Human beings are basically social due their needs, which can get fulfilled through other members of the social group. There is an arrangement of elements for getting things done in particular action. The social structure is that important system of elements, which lasts and which everybody takes account of (Firth 1961, pp). Each society has its on structure which is definable in hierarchical manner like morphological elements. This social structure is maintained and given its ultimate form by organizational decisions at various levels starting from home to village community and then community at large. This social group interacts with outside world at various level and form an identity group.

The Korku as a tribe had two sub divisions viz., Raj Korkus and Patharias but now they have four territorial groups, i.e., Muwasi, Bawasi, Ruma and Baidoya. The Muwarias are a strictly endogamous group. Each territorial group is divided into exogamous totemic groups like clan and finally forms the social design like Tribe-Moiety-Territorial Group-Clan-Family-Individual.

Each endogamous sub-section of the Korkus is, for the purpose of supervision over the moral conduct of its members and the preservation of racial purity, divided into village communities ruled by a tribal village council. This tribal village council may constitute of all the adult male members of the Korku community in a village, or, as a smaller committee, of only some select elders- normally five- who in certain cases deliberate and decide on the affairs of the community. The council is presided over by the official village headman called patel if he is a Korku or by some other prominent non Korku elders. Above the village headman the Korkus have a superior tribal headman whom they call jai-patel. He has jurisdiction over several Korku villages. He has no power over the members of other tribes or castes. The members of the inner council (panch) are not elected; they are rather co-opted. First a person suitable as councilor may occasionally be invited to substitute for another councilor who is absent or indisposed. If he secures the approval of the council or the whole village community he will gradually become a regular member of the panch.


Korku tribe is divided into four main groups, such as

	1.  Ruma Korku
	2.  Pathodiya Korku
	3.  Dhularya Korku
	4.  Bondey Korku

There are thirty-six clans. The names of these clans are based on the names of tree, animals, grass, earth, etc. They are as follows:

Sl. No.			Clan			Totem

1			Akhandi			yellow earth
2			Atkom			egg
3			Usranwa			stony land
4			Kasda			earth
5			Kalam			name of a tree
6			Kajalya			kajal
7			Kansal			brass
8			Kasandi			a big earthen pot
9			Jhara			grass
10			Kollya			one tree
11			Kherya			name of a tree
12			Changri			grass
13			Chekhrej			tree
14			Jambu sinj			jamun tree
15			Jambu jo			jamun fruit
16			Tangri			net
17			Takher			cucumber
18			Tota maka			corn field
19			Silu			crab
20			Tota jendra		jowar field
21			Dhikar			small fish
22			Darshima			papal tree
23			Dhapadi			bank of the river
24			Dhangdi			grass, which is seen in river
25			Silari      			unknown tree			
26			Silati sinj			name of a tree
27			Bhusum			bel tree	
28			Busarya			bel
29			Bethe(Chosob)		name of a tree
30			Mawasi			name of a tree
31			Mori rana			royal family
32			Bachhan			name of a bullock
33			Sakom jojoma		betel
34			Sakom sipuna		leaf of sagon
35			Silmya			washing stone
36			Chhutar			name of sutar tree

All these thirty-six are exogamous clans, thus Korkus do not marry in the same clan. They have a belief that these clans protect themselves from evil spirits. They make tattoo of the clan totems on their bodies. They never dishonest things that are related with clans. Those trees are not cut, brass and earthen pots are not kicked, and animals are not eaten related to their clan totems.


The Korku family has strong emphasis on the male domination but in the internal matters of family the Korku woman has an important role to play and she is largely responsible for the smooth and efficient functioning of the household, and of family life. While the male partner of a marriage represents the family members to the outside world, the female partner keeps busy with the internal life of the family, even the extended family.

Since the Korku family rarely exists as a mere nuclear family, but in most cases is an extended joint family, the bond of kinship is of great importance for the Korkus. The head of a Korku family may give shelter and sustenance not only to his own parents, but in case of need even to parents of his wife and may welcome into his family also the mates of his sons and daughters, and even of his nephews and nieces, and their offspring. In such families each individual learns from an early age to keep his proper place in the family and kinship group and to observe the rules, which govern the mutual relations of the members of such groups.

The Joint family

The joint family system is certainly not a peculiarity of the Korkus; it is the usual family form among most castes and tribes of Central India. It appears, however, that the Korkus have a special attachment to the joint family system. They retain it while other communities seem to give it up under the influence of modern civilization.

The typical Korku family is rarely a simple family consisting of husband and wife and their children. It usually also includes the families of the adult sons, and not seldom the families of daughters married to mates paying off the bride price through service. As far as possible, married couples are provided with separate sleeping quarters, either by partitioning off part of the living room or by building one or several additions to the paternal house. During the day all members of a joint family live together, work together, their relations being controlled, however, by definite rules of behavior, enforced with special strictness between members of the opposite sex.

