|Regions with significant populations|
|Mundari, Panchpargania • Sadri • Odia • Bengali|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Munda people are an Austroasiatic speaking ethnic group of India. They predominantly speak the Mundari language as their native language, which belongs to the Munda subgroup of Austroasiatic languages. The Munda are found in the northern areas of east India concentrated in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal. The Munda also reside in adjacent areas of Chhattisgarh as well as in portions of Bangladesh. They are one of India's largest scheduled tribes. Munda people in Tripura are also known as Mura, and in Madhya Pradesh they are often called Mudas.
Robert Parkin notes that the term "Munda" did not belong to the Austroasiatic lexis and is of Sanskrit origin. According to R. R. Prasad, the name "Munda" is a Sanskrit word means "headman". It is an honorific name given by Hindus and hence became a tribal name.
According to linguist Paul Sidwell, Munda languages arrived on the coast of Odisha from Southeast Asia about 4000–3500 years ago and spread after the arrival of the Indo-Aryans in Odisha. The Munda people initially spread from Southeast Asia, but mixed extensively with local Indian populations.
According to R. S. Sharma, a historian of ancient and early medieval India, pre-Aryan tribals who spoke the Munda language occupied the eastern region of ancient India. Many Munda terms occur in Vedic texts believed to have been written between 1500 BCE and 500 BCE. Their presence in texts compiled in the upper Gangetic basin late in that period suggests that Munda speakers were there at the time. According to Barbara A. West, the Mundas claim origin in Uttar Pradesh, and a steady flow eastward in history as other groups moved into their original homeland. They inhabited a much larger territory in ancient India.
In the late 1800s, during the British Raj, the Mundas were forced to pay rents and work as bonded labourers. Munda freedom fighter Birsa Munda began the first protest marches calling for non-payment of rents and remission of forest dues. He led guerrilla warfare to uproot British Raj and establish Munda Raj. Millenarianism in the tribal belt started with him, and he is still revered in Jharkhand, with villagers in his home village worshipping him as Birsa Bhagawan.
Culture and tradition
Nomadic hunters in the India tribal belt, they became farmers who were employed in basketwork and weaving. With the listing of the Munda people as Scheduled Tribes, many are employed in various governmental organisations (particularly Indian Railways).
Clans among Mundas are known as Killi which is similar to Sanskrit word Kula. Munda are patrilineal and clan name descends father to son. According to tradition, people of same clan are descendant of same forefather. Clan among Mundas are of totemic origin. Some clans are:
- Baa (a fish)
- Baba (rice)
- Balamchu (fish net)
- Bulung (salt)
- Dang, Dungdung (a fish)
- Gudia, Hans (swan)
- Hemrom/Hembram (a tree)
- Herenz (a Specific Bird)
- Horo (turtle)
- Hundar (hyena)
- Jojo (tamrind)
- Kauwa (crow)
- Kerketta (a bird)
- Kula (tiger)
- Nil (bull)
- Mus (mouse)
- Nag (cobra)
- Pandu (cobra)
- Sandil, candil, chandil, saandil (a tree)
- Runda (wild cat)
- Sanga (a type of root)
- Surin/Soren/Soreng (a bird)
- Tiru (a bird)
- Tuti (a type of grain)
- Kongari (a rare specie of bird: white crow)
Involved in agriculture, the Munda people celebrate the seasonal festivals of Mage Parab, Phagu, Karam (festival), Baha parab, Sarhul and Sohrai. Some seasonal festivals have coincided with religious festivals, but their original meaning remains.
They have many folk songs, dances, tales and traditional musical instruments. Both sexes participate in dances at social events and festivals. The naqareh is a principal musical instrument. Munda refer to their dance and song as durang and Susun respectively. Some folk dances of munda are Jadur, Karam susun and Mage susun.
Munda religion is known as Sarna dharam which is distinct from any other dominant religions such as Christianity, Hinduism or Islam. The supreme deity of Mundas is Singbonga, meaning the Sun god, who according to them, saves them from troubles.
The Munda people have elaborate rituals to celebrate birth, death, engagement and marriage. The birth of a boy is celebrated as an earner for the family, and the birth of a girl is celebrated as a family caretaker. Lota-pani is the engagement ceremony. Dali Takka, a monetary gift to paternal guardians, is generally paid before the marriage. Marriage, considered one of the main rituals of life, is a week-long festivity.
Munda people of Jharkhand also follow the old age tradition of Patthalgari i.e. stone erection in which the tribal community residing in the village buries a large inverted u shaped dressed headstone on the head side of grave or entrance of village in which is inscribed the family tree of the dead persons. There are some other types of patthalgari also:-
- Horadiri - It is the stone in which family tree is written.
- Chalpadiri or Saasandiri - It is the stone in remarking boundary of any village and its limits.
- Magodiri - This is the headstone of a social criminal who committed polygamy or unsocial marriage.
- Ziddiri - This is the stone placed over burial of placenta and dried naval part of a newborn.
In Sunderbans, West Bengal
In a 2016 research paper on subsistence strategies of Mundas in a village of Sunderbans in West Bengal, it was found that many people migrate out of their residences because of poor economic conditions and landlessness. Men and women engage in forest product collection, cultivation, small business and agricultural as well as non-agricultural jobs. A person or a family may be engaged in multiple occupations, often undertaking risky visits to the forests and rivers. It was also found that younger generation preferred to engage as migrant workers outside the village and often outside the district and the state.
Literature and studies
Jesuit priest John-Baptist Hoffmann (1857–1928) studied the language, customs, religion and life of the Munda people, publishing the first Mundari language grammar in 1903. With the help of Menas Orea, Hoffmann published the 15-volume Encyclopaedia mundarica. The first edition was published posthumously in 1937, and a third edition was published in 1976. The Mundas and Their Country, by S. C. Roy, was published in 1912. Adidharam (Hindi:आदि धर्म) by Ram Dayal Munda and Ratan Singh Manki, in Mundari with a Hindi translation, describes Munda rituals and customs.
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- Dayamani Barla (active 2004-2013), journalist
- Amrit Lugun (born 1962), Ambassador to Yemen, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation director
- Anuj Lugun (born 1986), poet who received the 2011 Bharat Bhushan Agarwal Award
- Arjun Munda (born 1968), politician
- Birsa Munda (1875-1900), freedom fighter, religious leader
- Jaipal Singh Munda (1903-1970), politician, hockey player
- Kariya Munda (born 1936), politician
- Nilkanth Singh Munda (born 1968), politician
- Ram Dayal Munda (1939-2011), scholar in languages & folklore
- Sukra Munda (active 2016 to 2020), politician
- Tulasi Munda (born 1947), social activist
- Rohidas Singh Nag (1934-2012), creator of "Mundari Bani" script
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Munda tribe...ethnically they are proto- Austroloids and speak Mundari language
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...the designation Munda is used for the language family. Mundari, on the other hand, refers to an individual language, namely the language of Munda people.
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The term 'Munda' is of Sanskritic origin and therefore not original in any sense to Austroasiatic speakers, although it has come to be used by one tribe as an alternative to their own term 'Horo' (Le. Roy's group; cf. Pfeffer above, p. 154; also Parkin 1990: 17, 23).
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Munda people.|
- Sarna – A case study in religion On the religion of the Munda tribals
- Sinlung – Indian tribes
- Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). 1911. This article is a discussion of the related family of languages. .
- RWAAI | RWAAI, Lunds universitet RWAAI (Repository and Workspace for Austroasiatic Intangible Heritage)
- http://hdl.handle.net/10050/00-0000-0000-0003-A6AA-C@view Mundari language in RWAAI Digital Archive