Songs of the Sundarbans Dec. 20, 2016 | Urvashi Sarkar

The songs and dance by groups of Santal, Munda, Oraon and Ho in the Sundarbans help them preserve their language and bring in an income

Music has an important role in the lives of the Adivasis of the Sundarbans. Groups such as the Santal, Munda, Oraon and Ho were brought to this region by the British in the 19th century. As indentured labourers, they cleared the forests and barricaded the rivers.

Their descendants now speak Bengali after decades of living in West Bengal. They use song and dance to try to preserve the memory of their original languages such as Banua. Some have formed groups like the Tiblighiri Adivasi Tushu Sampraday. Villagers and tourists look forward to their performances, which provide the Adivasis with a source of income and help them sustain their cultural heritage.

The videos featured here were shot in May 2016. Co-director Arjun Mondal is a resident of Rajat Jubilee village in Gosaba block. He catches and sells crabs for a living and runs a non-governmental organisation.

Urvashi Sarkar is an independent journalist and 2016 PARI Fellow. You can contact the author here: @storyandworse

The story first appeared at ruralindiaonline.org on 16th December, 2016

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