The chief tribal, or Adivasi groups of Rajasthan are the Bhils and the Minas, who were the first occupants of the region now called Rajasthan. Later, they were made to move to the Aravalli Range after the Aryan intrusion. Other smaller groups of Adivasis include the Sahariyas, Garasias, Gaduliya Lohars and the Damariyas.
The Bhils customarily possessed the south – eastern corner of the state – the zone around Udaipur, Chittaurgarh and Dungarpur – despite the fact that the biggest groupings of them are found in neighboring Madhya Pradesh.
Legend has it that the Bhils were fine bowmen, thus their name, which can be followed to a Tamil word, which means bow. Bhil bowmen have been mentioned in both the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. They were exceptionally viewed as warriors, and the Rajput rulers depended vigorously on them to defeat the attacking Marathas and Mughals. In fact, a few researchers propose that the Rajputs owe their warrior penchants to their exposure to the Bhils, whom they copied. The British framed a Mewar Bhil Corps in the 1820s in acknowledgment of the Bhil’s military custom.
Originally, the Bhils were food gatherers but nowadays, they have taken up small-scale agricultural activities, or have completely deserted the land area- inside and out and have taken up job and shelter in the city instead. The education rate of the Bhils, especially the ladies, used to be one of the most minimal of any community in the nation which made them prime focuses for misuse and bonded labour. This pattern is presently being switched, and the fortunes of the Bhils are enhancing in accordance with their growing needs. A few Bhils have also entered state parliament and have become MLAs, including a Bhil lady in one instance.
Those Bhils who can bear the cost of it participate in polygamy. Marriages of love, as opposed to arranged marriages which are the norm in India, are approved here.
The Baneshwar fair is an annual Bhil festival held close to a town called Dungarpur during the month of January/February where a huge number of people belonging to Bhil community, assemble for a few days with an objective of singing, moving and worshipping together. Holi is another crucial celebration for the Bhils. Witchcraft, enchantment and superstition are profoundly established parts of Bhil society.
The Minas happen to be the second largest Adivasi group in Rajasthan after Bhils, and are the most widely spread. They reside in the Shekhawati regions and eastern Rajasthan. Researchers still differ with respect to whether the Minas are indigenous, or whether they relocated to the district from Central Asia.
The name Mina is inferred from the word fish, and the Minas claim plunge from the fish incarnation of Vishnu. Initially, they were a dominant tribe. However, their downfall has been a long drawn-out issue and doesn’t seem to hold much significance now. It started with the Rajputs and came to an end when the British government pronounced them a criminal tribe in 1924, primarily with the objective to stop them from regaining access and authority over their own territory from Rajputs. In their conflicts with the Rajputs, the Minas turned to various unfair and unorthodox means, for example- requesting ‘protection cash’ from villagers to diminish their dacoit exercises.
After Independence, their disgraceful status as a ‘criminal tribe’ was lifted. By this time, their culture had already been distorted and now, they have been given protection by the Government under the "Scheduled Tribe" category.
After the withdrawal of the Criminal Tribes Act, the Minas began to indulge in activities related to agriculture. Just like the Bhils, the literacy rate among the Minas was low. However, it has begun to make improvements over the past few years. Marriage is by and large inside the tribe. Unlike the Bhils, marriages in Minas are arranged by the parents and most marriages happen during the early years of children’s youth.
Originally the martial Rajput Adivasi group, the Gaduliya Lohars are nowadays nomadic blacksmiths. Their conventional domain was Mewar (Udaipur) and they courageously battled with the Maharana against the Mughals. With the natural Rajput courage, they made a pledge to the Maharana that they would enter the Chittaurgarh fort only after he’d successfully defeated the Mughal Emperor. But unfortunately, the Maharana lost the battle against Mughals and died without accomplishing this. As a result, the Gaduliya Lohar tribe took full responsibility of their vow and moved out of Chittaurgarh, turning into a nomadic group thereafter.At the time when Jawaharlal Nehru came to power, he drove a gathering of Gaduliya Lohars into Chittaurgarh, thinking that they would then resettle in their previous terrains. However, they chose to stay nomadic.
The Garasias are a small Rajput Adivasi bunch found in the Abu Road region of southern Rajasthan. It is believed that they were interblended with the Bhils to some degree, upheld by the fact that bows and arrows form a vital part of the Garasias community. The marriage ceremony is quite unusual as here, the couples elope after which a sum of money is paid to the girl’s father. If the marriage fails, the bride returns home, with a small sum of money to give to the father. On the other hand, widows are not entitled to any portion of their husband’s property, and therefore, are generally asked to remarry.
It is believed that the Sahariyas Tribe has originated from the Bhils, and live in the territories of Kota, Dungarpur and Sawai Madhopur in the southeast of the state. They are one of the least educated of the Adivasi bunches in the nation, with a literacy rate of just 5% and, as incompetent workers, have been barbarously exploited.
Marriages are organized outside the tribe as it is firmly believed that all individuals from the faction are connected. Their food and worship traditions are to a great extent, similar to the Hindu customs.