The Dhongria/Dongria/Dongariya Kondh Wednesday Market in Bissamcuttack, Orissa – India


A very early start to Bissamcuttack from Rayagada to attend the Wednesday Dhongria Kondh Market. You want to arrive before the market actually begins to watch the Dhongria Kondh people come down from their mountain homes carrying goods to barter, trade, and sell. Our itinerary originally stated that we’d stop by a Dhongria/Dongariya village but the villages are now on the prohibited list because of problems there (that can always change – check on it). The Dhongria Khondhs live in the mountains and Desia Khondhs on the plains of Orissa. The Khondhs are the largest tribal society with over 1 million in Orissa and a very low literacy rate. Both tribes also practice elaborate birth, marriage, death rituals and once practiced human sacrifice. Fortunately, water buffalos or goats are now used instead

The Dongria women dress in white cotton togas and wear an interesting (to put it mildly) array of hairpins, ornaments, ear and nose rings and geometric tattoos. Most of the bracelets, etc. are made of brass, iron and aluminum, usually purchased in the market and made by a local “jeweler.” …View image

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Dhongria woman with hair pins and basket, India

…and some women even wore a small knife used in the fields as decoration in their hair!

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adorn your hair with a knife if you’re not using it, India

Deepak parked the car and we walked up the mountain road to a Hindu temple with a beautiful waterfall next to it. …View image. It was possible to keep on walking up the mountain closer to them, but we just stood at a respectable distance (Bibhu had requested we take photographs from a distance only), and watched the constant flow of Dhongrias dressed in white togas coming down the mountain…View image, carrying babies and goods on their heads. Stacks of heavy jackfruit, in season and, if you feel like experimenting what a load like would feel like, pile 4-6 watermelons on your head, balance, and walk with them for a few miles. There was tumeric, brooms made of grass…

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How heavy would this be to carry! Orissa, India

…gigantic stacks of leaves to be sewn together and used as plates in Orissa…

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an Orissan version of disposable plates, India

…and even small children did their share of carrying goods to the market…View image.

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you’re never too young to carry loads to market in India

Hundreds of photos later, it was time for the actual market to begin…

 

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