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Sahariyas

The Jungle Dwellers

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Sahariya family

Sahariya family

Sahariya labor

Sahariya labor

Sahariya tribe Holi celebration

Sahariya tribe Holi celebration

Sahariyas are believed to be of Bhil origin and are called the jungle dwellers of Rajasthan. They got their name possibly from Persian word 'Sehr' which means jungle and since they inhabits mainly in Jungle, they are called Sahariya. They are mostly found in the South-eastern part of Rajasthan in Kota, Dungarpur and Sawai Madhopur and they are dependent on farming, fishing and hunting as their source of living.

No genuine historical account of the tribe has been found but they are believed to be one of the earliest tribes to settle in Rajasthan.

They live in separate basti in the village known as Saharana. They are known to be primitive in nature but some of them indulged themselves in cultivation and agricultural labor also. Their primary business is collecting and selling small forest produce like forest wood, honey, gum and fruits and vegetables. They live in small families where elder married sons live separately and younger sons take care of the parents and other unmarried siblings. People get married after reaching 15 years of age.

The local language spoken by them is influenced by Hadoti. They practice Hinduism and worship 'Goddess Durga', 'Goddess Tejaji', 'Lord Hanuman', 'Dhakar Baba', 'Bejasan', 'Lalbai'. They major festivals celebrated by them are 'Makar Sakranti', 'Janmashtmi', 'Holi', 'Raksha Bandhan', 'Teja Dashmi' and 'Diwali'.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables found in forest are taken by Sahariyas as food. Apart from that, vegetables leaf of many forest trees and fruits also eaten by them. Eating non vegetarian food like chicken, fish, sheep, goat and other forest animals is also prevalent. 'Sawa,' which is the seed of a special grass found in forests, is also used by them in different forms. The seeds are crushed to flour to make chapatis. This flour is also used to make sweet dishes like 'kheer' and 'rabri'. The sawa seed flour is highly nutritious and often used by urban people in their fast.

The Sahariya people are quite simple and they are not too well educated. A very small percentage of Sahariyas are literate. However, constant efforts are being made by the State Government towards increasing literacy rate among them.

As they live in remote areas they are not well connected to the modern life due to lack of road and bridge connectivity which has left them extremely backward. However, many interests and efforts have been in the last decade towards Sahariya development. Many NGOs like SANKALP, ASSEFA, Lok Jumbish, Adim Jati Sangh and DPIP are also working for the improvement and upliftment of the tribe and they have given successful results as well in one area or the other.

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