KONDAREDDIS :

The Konda (or hill) Reddis are the largest hill tribe in East Godavari district. They are also in the districts of Khammam and West Godavari. They call themselves as Pandava Reddies, as they believe to the progeny of Pandavas.

They usually talk a rough kind of Telugu. Physically the Kondareddis . are of small and. sturdy stature with shorter legs when compared to the length of the body. They are characterized by a broad heart-shaped face with a small pointed chin, high cheek bones and a flat nose. Mustache and beard are very sparse.

Kondareddi people sitting outside their thatched hut in Gudisa village, Rampa Agency.

The Kondareddis mainly depends upon podu cultivation. Periodic felling of forest and the cultivation on various millets, maize, pulses and vegetables in the resulting clearings. Sometimes of the year when their stores of grain have run out, reddis subsist on forest produce, eating the sago-like Pitts of the caryota palm or the kernels of mango stones.

The Kondareddis have deep faith in the black magic and believe that illness and misfortune are caused by the sorcerers. When a person is ill, a ‘Vejju‘ (magician) is called in to discover the cause of illness and prescribe curative rituals. From sowing to reaping, all the stages of agricultural operations and forest work are started only after performing rituals for the associated deity. The hills and forests are believed to be inhabited by a host of anthropomorphically conceived divinities, many of whom have their seats on mountain tops and are hence referred to as Konda Devatha, i.e, ‘hill deities.’ Gangalamma Panduga, Bhudevi Panduga and Vana Devudu Panduga are some of their important festivals.

They recognise marriage by capture and it is a custom found only among poorer people. Polygamy is not uncommon but polyandry is never recognised. ‘Oli’ or ‘Kanyasulka* custom is there in Kondareddis The panchayat of Kondareddis is a highly democratic institution. Each village has a head man called Pedda Kapu, who presides over panchayat meetings. Kondareddis belong to a primitive tribal group.

KOYAS

Koya is one of the largest tribe in Andhra Pradesh. They are mainly in East Godavari, West Godavari and Khammam districts. The Koyas who style themselves as ‘Doralu* or ‘Dorala Sattam* are believed to be a section of the Gondi speaking race because of their physical and linguistic affinities with Gonds. Like gonds they call themselves ‘Koitur’ in their dialect.

Koyas are divided into numerous sub-groups such as Racha Koya, Gutta Koya, Gommu Koya, Kammayra Koya, Musara Koya, Gampa Koya, Oddi Koya, Kapu Koya, Matwa Koya, Linga Koya and Doli Koya. Racha Koya claims superiority over the other sub-groups. Kammara Koyas are blacksmiths, Musara Koya, drummers and Kapu Koyas are agriculturists.

Koyas are generally medium in stature, with medium dark complexion. They have a broad nose, full lips, small chain and low forehead. Regarding the dress habits men wear either gochi-lion cloth or shirt dhovati, women generally wear ‘sari’ very often below the waist.

The Koyas are believers of primitive and bloody thirsty deities like Mamili, Komalamma, KorraraJu, Katurudu, Kadidevara etc. On every festival day they propitiate the spirits of their dead ancestors. Koyas more or less follow Hindus in respect of various social functions. Dancing plays an important part in all their feasts and also in marriages. The men put on head dresses of straw into which buffalo-horns are stuck and do the turns and twists with a weird kind of chant.

Kommu dance being performed by Koya tribal communnity in Papikondalu.

Most of the Koya people depends upon agriculture. Marriages are either by proposal or by force which includes elopement and capture. Divorce and widow remarriages are also there in Koyas. In the case of a marriage by proposal, the young man gives a wedding feast and also pays the bride’s price. If the marriage is by capture, matters become much simpler.

Powerful social organisation function at various levels among the Koyas particularly to observe the social norms maintain harmonious inter-tribal relations of the community. The social organisation is democratic which is managed by kula panchayats. The kula panchayat functions at the village level and it is headed by pinna pedda which is a hereditary office. Above him is the kula pedda.

Valmikis

Valmikis living in this Agency tracts of Andhra Pradesh are the only group notified as Scheduled Tribes. They are found in the agency areas of Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts. They claim that they are descendants of the famous sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana. The literacy rate among Valmiki is higher than that of Konda Reddys.

The Valmiki tribe is divided into various ‘gotrams’ in order to regulate the marriage institution in Visakhapatnam tribal area. The gothrams are “Nagabowse (snake)”, “Matsyabowse”(fish), “Pangibowse”(kite), “Jillabowse”(tiger), “Vantala bowse”(monkey), “Korrabowse”(sun),”Bhallubowse”(bear), “Poolubowse” (flower) and “Chillibowse” (goat). But these clan names are absent in tribal areas of East Godavari district.

Marriage by mutual consent, marriage by elopement, are the methods of acquiring mates. Widow remarriages and divorce are permissible.

Valmikis are agriculturists and forest labourers. Some of them became traders and petty moneylenders. They sell the earthen pots also in the shandies. They practice podu cultivation on the slopes of hills.