Ethnography of Bagatha Tribe Project in Andhra Pradesh
TCR&TM Andhra Pradesh
Bagatha Pulses Paddy Maize Eastern Ghats
CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL STUDIES HYDERABAD
Bagatha are a Telugu speaking scheduled tribe population inhabiting hill tracts of Eastern Ghats in Visakhapatnam district who claim themselves as warrior tribe. Bagatha are currently distributed mainly in Paderu ITDA area in Visakhapatnam district and few border villages in East Godavari and Vijayanagaram districts. Majority of Bagatha have at least one acre of wet land and two acres of dry land. They are self sufficient sustaining on their agriculture produce for livelihood. Bagathas also cultivate commercial crops such as coffee, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, groundnut, sweet corn, cashew, etc. along with traditional crops such as millets, pulses, paddy, maize, etc. They practice wet, terrace, dry and podu cultivation. The commercial crops have changed the economy and life style of many land owning Bagatha families. Several educated Bagatha men and women are employed as teachers, village revenue officers, office assistants in GCC, police, forest and other Govt. Departments. However, unemployment rate is high among educated Bagatha youth. Literacy levels are higher than other neighbouring tribes. Bagathas have established supremacy in many spheres as village level leaders, mandal level leaders and assumed the highest political positions such as Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA), etc. Marriage pattern revealed that they strictly follow lineage exogamy. They celebrate life cycle events such as child birth, naming, cradle ceremony, first hair removal, ear and nose piercing, puberty, marriage and death. Marriage is by negotiation and elopement. Divorce and remarriage are permitted. The staple food of Bagatha used to be millets of different varieties which are replaced by rice now. They eat meat of goat, sheep, chicken, several wild birds and animals moving in the forest but abstain from eating beef and pork. Bagathas believe in supernaturalism, magic, witchcraft, evil eye, sorcery, luck, ghosts, shapeless phantoms, benevolent and malevolent spirits, etc. They worship nature such as mother earth, moon, sun, rivers, mountains, animals and plants in the form of totems and clans. They invariably remember and offer sacrifice to appease ancestral sprits during certain festivals. Traditional tribal headman solves intra-family and intra - tribal disputes, village headman resolves inter-tribal issues, dishonouring or violation of traditional customs, etc. Indigenous native customs and traditions are slowly diluting which are replaced by alien cultural practices and life styles. Although diluted and modified, majority of traditional customs, rituals, festivals, etc. continue to persist.