Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia Online

Get access Subject: Asian Studies

Edited by:
Marine Carrin (Editor-in-Chief), University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, and Michel Boivin, Centre for South Asian Studies (CNRS-EHESS), Gérard Toffin, Centre d’Études Himalayennes, Paul Hockings, University of Illinois at Chicago, Raphaël Rousseleau, Université de Lausanne, Tanka Subba, North-Eastern Hill University, Harald Lambs-Tyche, University of de Picardie-Jules Verne (Section Editors)

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Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia strives to reflect the diversity of indigenous cultures of South Asia with its many language groups and religious traditions. Shaped by their own mythologies, these tribal religions differ in form and content from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism, and Christianity, though variants of the latter traditions have been adopted by some indigenous people. Religion is taken in a broad sense and includes aspects of morality, symbolism, identity formation, environmental concerns, and art. Far from being simple survivals of an earlier stage, these religions often show remarkable capacity for adaptation and change. The approach is contemporary rather than a reconstruction of an anterior state, though it does not overlook relevant historical processes.

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(8,023 words)

Author(s): Berger, Peter | Pfeffer †, Georg
Gadaba I. Society on the Menu – II. Buffaloes as Gadaba Ritual Currency in a System of Total Social ExchangeThe Gadaba are often included in the generic and rather vague category of Poraja (“Subject”), which refers to a number of indigenous communities of south Odisha. Another term used for and by the indigenous people of the Koraput district of Odisha, among them the Gadaba, is Desia (“People of the Land”). In a more specific sense, the Gadaba include two communities, the Ollar Gadaba speaking Ollari and the Gut…
Date: 2021-11-10

Gadaba: Society on the Menu

(3,936 words)

Author(s): Berger, Peter
Social StructureA fundamental feature of the social structure, with wide-ranging implications and repercussions as to how the Gadaba perceive their own society and even their “natural” environment, is the division into “clans,” more specifically, totemic exogamous patrilineal descent categories called bonso. The Gutob Gadaba make use of four of the eight categories common in the region (cobra ( hantal), tiger ( killo), sun ( kora), and monkey ( golori)), whereas the Ollar Gadaba employ all eight (in addition: fish [ macho], cow [ goru], hawk [ pangi], and bear [ kimdu]). These catego…
Date: 2019-11-02


(6,308 words)

Author(s): de Maaker, Erik
The Garo are an ethnolinguistic community resident in the Garo Hills (Meghalaya), in neighboring parts of Goalpara district (Assam), and in Mymensingh division (Bangladesh). In addition, the Garo are a minority community in Khasi Hills (Meghalaya), and in the northeastern Indian states of Nagaland and Tripura. Shillong – the administrative, political, and educational center of Meghalaya – also has a significant Garo population. According to the 2011 census, Meghalaya had a population of just ove…
Date: 2021-11-10

General Abbreviations

(135 words)

approx. approximately Arab. Arabic Ass. Assamese b. born BCE before the Common Era bot. botanical c. circa CE Common Era cent./cents. century/centuries ch./chs. chapter/chapters d. died Des. Desia diss. dissertation ed./eds. editor, edited by/editors ET English translation et al. and others f./ff. following page/following pages fem. feminine fig. figure Guj. Gujarati Hind. Hindi Khas. Khasi km kilometer Lad. Ladakhi Lim. Limbu lit. literally m meter Mar. Marathi masc. masculine n note/notes n.d. no date n.l. no location Nag. Nagamese Nep. Nepali New. Newari no./nos. number/numb…
Date: 2021-11-10

General Introduction

(11,274 words)

Author(s): Carrin, Marine
This encyclopedia addresses the religions of a category of South Asians known as tribals, Ādivāsīs (“First Inhabitants”), and, more recently, indigenous peoples. We do not know who were the first inhabitants of South Asia, which contains an amazing variety of ethnic groups and  culture patterns. While in most parts of the world conquering populations absorbed or eliminated earlier inhabitants, in South Asia, the old and the new coexist side by side. As C. Fürer-Haimendorff (1985, 1) notes: “More…
Date: 2021-11-10