Members of the Hakki Pikki tribal community from Karnataka are stuck in violence-hit Sudan and the government is making efforts to bring them back.
About Hakki Pikki Tribe
- Hakki in Kannada means ‘bird’ and Pikki means ‘catchers’, they are a semi-nomadic tribe, traditionally of bird catchers and hunters.
- They live in several states in west and south India, especially near forest areas.
- According to the 2011 census, the Hakki Pikki population in Karnataka is 11,892.
- They are believed to hail originally from the bordering districts of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- In different regions, they are known by different names, such as Mel-Shikari in northern Karnataka and Maharashtra.
- They are divided into four clans, called Gujaratia, Panwar, Kaliwala and Mewaras.
- These clans can be equated with castes in the traditional Hindu society.
- In the olden days, there was a hierarchy among the clans, with the Gujaratia at the top and the Mewaras at the bottom.
- Hakki Pikkis in Karnataka follow Hindu traditions and celebrate all Hindu festivals. They are non-vegetarians. The eldest son in a family is not supposed to cut his hair so that he can be identified easily.
- The tribe prefers cross-cousin marriages and the usual age of marriage is 18 for women and 22 for men. The society is matriarchal, where the groom gives dowry to the bride’s family.
Reasons for Migration
- Traditionally, Hakki Pikkis lived in forest areas, leading a nomadic life for nine months a year and coming back to their permanent camps for three.
- But as the wildlife protection laws became stricter, the Hakki Pikkis in Karnataka started selling spices, herbal oils, and plastic flowers in local temple fairs.
- Hakki Pikkis in Tamil Nadu travelled to Singapore, Thailand and other places about 20-25 years ago to sell some marbles, in the process discovering there was a huge demand for Ayurvedic products in the African continent.
- They started selling their products in Africa, and Karnataka Hakki Pikkis followed them.