The head of the joint-family, on the other hand, plans and supervises the work in the field and jungle, looks after the cattle and represents the family before the lawful authority of government and tribal community. He also performs certain acts of worship and on given occasions acts as family priest and exorcizes in the interest of his family. The Korku joint family is regarded as joint in food, work, estate and worship. Meals are prepared for all the members in common, and are taken together, though men and women usually eat separately, the women after the men. The preparation of the meals is the task of the women who divide the work among themselves: one woman cooks the meal for all, while another woman grinds the flour or fetches water, and a third one may clean house and stable. The next day, or week they may change duties and another woman may do the cooking. But each woman looks after her own babies. The old mother may stay at home. The sons and their wives are supposed to hand over to her all the wages they earn by their labour. This is recognized even by the money-lenders. They give loans to a joint-family without demanding security because they know that members of a joint family are bounded by law and religion to pay the debts which their father or grant father had incurred.

As long as the head of the family is alive, he is the owner of all movable and immovable property. He manages the whole estate; he alone, or his wife, may sell grain and any other property. The sons and daughters-in-law are not supposed to keep any of their earnings for themselves or to dispose of any family property. They are severely taken to task if any such dealings come to light.

When the father has grown old and is incapable of managing the household, the eldest son takes over. This is usually a long-drawn out process, the father being intent on retaining his control over the family as long as possible, while the son is eager to replace him as head of the family. As long as the father is alive, the younger brothers usually do not insist on dividing the family property among themselves. The joint family remains intact until the father’s death. Then it often quickly disintegrates. The brothers may build new houses or huts for their own families and maintain an independent household; but they usually prefer to stay in the paternal village and often cultivate the family fields together, dividing the produce after the harvest. Sons-in-law, serving for their wives, reluctantly join the wife’s family for a stipulated period of time, but usually return with their family to their ancestral village as soon as permissible. The brothers, though now living in separate households, nevertheless render ready assistance to each other in time of need.


In Korku society, both male and female can marry with more than one person. A widow can marry as well as one woman can leave her husband and marry with other person. Social restrictions are not obstacles on their way in marrying somebody within Korku community. According to Korku social community, their kinship system is little different than Hindus. They have five forms of kinship, such as: -

Taken over Kinship 
Dual Kinship
Broken Kinship
Lapsed Kinship
Terminated Kinship   

Classifier systems

	In Korku society one term is used for different kin- relations. Some terms of classifier system are as follows:-

/dɓai/ 			brother
		  	maternal aunt’s son (elder)
/komon/			nice
/kulər/		  	grand daughter
		  	grand son
  			great grand daughter
		  	great grand son

/aba/			father
			grand father
			great grand father
/aji/			husband’s sister
			sister-in-law (other’s)

/bai/			elder sister
			maternal aunt’s daughter (elder)
			wife’s brother’s wife

/bokojai/			younger sister
			step sister
			maternal aunt’s daughter

/jaṭa/			husband’s younger brother’s wife
			husband’s elder brother’s wife

/kimin/			daughter-in-law
			younger brother’s wife

/may/			mother
			great grand mother
			grand mother

/ai/			mother’s brother’s wife (younger)
			step mother

/ḍʰoṭa/			husband

Kinship Organization and Terminology

Kinship through Marriage

/biyo/				‘marriage’
/kuãra/				‘bachelor’
/nawra/				‘bridegroom’
/niwri/				‘bride’
/ranḍwa/				‘widower’
/ranḍo/				‘widow’
/ḍʰoṭa/				‘husband’
/ilur/				‘husband’s younger brother’
/niwri kunjkəkər/			‘husband’s elder brother’
/jaṭa/				‘husband’s elder brother’s wife’
/jaṭa/				‘husband’s younger brother’s wife’
/aji/				‘husband’s sister’
/ḍukri/				‘wife’
/babən/				‘wife’s sister (younger)’
/jijikənkər/				‘wife’s sister (elder)’
/sədgi/				‘wife’s sister’s husband’
/bai/				‘wife’s brother’s wife’
/bao/				‘wife’s brother (younger)’
/ṭya/				‘wife’s brother (elder)’
/komon/	 			‘nephew’
/komon/				‘nice’
/kunjkər/				‘father-in-law’
/ṭyã/				‘brother-in-law’
/u:/ou/				‘brother’s wife’
/kimin/				‘younger brother’s wife’
/kimin/				‘daughter-in-law’                                         
/ibay səmdʰi/			‘daughter-in-law’s father’
/səmdʰi/				‘daughter-in-law’s mother’
/sotela may/			‘step mother’
/sotela bokojəi/ 			‘step sister’
/sotela kon/			‘step son’	
/sotela konjəi/			‘step daughter’

Kinship through Father

/ḍai/aba/				‘father’
/kaka/				‘father’s brother’
/kʰəṛba/ 				‘father’s elder brother’
/kaka/				‘father’s younger brother’
/kaki/				‘father’s younger brother’s wife’
/komon/				‘father’s brother’s son’
/komon-je/				‘father’s brother’s daughter’
/pupu/				‘father’s sister’   

Kinship through Descendants

/kulər/				‘grand son’
/kulər/				‘grand-daughter’
/kon/				‘son’
/taṛai/				‘daughter’ 

Kinship through Mother

/mama/mamaṭe/			‘mother’s brother (self/other)’
/ma:mi/				‘mother’s brother’s wife (younger)’
/kʰərən/				‘mother’s brother’s wife (elder)’
/may/				‘mother’
/boko jai/ 				‘maternal aunt’s daughter (younger)’
/bai/				‘maternal aunt’s daughter (elder)’
/book/				‘maternal aunt’s son (younger)’
/ḍai/				‘maternal aunt’s son (elder)’  

Body parts: see word list

Color terms: see word list

Men’s and Women’s Speech:

Though the gender distinction is not found in Korku still there are few expressions through which a person is being addressed. It is shown in the sentence level only. Usually ḍo is used to represent females and ja for males.

heje ḍo  ‘(girls) come here’
heje ja  ‘(boys) come here’

When it comes to group, females use ḍi among themselves, whereas males don’t use any term.

ale calken   ‘we are going’ (males)
ale calken ḍi   ‘we are going’ (females)


Myth is a story from ancient times, especially one that was told to explain natural events or to describe the early history of a group of people. It is a story about the god, heroes, cultural traits, rituals etc. of a group which may be false or true. Myths are the ancient stories whose actors are mostly deities.

