Is it Noah or Adam ? Two creation myths of the Kondh people

During the course of storytelling with Yudhishtir Saraka of Kachapaju, he told us two creation or evolution myths popular among Kondh adivasi villages. One story is of a Kui Noah’s Ark and one story is about the Kui Adam and Eve. Which is their actual story ? Readers can decide !

‘One kutra (barking deer) told the Kondh adivasi hunters of doom’s day. He told them to build a boat with many compartments, one compartment for every pair of animals. Thus seven Kondh families along with one pair of every species of animals boarded the boat before the doom’s day. There was water everywhere and the whole world was submerged in the floodwaters. When the water receded, they came out of the boat and wanted to show gratitude to God who appeared before them in the form of the kutra by offering one pigeon and one sheep. They sacrificed the sheep and pigeon on a stone. That stone is called Jhankeri and is installed in the middle of every Kondh village and worshipped as the gram devi or village deity who keeps all the families safe from every danger. Every year the Kondh adivasis put all their seeds before the Jhankeri and the village priest, called jhankar, sacrifices a rooster and offers it in worship to the Jhankeri. After that he blesses all the seeds on behalf of the Jhankeri and asks everyone to take back their seeds for the coming harvest season. This is called the bihan parab or the seed festival. Similarly, the Jhankeri is also offered the paddy from the first harvest during the nuakhai parab or new food festival. During the gaja parab or sowing festival, seven buffaloes are sacrificed and given in worship to the Jhankeri so that she blesses their fields during sowing time with good rains.’  

‘At first the whole world was submerged under water. God made the water recede and dried the land. Grass began to grow and then God created flowers, animals and forests. First God made the trees and plants, then he made the birds and after that the tiger, lion, goat and all other animals. Then God decided to make wise animals like him. So he created a man out of mud and earth. The man was alone and used to sit idle and began to feel lonely. So, God made a woman. Then he made fruit orchards and instructed the man and woman to live in the orchards as there were abundant fruits to eat. But God forbade them to eat any of the narangi or orange fruits. But the woman asked the man to bring the narangi fruit for her to see why God asked them not to eat that fruit. When the man brought the narangi fruit for her, she liked the colour and smell of the fruit so much that she ate it and made the man eat it too. Thus, they committed the first sin by eating narangi fruit which was forbidden by God. And they both became sinners. There were no thorns before but after the first sin was committed, trees with thorns came into existence. God cursed them that they would not be able to see God. The man and woman then gave birth to children who grew and populated the earth and thus evolved the human society.’ Yudhishtir Saraka however laments that neither of these two creation myths are popular among the younger generation of Kondh children. And that is why now there is generation gap between Kondh people. The new generation does not like their history, culture or language. They are not interested in practicing and carrying forward their customs, tradition and knowledge systems. But people f his generation really cherish everything about the Kondh people and want to strive to preserve and carry forward these stories, songs, dances, music, etc that reflect the Kui cultures. But they do not know how they can take up this. Yudhishtir also shared that he knows a lot of such stories but there is no place or time where he can share these stories with the younger generation because they never have time to talk to their elders or sit with them. This he feels is the biggest crisis facing the Kondh people.

Profile of the Village : 85 households, all Saraka Kondh clan people with 4 Dalit families
Village Details : Kachapaju, Dukum Panchayat, Bissamkatak Block, Rayagada District

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