5 Major Tribes of Uttarakhand

Jaunsari Women/Image Credit: Jaunsar Tourism
There are five major tribes identified by the Government of India in Uttarakhand. These are Jaunsari, Tharu, Raji, Buksa and Bhotia. According to the 2011 Population Census, the tribal population of Uttarakhand stands at 291903 with Tharu being the largest tribe followed by Jaunsari and Buksa.

The total male tribal population of 148669 and female tribal population of 143234 and their male to female ratio stands at 963, which is better than the national average of 933. In terms of male to female ratio Bhotia (1040) and Tharu (991) seems outlier whereas Raji (885) and Jaunsari (921) are the worst.

In terms of literacy, their literacy rate stands at 73.9 matching the national average and better than other tribal population. Bhotias (86.5) and Tharu (76.2) are again outliers in terms of literacy rates and Buksa are worst performer with literacy rate of only 64.2.

5 Major Tribes of Uttarakhand

Jaunsaris is the second largest group of the Uttarakhand with the total population of 88664. They are spread over 365 villages in Terai-Bhabar region of the state. This region is also known as Jaunsar-Bawar. They speak Jaunsari, a dialect of Western Pahari language. Interestingly, Jaunsari people are known for polyandry practice. Though not in popular practice, but in remote villages of Jaunsar-Bawar, one can polyandrous family, a women having more than one husbands. As they believe they are the direct descendents of Pandavas.

Tharu is the largest tribal group of the state with the total population of 91342. They are concentrated in the Eastern region of Terai and trace their ancestory to Tibet. Outside Uttarakhand, they are spread in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Nepal. Tharus are matrichal and live in large joint families. Their language is known as Tharu language. However, Tharu is slowly disappering in India, replaced by Hindi and its local dialects.

Buksa, also known as Bhoksa, are concentrated in the Kumaon division with a main population living in Nainital district along the strip of Ramnagar to Dineshpur with some population in Pauri Garhwal. Their total population stands at 54037. They speak Buksa, a dialect of Western Pahari language.

Bhotiya are concentrated in the Kumaon and Garhwal region of the state. Their population include Shaukas of Kumaon; and Tolchhas and Marchhas of Garhwal. They trace their roots back to Tibet. Majority of them follow Hinduism with a small percentage following Buddhism. They are the most advanced tribal society in terms of all human development parameters is the state. They boast the sex ratio of 1040 along with literacy rate of 86.5. However, in last decade, they have started showing some worrisome trends. Their male to female child sex ratio stands at only 891 which is not lower than average tribal child sex ratio but national ratio. One can attribute this to their shift from Buddhist to Brahmanic Hinduism, prevalent in that region.

Raji is a small tribal group with total population of 690 and concentrated around Ascot in southern Pithoragarh. The Rajis are also known as Vanrawats or Ban Rajis. They are known for their matriarchal culture with a woman as the head of their society. They speak Rawat, a Sino-Tibetan language.

1. Ministry of Tribal Affairs
2. Quora