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Ghotul A unique Tribal Tradition

A Ghotul is a tribal youth dormitory in a spacious hut with earthen or wooden walls. It is an integral part of gond and maria tribe in Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh ,Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh. It is a place for youths. Lingo the supreme deity of the tribe created the first Ghotul. It has an elder facilitator with young unmarried Boys and Girls as its members. Girl members of the Ghotul are called motiaries and Boy members are called cheliks. Their leaders are – belase for motiaries and siredar for cheliks. The members are taught cleanliness, discipline and hard work. Also the boys and girls are allowed to choose their mates to get married. This is done under the supervision of manager or care taker of the ghotul. That means before marriage they will now each other physically and mentally. The well known British Anthropologist verrier Elvin said .

“The message of the Ghotul-that youth must be served, that freedom and happiness are more to be treasured than any material gain, that friendliness and sympathy, hospitality and unity are of the first importance and above all that human love-and its physical expression-is beautifull and clean and precious, is typically Indian.

Ghotul is located at the outskirt of the village. In Muria tribe Ghotul is meant to create an environment for moria youth to understand their sexuality. It is very often misunderstood. Some call it immoral. The members of ghotul are taught apart from sexuality about the tribal customs and social responsibilities. They are also advised to solve some social and psychological problems.

These dormitories are found in many parts of India. These institutions are unique tribal cultural identity. Social Anthropologist Majumder said – In tribal life. The youth dormitories are established to enrich culture and custom under specific rules and regulations. In India there are individual youth houses in every tribal community. Like moriya, Ghotiya, Oraon, Munda. But at present the ghotuls are in declining stage due to influence of alien culture. Ghotul is struggling for survival and existence. Ghotul is like-educational institution in which youths are trained for their future life by Following their culture norms. This social discipline help in forming a sincere productive and useful member of their …. And community.

The working methods of the Ghotul is very interesting. They assemble to learn tribal language and culture in the Ghotul. Ghotul is an important source of knowledge in Gond tribes. The guttering of Ghotul members is a symbol of social integrity.

Nights in Ghotul are important part of tribal life. After taking night meal in the home the unmarried youths-boys and girls gather in the Ghotul and spend the whole night in the Ghotul. The care taker regulates and manages their activities. So nights are preparation for their future life. It is also rational that before marriage we should know each other. So tribal perception of the concept of Ghotul is correct and pragmatic. They are simple minded in a simple society unlike ours, They are children of Nature. This is a simple and serene life. In our urban……society also we should start Ghotul for an ideal and better society.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

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Radhakanta Seth is a former Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published in Kolkata.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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