A Glimpse Into The Secret Lives Of Soliga, A Tribe In Southern India That Worships Tigers as Gods

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Soliga is an ethnic tribe in south India that dwells in Biligirirangana Hills (BR Hills) situated in south-eastern Karnataka, at its border with Tamil Nadu. The term "Soliga" literally translates to "children of bamboo", which reflects the tribe's relationship with nature and their belief that they too, have emerged from it. They are said to possess vast knowledge about the forests of Western Ghats and biodiversity conservation.

Let's Educate Ourselves More:

The government declared the forests inhabited by Soligas as a protected tiger reserve in 2011 which meant that the tribe was re-located and suffered a ban on their traditional practices such as hunting and collection of timber for personal use. Although this declaration threatened the habitat of Soliga, they managed to create history. The tribe collectively fought a long-drawn legal battle and has become the first tribal community in India that lives inside the core area of a tiger reserve. It's even more impressive to know that their rights are officially recognised by the court of law. The tribe's ideology is to co-exist with nature and animals instead of creating a divide or capturing their habitats.

Soligas and the Big Cats:

The manner in which the tribe co-exists with tigers, the deadliest animals in the world is extremely shocking. The Soliga can easily identify the location of tigers based on their pug marks and smell! In fact, the tiger is worshipped as Huliverappa and is equated to a deity amongst them. There’s an interesting story behind how the tribe protects themselves from tigers. It is said that if you call the tiger a “big dog”, it will get so insulted that it will turn away and you will be safe! This is a common practice among the tribe. However, there have been several instances where tigers have descended to Soliga habitat and killed men, women and children. In spite of these incidents, the tribe continues to reside amidst a forest full of tigers and bears. In fact, they even help in forest conservation by protecting the land against granite quarrying, poaching and timber smuggling.

Here's a look at some visuals of the tribe's people, culture, art and traditions.

A tiny glimpse of the people of Soliga:

Soliga people performing their traditional dance and song:

Here are Soliga children performing their arts:

Isn't it amazing to think that there are people who live with ideologies that are completely different from ours? I guess that's one thing that pushes us to travel, to explore ideas and practices that are as diverse as the colours of the rainbow.

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