The Jarawa is one of the Negroid tribes of Andamans. The word Jarawa is derived from the Great Andamanese language which means ‘stranger’ in Aka bae language, while the Jeru band calls the Jarwa as ‘Kontoka’ which means ‘the man who shoots arrow’. The Jarawas name themselves as “Aang”. The Jarawa are the most well – known Negrito tribe of the Andamans. They were hostile till a few years back and would attack anybody intruding into their territory.
They are hunter-gatherers and still prefer to live in the dense forest and the South and the Middle Andamans. Hunting wild boar is their favorite sport. They use crude bows and arrows for the purpose. Early in the morning, able-bodied males leave the camp for hunting, only to return at dusk. The meat is consuming after boiling or roasting and is shared by the whole community. At present, they are passing through a transitional period. Some have started wearing modern garments, while others still prefer to remain bare-bodied.
The ferocious tribe, Jarawas had been fighting the neighboring Aka – bea for centuries till the British made their advent to stay in 1858. The Aka – bea, the British, the escaped Indian convicts, the Japanese, or the pirates whoever came to the belligerent Jarwa fought against them, their xenophobia ended in 1998. In the previous documents and reports, the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island were also addressed as ‘Jarawa’ who now is known as Sentineles. On 16th November 1884, Portman’s expedition anchored near to Cinque Island when they saw smoke coming out of the jungle. Three canoes of the Jarawas found there, were kept on board. Oldham, the in-charge of operation captured and brought nine of them to Port Blair and after a long stay, they were taken back and made free. Supported by the Great Andamanese there were many attempts made by the Britishers to capture the Jarawa and bring them under British influence. On some occasions Jarwa members we captured and kept under captivation for few days with suppose to befriend the Jarawas could not be achieved. The Jarawas under captivation either died of sickness or became so unhealthy that they had to be released by the ruler.
While speaking of the negritos of the Andamans as a whole, Grierson remarked that philologists have not yet succeeded in connecting them with any recognized family of speech (Grierson, 1967). Nair collected some linguistic data on this tribe when two adult male Jarawas were brought to Port Blair, for about three weeks in January 1977, according to him. The studies at the initial stage reveal that the sound system of the Jarawa language attests 13 vowel phonemes and 26 consonant phonemes.
The word system of the language attests six words classes namely noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, and particle. The Jarawas of the Middle Andaman live within the reserve forest area from Lakda Lungta to Chotalingbang Bay, stretching longitudinally over a distance of about 25 km. In South Andaman, they inhabit the reserve forest starting from the Tirur area up to Spike Island along the west coast. The Jarawas inhabit today the west portion in the population as reproductive active population of teenagers and young members. Marriage generally occurs between adolescents. A window can get married in the Jarawa community. Through the Jarawa are strictly monogamous, subsequent marriages are common. The children after six or seven years do not share the sleeping place with their parents but live with other children and move from one place to another independently till they get married. D.L Morgan in his description of an encounter with the Jarawas which took place on 26th February 1918, mentioned the Jarawa village: The village consisted of 10 huts inhabited by 20 to 30 Jarawas. Each hut was about 3 feet high and 6 feet square. The diameter of the village was about 20 yards. There was thick jungle on all sides, a small nallah running down one side. He said he had been able to destroy two communal huts, but does not specify whether there we any Jarawas inside the huts at the time of destruction.
The Jarawa tribes in Andaman & Nicobar Islands
The Jarawas call their hut or settlement as Chadda, residence of a family as Tutime chadda and residence of unmarried boys with or without widower inmates as thorkalang chadda and a maiden’s residence with or without window inmates as Thorkongo chadda. A Jarawa hut or settlement is natively called ‘Chadda’. A lean-to – type temporary hut used by a couple with unmarried children is called ‘Tutime chadda’. A semi – permanent shelter is known as Chadda de Thuma or Chadda de utthu. The hut where a widow resides is called thorkalong Chadda and maiden’s or widow’s dormitory is called Thokotongo Chadda. The roof of hut is called Wilop which is thatched with cane leaves and palm leaves. The Jarawas are still at the primitive stage of life on earth. They entirely depend upon forest and sea for food. Wild boar (Susscorfa Andamanesis) and monitor lizard (Varanus salvator andamanesis) are happily consumed but not deer (‘topiali’ in Jarawa language) and bird (‘noha’ in Jarawa languages). The deers are found in plenty in the ‘Jarawa reserve’. Various kinds of fruits and tubers to are parts of their diet. Many other forests produces which we are not aware of are used by the Jarawas in their food. Sea is the fishing ground for them and edible moluscs are also collected by them for their consumption. The skulls and shells of turtles and skulls of wild boars can be seen hanging in Jarawa Hut.