Creation of human race

The Myths about the origin of man are related to Motiram, a famous shaman of the village Ranhai, in the Nimar District.

There was a crow named as Ganglia went to Bhagwan and prayed him to make man upon the earth in order to save heaven and the earth. Ganglia brought clay from a crab hole and formed a man and a woman and also gave them the spirit of life, but he did not give the curative power as commanded by God. After completed his work he ate and then took rest. At the spot where he laid down, a tree grew up. When man and woman got children, God commanded to Ganglia to give them a cow, a buffalo, a goat and a hen. When the children became mature they wanted to marry each other but they could not, because they were brothers and sisters. So God or Bhagwan gave certain fruits to the girls to eat and then they became pregnant and gave birth to boys. After that Bhagwan gave them another fruits and they gave birth to girls. Bhagwan commanded to boys and girls to go jungles. Boys and girls went off in pairs and hid under the trees. They all gave birth to their children. Those who hid under a teak tree (sagwan) became the Sahom clan, those who hid under a Jamun tree, became Thikar clan and others hid in a hole in the ground their children belong to the Kasoda (earth) clan. Others went to the river; their children are of the Mausi clan. After that Bhagwan commanded them not to sin, if they will do so, they will die. But the crab wanted the clay back so that Korkus deposited the phul (baskel containing bamboo slivers and grass blade) in the crab hole at the sidoli feast (a feast occurred after funeral).

Origin of Man

Another popular myth is in Nimar about the origin of man. Bhagwan (Supreme God) wanted to till his field. So he went to earth and after getting tired he came back to his home. He was dirty and wet with perspiration. He rubbed his hand and found a small lengthy lump of clay. He took it up but it broke down and apiece fell down on the ground. Bhagwan breathed on the piece and it became alive, it was the first man. Bhagwan put the man down and saw another clay. He repeated the same process and it became alive, also more beautiful than the other piece. Because it had been lying for longer time on the floor of Bhagwan’s house. It was the first woman.

Another Myth about the origin of man is popularized in Melghat. Bhagwan thought to make man but he had no clay. Somebody advised God that the crow had some knowledge about the existence of clay. Somebody gave information that the earthworm makes clay from stones. Another gave information that white ant also makes earth out of stones. So Bhagwan asked white ant to give clay, at first the white ant refused. Then Bhagwan said to the white ant to sell him, but again white ant denied. Finally he said to lend him the clay, and then the white ant accepted under the condition that the earth would be returned on the death of men. With the clay Bhagwan configurated two figures and kept in sun to dry up. But the man’s enemy, the horse came to trample the figure into the ground. Bhagwan stuck the head of the horse foremost into the ground. Then he gave breath and life to the two figures he had formed out of clay by sprinkling life-giving water to them. After that he covered them for one hour and they became alive.

The origin of the Sun and Moon

Another myth is heard about the sun and moon from the Korkus. A couple had two sons, one elder and a younger one. One day they went for hunting and got a rabbit. They roasted it on fire and divided the rabbit among themselves. The younger one ate his entire share, but the elder one ate a little bit and saved for his parents. On the way the elder brother had to go to call for nature. The younger brother got a chance and took the shared rabbit to home and said to his parents, that was his share and elder brother ate his share completely. After sometime was his share. But parents did not believe and they made him to work at daytime in the sweat of his body. They turned him into sun to dry up all the filth of the earth. The younger one had to work in coolness at night. They turned him into moon to give light to the world.

The Eclipses of the Sun and Moon

Korkus have a mythological story about the eclipses of sun and moon. Once sun and moon borrowed some money from a Mang (a person of basket maker castes). After wards they did not pay their debts. Therefore the Mang turns into a giant at certain time interval and devours either fully or partially once in a while the sun or the moon. Korkus believe that when the Mang vomits out the new moon appearing. They claim that they have observed when the moon is in the period of waning some people fall sick and vomit frequently. Another myth is there about the periodical waning of the moon. The moon goes to visit his wife every month. When his wife is bored upon him she hangs a buffalo skin around him and many insects are attracted by the skin. So the moon becomes fed up and goes to sky. Korkus believe that the moon feels pain in the time of waning because of the sins and trespasses of human beings.

Creation of the Tiger

Korkus say about the origin of tiger as follows. Mahedeo and Parvati lived together. One day Mahadeo went to forest for wood. He delayed because of cutting wood. Parvati was waiting with preparing the meal for him. At last Parvati was getting angry and formed out of human excrements a tiger and sent him into the jungle to bring Mahadeo. Mahadeo saw an animal was coming and threw a piece of wood and said to get lost and you will remain as a jungle dog forever.


