Bhawanipatna: Dongria and Jharnia Kondhs, two of the primitive tribes living in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, will be celebrating their annual Niyamraja Parva aka Niyamgiri festival on the Niyamgiri hill under Lanjigarh block in Kalahandi district from February 28 to March 1, a report said.
The three-day festival will be celebrated with much fervour and gaiety by the tribals living in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, president Lodo Sikoka of Niyamgiri Surakshya Samiti said.
The festival known as the festival of unity has come to become an expression of self-assertion of the Dongria Kondhs that the hills are theirs and no can claim their rights on the hill.
The festival is now an informal platform for ‘jal, jangal, zameen’ (water, forest, land) movements and to save the Niyamgiri hill from the evil eye of multinational companies, drawing participants from several states in the country.
A preparatory meeting attended by Dongria and Jharnia tribals was held at Garata village under Munikhol panchayat on the fringes of Kalahandi district in which Sikoka, tribal leaders Dadhi Pusika, Denje Pusika, social activist Lingaraj Azad and Satya Mahar chalked out the itinerary of this year’s annual festival.
The tribals worship the Niyamgiri hill as their presiding deity as they believe to be sustaining them through all odds since ages. It is a form of nature worship which hardly has any parallel anywhere.
As many as 8000 Dongria and Jharnia tribals living in over 200 villages eke out their living by cultivating hilly crops like pigeon peas (Kandul), millet (raggi), horsegram, maize, oranges, banana, pineapples on the hill.
However, they were up in arms when the state government tried to hand over the hill at throwaway prices to a multinational company. They resisted such takeovers alleging that the state government was trying to snatch away their livelihood.
The tribals have been resisting such takeover over last several years and are even protesting the highhandedness and harassment by the police and CRPF jawans.
The tribals are of the belief that they will get rid of all diseases and pain and will have good harvest if they conduct animal sacrifice before Niyamraja, their presiding deity.
This belief has taken the form of annual Niyamraja festival where Dongrias and Jharnias Kondh tribals attired in their traditional dress and weapons dance to the beating of drums and cymbals and sacrifice hens, pigeons, goats, pigs and buffaloes before their deity. Later, the tribals holding the blood-stained rice in their hand vows to protect the Niyamgiri hill at all cost till their last breath.