Why in news? More than 181 members of the Hakki Pikki tribal community from Karnataka are stuck in violence-hit Sudan, even as the government is making efforts to bring them back.
Who are the Hakki Pikki?
- The Hakki Pikki is a tribe that lives in several states in west and south India, especially near forest areas.
- Hakki Pikkis (Hakki in Kannada means ‘bird’ and Pikki means ‘catchers’) are a semi-nomadic tribe, traditionally of bird catchers and hunters.
- According to the 2011 census, the Hakki Pikki population in Karnataka is 11,892, and they live majorly in Davangere, Mysuru, Kolar, Hassan and Shivmogga districts.
- In different regions, they are known by different names, such as Mel-Shikari in northern Karnataka and Maharashtra.
- The Hakki Pikki move in groups from place to place in search of livelihood. They are divided into four clans, called Gujaratia, Panwar, Kaliwala and Mewaras. These clans can be equated with castes in the traditional Hindu society. In the olden days, there was a hierarchy among the clans, with the Gujaratia at the top and the Mewaras at the bottom. The forest is the main natural resource of the Hakki Pikki.”
Where do they live?
- Hakki Pikki people are believed to hail originally from the bordering districts of Gujarat and Rajasthan. they came to the south in search of game. “To Karnataka, they seem to have arrived via Andhra Pradesh, as they still remember a place called Jalapally near Hyderabad as their ancestral home, where their forefathers lived for a considerable period. They are now spread across south India.
What were their traditional jobs, and what do they do now?
- Locals in Pakshirajapura, a Hakki Pikki village in Mysuru district earlier, men of the tribe would hunt while women begged in villages. But as the wildlife protection laws became stricter, the Hakki Pikkis in Karnataka started selling spices, herbal oils, and plastic flowers in local temple fairs.
What are their rituals and customs?
- Hakki Pikkis in Karnataka follow Hindu traditions and celebrate all Hindu festivals. They are non-vegetarians. The eldest son in a family is not supposed to cut his hair so that he can be identified easily.
- The tribe prefers cross-cousin marriages. According to locals, the usual age of marriage is 18 for women and 22 for men. The society is matriarchal, where the groom gives dowry to the bride’s family. Monogamy is the norm.