Korkus, like other Hindus, are atheists. They worship nature as well as Hindu god and goddess like, Mahadev, Mahavir, Ravan, Meghnad, Muthwa, Khera dev, Sun, Moon, Narmada & Tapti Mai etc.

Mahadev:- Mahadev or Lord Shiva is considered as the father of all gods. During Shivratri, they offer water, flower and fruit to Lord Shiva.

Ravan:- Ravan is considered as a god, as they believe that he had worshiped lord Shiva for the emergence of Korkus. Thus, in the name of Ravan, they observe Holi and Diwali.

Meghanath:- Meghanath is worshiped by Korkus, as they believe that he had saved them during the time of war. Every village is supposed to have a pole for worshiping Meghanath. Meghanath pole is of two types: one is short and another is long. It is during Dussehra that this god is worshiped.

Mahavir Dev or Khanera Dev:- Mahavir Dev is considered as the god of health as well as the protector of all diseases and evil powers. He is placed in the west direction outside the village boundary. Incase of anyone feeling ill, they had to perform puja to Mahavir everyday. After recovering, he needs to offer animal sacrifice of goat or hen or coconut on any convenient day. Basically, Khanera Dev is worshiped at the time of Dussehra.

Kilar Muthwa:- Kilar Muthwa is considered as village deity. Muthwa platform is a collection of some stones, situated in the middle of village. He is compared with the Hindu god Ganesh as ‘Bighna nasak’, thus they worship Muthwa at the time of marriage for completion of all the works perfectly.

Kheda dev:- Kheda dev is placed in north or east direction of every village. He is worshiped as the god of agriculture. According to their belief, he protects them from ghosts and evils and because of him wild animals cannot enter into the village.

Sun and Moon:- Korkus also worship sun as well as moon regularly for their prosperity. On the eve of full moon day of autumn, they hang up some milk in the yard of the house and after 12 o’clock they distribute it among the members of their family. They believe that on that particular day, “Amrit” comes from moon and the milk is helpful for making someone live long.

Narmada and Tapti:- They consider these two rivers as their mother. Every new moon night, they go to these rivers for taking bath and fetch water and sprinkle on their lands for good harvest.


Korkus, like other Hindus, celebrate different types of festivals throughout the year. During the festival, they dance in different style with traditional dresses. Korkus do merry making in their festivals, though they are considered as poor people among other tribes. They just cannot live without singing and dancing in Holi or Diwali even if they don’t have a single food grain in their houses. By this, they get some relaxation from their poor financial life style as well as new hope for future. “Dancing” is traditionally inherited from generation to generation. They celebrate every festival either on first or second day of the month. New moon night is considered as holy day for them.

Gudipadwa:- In the month of Chait (April), Gudipadwa festival is celebrated by Korkus, in the eve of New Year. On that occasion, they restrict themselves from doing any hard work, related to agriculture. They eat neem leafs with molasses, as they believe that they get rid of all kind of diseases by doing so.

Akhatij:- This feast is celebrated on the third day of the new moon night in the month of Baisakh (May). Usually, marriages are performed during the month of Magh and Baisakh. They consider Akhatij feast day as lucky day. So many Korkus get married on this occasion. On this day, the old earthen pot which has been in use for the whole year will be replaced by new one by throwing it into the river.

Dodbali:- They usually perform puja for rain. In the month of Jyasta (June), they perform this feast. Basically, it is a festival of boys and girls. One boy who has covered his body with Jamun leafs and a rope made up of coconut (which is tied on his waist), is pulled by another boy and both perform a dance by to and fro action.

Another group is formed of girls. Among them, one girl has to keep a pot (bamboo pieces) over her head, in which little cow dung is kept.

Both the groups go to each house of their own village for collecting money and food grains. Next day, they cook and eat all the collected food grains.

Jiroti:- It is a very important feast among Korkus. It is celebrated on the new–moon night in the month of Srawan (August). On this day, they worship jiroti devi and all family members eat together. Next day evening, “Danda” dance is performed by young men and old men. Korku men erect the swing in front of the house in which women swing. It is a festival of fertility. In some Korku areas, they sow jowar on this day.

Pola:- Pola festival is celebrated for animals on the new moon night in the month of Bhadrav. They worship those animals, which help them in the field for ploughing etc, on this day. On the eve of this festival, bullocks are bathed and decorated; their horns are also painted. Later “khichdi” is fed to them. The Korkus sing the Chillari songs during pola festival.

Dev-Dussehra:- This festival is celebrated in Kwar month. They use to play dholak, timki, thali and jhanj and recite prayers in night from the first day to ninth day of this month. Bhumka and Parihar play a great role on ninth day. Within these days, they are expected to complete the celebration and after completion they offer animal sacrifices such as goat, hen and coconut, liquor, etc, to their goddess. On the tenth day, again they sing and dance, which is called as “dham” and perform Bisarjan in river.

Diwali:- On the first day of new-moon night of Kartik month, Diwali is celebrated. On this day, their houses get cleaned off. Nobody works in that day. The bullocks are bathed and brought home. They offer a coconut and obeisance the cows along with other animals. Cows are fed “khichdi” and the rest of khichdi is distributed among Korkus, as prasadas. Women sing songs and the cow owners sing and dance in front of their houses. In some Korku areas, they also light the lamps as Hindus do, at night. In first or second day of new-moon night the bullocks are kept inside the village. In this particular day, the bullocks are not supposed to be used for any work.

