This social documentary photography was submitted to Edge of Humanity Magazine by Visual Anthropologist Niqita Gupta.
Premarital relations between men and women are common and socially sanctioned. Formal engagement takes place frequently after puberty, which is initiated by the male. Chote Lal and his wife Himat bai are dressed in their traditional attire, which is worn during weddings.
The Baigas, concentrated in central India, are forest-dwelling aboriginals who claim to be Indian harbingers of the human race, having lived there for over 20,000 years. Before Kanha forest was declared a national park in 1955, the tree worshiping tribe lived in the forest that used to provide everything that they needed for their survival. They have now been relocated from the core region of the forest to the outskirts of the wildlife reserve, in order to protect animal life.
A tribe that lived a hand-to-mouth existence without money, education or any interaction with civilisation are lost in their new environment and are finding it difficult to cope. While adapting to their new surroundings of towns and civilisation, their indigenous cultural traditions which were their unique identification are now diluting. It won’t be long before the tribe will scatter to different slums in cities in search of employment, leaving behind mere traces of their tribal life.
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