The Dongria Kondha are indigenous Indian tribes who live in parts of the state of Orissa. They speak a Dravidian language called Kui which is written in the Oriya script. Primarily they are forest dwellers but modernisation has drastically altered their traditional way of life.
Their religion combines animism and Hinduism and they worship Niyam Raja whose seat is at the top of Niyam Dongar Hill or the 'Mountain of Law', in the Niyamgiri Hills. They practice a unique dormitory system (Daa Sala) where adolescents sleep as part of their enculturation and education process and are taught social taboos, myths, legends, stories, riddles and proverbs through all night singing and dancing. Females are inducted into the way of the sacred feminine.
They are admirers of aesthetic romanticism and their adornments are unique, with each male and female member using hair clips, ear rings neck rings, hand rings made up of brass, iron and Hyndalium prepared by themselves as well as purchased from local markets and body tattooing is practiced by both sexes.
The 'Mountain of Law' is under threat because the UK based mining company, Vedanta Resources is planning to mine the $2billion deposit of Bauxite(an aluminium ore) and the area around it.
In 2010 India's environment ministry ordered Vedanta Resources to halt a sixfold expansion of an aluminium refinery in Orissa. Vedanta has appealed against the ministerial decision, but the tribal leaders have promised to continue their struggle whatever the decision in a key hearing before India's Supreme Court earlier this year.
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