Magh Dassehra:- Actually, it is a festival of harvesting. They observe this day as the beginning of the year. They celebrate this on the first day or first Friday of Magh month. In the morning, they break some branches of the trees in front of Muthwa deo. In the noon, they form two different groups of men and women and make obeisance to Muthwa deo along with dancing. After that they cut those branches and a mixture of coconut and molasses is distributed as offering among all the people. At night the famous “gadli dance”, is performed by women.

Holi:- This is another important festival, celebrated by Korkus in Madhya Pradesh. Basically, it is a Hindu festival, but Korkus celebrate as their different festivity and on different time without knowing its mythological background. On that occasion, they usually worship their god “Ravan”. From morning, they collect firewood for ‘Holi’. On that holi place they dig and plant a “Temru” or “Arandi” tree. Usually, they don’t celebrate holi festival inside the village; they all go outside the village at night. All males sing and dance by playing dhol, jhanj. After that Korku headman ‘Patel’ make obeisance and light the fire. They throw coconuts, money, kumkum, turmeric, egg, rice, sidu (liquor) into fire. Before lighting the pyre they offer animal sacrifice (mainly hens). After lighting they dance around the pyre anti-clockwise. On that day, they sing song, which is called as “Gongulya Geet”. The song goes like this: -

gõgulya  re rəngi, susun bai kaniya
ṭone debaen, nibəṭo kokʰõjba
cãdo surjo gomej, nibəṭo kokʰõjba  
kilar muṭʰwa ku, nibəṭo kokʰõjba
ṭəpṭi nərbəda ku, nibəṭo kokʰõjba
sãje debṭaku, nibəṭo kokʰõjba
deto bʰutoku, nibəṭo kokʰõjba		

This song shows their respect towards their gods as well invite them to play holi. Once the celebration is over outside the village, they again come back to village to worship “Muthwa Deo”. After burning, they hug each other and suddenly the whole environment changes. Females cry in remembering their relatives, those who died before. All males have to walk on charcoal. Then all males and females go to the Patel’s house and there they sing, dance and play with colour (gulal). Patel gives molasses and from then Jhamta dance starts. They have a good tradition that holi ash should be sprinkled on every house.


Dance forms an essential part of Korku culture. Everybody from child to old person is trained to dance. They perform different types of dances in various seasons. Usually, the women and girls form a long row, stepping sideways and swaying their hips and dance. They sing their old songs and dance for hours. During the dance, they sing of their works, of flowers and birds, of bride and groom, of love and death, and also of very trivial things. After the row has danced a long time in one direction, the leader turns and all begin to dance in the opposite direction.

Dances   	Season     	Situation

Jhula   		Rainy      		They dance by the help of wood sticks.

Danda    		Barsa-Srabana 	Men dance by circling and fighting with sticks.

Hosiyar   		Sarad      		They dance with burning woods.

Gol    		Sarad-Kunwar 	Girls dance by holding each others hands.

Khamba  		Sarad-Kunwar 	Digging sticks and circling Muthwadeo by boys.

Khada   		Hemanta    	Dance is performed by aged ladies.

Gadali   		Phalgun    		They dance on the occasion of marriage with the 
            				sound of flute and dhol.

Phagnai  		Summer    	On the occasion of Holi, both men and women 
         				dance by throwing mud and dust.

Chachari   		Summer     	Both men and women dance together by facing 
            				each other.

Timki   		Summer     	Both young girls and boys dance together in the 
            				rhythm of timki (one musical instrument)  

Hororya		Kunar		Only men in two groups dance in two rows with
           				the help of a stick, ghungru is tied on top.

Chilludi		Kunar		12 to 16 girls dance by holding each other’s hand
				in a circular motion.

Thathya		Kunar-Kartik	 This dance is being done by cowherds. 		


Dance and music play a vital role in Korku tradition. For dancing purpose they use many musical instruments like, dhol, mrudanga, dholak, dhap or ghera, khanjari, jhanjh, tonkya, kingari, tumdi, timki, damaru, sindhi, chang, ektara, chitkora, tutdi, algojha, bhugadu, ghungru, pawi or pawai (like flute), etc. These are all helpful to make systematic dance.


Death Ceremony

Korkus believe that birth of a child takes place on earth, thus everybody should die on floor only. If somebody dies on bed, it is no longer used because of the fear that dead person’s spirit may come to sleep there and harm others who use it. They make the dead body undress and wrap with white loincloth; if it is a married woman then red cloth is used for this purpose. A place is selected in the graveyard and dead body is dug, with the head in south direction. Before burying, they throw some bread pieces, egg, turmeric, milk, wine, kutki, khichdi, tobacco etc, for the peace of the soul. First, the nearest relative i.e. husband or son throw earth into the grave; then it is filled by rest of them. A pot containing rice-water is broken near the head of the dead body.

They erect a memorial post of wood and stones, called as “Mando” for remembering the dead person. Below the post, a human figure (whose hands are open), and a figure of horse rider (which means that their ancestor go to heaven because of their good works) are drawn and on these figures they also erect the figure of sun and moon. They have also a belief that they go to sun (heaven) through moon only.