Honey and jackfruit are also very important foods of Jarawa. The Jarawas of both sexes go completely naked. However, some ornaments are worn by them but these are not in the sense to cover their nudity. A bark thick chest guard called ‘Tohe’ is used by the adult male members when they go out to hunt. The adorning articles used by the Jarawa are head band, necklace, armlets, and waist bands. The folk songs revolve around their material culture and hunting, fishing and gathering activities. After the Jarawas have been befriended by the outsiders their movement through the ATR occupying tops of running buses and through other vehicles has become a normal scenario today. Thus their use of the traditional forest route is reduced. In October 2000 a group of Jarawas consisted of about 30 members who came from the Tirur area of South Andaman and constructed a community hut on the ATR roadside near the Punnanallah area. This new habit was called “Tulichadda” by the Jarawas.
The Jarawa bow is called ‘aao’ in their language which is made of chuiood (Sageraca elliptica) while their arrow is called ‘Patho’. They insert their knives called ‘towa’ in it. ‘Towa’ is the most popular implement among the Jarawas which they use in cutting pork in pieces. It has a shape of an arrow with no-stick but has a wide breadth of 4-6 inches. During the first pregnancy, the lady and her husband do not use any apparel or ornament and do not decorate their bodies with white clay. Those who do not know exactly the history of Jarawas or do not understand the tribal life and way of their defense generally called the Jarawa ‘unfriendly people’. The history tells that before they came unfriendly toars the outsiders they came in contact with the outsiders with a friendly gesture on several – recorded. Colebrook during the first penal settlement came across some Jarawas near the present Dundas Point area and he was able to collect some Jarawa words with no skirmish. There were murders of the convicts employed in the forest and of those in the service of the Forest Department because the Jarawas did never like the feeling of forest on their motherland and such intrusion. Therefore, in 1902 Sir Richard Temple, Chief Commissioner decided to send a punitive expedition against the Jarawas. Again in 1901, another punitive expedition headed by Fawcett who was in military command was conducted by failed. Such expeditions lasted from 1901 to 1902 and onwards. But significantly nothing in favor of the Britishers was gained and not a single Jarawa was captured. The Jarwas till a few decades back were keeping themselves away from the outsiders entirely. One band of the Jarawa shown some signs of friendliness in 1968, the credit for which must be given to Shri Bakhtawar Singh, the then Superintendent of the Police, who headed the Bush Police. It all started with three Jarawa boys who entered Kadamtala of Middle Andaman. They were captured by the Bush Police and brought to Port Blair. The Jarawa members seemed to make friendly gestures and had dropped their bows and arrows on the ground. They seemed to desire more gifts. One of them even jumped into the water and swam across to the police party in their dinghy, stayed in the dinghy for a while, and then swam back to his group. Thus it became a historical event with reference to the friendly contact of Jarawa with outsiders. The gift dropping there after was continued under the supervision of Bakhtawar Singh on most of the occasions. The Jarawa till a few decades back were keeping themselves away from the outsiders entirely. The main settlement of outsiders where Jarawa incidents occurred was Herbertabad, Templemayo, Tirur, Collinpur, Manpur, Muslim Basti, Hobdaypur, Caddle Gunj, Tusnabad, Sonapahad, Ferrarjunj, Jirkatang, Alipur, Mathura, Beachdera, Miletilak, etc in South Andaman; Adajig, Lorojig, Oralkacha, Udaygarh, seetlements near Wraftess Creek in Baratang Island and Kadamtala, Phooltala, Dhaninala, Hanspuri, Chainpur, Kaushalya Nagar, Kalsi and Shantanu in Middle Andaman.
The Jarawa became unfriendly after 1901. There was the murder of the convicts working in the forest on several occasions. In February 1902 a team of Rogers, the Deputy conservator of forests, Bonig, assistant harbor master Messrs Vaux, one policeman, three convicts, and 16 Great Andamanese was sent by Sir Richard Temple, then the Chief Commissioner on a punitive expedition against the Jarawa. In this expedition in the flight, Mr. Vaux was died of an attack by Jarawa. All the British efforts to capture the Jarawa and to befriend them went in vain to a greater extent. The Jarawa raids became so daring that in 1917 a train on a tram line was held up. The Jarawa raids continued even after India received Independence and Britishers left the Islands forever.
The Jarawa and the peoples in general active around the Jarawa Reserve and collected the crime case registered with the Police in different outposts and stations. It has been revealed that out of recorded 80 cases, 49 cases of poaching under ‘7/8 PAT, Regulation 1956’ have been recorded between 1996 and 2002 and the rest cases were of Jarawa attack mostly as revenge cases it was found that in most of the cases at first, the local settlers entered into their territory for hunting. Two of the Jarawa boys swam towards the boat of the contact team and gleefully accepted the gifts. Hitherto the Jarawa of only Middle Andaman were being contacted and this was for the first time that the Jarawa of South Andaman could be brought into contact.
