Naxals want Ghotul culture to vanish from tribal life

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Bastar (Chhattisgarh), Nov.7 (ANI): Ghotul has existed as an institution among Muria Gond tribals of Chhattisgarh in which children six years onwards learn to socialize and educate themselves about life skills while living together.

The unique system of Ghotul has played a vital role in the development of tribal culture over the years. It has played a significant role in developing awareness or imparting knowledge among members of Muria Gond tribals at early stage of their lives.

The institution promotes mutual understanding between male and female children. As at a tender age of six years boys and girls become entitled with its membership and social responsibilities.

The females are known as 'Motiyaris' whereas the male workers are known as 'Cheliks'.

Ghotul has existed as a symbol of tribals' deep rooted culture.

An interesting fact of Ghotul lies in the development of womenfolk here. Besides participating actively in decision-making process, women are assigned with the administrative task at the Ghotul.

Unlike other traditional societies the women are not bound to the hard and fast rule of spouse-selection, arranged marriage.

However, of late the Naxals have started targeting this unique system of learning and living together of the Muria Gond tribals.

Although the red ultras claim that their fight is for the betterment of the landless and poor, the reality seems to be different.

The Naxals want to enlist these youngsters to join their cadres instead of allowing them to learn and grow up according to their tradition.

The Naxals are now targeting the deep-rooted tribal tradition and culture. The latest example of their attempt to discourage young people from joining the 'Ghotul'.

"Their (Naxals) violence resulted in the closure of 'Ghotul'. The closure n of 'Ghotul' is a matter of concern," said Liken, former member of Ghotul.Basically, the Naxals want to close the institution of 'Ghotul' because they don't want an exchange of thoughts. Secondly they also want to put an end to the age old tribal tradition," said Jitender Singh Mina, Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO).

The system of Ghotul imparts a sense of democracy early in life. In Ghotul, the students share a feeling of friendliness, sympathy and unity among the members.

"Long back when I was 10 or 12 years old, I used to go to 'Ghotul'. And if I didn't go to Ghotul any day, my mother would scold me a lot. It was through 'Ghotul' that I got to know about my tradition, dance, games, song and the method of farming," said Saita, a former member of Ghotul.

According to some anthropologists, the Ghotul is an ancient institution and some of them describe it as a living university. There are no books or test, yet it teaches one life's education. Students are teachers here, and teachers are students. It is truly a wonder.

Ghotul is normally located outside the village. A long time before the land grant universities were a norm in the western world, the Adivasis reserved empty tracts of land for educating the young.

The Ghotul building can be as small as a hut or as big as a meeting hall, depending on the village population and leadership. Some have plenty of lighting while others are built small in order to conserve heat. Where there are problem of wildlife attacks, the Ghotuls are built on a raised platform.

In Ghotuls, no distinction is made between love and sex. Everybody is free and behaves responsibly.

Children learn about love at an early age, by watching others. They imitate what they see. Mothers typically teach their daughters about the extent to which they can go at the Ghotuls.

In case of any problem, the Motiyari (girl) tells the elders and they collectively sort out the problem.

The students at the Ghotul consider it their duty to provide entertainment during festive ceremonies. They play music, sing songs and dance through out the night. By Sandeep Dwivedi (ANI)

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