Home Variety Culture and History Detours : It's time we celebrate our aboriginal or adivasi heritage and culture

Detours : It’s time we celebrate our aboriginal or adivasi heritage and culture

A few months back I travelled to British Columbia on the invitation of Canada Tourism. I expected it to be a place filled with natural beauty and it sure did not disappoint. Falls colours were enchanting, to say the least. However, what fascinated me most was its Aboriginal Tourism – the presence of First Nations communities in public spaces and in spaces specially designed to showcase their heritage. Totem Poles could be seen almost anywhere, sculptures with folk tales sit proudly at the airport. I went museum hopping learning about the tribes like Lilawat, Squamish, Songhees, Saanich, Esquimalt. In a few days that I spent there, these names became familiar entities.

I came back, read a bit more about First Nations of British Columbia and wrote a log piece on them. As soon as it was published, my thoughts went back to all the tribal museums I have visited in India – be it Tribal Museums in the heart of Delhi or in Posh Banjara Hills of  Hyderabad, or in situ tribal museums in Araku Valley, Silvassa, and Ratnagiri. I had hardly seen a soul at any of these museums. At one place, I had to request the caretaker to open the museum for me, which he did rather reluctantly. The museums where they exist, have a series of dioramas depicting tribal lifestyles.

At one of the museums, I wanted to take pictures and I was told strictly no photographs. I asked to meet a senior official to understand why no photography is allowed. After all, all that the museum has is recreated models of tribal landscapes and lifestyles. There are some items of personal use on display, but none that would be damaged by photography like say paintings of Ajanta would.

- Ad - - article resumes -

I was told if the photographs of the museum are published online, who would come to the museum? In a state of near shock, I asked them have you seen how many people post their pictures with Taj Mahal, has it stopped people from coming to Taj Mahal or has it inspired more people to come and see it for themselves. No answer came and there was no inclination to even think about it, forget about changing the photography policy.

Imagine the lost opportunity of free publicity by visitors. Imagine the images on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that will, first of all, tell people that such museums and such tribal communities exist, and then hopefully encourage people to visit them.  Imagine the connect it would create for these tribal communities with the rest of the world.

I wonder why do we not have our aboriginal art in public spaces? The only exceptions I have seen are the two railway stations across the country – Ratnagiri station with Warli art and Bolpur station with Shanti Niketan inspired art. Recently, I read about Madhubani station in Bihar being painted by local women & I thought it was a great tribute to Madhubani Artists like Ganga Devi. Why do we not have our public spaces depicting our local cultural roots? Given the diversity of our country, it would make our public spaces a riot of colour and designs while reminding us of our rich roots.

Souvenir shops in Canada were full of First Nationals inspired souvenirs. In India, it is an exception when I discover truly tribal inspired souvenirs. I think if I have to choose a tribal gift, I would have to go to Tara Books or some ethnic jewellery shops. Almost none of the tribal museums I have visited had a souvenir shop where I can buy something. They did not even have the literature about the tribes they are showcasing. At every museum, I look for books on the subjects being showcased. I am yet to find one that does not disappoint.

Guided tours can generate employment while enriching the visitor experience. Today, it is a such a dry experience to go through tribal museums of India, with almost no documentation and no reading material. It is not too difficult to publish books for children as well as adults. How lovely it would be to listen to some tribal music or instrument.

The government has already spent crores of rupees in setting up these museums, lakhs must be spent every year to maintain them. With a little thought and effort, the spaces can become our cherished cultural spaces.

Having said that there are two tribal museums that give me hope. One is Don Bosco Museum in Shillong, which presents the tribes of North East India in an elaborate and engaging manner. Second is Purkhauti Muktangan on the outskirts of Raipur in Chhattisgarh which is a vast open-air museum. Both these museums stand out because of their unique and thoughtful designs. I hope they get great storytelling guides, books and souvenirs also to complete the experience.

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.


Big Story

BJP leader P K Krishnadas had alleged that the campus was an SFI stronghold and that the principal was denying the ABVP members the right to carry out their organisation's work.

2019 World Cup Is Here!

Catch the latest on Cricket World Cup as it unfolds, special coverage by Opindia

Proud to be a brand - Made in India?
Now, Advertise on Opindia

Omar Abdullah comes in support of Imran Khan who was not given official welcome on arrival in US

Khan's humiliation seems to have affected former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah who sprung to his defence
Sushma Swaraj shuts down trolls

Former EAM Sushma Swaraj shuts down a troll, Irfan Khan, who wishes death upon her

Sushma Swaraj was condoling death of former Delhi BJP President when troll insinuated that she too will die soon.

Netizens ‘express concern’ over Priyanka Chopra’s asthma after a picture where she is smoking cigarette went viral on social media

Twitter users even dug up Chopra's own old tweet condemning smoking where she had claimed she does not smoke. While things could change with time so do personal preferences, the hypocrisy is quite baffling.
Islamic extremism

Two youths, Shekhar and Basant forced to chant religious slogans by a mob that showed them Tabrez Ansari’s video, stabbed when refused

As Shekhar and Basant refused to raise religious slogans, the angry men reportedly stabbed them with knives.

Mangalore: Mohammad Ansari rapes a cow by tying its limbs, villagers catch him in the act, arrested

The villagers also made Ansari touch cow’s feet and ask for forgiveness for raping her. However, when Ansari approached the calf, the animal freaked out and started running.

Mangaluru villagers caught Mohammad Ansari raping a calf, police arrests villagers for ‘hurting religious beliefs’

In the Kunjathbail village in Mangaluru, Mohammad Ansari was caught red-handed by the villagers while he was raping a calf.

Here are 15 famous quotes from Harsha Bhogle during his commentary stint

The famous Indian commentator, Harsha Bhogle, born on July 19 in Hyderabad is celebrating his 58th birthday today.
Couple forced out of village; husband pressurised to accept wife’s religion

Hindu boy’s family forced out of village for marrying Muslim girl, police advices boy to convert as villagers threaten to kill

Newlywed Hindu boy and Muslim girl approach SSP for protection as villagers threaten to kill them and local police ask the boy to convert

US snubs Pak PM Imran Khan, welcomed by low-key US officials on his maiden visit, escorted to the terminal in a bus

No Limo for Pak PM as he arrives in the US on his maiden visit, takes a bus to the terminal from the aircraft.

Class nine student beaten by senior students for protesting ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ during National Anthem singing in school

When a Hindu student protested allah hu akbar chants during national anthem in school, he was badly thrashed by Muslim students
Subscribe to Day's Top Stories
- Advertisment -

Latest articles

Connect with us

173,701FansLike
159,909FollowersFollow
74,910SubscribersSubscribe
Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post