Culture change: Primitive tribal Saharias in MP shaking their leg on Akon, Yo Yo

  • M Poornima, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: May 14, 2015 17:35 IST

'I can see that you are the party animal like me', a popular track by hip-hop singer Akon blurts out loudly from a music system perched on a wooden bench, as 16-year-old Ramnivas Adivasi listens raptly to the music.

The boy had asked his father to especially get him a music system for his wedding, scheduled to be held later this year, as he did not want the traditional Languria, Phaag, and Chakia songs to greet the invitees on the special day.

Born in a Saharia family, a tribe that inhabits the western part of the state, Ramnivas is one of the many from the primitive community to have developed a taste for western or Bollywood music.

Now many at the Panwada village of Karahal block own modern music systems or radios, which have gradually become a primary source of entertainment here.

"Rather than the rustic songs scripting the tales of Pandav, Languria, Phaag, Janki Vivah and Chakia, the Saharias are now hooked on to hip-hop singer Akon, Indian rapper Honey Singh and upbeat Punjabi songs," says Gangaram Adivasi, a resident of the village.

"We Saharias love music and dance a lot. Music is part of our every celebration. But music systems and televisions are replacing our traditional songs like Chakiya, Languria, Phaag, etc. The Saharia families, who can afford, rent music systems from the Sheopur city for wedding ceremonies," he says.

Traces of acculturation can also be seen in the attire of tribals here. Ribbons, wrist bands and watches are quite popular among the tribal women of the village.

"I bought this wrist watch from a local fair last year for Rs40. My husband bought me this watch as I like wearing watch a lot. Many other women of my village wear wrist watches," says Janki Adivasi.

Talking to Hindustan Times, anthropologist Debashis Debnath, who has been working on Saharias for years in Sheopur district, said: "Saharias are gradually diverting from their tribal nature. They were facing cultural loss because of western influence."

Debnath said the reason behind western influence over Saharias was their frequent visits to cities and interaction with other communities.

"This influence can have both good and adverse effects on this primitive tribe…the tribals are also picking up some social ills like drinking and prostitution," the researcher said.

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