Sora people

Lanjia Saura woman in traditional jewelry.jpg
Lanjia Sora woman in traditional jewelry in Rayagada district, Odisha, India.
Regions with significant populations
Andhra Pradesh139,424
Traditional folk religion (classified under Hinduism) • Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Mundas, Ho, Santhal and other Mon-Khmer people

The Sora (alternative names and spellings include Saora, Saura, Savara and Sabara) are a Munda ethnic group from eastern India. They live in southern Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The Soras mainly live in Gajapati, Rayagada and Bargarh districts of Odisha.[2] They are also present in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts. In the census, however, some Soras are classified under Shabar or Lodha, the name for another very different Munda tribe. They inhabit blocks of Gunupur, Padmapur and Gudari. Their highest concentration is found in the Puttasingi area, approximately 25 km away from Gunupur NAC. Although, they are close to the assimilation process, yet some interior GPs like Rejingtal, Sagada and Puttasingi have Soras who still retain their traditional tribal customs and traditions.

They are known by various names such as Savara, Sabara, Sora, and Soura. They are concentrated in parts of Gunupur adjoining to the blocks of Gumma, Serango of Gajapati district. The Soras speak Sora, a Munda language. However, written language in Sora is not followed by all. They practice shifting cultivation, with a few gradually taking up settled agriculture.

They are of medium or short stature. The Savara villages consist of houses with mud walls and sedge grass roofs, usually situated in foothills. The adult males dress with a gavancha and the women with saris. They are also sometimes called Lanjia Souras due to their dress pattern of wearing a loin cloth hanging from behind and which could be mistakenly identified as a tail by a stranger.

They are endogamous and the clan, although absent, is related to Birinda, which is exogamous. Families are nuclear although joint or extended families are also found. Marriages are made by bride capture, elopement, and by negotiations.

The Sora people are a dwindling jungle tribe with a distinctive shamanic culture. According to an article in Natural History, "a shaman, usually a woman, serves as an intermediary between the two worlds [of the living and the dead]. During a trance, her soul is said to climb down terrifying precipices to the underworld, leaving her body for the dead to use as their vehicle for communication. One by one the spirits speak through her mouth. Mourners crowd around the shaman, arguing vehemently with the dead, laughing at their jokes, or weeping at their accusations."[3]

  1. ^ "ST-14 Scheduled Tribe Population By Religious Community". Census of India. Ministry of Home Affairs, India. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  2. ^ Reedy, P. Adinarayana (2004). Education of Tribal Women: A Comparative Study. Anmol Publications. ISBN 81-261-1831-8.
  3. ^ Piers Vitebsky. Dialogues with the dead. Natural History Magazine, Inc. March 1997

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