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Niyamgiri Hills: Where abduction is a pre-marriage ritual

Swapna Mohanty | Updated on: 16 January 2018, 15:58 IST

Kidnapping and Abduction are considered unlawful and under Section 359- 373, IPC. The  accused shall be punished with imprisonment  up to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. But tribal people have their own set of laws and traditions that they follow and practice.

The act, which is considered unsocial and criminal  in civilized society, is popular among the indigenous Dongria Kondhs who are considered the best fruit cultivators of Odisha. The world now knows them more for their relentless struggle against  mining in the Niyamgiri hills by the the multinational company, Vedanta.

And yet again, they have become the talking point for a recent case of abduction in which a video of a girl being abducted going viral. The girl is seen in the  video as  being forcefully taken away  by a Dongria youth with the help of his friends. This incident took place in Majhiguda market on the foothills of Niyamgiri under Kalyansinghpur block in Rayagada district.

This age-old tradition of 'abducting' a girl for marriage is named 'Kania Jhinka' in the tribal terminology. People of this tribe take a lot of pride in such an unusual, rather outlandish and cruel   pre-wedding ritual.

Girl in the video was seen howling loudly to escape but the boys paid no heed to her request and were seen dragging  her along. Then they were seen boarding a vehicle  and leaving for Railima, the village the groom hails from.

To know more about this  tradition Catch News spoke to  Radhasyam Panda, director of Palli Vikash, a local NGO.  “As per the rituals, forced-to-be-bride's family will have to reach groom's house and make a healthy negotiation. The term used for this negotiation is 'Kania Jhola' where the groom's family have to offer four bottles of distilled liquor, three-bullocks and as much rice they demand,” he informed. He also said that if both the sides reach a common ground  then the groom's  side will go ahead with the ceremonies.

Giving an insight into the other customs to be follow Panda  said, “After the negotiation is done if both the families are happy with the arrangements then the groom's family will go forward with the next custom called 'crab bite'".

The crab bite ritual is equally bizarre! “The women of groom's village catch a crab and place it on the to-be-brides palm and hold her tightly so that she doesn’t shake the crab off her hands and let it bite her. And when the girl screams in pain, the would-be-groom comes to her rescue. The tribal people believe that this increases the bond between the two and they live happily ever after.”

Upset with the recent event of abduction, Panda contacted Dilip Kumar Hota, Senior Assistant District Education Officer(DEO) of that area and sought an explanation as to why such a practice was being allowed to continue even now.  To this the Hota  explained that the police were   investigating into the matter. “We are also looking into the matter and trying to find out the age of the girl who was abducted,” he said.

When asked if the girl had something to say, Hota said, “No, people from this tribe mostly follow their traditions and do not speak up.”

First published: 15 January 2018, 19:32 IST