Symbolic pictureHalf-old tradition is in the logo of the Asura tribe –tribes in Chhattisgarh.
You must have read about the Asuras of ancient times in the books.
but you do not know that the people of the Asura society are still alive today.
but now they are living a life of poverty.
Some people of the extinct Asur tribe are still living in Jashpur of Chhattisgarh.
The people of the Asura tribe are living a life of poverty.
The Asura community, which describes itself as a descendant of Mahishasura, has now appealed to the government for help.
According to this tradition, the people of this tribe seek blessings by worshiping the elders of the house before performing any religious rituals or worshiping their deities.
Even on Diwali, before the traditional worship, elders are worshiped and seek their blessings.
There is no tradition of Purohit or Baiga in this society.
The puja is performed by the members of each family by themselves.
Who are the Asura tribe?
These tribes consider themselves to be descendants of the Asura king Mahishasura.
These tribals do not celebrate the festival of Dahshehra, because of this there is no tradition of burning or killing Ravana.
The Asurs are one of the 700 tribal groups in India that have been declared as Specially Endangered Tribes (PVTGs). The following criteria have been prescribed for the identification of Special Backward Tribes:
(1) Dependence on forests for livelihood (2) Pre-agricultural society (3) Stable or declining population (4) Low level of literacy and (5) Subsistence economy
There are five tribal groups in Chhattisgarh that meet these criteria and the Asurs are one of them. According to the 2011 census, the total population in the state is 10,000. The Asurs mainly live in the forested hills of Jashpur, Tehsil and Manora of Chhattisgarh.
Jashpur is spread over the districts of Chhattisgarh – Donapat, Burjupat, Jarhapat, Hadikona, and Ghuipat – but out of these, Donapat has the largest population of backward tribes, especially the Asur community. UNESCO has listed the Asur language as ‘certainly endangered’.
Types of Asura Tribe
The modern Asura tribe is divided into three sub-tribal divisions, namely Bir (Kol) Asura, Birjia Asura, and Agaria Asura.
Marriage of Asura Tribe
The Asura tribes follow the rule of monogamy, but in case of sterility, widower, and widow, They follow the rule of bigamy or even polygamy as well as widow remarriage is allowed.
Habitat of Asura tribe in Chhattisgarh
Asur tribe of Jashpur, Surguja in Chhattisgarh, and plateau region of Chhota Nagpur in Jharkhand state resides in.
Language (Language) of Asura tribe
The language used by the people of the Asura tribe is known by the name of the Asura language.
There is no script for this language, but it is very rich in terms of vocabulary and folklore.
The spoken language of the Asura tribe mentioned in the Puranas has reached the verge of extinction.
Due to coming in contact with civilized society, the new generation has been limited to other local dialects including Lariya and Chhattisgarhi.
Their population is also shrinking.
The Asura tribe has its own distinctive social, religious, and cultural traditions but the most distinct identity is their language.
The language that this tribe has been using in their society since ancient times is known by the name of the Asura language.
This language does not have a script but it is very rich in terms of vocabulary and folklore.
Threat to existence of Asura tribe
The Asura tribe is less than one lakh left, due to which the existence of both culture and language of this tribe is in danger.
Maniram of Asura Samaj says that the population of Asuras who are considered to be descendants of Mahishasura is about seven and a half thousand in the whole country.
Whereas in Chhattisgarh only 250 of them are left.
Asur society is on the verge of extinction today.
The Asurs, who are facing the brunt of government neglect, are forced to live a life of poverty in the hills of Jashpur.
Culture and traditional occupation of the Asur tribe on the verge of extinction
In the Jashpur district, the people of the Asur tribe, the descendants of Mahisasur, are still fighting for their existence in the Path areas.
Life is in danger and still, they are dependent on basic facilities.
The population of this tribe in the state is about three hundred, yet they are not being protected by the administration.
Descendants of Mahisasur, who are known as the Asura tribe, reside in dense forests in the village Pan Gajma Burjupath under the Manora development block.
The people of the tribe are still deprived of essential facilities like roads, water, and houses.
These people say that to date the government is not paying attention to Asur.
Devastating effects of the British Forest Act on the traditional profession
The Asur tribes have three branches – Bir Asur, Agaria, and Birjia.
In Jharkhand, the Birjias are recognized as an extremely backward tribe separate from the Asurs, while the Agarias are classified under Scheduled Tribes in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Bir Asura – they are powerful people.
Occupation of Asura tribe
In addition to archaeological evidence, the art of iron smelting has been referred to as Asura Vidya in Vedic and post-Vedic literature.
This confirms the fact that iron smelting has been the traditional occupation of the Asuras.
In addition, non-timber forest produce was also their source of livelihood.
In 1868, the British government enacted forest laws, which limited the access of the Asuras to the forests and had a devastating effect on their traditional occupation.
They could no longer bring wood from the forest.
By burning this wood, they used to make coal which used to work as fuel for smelting iron.
As a result, their forefathers had to search for alternative means of sustenance.
In the last 30 years, the Asurs have leased out large tracts of their land to mining companies.
Instead, these companies made them laborers on their own land, and that too for only enough wages to survive.
At one time the work of iron smelting was the main means of livelihood of the Asuras.
According to the Asuras, earlier their business was smelting, but with the passage of time, due to the ban on the forest, it became difficult to get iron ore and the charcoal required for smelting.
At present, this industry has become a thing of the past for them.
Now there are only a few families engaged in iron smelting.
Asura wants that if his vanishing business gets boost, his income can increase.
Earliest groups to settle in the Indus Valley
According to the study, the Asuras were distinct from the Aryans and were one of the earliest groups to settle in the Indus Valley.
Since the Asuras refused to adopt the political structure of the newly arrived Aryans, they were first labeled as Rakshasas or Daityas and later driven to the north (Bihar and Jharkhand).
Based on some archaeological evidence, it is argued that there was a conflict between the Asuras and the Mundas in the Khunti sub-division, in which the Asuras were driven out and settled on this plateau (Hills of Netarhat).
Unlike the Mundas, the Asurs did not come under the influence of Hinduism or Christian missionaries and stuck to the social and religious beliefs that they inherited from their forefathers.
The Asuras are not a branch of the Mundas.
These people also worship their ancestors.
Sarhul, Karma, and Dussehra are their main festivals.
Like other castes and tribes of the region, the Asuras also have a strong belief in magic and witchcraft.
The Asuras hold the belief that children are a gift from God.
If a woman is unable to please the Lord, she will never become a mother, because such barren women are looked down upon in the Asura society.
Asura tribes do not celebrate Navratras and Dussehra
According to their social custom, a barren woman can be divorced by her husband, or he can marry another for the sake of the child.
The Asuras know that a nine-month pregnant woman gives birth to a child.
but they do not know the count of months.
Therefore, the elders of society generally estimate the pregnancy period on the basis of physical development.
usually give birth to a child
Generally, a chamain (woman of Chamar caste) is present at the time of birth of a child.
but if chamain is not available then only an elderly woman of the society is given delivery under supervision.
Immediately after the birth of a child, its umbilical cord is cut with a knife or sickle by a woman present there.
and buried in a secluded place.
Generally, for five to six days after the birth of a child, the Asuras consider it untouchable.
Asura tribe Forget traditional business and bow and arrow
Along with this traditional business, the new generation has also forgotten how to use a bow and arrow.
Agriculture and labor are the only means of livelihood.
However, now the state government has started the initiative.
Preparations are being made to prepare the dictionary and script the folk songs in collaboration with the experts.
Tribal youth are being made aware to connect with folk culture along with education.
For this, the help of tribal society and social organizations is also being taken.