Finally, the spirit takes rest after “Sidoli” feast by the capable Korkus. All the relatives and villagers are invited for the feast. They sing, dance and drink “sidu” (liquor). In the evening, all eat the feast food. The old women on this feast sing those songs, sung on the funeral functions, again.

Marriage Ceremony

A Korku boy gets married between eighteen and twenty-four and a girl between sixteen and twenty years of age. The parents and relatives decide the bride and bridegroom. One of the negotiators goes to the bride’s house and fixes the dates for negotiation and marriage. There, they also fix the amount of gonam or bride price that the father of the bridegroom has to give to the father of the bride. It is usually from thousand rupees to thousand five hundred, along with some cereals. The engagement party is being held in bride’s house and the bride price is given partly. Both bridegroom and the bride dress in bridal attire. A he-goat is killed to prepare dinner for the village and groom’s party. They take sufficient time, around one year, for marriage, because of the expenses.

The preparation for marriage begins from Wednesday; the same day, the groom is being bathed by his relatives. Then his mother and others go for worshipping the Muthwa Deo. The Bhumka makes the offering of kumkum, turmeric, rice, and coconut to Muthwa Deo. After returning, turmeric paste is applied to the groom by ladies. Molasses and liquor are distributed among all and they use to sing and dance for the whole night.

On Thursday morning, the marriage booth is erected. As directed by Patel, they dig four holes and put supari, some money, kumkum and turmeric on that. Then they fill the holes with bamboo poles and the whole booth is decorated with jamun leaves.

In Korku society, other types of marriages are also found, such as service marriage, widow marriage etc.

Widow Marriage:- Like other tribes, widow marriage is common among Korkus. If the dead person’s younger brother does not want to keep the widow, then she is allowed to marry other person. The bride price (gonam) becomes half of the sum usually paid for virgin girl.

Service Marriage:- Service marriage is the common thing among all the aboriginal tribes. It is otherwise called as contract marriage. Those who have only daughters or those who are very poor, and can’t bear the marriage expenses, prefer this type of marriage. Also the marriage rituals are less than other marriages. The decision of contract service is made in front of village elderly persons, and the official engagement is announced and gur and liquor is distributed. For marriage, only few relatives are invited. A goat is killed and a dinner is prepared for the feast. The groom has to make the bride pregnant within a year; otherwise his father-in-law drives him out of the house.

Birth Ceremony

The pregnant women are not so much concerned about their health. They remain busy in their daily works till delivery and also after birth they hardly take rest for three or four days. Old women in their houses only handle the delivery job. They usually don’t call for a doctor because of their poverty. For smooth delivery, they make the pregnant lady to drink the water with which her husband’s leg is washed. To make her child brave they feed the lady the tongue of tiger.

If it is a boy child, then on fifth day and in case of a girl child, on third day after birth, at least one old person from each family is invited. The mother of the newborn child takes blessings from the old men and women wherein they have a belief of rebirth of one of their ancestors. This is particularly done because they are not sure to which family the child belongs to, and thus the blessings of old men and women from almost all the families means a lot to them.

On the sixth day, they perform ‘Sathi Pujan’. The child naming ceremony follows this. They usually keep names according to the names of weekdays, trees, animals, etc. If a child takes birth on Monday then his name will be “Soma”, if on Tuesday then “Mangli”, Ringa, Ganja, Mating, Manang, Situ, Mirkay, Rupay, Koma, Komba, Minu, Kula, Kapli, and so on.


	1.  The Korkus also have various devices for securing early delivery. A twisted thread is untwined before the eyes of the pregnant woman, or 
	     she is given water to drink in which her husband’s left leg, a gun barrel, a pestle or a thunderbolt have been washed. It is believed that each 
	     of these will convey their qualities of propulsion to the delivery. If a woman is barren she gets a hair from the head of a woman who has borne 
	     several children, and buries it below her bathing stone. It is believed that this will act in transferring the woman’s fertility to her. 

	2.  The Korkus believe in omens also. When starting on a journey, it is inauspicious to see a black-faced monkey or a hare passing either on the 
	     left or on the right, or a snake crossing the path. It is a bad omen for a hen to cackle at night. One sneeze is considered bad, but two are good. 
	     An empty pot is a bad omen, a full one is good. If a pot breaks when one sets out to use it, it considered bad. Odd numbers are considered 
	     lucky. When a tiger has been killed the Korku as well as the Gonds singe off his whiskers.

	3.  If a turban caught fire it meant the occurrence of a great evil, and so too if it fell down. An untimely shower of rain, and the cry of someone 
	     weeping over his head relation were considered bad, and so too the meeting of a corpse on the way, if the corpse was one belonging to one 
	     of the village.

	4.  Before going to hunting Korkus do not eat anything. The idea may be that the god seeing him hungry, may send game his way. He will also 
	     not lie with his wife on the night before he goes out to hunt.

	5.  Another believes is that there will be good rainfall if naked women drive a plough. 

	6.  They have a belief that one should die on earth, because they born on earth and also they should die in their own houses.

	7.  They make tattoo on their body (except legs) because they have an idea that after death nothing will go with them to the God’s house except 
	     those tattoos. Also by tattooing ancestors will be happy. 

	8.  Sidu (Liquor) is the essential thing among Korku people. They have a strong belief that they live and also die for liquor. Those who don’t drink 
    	     liquor they consider them as non-Korku. They think that their god and goddesses are pleased because of liquor. 

