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.

More information:

Rai: Fact Sheet

(796 words)

Author(s): Schlemmer, Grégoire
The Rai are a set of groups, numbering about 750,000 people, inhabiting the mountains of eastern Nepal, except for some tens of thousands who are based in India (especially in Sikkim, and around Darjeeling). They belong to the so-called “tribal” groups, now called Ādivāsī-Janajātī, “indigenous communities,” that is, those who are not part of the Indo-Nepalese population or “caste groups,” dominant in Nepal. The number of groups that make up the Rai population is uncertain. While the 2011 census …
Date: 2019-11-02

Rai: Following the Ancestors and Managing the Otherness

(4,549 words)

Author(s): Schlemmer, Grégoire
Mundum: A Religious TraditionDespite the strong similarities between the rich mythological corpuses of different Rai groups, it is difficult to speak of a homogeneous Rai religion owing to the internal diversity of the Rai and to their varying degrees of “Hinduization” (see below). Both vocabulary and ritual practices vary from group to group, if not from village to village. For the purposes of this text, I will set these differences aside and focus on the global logic of the Rai religious world in…
Date: 2019-11-02

Rathwa: Fact Sheet

(200 words)

Author(s): D. Alles, Gregory
The Rathwa (Rāṭhavā; or Rathawa, Rathva, Rathava) are an Ādivāsī community primarily resident in east central Gujarat. According to the 2011 census, they constitute the third largest Scheduled Tribe in the state, numbering just over 642,300 people. In 2011, Rathwas resided in every district in the state except Kachchh in the far west, but the vast majority (79.6%) lived in Vadodara district (in 2013 divided into Chhota Udaipur and Vadodara districts), Panchmahal (16.75%, part of which was given …
Date: 2019-11-02

Rathwa: Pithora Art and Religious Reform

(6,962 words)

Author(s): Tilche, Alice
Pithora is a ritual painting and Pithoro a deity among the Rathwas as well as the Nayak and Dhanuk Ādivāsī communities of Chhota Udaipur and neighboring districts (not only in Gujarat but also in Madhya Pradesh). Pithora is painted on the internal walls of houses in the context of large ritual ceremonies by a group of painters and through the mediation of a ritual specialist. The painting is not a representation of the sacred but is, in itself, a sacred entity (see also Jain, 1984; Gell, 1992; 1…
Date: 2019-11-02

Rathwa: Pithora Paintings

(8,018 words)

Author(s): Jain, Jyotindra
This article is based on extensive fieldwork conducted during 1982–1983 among the Rathwa tribe of the Panchmahal and Vadodara districts of Gujarat, particularly in the villages in and around the Chhota Udaipur tālukā (administrative subdivision), in Vadodara district, and centers on the elaborate wall paintings of the Rathwa community, which are dedicated to their deity Pithoro and broadly pertain to their myth of creation, preserved both in their oral tradition and in the form of ritual wall paintings.The Rathwas, who speak a Rathwi-Bhili dialect of Gujarati, were large…
Date: 2019-11-02

Rathwa: Rathwa Religion

(7,291 words)

Author(s): D. Alles, Gregory
The phrase “Rathwa religion” can be understood in at least two different senses. On the one hand, it can refer to religious practices, beliefs, forms of organization, and so on that are seen as traditional among Rathwas or that have developed directly from their traditions. On the other hand, it can refer to any and all religious practices, beliefs, forms of organization, and so on in which Rathwas are involved. A similar terminological ambiguity characterizes indigenous religions in most parts …
Date: 2019-11-02

Rawla: Fact Sheet

(352 words)

Author(s): Egas, José
The Rawla, well-known as Adiya (Aḍiyā) and officially designated as such in administrative records of the Indian government, is one of the five main Scheduled Tribes inhabiting the northeastern Kerala district of Wayanad, west of the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. The Rawla population is found in the adjoining states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, with Kerala being the main area of settlement, particularly in the northern part of Wayanad around Mananthavady (or Manantoddy), at the edge …
Date: 2019-11-02

Rawla: The Gaddika Ritual: Religion, Communism, and Folklore

(6,427 words)

Author(s): Egas, José
In the context of local religious practice in the northern hills of Kerala, the gaddika ritual expresses Ādivāsī traditions. In relation to the characteristic caste hierarchy in rural India, this particular ritual offers an interesting point of view for observing the ruptures and stabilities of social order in the life of the Rawla people. The actual form and meaning of the gaddika ritual have exhibited transformations and continuities in recent decades, involving both external actors and internal dynamics. It is the ensemble of actions, meanings, and moments comprising gaddika tha…
Date: 2019-11-02