Location - The Baiga are an ethnic group found in central India, primarily in Madhya Pradesh, but also in smaller numbers in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. The most Baiga are found in Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, specifically in Baiga-chuk. They are divided into five subcastes: Bijhwar, Narotia, Bharotiya, Nahar, Rai maina, and Kath maina.
Meaning - The name Baiga means "sorcerer-medicine man".
One of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups is the Baiga (which means sorcerers) (PVTGs).
Language - Though most Baigas communicate with outsiders in Hindi, they have also picked up a few local languages. They communicate in a language known as 'Baigani' as their mother tongue. It borrows from Chhattisgarhi and is influenced by the Gondi language, and it is mostly spoken by tribesmen from the Mandla district. Most Baigas speak Hindi, and depending on where they live, they may also know a few local languages such as Gondi and Marathi.
- Baiga cuisine consists primarily of coarse grains such as kodo millet and kutki, with very little flour. Pej, a drink made from ground macca or the water left over from boiling rice, is another staple food of the baiga. They supplement this diet with forest food, which includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. They primarily hunt fish and small mammals.
- Drink Mahua: Mahua liquor is very popular among baigas, both male and female. According to the female, they drink one cup mahua liquer at night because they are tired after working hard all day. At night, both male and female sit together and drink. During the season, they make Mahua liquor from mahua leaves, and during the off season, they buy Mahua liquor from the market. In their social lives, they are far ahead of the women of the rest of society; they have rights, participate in decision-making, and are respected in their family and society.
Festival & dance - The Baiga tribe performs the Dadaria dance on the occasion of Dussehra. People from this tribe recite a love poem in this dance. This tribe's young women choose their husbands while dancing. They are free to marry whomever they want. Other Baiga tribe dances include Faag, Saila, Karma, and Bilma. This is the third-largest tribe in the state, primarily found in the Madhya Pradesh districts of Mandla, Dindori, Balaghat, and Sidhi.
Style & attire - Baiga men dress in trusses and cover their heads with a cloth. Baiga women, on the other hand, cover their bodies with dhoti. Men wear haptos and patka, or a shirt, a small piece of cloth around their waist and jacket, and a turban on special occasions. Women dress in saris and are fond of silver jewellery and ornaments.
- Shifting Cultivation and Cropping as a Traditional Practice: The Baiga tribe's farming system is known as Bewar. It is a type of shifting cultivation that is commonly used on hilly slopes where contour bonding cannot prevent soil erosion. The practise entails cutting bushes and tree branches and laying them out on slopes to dry. The branches are then burned, leaving a layer of ash on which crop seeds are broadcasted a week before the expected rains. The Baigas do not till the soil. They believe that the lands are like their mother's breast, and that ploughing the earth is like scratching their mother's breast over and over again.As a result, they practise seed broadcasting and leave the land fallow for several years to ensure land productivity recycling. As a result, Benwar practise is closely linked to Baiga tradition and faith.
- Folk Medicine Tradition Among the Baiga Tribe: The Baigas continue to practise folk medicine. The Baiga men are medical experts with extensive knowledge. Plant parts are used as herbal medicines for a variety of ailments such as body pain, headache, cough, stomach pain, cold, fever, cut or minor accident, and so on. The Baigas use their own medicines to treat them.
- Tattooing Tradition Among Baigas: Tattooing is an important part of women's culture. They use tattoos to decorate various parts of their bodies. Long parallel lines are drawn on the face, particularly on the forehead. Marks such as the moon, triangles, crosses, dots, and others are used. On the cheek or chin, below the neck, and on the back, dots or small lines are also drawn. Godparents are M.P. women who specialise in tattooing and are members of the Ojha, Badni, and Dewar tribes. They are well-versed in the various types of tattoos preferred by various tribes. Tattooing among the tribes begins in the winter and lasts until the summer.
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This blog was written by Jaya Singh, a content writer.