	9.  Taboos- The women don’t call any relatives of their husband’s family by name even then they (means brother-in law, sister-in-law, etc.) are 
	     younger to them.

	10. Some auspicious things they consider as precious or very lucky, such as, peacock’s feather, which they use to keep in their houses. They 
	      have a belief that keeping peacock feather is the result of getting son as their first child.   


Magic practice is the common thing among Korkus. They believe in ghost and evils. They take help from Parihar to tackle the ghost problems. Parihar uses some mantras (sacred formula), tantrums (cult) and some wild roots etc, to get rid of ghosts. Except Parihar, there are few others who are aware of this kind of practice. In the absence of Parihar, the help of others is taken. By this practice, they utter spells [i.e., to blow the wind through the mouth] (Hindi: jhad phuk). They also cure many diseases like fever, headache, etc. They have a great trust on these things, wherein they do not prefer doctors. A Korku who knows jantar mantar, is believed to lead somebody upto death, by punching on his name, within a limited period. Women of this kind are known as “Bhagto-dukri”.

Korkus have a great belief upon magical practices. They are blind believers of these practices. They perform magic for goodness as well as badness also. At one hand they try to cure somebody in other hand they also give harm to their enemies. William Crook and Hiralal & Russell (1916) have collected some of these beliefs of different tribes from different informants. Some of these are mentioned below: -

	1.  When they are getting tiresome of heavy rain, they stop rain by getting a naked boy to catch a frog and bury it alive.

	2.  For knowing the prosperity of a new village, before Muthwadeo they fill a wooden cup with millet to a level with its brim, but no ‘head’ is 
	     poured on at night. Then again in morning they pour out the grain and measure it. If the grains fill the cup and run over, then this is considered 
	     as the sign of prosperity. And if the case happens opposite then it is considered as an evil omen.

	3.  To protect children from cold, goiter, sore eyes and lingering diseases they tie a scarlet thread round the necks of children. They believe Acheri 
	     as the disease spirit, attacks those who wear red garments.

	4.  By magical practices they can transfer their malady to others. The person who wants to transfer, he gets hold of the latter’s cloth and draws  
	     two images (one upright and other upside down. When the owner puts on his cloth he is attacked by malady.

	5.  If one Korku barren woman wants to be mother, she has to get the hair of a mother of a large family and bury it under her bathing stone. They 
	     believe that by performing this she may get the quality of fertility.

	6.  The Bhumka worship and make offerings to Baghdeo, for protection of tiger’s entrance to the village.

	7.  They untwist a twisted thread in front of the eyes of the pregnant woman, for which she can give birth a child smoothly.     


In Korku society they use their own modes of medical treatment. They rarely use to go to a doctor, in other words we can say that because of their poverty and ignorance they don’t prefer for a doctor.

For major diseases they prefer to go to the Padihar (village priest). He uses to recite some mantras, and uses to give natural medicines like salt, roots, medicated powders, holy water etc.

For minor things, such as, burning, stomach pain, cold, etc., they do some homely treatment by themselves.

For stomach pain they use to eat one kind of wild onion, for burnt, gai sena (cow excrement) and sahi (ink) is used, similarly for cough, mixture of turmeric and jaggery is used. Using of kerosene oil for massage of hand and legs is very famous among them. They touch burnt da (a weapon used for cutting grass, paddy etc.) on their stomach for the treatment of waist pain.

They never use soap for cleaning their body and hair, black earth is used for hair and stone is for body.

They use peacock’s feather or peacock’s leg with oil for curing ear pain or any other disease related with ear.


Korkus have a mixed variety of food culture, in other words a Korku can be a vegetarian or non-vegetarian. They eat very simple and same food throughout the year. Basically they prefer agricultural product, fruits and flowers, vegetables collected from jungle and varieties of meats especially chicken, fish, tortoise, goat, etc. They usually take meals thrice a day. They eat with their right hand, and usually in a typical Korku family boys and male persons eat first. In the early morning before going to work, they take the yesterday night’s stale food like, rice or rice gruel, khichdi/bread, and in the day time on land they take rice or bread with vegetables, and after coming back from work, they use to eat rice or khichdi. In fact, they don’t have certain idea that at what time what should be eaten. The food is divided among the family members according to the need. Even if some guests come after the preparation of food, they also get their share from the prepared food only, they don’t cook again.

According to Fuch, the Korkus are heavy eaters and are able to consume a dinner prepared of two pounds of rice and half a pound of well-spiced pulse and in case of (joari) bread, they can eat four quite large and finger –thick joari breads. But because of poverty they cannot eat till satisfaction. Usual food is the wheat of joari bread with vegetable or pulse of urid, tuar or masur. In vegetables they use pumpkin (dudhi), cucumber (ṭhaker) and a cold weather pumpkin (ḍangra) and different kinds of beans such as ganvarsenga, another malhhan (the kidney bean) and leaves of some certain trees like, ara, engen, purpuria, kollyari etc.


Liquor- Liquor is essential part of their traditional lives. They use it in almost every occasion. Because of easy preparation and the most availability of Mahua flowers, Mahua Liquor is famous among Korkus. Without a bottle of liquor no matter has to be settled. If somebody makes any caste offence or like that, then he has to give liquor and feast to the villagers.

