Ever thought of witnessing your community on the verge of vulnerability? Meet the last 17 people of Bihar’s ethnic tribal community, ‘Birjia’. As the societal structure moulds with the ageing generations, the socio-economic development of the tribal society faces a major consequence. But not to let you stay unknown; Patnabeats is embarking on a journey to explore the roots of all these lives and livelihoods which make up Bihar, one of the most vibrant and celebrated cultures.

Birjia is one of those tribal communities of Bihar, which falls under the special scrutiny of the Government because of its primitiveness, backwardness and economic status. And reportedly, Birjia as a tribal group is recorded to be very less in population, which reaches as low as only 17 persons in the state of Bihar. This is also a major criterion for their vulnerability. Birjia is grouped under the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) by the Government of India.

Also found in pockets of Jharkhand, Birjia tribes inhabit the jungle and hills of the Chota Nagpur plateau in Bihar. As they speak the Birjia language, some theories of anthropology say these lingual of Austro-Asiatic languages to be the most primitive inhabitants of India. But over the years, this community has already migrated to the tea states of West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam. And the pull factors for their migration were mostly economic and social, leaving just a handful of them back in Bihar.

The growing feudal system had taken away their land rights even in forests. And topping that frequent drought in the arid lands of the Chota Nagpur plateau and their primitive lifestyles often pushed them to take financial loans from the oppressive money lenders. Birjia people could not do so much, because firstly they were less in population, secondly, their migration to a new regimented culture, where they had to work, took away many of their cultural identities.

To return to roots and preserve the ethnicity of all communities, the younger generation must start talking about them. Conversations around these vulnerable tribes and communities can help us grow and learn from our ancient traditions and history. The cultural practices of the Birjia tribe need special focus and encouragement from us and the government, to save them from extinction.

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