Harman Patil (Editor)

Munda people

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Munda people

The Munda people are an Adivasi ethnic group who originated in the Chota Nagpur Plateau region of north-east India. They originally spoke the Mundari language, which belongs to the Munda subgroup of Austroasiatic languages. The Munda are found across Jharkhand and in adjacent parts of Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and portions of Bangladesh. The group is one of India's largest tea tribes.


Munda people in Tripura are also known as Mura, and in Madhya Pradesh they are often called Mudas. Their late-20th-century population was estimated at nine million.


According to Ricio et al. (2011), the Munda people are probably descended from Austroasiatic migrants from southeast Asia. Nomadic hunters in the India tribal belt, they became farmers who were employed in basketwork and weaving. With the listing of the Munda people as part of the Scheduled Tribes (Adivasi), many are employed in various governmental organizations (particularly Indian Railways).

Munda religion is a blend of Sarnaism and Christianity, and they are not part of the Indian caste system. Although the Munda have preserved much of their pre-Christian culture, they have absorbed a number of Christian traditions. They have many folk songs, dances, tales and traditional musical instruments. Both sexes participate in dances at social events and festivals. The naqareh is a principal musical instrument.

The Munda people have elaborate rituals to celebrate birth, death, engagement and marriage. The birth of a boy is celebrated as an earner for the family, and the birth of a girl is celebrated as a family caretaker. Lota-pani is the engagement ceremony. Dali Takka, a monetary gift to maternal guardians, is generally paid before the marriage. Marriage, considered one of the main rituals of life, is a week-long festivity.

An ointment of scented oil and turmeric is applied to the face and body after death. Widow marriage is common. The Munda people are patrilineal, patrilocal and patriarchal.

Involved in agriculture, the Munda people celebrate the seasonal festivals of Mage, Phagu, Karam, Sarhul and Sohrai. Some seasonal festivals have coincided with religious festivals, but their original meaning remains.

Notable Munda people

  • Ram Dayal Munda: Scholar and musicologist who received the Padma Shri
  • Jabra Munda: Killed in the 2016 Uri attack
  • Birsa Munda: Late-19th-century freedom fighter
  • Jaipal Singh: Olympic gold medalist in field hockey
  • Kariya Munda: Deputy Speaker of the 15th Lok Sabha
  • Frida Topno: Politician from Odisha
  • Anuj Lugun: Poet who received the 2011 Bharat Bhushan Agarwal Award
  • M. M. Mundu: Recipient of the 2011 Bhasha Samman Award from the Sahitya Akademi
  • Jacinta Kerketta: Author and recipient of the 2014 Ravishankar Upadhyay Smriti Kavita Puraskaar Award
  • Rohidas Singh Nag: Inventor of the Mundari Bani script
  • Amrit Lugun: Ambassador to Yemen and a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation director
  • Rajeev Topno: Private secretary to Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi
  • Priyanka Kerketta: Track and field athlete
  • Masira Surin: Member of the gold-medal Indian female field-hockey team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games
  • Manohar Topno: Played field hockey for India at the 1984 Summer Olympics
  • Prakash Munda: First-class cricketer who was the first tribal player on the Jharkhand team
  • Lal Mohan Hansda: Footballer
  • Sanjay Balmuchu: Footballer
  • Munmun Lugun: Footballer
  • Arjun Tudu: Footballer
  • Jauna Murmu: Double gold medalist at the 12th 2016 South Asian Games
  • Jhanu Hansda: World-record-holding archer
  • Sitanath Munda: A civilian who won award for finding herbal treatment for cure of Afra Disease which was presented by National Innovation Foundation - India in March 2017.
  • Literature and studies

    Jesuit priest John-Baptist Hoffmann (1857–1928) studied the language, customs, religion and life of the Munda people, publishing the first Mundari language grammar in 1903. With the help of Menas Orea, Hoffmann published the 15-volume Encyclopaedia mundarica. The first edition was published posthumously in 1937, and a third edition was published in 1976. The Mundas and Their Country, by S. C. Roy, was published in 1912. Adidharam (Hindi:आदि धर्म) by Ram Dayal Munda and Ratan Singh Manki, in Mundari with a Hindi translation, describes Munda rituals and customs.


    Munda people Wikipedia

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