1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Readings on Tribe and Religions in India Emerging Negotiations

Edited By Maguni Charan Behera Copyright 2025
    424 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    Tribal societies in India observe a diverse set of religious practices which are a quintessential part of their community life. This handbook explores rituals, beliefs, ceremonies and festivals, liturgy, knowledge and traditions that tribal people practice today and traces the history of their interaction with other religions, communities and cultures.

    The book provides analytical, intellectual, political and cultural insights into religious tradition of tribes within the interactive space of a pan-Indian civilisation. It examines both contemporary religious practice within tribes while also exploring changes either brought on by interactions or political interventions. The volume reflects on the intersections of cultural or political life of communities and their religious worldviews. The book also discusses the processes of assimilation or adoption of different religion or religious traditions by tribes and the challenges of detribalisation and shrinking populations of vulnerable groups. It explores both established and emerging dynamics in the field of tribe and religion and provides a look into the unique systems of kinship, worship and life within many different tribal communities in India.

    This and its companion handbook, The Routledge Handbook of Tribe and Religions in India: Contemporary Readings on Spirituality, Belief and Identity, provide a comprehensive look into the religious life and practices of a very diverse group of tribes in India. It will be of interest to academics and researchers working in the fields of religion, anthropology, indigenous and tribal studies, social and cultural anthropology, sociology of culture, sociology of religion, development studies, history, political science, folkloristic, and colonialism.

    Part I: Contemporaneity 1. Religion, Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions among the Denotified/ Nomadic Tribes: A Case Study of Waddars and Yerukulas in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States 2. Traditional Religious Worldview of the Tai Ahom of Assam and its present status 3. Beliefs, Rituals, and Taboos among the Bakarwal of Jammu and Kashmir 4. Religious Life of the Kabuis of Manipur 5. Sorcery in Practice:  Contemporary Reading among the Sabar of Purulia, West Bengal 6. To Believe or Not to Believe: A Study of the Folk Beliefs of the Nagas in the novels of Easterine Kire 7. Social Dimension of Faith and Beliefs of the Oraon: Revisiting S. C. Roy Part II: State, Tribe and Religion 8. From Khambesvari to Stambhesvari: The Journey of a Tribal Deity into Hindu Pantheon 9. In Search of Legitimacy: Tribal rituals, Native chiefs, and Colonial rule of Law in Orissa 10. Tribe, Religion and Census of India (From 1871 to 2011) 11. Interface Between  the State and  the Church in Mizoram: A Historico-Political Reading Part III: Multi-and Cross-Culture Negotiation 12. Decolonizing Tribal Religion of the Tangkhul Nagas 13. The Impact of Christianity on Khasi Society of Meghalaya: An Analysis on Contemporaneity 14. Rituals in Traditional Kuki Belief System and their place among Christian Kukis 15. Interfacing Primal Religion of the Hamai (Zeliangrong), Christianity, Heraka, and Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak Part IV: Shifting Religious Worldview 16. From Spirits to Personage: Changes in religious faith among the Rathwa Adivasi of Gujarat 17. On the Threshold of Change: Religious Beliefs and Practices of the Bonda as Revealed in Pratibha Ray’s The Primal Land 18. Tribal Ecoethics and Religion: A Study of Select Ecoethical Narratives from Northeast India Part V: Conceptualising Change 19. Liminality: Religion of  the Sahariya of Rajasthan State, India 20. Dynamics of Dandakatta Ritual in  the Oraon Religion: A Symbolic Interpretation 21. Devgudi:  Village Sacred Shrine of Chhattisgarh now and then Part VI: Towards Institutionalisation 22. Issues of Institutionalisation and Kurichiyan religion in the current socio-political context of Kerala 23. Thus says the Supreme God: Examining the Idea of Revelation in the Tribal Movements in India 24. Situating Shamanism in Contemporary Tribal Religions of Arunachal Pradesh: A Case Study of the Idu Mishmi Part VII: Politics and Tribal Religion 25. Tamil Folk Religion: Contemporary Dynamics 26. Tribal Religion and Identity Politics 27. “Tribal Religion is a Reality” (Furnishing of Certain Clinching Evidences from the Tribal Nilgiris) 28. Disrupting Classification: ‘Tribes’, the Demand for Recognition of a Tribal Religion, Possessed Women, and the Case of ‘Demons’


    Maguni Charan Behera (ORCID: 0000-0002-4362-3422)  is a Professor of Tribal Studies at Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies, Rajiv Gandhi (Central) University, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Dr. Behera was also a Professor of Indigenous Culture Studies and Dean School of Cultural Studies, Central University of Jharkhand. He has been working on tribes for about 40 years. His present interest is to develop tribal studies as an academic discipline and in this direction he is editing books on different themes from multidisciplinary perspectives. He has the credit of introducing tribal studies as an undergraduate course of Rajiv Gandhi University under distance mode.   

    ‘This handbook of Prof. M. C. Behera is a seminal work of his 40 years of experience in tribal research in which he introduces to an emerging dilemma in contemporary perspectives on tribal religion.  Historically, there always have been communications between the tribal and host cultures through adoption, assimilation, and incorporation of elements of each other. Prof. Behera’s notion of contemporaneity provides an insight into studying the historical process of cross-cultural negotiations which needs further research’

    Prof. Mohan K. Gautam, President and Chancellor of the European University of West and East, Netherlands

    ‘The handbook edited by Maguni Charan Behera reflects contemporary tribal religion at the background of historical process of culture contact where propaganda, force and manipulation also had a role. It questions ‘conventional notion of tribal religion’ and its community dimension; focuses on indigeneity, identity, and thus on the trend of revivalism; and suggests the framework of ‘tribe and religion’ to study the emerging dynamics in tribal belief system.’—Dr. Tai Nyori, Adivasi Historian and Founder President of Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh (IFCSAP)

    ‘This handbook is relevant in understanding the reciprocity and complementarity of many faiths which co-exist in the cultural space of India.  It re-examines the philosophy of tribal faith against the conventional discourse of studying religion from a colonial point of view.’—Dr. Mahendra Kumar Mishra, Folklorist