Therefore, in 1902 Sir Richard Temple, Chief Commissioner decided to send a punitive expedition against the Jarawas. Vaux was in – charge of the expedition and was accompanied by Rogers, the Deputy Conservator of forest and Boning, Assistant Harbour Master. Mr. Vaux was to lose his life in battle against the Jarawa. The punitive expedition of the Britishers gained nothing but a life of a Britisher. D.L Morgan was the leader of one of the punitive expeditions. His party consisted of 12 Andamanese, 16 Policemen, and 35 convicts who had an encounter with the Jaraws on 26th Feb 1981. But the expedition went fruitless. One more expedition was conducted by C.G Fields accompanied by Bines, 15 policemen, 6 Great Andamanese, and 40 convicts on 8th March 1921. This expedition also had a failure.
The Jarawas were quite unpredictable. Since the first successful contact established with the Jarawas in February 1974, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration conducted a periodical contact expedition to befriend the Jarawas and to study the which has been discontinued recently when the Jarawa themselves came into friendly contact with the outsiders. A Jarawa boy aged 14 years namely Enmay was found with his leg fractured in nallah at Attenjig Corner in Kadamtala on 15th April 1996. He was immediately taken to G. B. Pant Hospital, Port Blair. The incident of the Jarawa boy sustaining multiple fractures was not a fall – out of any scuffle with the local population but it was simply accidental. During the same period for the first time in the history of the Jarawa contact, four Jarawa boys were befriended near Bluff Bay in South Andaman. This occurred when the members of the contact team of the Administration on their way back after contracting the Jarawas at Lakra Lungta in Middle Andaman tried to contact the Jarawas in South Andaman and found these four Jarawa boys waving at them from the shore near Bluff Bay. Over here Mr. Enmay was convalescing at the G.B. Pant Hospital, Port Blair for six months. A sullen expression mingled with the joy of being re – united with his family members were emanating from the face of Enmay when he returned to this retreat in the thickets of Middle Andaman with plenty of presents given by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration.
For the first instance of its sort in the history of Andamans, the Negrito primitive tribe Jarawa came out of their native forest habitats in the open amidst the so-called civilized population. This incident happened on 21 October 1997 when 8 Jarawas (four of them were females) came out of their habit of Lakralungta. Again on 22 October, 22 Jarawas came out. In such a case, they were provided with the gift items on administrative behalf. Again in the morning, the residents of the area were taken by surprise when they saw as many as 63 Jarawas appeared at the Uttara Jetty. Over the next few months, there were several more reports of Jarawas coming out of their forests. Here the explanation is available for the Jarawa’s curious ‘coming out’. It relates to the experience of Enmay, who was injured and admitted to the G.B. Pant Hospital, Port Blair for six months. During his treatment, he was looked after well with good human services and behavior served on official behalf towards him. After the Jarawas have been befriended, largely their movements on ATR and towards the adjacent settlements have been increased. On 24th November 2000 during the day time a large number of Jarawas of Tirur and RK Nallah mad a joint raid into the South Andaman villages of Mathura, Alipur, and Tusnabad in full turmoil and looted the worthy belongings of the villagers which mainly included the utensils and iron items on arrow point.
They used broken Hindi and threatened the villagers. The AAJVS team headed by the author controlled the Jarawas and shifted them with the help of Police trucks to their native places. On Andaman Truck Roadside the Jarawa trend is highly increased to board the tops of buses and vehicles plying on ATR to move from one place to another and to contact the non-Jarawa people. There are many other Jarawa camp areas in South Andaman especially the interior parts of Tirur areas, some of which are still unvisited. The tourist saw the Jarawa increased visits are made by the tourists by private vehicles on ATR just to have a glance of the Jarawa. In such visits, they try to contact the Jarawa by way of giving gifts and taking photographs with them. The population of the Jarawa territory is increasing in their activities which are adversely affecting Jarawa life.
They are now in the addiction to tobacco and pan among the Jarawas is recently introduced mostly by the policemen, forest and APWD workers, shopkeepers, and the general public. As another noteworthy result of the contact keep the dogs with them. Unwashed cloth has recently arrived in the material culture of the Jarawa. If you want to see the Jarwa tribe if you came to Andaman & Nicobar Island and saw the tribes but you will not get to see the whole place of Jarawa tribes they as present at some places like you will get see in Baratang and here is a government hospital in South Andaman, by reading this line, you will have a feeling what you are doing in Jarawa Tribes in hospital I speak to you with a little explanation the Jarawa tribe which is in the hospital is taken care of its people and after recovering they will be going home and some people are staying in the hospital. If you go to Baratang and saw the Jarawa you can’t give some food, gifts and many more things if you give some food the police in charge will be fine with you. Jarawa people get medical treatment every 01 months, and medical checkup is with 03 doctors and 02 police inspectors are present at that time. If the doctors were able to attack, they could protect them and the doctor didn’t give any wrong medicines.
Note: The Jarawa tribe is developing slowly and is friendly.