As per Indian Constitution the essential characteristics for a community to be identified as a Scheduled Tribe are:
- Primitive traits
- Distinctive culture
- Shyness of contact with the community at large
- Geographical isolation
- Backwardness-social and economic
650 communities have so far been identified as Scheduled Tribes. They are spread all over India in
villages and towns but are largely concentrated in Central,. Southern and North East India. They constitute 8.2% of India’s population ie 84.3 million (8.43 crores) as per 2001 census.
Tribes of India, unlike tribes of other countries of the world, are inseparable and a integrated part of the great Indian society. They are neither animists nor aboriginals as generally claimed by anthropologists and social doctors. For ages together they lived with the urban and rural people of India.
Tribal religion and tradition, literature and dance are part of tribal culture. The ways of worship they follow are outwardly animal worship but they are nature worshippers. Their dress, songs, dance, rites and rituals on the occasions of religious and social occasions are the significant part of their culture.
They sing and dance commonly on the occasions of sowing the seeds and at the time of harvesting. They celebrate former as a gesture of devotion to the earth goddess which give food for them and later as gesture of thanks and happiness for getting good crops.
They sing and dance in praise of gods and goddesses that they worship. Mostly they are performed on marriage functions. They worship and chant hymns in their own local dialects to appease gods in order to get rid of ailments.
Sun, Moon, altars made of bamboos, Shiva and Hanuman are being worshiped in various parts of tribal India. The impact of foreign culture and tradition could not wipe out the age old tradition and customs of tribal.
In the last 60 years, since vanvasi kalyan ashram , has become a part of their lives, this all-India Tribal culture is being been further strengthened as VKA’s aim is to strengthen this culture and at the same time make Tribals aware of their great Indian heritage. This wonderful heritage is symbolized by India’s magnificent Ancient Civilization which took its culture to various parts of the world.