RINGA: a loin cloth of Bonda women

* Banita Behera

The remarkable scanty cloth 'Ringa' of Bonda tribe of Odisha is other wise known as 'Nadik'. The Bonda women look exceptional when they are in their traditional wear Ringa . The Bonda with very few population is one of the most primitive tribal group found in Malkangiri and  undivided Koraput districts of Odisha.The long inhabitation of this tribe make this region as Bonda country and the hillock present in this region is known as Bonda hill. The inclination towards their own culture stand them as a most primitive tribe in India . The community gained it's name from 'Bondi Mahadevi'. The clustered settlement pattern and beautiful head touching mud-plastered houses beautifully thatched with Pir grass reflect the nature loving characteristic of the Bondas.With the extraordinary culture of  age gap marriage custom, the beauty of beads together with Ringa wear the women of this  community now becoming a muses of our rich tribal culture. This wear of Bonda women is very peculiar and very distinguishable from all other tribal communities. The small piece of skirt ringa made of kerang fiber is usually used by the women of this community to cover their private parts. This cloth measures only 8-10 inch in width and 2-3 feet in length.They wear no other garments except this strip which tie around their waist in such a way as to leave the left theigh bare .The Bonda women will not  accept as bride among their society if they do not wear ringa as a bridal costume in their respective nuptial ceremony.
The word fiber and cloth are always used as a synonyms for textile. However there are differences in theses terms in specialised usage. The Bondas use the Kerang fiber to weave Ringa which they collect annually  in the  "Smegelirak"  festival.
     The incredible artistic skill of the tribal people is not only manifested in their dance and music but also in their dress and ornaments . And the combination of artistic skill and innovative ideas of Bonda being resulted in their technology of weaving .As a first step of weaving to make the fiber strong, they dip the fiber under their local flowing stream  for 2-3 days and later make them dry in sunlight. The collected fibers are creatively colored by the different vegetable and natural dyes,mostly like black, blue, red, yellow , green, orange and left them dry in sunlight again. For the longitivity and prominence of colour the dried fibers again polished by them and prepare to start weaving with their small indigenious looms consists of four vertical and two horizontal wood.
    Now-a-days use of soap and ditergent is common in almost all house holds to clean their clothes. But the cleaning procedure of  Bonda women is somehow different  by using ash and warm water as a cleaning raw materials. They put  the wet clothes in outside and dry in cool sunlight. For preservation they keep that inside the cavity of the bamboo body or hangs on bamboo pole hanged in the sleeping room. And sometimes they also keep the washed Ringas which are used in ceremonial occasions in bamboo baskets .The Bonda women  with head band made of grass, garlands of coins on body and colourfull beads with skimpy thick durable skirt Ringa look majestic. The Ringa which they firstly use in 'chait parb'according to the myth that some how related to the great Indian epic Ramayana, "during the exile period of Lord Ram , Sita and Laxman, Sita used to take her bath in Sita kund . One day, during the moment when Sita was taking her bath, some Bonda women who were passing by saw her in naked body with shaven head and laughed at her. Being embraced, Sita cursed the Bonda ladies to remain physically least adorned with a single piece of clothe and shaven headed so that in future people would laugh at them. It is that curse Sita had announced, the Bonda women are still maintaining this traditional look of nakedness. According to the social custom male person can not entered in the loom room where the Ringa is being prepared. The small girls after 5 years  use ringa to cover their private parts. Among all the characteristics of adornment pattern of the Bonda which make them  unique from the modern society and giving them a special position now becoming a great market value in this modern era. The impact of western culture becoming a threat for the culture of  Bonda which encouraging them to refrain from wearing of Ringa now.

Bonda lady weaving Ringa

Beauty of beads showing weaving technique of  Ringa
A Bonda lady in her traditional attire
photo courtesy:IGRMS

A Bonda lady weaving ringa
photo courtesy: IGRMS

posing in glory of  getting a new baby
photo courtesy:IGRMS

* based on the research work of the Author.


Sarabjeet Singh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jitesh said...

Really an interesting and informative article.
Appreciate the author's efforts.
good job done.
Awaiting more from the author.
Carry on the good work.
All the best.

Sarabjeet Singh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cj said...

Great collection n great job...

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.

Kakaru Koireng said...

This is an informative blog. Keep updating us more.

Anonymous said...

Hi Banita,
Thanks for posting this wonderful informative article with pictures.
What is the latin/botanical name of the plant-Kerang from which the fibre is extracted? Also can you give more details about the process of harvesting the fibre and method of dyeing as well as the science of dyeing?