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The Gondi (Gōndi) or Gond people are Adivasi (indigenous people) of India that speak Gondi language which is a Dravidian language and are listed as a Scheduled Tribe for the purpose of India's system of positive discrimination. They are spread over the states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra (Vidarbha), Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha.
Gondi women in Umaria district
|Regions with significant populations|
|Andhra Pradesh (old)||304,537|
|Gondi, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Gond are also known as the Raj Gond. The term was widely used in 1950s, but has now become almost obsolete, probably because of the political eclipse of the Gond Rajas.[page needed] The Gondi language is closely related to the Telugu, belonging to the Dravidian family of languages. The 2011 Census of India recorded about 2.98 million Gondi speakers.
According to the 1971 census, their population was 5.01 million. By the 1991 census, this had increased to 9.3 million[page needed] and by the 2001 census the figure was nearly 11 million. For the past few decades they have been witnesses to the Naxalite–Maoist insurgency in the central part of India. Gondi people, at the behest of the Chhattisgarh government, formed the Salwa Judum, an armed militant group to fight the Naxalite insurgency.
Scholars believe that Gonds ruled in Gondwana, now in eastern Madhya Pradesh and western Odisha, between the 13th and 19th centuries AD. Muslim writers described a rise of Gond state after the 14th century.
Gonds ruled in four kingdoms (Garha-Mandla, Deogarh, Chanda, and Kherla) in central India between the 16th and 18th centuries. They built number of forts, palaces, temples, tanks and lakes during the rule of the Gonds dynasty. The Gondwana kingdom survived until the late 16th century. They also gained control over the Malwa after the decline of the Mughals followed by the Marathas in 1690. The Maratha power swept into Gondland in the 1740s. The Marathas overthrew the Gond Rajas (princes) and seized most of their territory, while Some Gond zamindaris (estates) survived until recently.
Science and religionEdit
Many astronomical ideas were known to ancient Gonds. Gonds had their own local terms for the Sun, Moon, constellations and Milky Way. Most of these ideas were basis for their time-keeping and calendrical activities. Other than Gonds, the Banjaras and Kolams are also known to have knowledge of astronomy.
Most Gond people follow folk Hinduism which retained the animist beliefs of nature and ancestor worship . Gonds worship a high god known as Baradeo, whose alternate names are Bhagavan, Sri Shambu Mahadeo, and Persa Pen, and Baradeo oversees activities of lesser gods such as clan and village deities, as well as ancestor . Baradeo is respected but he does not receive fervent devotion, which is shown only to clan and village deities, as well as ancestor and totems .
Their typical reaction to death has been described as one of anger because they believe it is caused by magical demons. Pola, a cattle festival, Naga panchami and Dassera are their major festivals .
Many Gonds worship Ravana, whom they consider to be the tenth dharmaguru of their people and the ancestor-king of one of their four lineages. They also worship Kupar Lingo as their supreme deity and their ancestor before Ravana. On Dussehra, the Gondi inhabitants of Paraswadi carry an image of Ravana riding an elephant in a procession to worship him, and protest the burning of Ravana's effigies. Their worship of Ravana is also a way to resist pressure from Christian missionaries and right-wing Hindu groups and preserve their own culture. 
The Government of Uttar Pradesh had classified the Gondi people as a Scheduled Caste but by 2007, they were one of several groups that the Uttar Pradesh government had redesignated as Scheduled Tribes. As of 2017, that tribal designation applies only to certain districts, not the entire state. The 2011 Census of India for Uttar Pradesh showed the Scheduled Caste Gond population as 21,992.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gondi people.|
- Gond Tribal Art — Madhya Pradesh, archived from the original on 22 June 2015.
- Gond Tribal Art — Madhya Pradesh.
- Sinlung — Indian tribes.
- Gond - The History.
- « Animating Tribal Art » by Leslie MacKenzie and Tara Douglas with the Pardhan Gond artists, 8:16
- Gond painting 2, 6:54