’s p r o s e n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g , t h i s i s a p o i n t worth making f o r t h e B a s t a r s c e n e r y i s on t h e whole s t r i k i n g l y g re e n and l u x u r i a n t and makes a s t r o n g i m p r e s s i o n on v i s i t o r s a c q u a i n t e d w i t h t h e g e n e r a l l y a r i d I n d i a n l a n d s c a p e .

D e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e p h y s i c a l geography o f B a s t a r i s a v a i l a b l e i n t h e work o f Aggarwal ( 1968). For t h e sake o f s i m p l i c i t y i t i s p o s s i b l e t o d i v i d e t h e d i s t r i c t i n t o t h r e e broad n a t u r a l d i v i s i o n s .

1. The B a s t a r - J e y p o r e p l a t e a u which c o m p ri s e s t h e r i v e r b a s i n s o f t h e I n d r a w a t i and Boardig r i v e r s and l i e s a t a p p r o x i m a t e l y 1900 f e e t above

ea l e v e l . The major towns a r e s i t u a t e d a long t h e highway which d i s e c t s t h i s p l a i n . I t i s t h e most h e a v i l y p o p u l a t e d p a r t o f t h e d i s t r i c t and s u p p o r t s an a g r i c u l t u r a l - c o m m e r c i a l p o p u l a t i o n o f Hindu m i g r a n t s . The few f o r e s t s t h a t e x i s t a r e s e c o n d a r y r e p l a n t i n g s and t h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e la n d i s i n t e n s i v e l y c u l t i v a t e d .

2. The p l a t e a u which i s f l a n k e d on t h e e a s t by t h e E a s t e r n Ghats t h a t c o n t i n u e in an unbroken s t r e t c h a lo ng t h e s o u t h e r n c o a s t o f t h e I nd i a n p e n i n s u l a r . The h i l l r a n g e s a r e t h i c k l y f o r e s t e d and l a r g e l y i n h a b i t e d by t h e Raj Muria t r i b e who a r e t o be found in t h e e n v i r o n s o f t h e d i s t r i c t c a p i t a l , J a g d a l p u r , a s w e l l . C u l t u r a l l y and l i n g u i s t i c a l l y t h e y b e a r l i t t l e a f f i n i t y t o t h e i r namesakes, t h e H i l l Marias and t h e Murias, and a r e c o n s i d e r e d t o r e s em bl e t h e r e s i d e n t p u r e r c a s t e s o f Hindus. They were t h e main r e t a i n e r s o f t h e Raja a t J a g d a l p u r , and t h e y were t h e f i r s t t o modify t h e i r ’t r i b a l * customs i n f avo ur o f a more Brahmanic s t y l e o f l i f e . There i s a r oad and a l s o a s i n g l e t r a c k r a i l w a y , which c r o s s e s t h e h i l l y c o u n t r y so as t o c o n n e c t J a g d a l p u r t o t h e busy p o r t o f Vizagapatnam on t h e e a s t c o a s t .

3. The r a n g e system c o n s i s t i n g o f t h e Abujhmar and t h e s m a l l e r r a n g e s o f t h e Kutru, B a i l a d i l l a and G o l a p a l l i h i l l s which e n c i r c l e t h e w e s t e r n

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l i m i t s o f t h e p l a t e a u c o n s t i t u t e t h e t h i r d d i v i s i o n . I t i s s t i l l r e g a r d e d as p r e s e n t i n g a f o r m i d a b l e p h y s i c a l b a r r i e r t o communication w i t h ’’c r ac k e d and seamed v a l l e y s r u n n i n g in a l l d i r e c t i o n s ” (Gri gson 1938:26) and peaks r i s i n g a b r u p t l y . The r e g i o n i s covered i n t h i c k , i m p e n e t r a b l e j u n g l e which s u p p o r t s an abundant wild l i f e o f wild b u f f a l o e s , p i g s , d e e r and t h e o c c a s i o n a l t i g e r . The Abujhmar r a n g e s and t h e i r f o o t h i l l s form t h e b ackdr op o f t h i s t h e s i s . The Murias i n h a b i t t h e s u r r o u n d i n g low c o u n t r y and f o o t - h i l l s , w h i l e t h e H i l l Mar ias, a c l o s e l y r e l a t e d group, a r e t o be found in t h e more rugged c o u n t r y o f t h e i n t e r i o r . The Murias a l s o s p i l l o u t i n t o t h e edges o f t h e p l a t e a u , v e r y c l o s e t o t h e l o w l y i n g a r e a around Kondagaon, an i m p o r t a n t town on t h e main R a i p u r - J a g d a l p u r highway.

Except f o r s mal l p a t c h e s t h a t have been c l e a r e d f o r s h i f t i n g c u l t i v a t i o n where " . . . h i g h g r a s s and s t u n t e d t r e e s make t h e c o u n t r y monotonous t o t h e e y e ” ( G r i gs on i b i d . ) , t h e Abujhmar h i l l s a r e al mos t c o m p l e t e l y cover ed w i t h f o r e s t s o f t e a k , s a l and bamboo. The v e g e t a t i o n has been d e s c r i b e d as ’’t r o p i c a l , m o i s t , d e c i d u o u s f o r e s t ” . (Aggarwal 1968:75). Gr igs on who made e x t e n s i v e s t u d i e s o f t h e Maria m a i n t a i n e d t h a t ’’t h e r e a r e o n l y 150 and 160 v i l l a g e s i n a l l t h i s a r e a o f 1,500 s q u a r e m i l e s , abou t one v i l l a g e i n e v er y 10 s q u a r e m i l e s and l e s s th a n 8 p e r s o n s pe r s q u a r e mi l e , making i t abo ut t h e l e a s t p o p u l a t e d p a r t o f t h e c o u n t r y ” (Gri gson 1938:28).

Figure

TABLE OF MAPS, TABLES AND DIAGRAMS

TABLE OF

MAPS, TABLES AND DIAGRAMS p.8
Table showing the percentages of people with _mahala_ partners in terms

Table showing

the percentages of people with _mahala_ partners in terms p.223

References

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