The most closed tribe in India, where wives raise husbands

Under the influence of the new crown epidemic, the Bangda tribe, which has always been considered the most closed in India, is no longer a paradise, and confirmed cases have appeared. The Bangda tribe lives in the deep mountains of Orissa in eastern India. It borders Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, and is the northern end of the Eastern Ghats. Not only does the local natural scenery maintain its original state, the Bangda people His social life also retains part of the original style of matrilineal society.

Boys “have become parents” before they are 12 years old

The Bangda tribe has only more than 20,000 people and lives a life of farming, fishing and hunting that is almost isolated from the world. Some Indian scholars believe that the Bangdas are probably the first ethnic group that came to the South Asian subcontinent from the African continent and settled in the jungle. Even in India, which is known for its diversity, the Bangda people are still a very unique ethnic group. The most unique thing is the local marriage custom, where a woman “marries” a small husband and raises him up. Bangda’s daughter-in-law, according to our Chinese concept, is similar to that of a boy who has been in his wife’s home since he was a child.

The woman gave birth to a daughter, and the daughter “married” her little husband, and gradually formed a large family with women as the mainstay. The core of the extended family is usually the old grandmother, and the daughters will inherit the family business after the old grandmother’s death. It is customary for the boys in the family to “marry” out before they reach adulthood.

Bonda women usually get married when they become adults physically, but men are often under 12 years old when they get married, and they are generally 5 to 10 years younger than their wives. In other words, as Bonda men, their puberty is spent at the wife’s house. During this period, the wife played the roles of Yimu, Yijie, Yiwife, and was the supporter and teacher of the husband’s growth period. During the “growth” period, the husband is a free labor in the wife’s home, doing housework and farming under the guidance of the wife.

Beads as clothes

The Bangda tribe follows the social structure of the matriarchal clan. The women of the tribe are not only the masters of the house, but they are also more aggressive. They shave their heads and are almost half-naked. Of course, with more and more contact with the world below the mountain, some young Bonda women who love beauty will also have long hair. The typical Bangda women’s clothing is mainly jewelry. On the head is a bead chain cap similar to a felt hat made up of layers of fine colored bead chains; each ear wears a metal earring the size of a half face; some women also wear metal nose rings. Bangda people wear earrings differently from women in other places, instead of hanging them on the earlobes, they drill holes in the upper part of the ear to wear the earrings. Some people also like to add some small accessories to the big earrings, and the ears are overwhelmed and droop. The neck is a silver thumb-thick metal ring, usually six or seven, and the entire neck is wrapped from top to bottom. It is said that the biggest role of this kind of “collar” is to protect the neck from being bitten when attacked by wild beasts. Because beasts attack people and bite the carotid artery is the deadliest. The Bangda woman doesn’t have an inch thread on her upper body, only dozens of dense bead chains hung on her neck. The bead chains generally hang down to the waist, completely covering the chest, especially the breasts. Dozens of metal bracelets and arm rings are also worn on the arms and wrists. A rectangular strip of cloth is hung from the waist to the buttocks. This can be regarded as the only clothes on the whole body. Underneath are bare legs and bare feet. Nowadays, with the development of the times, Bangda women also wear a cloak to cover their shame when they go out or meet outsiders.

There is also a local myth about Bangda women who don’t wear clothes. It is said that in ancient times Siddhartha, the wife of the Rama god in the Indian epic “Ramayan”, used to take a bath in the place where the Bangda tribe lived, and was accidentally discovered by the local women, and these women laughed at it. goddess. As a result, Siddha became angry and punished the women here for not being able to wear clothes. Of course, legends are only legends after all. Some scholars believe that local people’s costumes are more derived from the ancient heritage and the needs of local production and life.

Maybe it’s because of the long-term closed environment, maybe because of the women’s half-naked costumes, the locals avoid taking pictures. Even in the market below the mountain, if a curious tourist raises a camera to take pictures of the Bangda women, they will yell at them to show their dissatisfaction. Soldiers with live ammunition at the fair often remind tourists not to take photos of Bangda women. The presence of these soldiers is mainly to guard against Naxal militants. The area is the famous Red Corridor zone in India, where anti-government “guerrillas” appear from time to time.


Another primitive custom of the Bangda tribe is bartering. At the foot of the Bangda tribe, there is a large bazaar once a week. People from many tribes and villages in the surrounding area, including the Bangda people, will go to the bazaar to trade. There are two main differences between the Bangda people and the other villagers who come to the market in the market. One is that the Bangda people who go to the market to trade are basically women, and the other is that the Bangda people tend to trade things. I don’t like to use cash for transactions. In the transaction, the Bangda people traded out crops such as tomatoes and corn, and most of them traded in daily necessities such as pots and pans. The transaction process generally does not involve cash, and the family assets of Bangda people rarely include cash. Many people do not have the concept of saving.

However, bartering can also benefit the Bangda people. In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the “Abandonment Order”, which is to abolish the old 500 rupees and 1,000 rupees, the two largest denominations of banknotes, and issue new 500 rupees and 2000 rupee banknote. As soon as the news came out, it attracted worldwide attention, and there was a mess in India. Everyone went to the bank to deposit the old currency and exchange for the new currency. At a time, there were long queues at all the bank gates. There are no Bangdas in the queue because they don’t use paper money.