Who is Pardhi ?
Pardhi is a tribe in India. The tribe is found mostly in Maharashtra and parts of Madhya Pradesh however small numbers can be found in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The word Pardhi is derived from the Marathi (state language) word ‘Paradh’ which means hunting and Sanskrit word ‘papardhi’ which means hunting or the game to be hunted. In some parts of India Pardhis are known as Meywarees.
Pardhi tribe is divided in groups like Vaghri Pardhi and Phase Pardhi. These are further divided into subgroups like Pal Pardhi, Gav Pardhi, Takankar, Takari. Widely found surnames among them include Chauhan (Chavan), Rathod, Bhosle etc. They intermixed with Gujarati community and started speaking their language and also started worshipping Khodiyar Mata as their Kuldevi.
About Pardhi Development Program
Yavatmal District has significant population of Tribal Pardhi community spread over 53 hamlets locally known as ‘Bedas’. Pardhi Bedas are located in Ralegaon, Ghatanji, Darva, Yavatmal, Kalamb, Ner and Bhabulgaon etc. blocks. Deendayal Bahuuddeshiya Prasarak Mandal (DBPM) has been working in the district since year 1997, for upliftment of Paradhi tribe which is economically and socially most backward. The community is branded as a criminal community and has been a persecuted one. Hunting of wild animals was the major livelihood activity of the community. Stricter forest laws and their high handed implementation deprived the community of its livelihood. In the absence of the livelihood, many of the community turned to petty crime.
Deendayal Bahuudeeshiya Prasarak Mandal, Yavatmal (DBPM) focused its attention to them and started visiting the Bedas. These hamlets are at a distance from other village. Pardhis do not socially mix with other communities as they do not trust them. Pardhis have their own traditions and beliefs a few of which do not match with main stream society. Bringing them to mainstream society required change in their outlook of the society as also change in outlook of mainstream society towards Pardhis. DBPM thought that this could be done through modern education.
To build trust for other communities, DBPM volunteers frequently visited the Pardhi habitations, participated in their cultural activities and helped them in difficulties faced by them with Govt. agencies, etc. DBPM concluded that in the process of their upliftment, the children education should be accorded top priority. While encouraging them for sending children to schools a need for hostel facility at a place having better schools was felt.