Photos | Totos of Totopara: Glimpses of an endangered tribe

The Toto tribe of West Bengal lives in a remote village near the border with Bhutan. They are one of

Updated on Jul 08, 2022 04:20 PM IST 8 Photos

A jeep ferries traders to the village of Totopara, home to the Toto tribe of West Bengal. The village is in a remote area near the border with Bhutan. These jeeps transport the traders from the nearest town, Madarihat, 24 km away, along a route that winds across six river beds. In the monsoons, Totopara becomes inaccessible.(Abhijit AA / Totos of Totopara)

A woman harvests marua, a type of millet used to brew Eu, the local liquor. Her shakha-pola (white and red bangles typically worn by Bengali women) indicate the infusion of Bengali culture in the Toto way of life.(Abhijit AA / Totos of Totopara)

Marua is planted, harvested, winnowed and threshed before it is brewed into Eu. It used to be stored in earthen pots, and is now stored in large aluminium ones. The Totos drink Eu on all important occasions, from birthing ceremonies to funerals. When a marital match is fixed, the two families also exchange large pots filled with freshly soaked marua seeds. No Toto wedding is complete without the exchange and consumption of Eu.(Abhijit AA / Totos of Totopara)


Totopara’s weekly market is held on Tuesdays. Vendors sell everything from clothes and bags to groceries and snacks. The Doya, people from Bhutan, cross the border to buy and trade at Totopara’s weekly market. (Abhijit AA / Totos of Totopara)

A general view of Totapara's weekly market.(Abhijit AA / Totos of Totopara)