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Gondi women in Umaria district
|Regions with significant populations|
|Andhra Pradesh (old)||304,537|
|Gondi, Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Telugu|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Gondi (Gōndi) or Gond people are a Dravidian ethnic group spread over the states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra (Vidarbha), Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa.
The Gond are also known as the Raj Gond. The term was widely used in 1950s, but has now become almost outdated, probably because of the political eclipse of the Gond Rajas. The Gondi language is closely related to Telugu, belonging to the Dravidian family of languages. The 2011 Census of India recorded about 2.98 million Gondi speakers, around 20% of the population.
According to the 1971 census, their population was 5.01 million. By the 1991 census, this had increased to 9.3 million[page needed] and by the 2001 census the figure was nearly 11 million. For the past few decades they have been witnesses to the Naxalite–Maoist insurgency in the central part of India. Gondi people, at the behest of the Chhattisgarh government, formed the Salwa Judum, an armed militant group to fight the Naxalite insurgency.  They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe for the purpose of India's Reservation system.
Scholars believe that Gonds ruled in Gondwana, now in eastern Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and western Odisha, between the 13th and 19th centuries AD. Muslim writers described a rise of Gond state after the 14th century.
Gonds ruled in four kingdoms (Garha-Mandla, Deogarh, Chanda, and Kherla) in central India between the 16th and 18th centuries. They built number of forts, palaces, temples, tanks and lakes during the rule of the Gonds dynasty. The Gondwana kingdom survived until the late 16th century. They also gained control over the Malwa after the decline of the Mughals followed by the Marathas in 1690. The Marathas overthrew the Gond Rajas in the 1740s and seized most of their territory, while some Gond zamindaris survived until recently.
Science and religion
The ancient Gonds were familiar with many astronomical concepts, having their own local terms for the Sun, Moon, constellations and Milky Way, with much of their knowledge forming the basis for their time-keeping and calendrical activities. The Banjara and Kolam are also known to have extensive astronomical knowledge.
Their typical reaction to death has been described as one of anger because they believe it is caused by magical demons. Their religion was based on worship of clan and village deities, as well as ancestor worship and totems, although there is no cultural uniformity among them.
Many Gonds worship Ravana, whom they consider to be the tenth dharmaguru of their people and the ancestor-king of one of their four lineages. They also worship Kupar Lingo as their supreme deity and their ancestor before Ravana. On Dussehra, the Gondi inhabitants of Paraswada carry an image of Ravana riding an elephant in a procession to worship him, and protest the burning of Ravana's effigies. Their worship of Ravana is also a way to resist pressure from Christian missionaries and right-wing Hindu groups and preserve their own culture.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh had classified the Gondi people as a Scheduled Caste but by 2007, they were one of several groups that the Uttar Pradesh government had redesignated as Scheduled Tribes. As of 2017, that tribal designation applies only to certain districts, not the entire state. The 2011 Census of India for Uttar Pradesh showed the Scheduled Caste Gond population as 21,992.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gondi people.|
- Gond Tribal Art — Madhya Pradesh, archived from the original on 2015-06-22.
- Gond Tribal Art — Madhya Pradesh.
- Sinlung — Indian tribes.
- Gond - The History.
- « Animating Tribal Art » by Leslie MacKenzie and Tara Douglas with the Pardhan Gond artists, 8:16
- Gond painting 2, 6:54