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Photo story: The Bonda tribe

The Bonda tribe is an indigenous group residing in the Malkangiri district of the Indian state of Odisha. With a population of approximately 12,000, the
Bonda women
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The Bonda tribe is an indigenous group residing in the Malkangiri district of the Indian state of Odisha. With a population of approximately 12,000, the Bondas are known for their distinct culture, traditions, and unique way of life. They primarily inhabit the remote hill regions, cut off from modern civilization, which has helped preserve their traditional practices. The Bondas have a semi-nomadic lifestyle and are primarily engaged in agriculture. They cultivate crops like millet, rice, and pulses using traditional farming techniques. The tribe is also renowned for their exceptional skills in pottery and weaving. Socially, the Bonda tribe follows a hierarchical system led by a village headman called the “Barani”. They have a rich folklore and oral tradition, which is passed down through generations. The Bondas have a unique style of dressing, with women wearing vibrant bead necklaces, brass earrings, and a unique wraparound skirt called “kapdagondi / ringa”. The tribe has faced challenges due to their isolation and limited access to education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Efforts have been made to improve their living conditions and preserve their cultural heritage while ensuring sustainable development and empowerment within the community.

Happy is a professional freelance travel, people and documentary photographer and mentor and freelance photojournalist from India. She also appears as a judge for national photography competitions.

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