The Binjhwaris, also called Binjhal tribals, live in Madhya Pradesh
and West Bengal
. They are a peace-loving people with flat-face and black complexion, of good physique and wear their hair in matted locks. Binjhwari women have a fondness for wearing jewelry. Beaded necklaces are their favorite.
Hinduism has been a dominating influence in their lives. They follow a complex Hindu caste system. The Binjhwaris are divided into an endless number of social classes. Caste is determined at birth, according to the social and religious purity. The Binjhwaris practice their own ethnic religion. The supreme deity, Bindya Basini, is represented by a stone in the shape of a woman. The Binjhwaris consider her to be their protector. They worship many other gods also. Offerings of raw rice, milk, sweets, liquor, and fruit are made to these gods. The sacrifice of goat is common after the birth of the first child in the family. Ancestral worship is another common practice. Binjhwaris believe in rebirth. The children are worshipped at a festival once a year.
Most of the Binjhwaris are rural farmers. The main crop is rice (grown in flooded fields). They also grow vegetables such as tomatoes, chilies, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Weeding is usually done by women. Majority of the Binjhwaris work as hired laborers. The Binjhwaris are basically self-sufficient, living on what they raise in their gardens.
Binjhwari village consists of 20 to 50 families. Each family has a one- or two-roomed mud house with thatched roof. The tiny huts line on either side of the main street. Their living conditions are not very hygienic. Pets are allowed to roam about freely.
The village elders deal with social issues and conflicts in the village. Final decisions are made by them. Binjhwari men and women attain adulthood before they marry. They are free to choose their mates. Weddings begin on Sundays and last for several days.