Indigenous tribes around the world have been living in synchronicity with nature for centuries. The intricate knowledge and wisdom they possess about the planet have been the true representation of the ‘Circle of Life.’ However, colonisation and the emergence of foreign languages in India have left the culture, language, and customs of our indigenous tribes in the backburner. Vizag has a rich tribal heritage, as 56 percent of our district is home to numerous tribes with unique customs and traditions. However, this heritage of Vizag is slowly fading away, notes Jayshree Hatangadi, Tribal Community Facilitator, and Heritage Narrator. We spoke to her to understand the erasure these tribes have been facing, and what we can do to preserve this ancient wisdom.
The tribals local to Visakhpatnam continue to live in unison with nature, notes the facilitator. “Some centuries ago, there was no difference or hierarchy between human life and nature. We have unfortunately done this, but it hasn’t permeated to the tribals. They still live and respect the planet like it is one with their community, be it with their food, clothing, or shelter. Everything is one energy.”
Modernised individuals have gone back and told the tribes that their ways are wrong, and they must evolve to become more cultured, says Ms. Hatangadi. “When this happens, the younger generations do not identify with their age-old customs anymore. When they are uprooted from their original habitat and placed in schools, the culture shock alienates them, and they end up thinking their ancestral wisdom is redundant, which is far from the truth.”
The tribes from Vizag Agency also hold immense knowledge with respect to the various languages they speak, most of which are undocumented even today. Contributing further to the cause, Ms. Jayshree Hatangadi has released a book in Telugu, Girijana Vaibhavam, authored by Shri Balapragada Subba Rao. The book speaks about the grandeur of the indigenous customs. “Children and young adults from these communities must be taught that their native languages are equally significant as any other. While survival languages are important, when an Indian travels abroad, it is extremely important for us to be connected to our roots through our language, customs, and history. This is what makes us unique, and is highly appreciated abroad,” says the Heritage Narrator from Visakhapatnam.