e-Course; Capsule No- 479: Thoti tribe:

Thoti tribe is one among the Scheduled Tribe (ST) of India. It falls, under the bracket of minor tribe, among many other minor tribes in India. Very little is documented about Thoti tribe. It was way back in 1956, based on President’s order , which was modified by the Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960, it was identified that Thoti tribe inhabit five districts of Marathwada division of Maharhastra, spanning up to Rajura Tahsil in Chandrapur district. The tribe is also today found in other states i.e., erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, now the regions where the tribe inhabit fall in newly formed state Telangana.

The Thotis are found in Adilabad, Warangal, Nizamabad and Karimnagar district. All the above districts share border with the neighbouring state Maharhastra. The population of the tribe was 3,654 in 1991, but by 2001, their population came down to 2,074. These are similar to those of the Gond tribes. Gondi is their mother tongue. Thoti tribe live in separate hamlets of the main village, which are also inhabited by the Gonds, Marathas or Kurbis. Thotis live in small huts consisting of a room with a door and one or two small holes at the back, which serve as windows.

The tribe erects their huts on stone plinths or on earthen mounds. The walls of the huts are made of wooden ribs of bamboo matting, plastered with mud and cow dung. Thotis traditional dress comprises of a bandi (shirt) and a dhoti. Elderly men of the tribe wear pheta (head turban). Women wear choli (blouse) and a sari (lugada). Both men and women adorn themselves with ornaments. The family structure of the tribe includes both a nuclear and as well a joint family.

The Thotis have their own traditional panchayat known as “Karbharis” and the post is hereditary. The elderly villagers, too play a role in traditional panchayat and assist the man in judging social and religious disputes, unlike most the tribes, the Thotis also excommunicate their culprits. The traditional livelihoods of Thoti tribe were earlier wandering musicians, and later they took to work as bamboo workers and were engaged in making bamboo mats i.e., thattis; therefore, they came to be known or referred to as Thotis. Majority, of the Thoti tribe, continue to follow their traditional livelihoods by making bamboo articles, play musical instruments at weddings and other occasions, sell few musical instruments in nearby towns and villages.

The tribe today, for survival have taken to various other livelihood activities and they work as agriculture labour in others fields and also in MGNREGA. The tribe is a minor tribe, and with their dwindling population efforts must be laid to build cultural and ecological resources, which are possessed by the group. As the tribe, still continue with traditional occupation of making bamboo products, they should be financially supported in making basketry, cane furniture and other artefacts business, which can be marketed and help them sustain their livelihoods, in the changing face of livelihoods. It is important; to make a note that understanding tribals lives and their lifestyles is very important, prior to making any intervention for their developmen