Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Bihan Mela of Kondh Tribals


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bihan Mela

Mains level: Not Much

bihan mela

Central idea: Since 2019, the Kondh tribe in Nayagarh district, Odisha has been celebrating the Bihan Mela, or the seed festival, to promote the revival of indigenous farming.

Bihan Mela

  • This event involves the collection and preservation of indigenous seeds, and farmers from 40 villages in Dasapalla block participate in the festival.
  • After harvesting kharif crops, women collect the seeds of indigenous varieties and store them in earthen pots.
  • On a designated day in December, they decorate the pots with red and white motifs, place them in a bamboo basket and carry them on their heads to the village where the fair is being organized.
  • Men accompany them, beating drums and other traditional instruments.


  • The seed festival was introduced to help farmers return to their traditional ways of farming, like mixed-cropping, which is more resilient to erratic rainfall and pest attacks.
  • In recent years, farmers have abandoned native crops and varieties that are naturally resistant to pests and better suited to the region’s climate.

Commercialization through this festival: Seed Bank

  • To facilitate access to indigenous seeds, Nirman, a non-profit that works with the tribe on forest rights and agro-ecological farming, set up a seed bank in Raisar village in 2019.
  • The bank collects and preserves indigenous seeds from across Kondh villages and lends those out to farmers.
  • The bank now boasts of 62 varieties of paddy, four varieties of millets, five varieties of pulses, and eight vegetables.
  • The bank is open to all Kondh farmers and has benefitted 750 families so far.

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