Paroja woman, Orissa, India
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The Paroja is a small tribe primarily residing in Koraput and Kalahandi Districts of Orissa (Eastern India). The Paroja appear to be related to the Gond and have many features in common with neighboring tribes such as the Khond and the Gadaba. The Paroja speak a Dravidian language called Parji.
The Paroja are broadly divided into two sections, the Bada Paroja and the Sana Paroja. The major distinction is that the Bada Paroja follows the Hindu tradition of not eating beef and buffalo meat and observe elaborate purification rituals. The Sana Paroja do not follow this tradition and eat both these animals. The Paroja have exogamous totemic clans. All members of the clans believe in their common mythological origin and therefore marriage between members of the same clans is prohibited. The family is the smallest social unit in Paroja society and is patrilineal and patriarchal. The Paroja village is an organized socio-political system, which functions as an independent autonomous unit. This unit has its own set of functionaries who are in charge of internal and external village affairs.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Parojas economy. Although traditionally they relied on shift cultivation, today the Parojas depend on wet cultivation. Their economy is also supplemented by forest produce, wage earning, and animal husbandry. The Paroja follow a polytheistic religion as well as worship their ancestors.