Much controversy surrounded the Indian soap opera ‘Pehredar Piya Ki’. The show portrayed a 10-year-old married to an adult girl. The show finally went off air following a ban petition. The show promoted child marriage, glorified objectification of women by a kid according to petitioners. However, do you know that in the breathtaking beauty of flower-laden mountains, live women who actually marry ten year or 12-year-old boys? NO! The government does not interfere and cannot interfere. At approximately 3000 to 4000 ft above sea level, Malkangiri of Indian state Orissa houses one of the primitive tribes ‘BONDA’. Believing themselves to be starting point of human civilization, they resent outsiders and still follow barter system
AN UNUSUAL WEDLOCK
One of the most unusual things about this tribe is their Marriage procession. Bonda women marry boys ten or twelve years younger than them. So a BONDA girl in her twenties marries a ten-year-old. She takes an oath to protect and feed her child husband until he becomes an adult. And the husband in return takes an oath to feed and protect the girl when she ages and loses her strength in future. Instead of dowry, they pay exact opposite, termed as ‘BRIDE PRICE’. Elder brother of child groom can pay the bride price, but the groom has to return it later compulsorily. Economic needs and physical support are the prime motives of such marriages; sexual relationship becomes a second priority. An intimate relationship is not established until boys become adults.
The process of divorce is LUNG-SISI. In case of adultery committed by a woman, husband demands double of bride price from the woman. In the case where a man commits adultery, he can’t marry again by the community ritual.
COMBATIVE AND PROTECTIVE
Extremely aggressive, always equipped with Bow and Arrow, BONDA men fiercely protect their wives. This often results in a fight within the tribe. BONDA women are also well trained in using weapons. Equipped with lethal weapons, they always accompany their husbands in the battles. And defend their husbands from attacks.
BONDA women have special attire. Believing in the legendary curse of goddess Sita, they shave their heads and clad themselves in semi-nude fabrics. They think Sita was once disrespected by the elder women of the tribe. Enraged by the act, Sita cursed the community women to stay semi-nude forever. Wearing anything around the waist is complete TABOO. All BONDA women conform to this dress code. Those who deviate are supposed to bring a curse on their family. Few new generation girls have broken the norms and wore the sari, keep long hair. Community members treat them as outcast and Untouchables. No boy from the community marries them.
LIVE, EAT AND DRINK
Addiction to liquors is quite prevalent in both BONDA men and women. They are addicted to intoxicating sago palm juice. They even believe that Sago Palm juice is nutritious drink and feed it to their newborns. Boys grab their drinks on their own from family tree for the first time after a fixed age. BONDA are aggressive and sluggish because of their addiction to this intoxicating liquor
The literacy rate is low in the community. Their dialect Remo has no written form. Owing to exceptional provisions provided to scheduled tribes by the constitution, not all laws apply to BONDA tribe. Despite numerous efforts to bring them mainstream, many of the members of BONDA community remain oblivious to the advancement of civilization.