Vikash Sharma

Rayagada: Known for their unique culture and art, Dongria tribals are now facing a threat from 'fake products' which are being sold by several individuals on e-commerce sites.

Terming it as ‘cultural appropriation’, Dongria Kondh leaders have filed a complaint with district administration against 40 individuals and organisations that have been selling fake Dongria sarees, shawls, shoes etc.

“Our designs are being used in shoes and other products and sold online,” alleged Dring Jakasika, Sarpanch of Kurla panchayat.

“The art is based on our culture and using the designs on shoes is certainly insulting,” said Bidulata Huika, convenor of Odisha Adibasi Manch.

In its complaint filed before Rayagada SP, the Birsa Ambedkar Sangharsh Samiti alleged that, “Several individuals and organisations are selling fake products by labelling them as ‘Dongria shoes’, ‘Dongria bags’, ‘Dongria Salwar suit’, ‘Dongria saree’, etc.”

Moreover, such organisations are also selling Kapdagonda shawl of the Dongria Kondh community at exorbitant rates.

All these products are using our tribe’s name and sacred art as a commodity which we find to be extremely insulting. Moreover, they are cheating the general public by falsely claiming these products are made by us in Niyamgiri.

The group has demanded stern action against the culprits for cultural appropriation, hurting religious sentiment and cheating public.

“We demand immediate investigation and action as per the SC ST PoA Act against the people and organisations indulging in such practices,” the Samiti demanded.

Minister ST & SC Development Jagannath Sarka informed that the department will take appropriate action in connection with the incident.

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(Edited by Ramakant Biswas)