Before drinking they sprinkle a few drops on ground for their dead relatives. Because they have fear that the dead relatives may think that they are enjoying without them, and harm them. They drink in-group or among their relatives. They usually make it in their houses themselves.

Tobacco- Smoking is not prohibited so much in tribal society. The Korkus too adopted the habit of smoking and have made it a stimulant as well as an enjoyment for men and women. They are very particular in sharing a smoke with the higher castes. Some Korkus also take country cigar or bidi.

Utensils:- Basically Korkus use either pots, made up off aluminum or earthen. For preserving water earthen pots like, ghara, ghagar, ghagara, dhal are used. For keeping milk and curd, dohni and for making chapattis, kayari/loyati are used.Among aluminum pots, thali, lota, gilas, bhagona, handbai batik, katora, sariya, kalchhi/kadchhi are used in their day-to-day lives. Some Korkus also use copper or wooden utensils.

They never make all these utensils by themselves; they use to purchase those from markets nearby their villages.


Korkus are used to busy life wherein they hardly get time to dress up themselves. They do dress up occasionally especially during marriage ceremonies, festivals, fairs etc. Thus are habituated of wearing fewer clothes, since they couldn’t afford to dress up properly.

Male attire:-

	1.  dhoti
	2.  phenta (use to wear on waist)
	3.  bandi or anga
	4.  saphe or phenta (use to wear on head)	

According to sub-classes among Korkus, the style of wearing dhoti is different. It can vary from region to region, such as the wearing style of Korkus of Nimar, is different than Gangria Korkus of Melghat. Gangria Korkus wear in such a way that it covers almost all the parts of the body. First half is wrapped around the waist till knee like lungi and another half covers right hand, belly, and shoulder is tied on waist on left hand side with the help of a knot. That dhoti used by Gangria Korkus is of one and half meters long. Korkus of Nimar, wear like other non-tribal with a folded portion towards back, is called “kachha”.

Bandi or Anga is worn on special occasions. Korkus of Nimar use anga in home or in lands. Bandi is made up off white and thick clothes. Basically it is of two types, one is with sleeve and another is without sleeves, but both should be with front open buttons.

Korkus wear two kinds of turbans on head, one is saphe and another is phenta. Saphe is used as turban; it is a lion cloth. Traditionally a phenta should be within one and half meter to two meter long and fifty centimeter to one meter wide. Phenta covers the head without the middle portion of the head. Phenta is of white colour only, but saphe can be of pink, yellow, red and white.

Female Attire:-

	1.  Layenga
	2.  Polka
	3.  Bandi/ anga    

Korku girls till the age of five don’t wear any dress, between eight to ten years they use to wear layenga like adults with polka, which covers the upper part of the body. Now a days they all wear saree, petticoat, and blouse as like as other farmer ladies. They keep their hairs open or with a knot without plaits.

Korkus are not so much concern about cleanliness. They don’t take bath also regularly. Young boys and girls are cleaner than older ones. They are habituated of wearing dirty clothes and also for washing them no soap or detergent powder is needed, only stone is useful for this purpose. For cutting the nails their teeth is enough. They do not apply oil on hair also, thus their hair is always very rough.


Though Korkus are poor; still they are fond of decorating their bodies with different varieties of ornaments. They use to dress up properly only occasionally, not everyday. Also in the time of need they borrow money from moneylender with conditions. Basically Korkus wear ornaments made up off glass, silver, bead, white metal, etc. Like other tribal people they also use coins as one type of ornaments. People those wear gold ornaments are very rare among them.

Male Ornaments:- Wearing ornaments among males is less than of females. All should make holes on their ear from childhood days and they wear something to keep hole on that. Because they have a belief that if the hole becomes close then they can be able to protect themselves from harmful powers. They use to wear silver or copper earrings, which is known as mungri/phulia. Financially standard Korkus also can wear gold earrings. Poor people use to put another variety of earrings, which is called as khunti/laung.

They also wear bangles of iron, silver or copper on hand, popularly known as kade. On fingers also they can wear finger-rings made up off above-mentioned metals. Tabiz, kanthi and garlands of coins are also used for neck. They also wear copper or silver belts, arranged in two lines.

Female Ornaments:- Korku ladies wear bela, tiba iccha, macchi, anbat, jami, penjan, kalla, kada, kamya and toda on legs, and kandora on waist, and mundi or arsi on fingers. Arms are decorated with bhabtya or bahuta. They make one garland with old silver coins, which is wore on neck is known as takabaccha. Except that other ornaments like kanthi-kathula, ghuta, tagli/tussi are also used as neck ornaments. They use to wear bangles or kada on hands. Jhumka or todi/mundi is for ear and kanta is used for nose.

Ornaments for boys and girls:- Korku boys and girls are fond of ornaments. Every boy and girl wears black tabiz on neck and black thread, called as kardoda, on waist, along this mungrian on ear. In case of female they wear kanta in nose, tagli, ghuta, takabaccha, tussi in neck and bela, tibaiccha or macchi, penjan etc. on foot. On general days they don’t use to wear so much ornaments except tabiz, kardoda (boys) and tagli, kada (girls).

Tattooing:- Tattooing is the compulsory act among Korku ladies. They never use to take food and water from those ladies without tattoo as they are considered to be unsanctified.


Copyright CIIL-India Mysore