Whooeaism: A Concept of Origin of Religion among the Jarawas of Andaman Islands, India
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Whooeaism: A Concept of Origin of Religion among the Jarawas of Andaman Islands, India

Authors: Awdhesh Narayan Sharma


The concept and practice of whooeaism exist among the Jarawas of Andaman Islands of India. The Jarawas are one of the simplest populations of the world and truly represent the hunting and food gathering stage. The study is conducted among the Jarawas of Kadamtala region, which is situated approximately in the western part of the south and middle Andaman Islands, India. The Jarawa tribe belongs to Negrito race and is one of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups of the Andaman Islands. The present study is based on 45 Jarawas of Kadamtala region. The observations have been conducted through the semi-participant observation method and informal interview method. It has been observed that there are neither any beliefs and practices related to supernatural power nor any concept related to the soul, manaism, demonology, totemism, animatism etc. They only have faith on Whooea, i.e., a small bone of their deceased ancestors and they wear it by the help of a bark band around the neck and shoulder or around the waist, especially during hunting or fishing and food gathering time. The Jarawas either keep the whooea in higher places or hang it and they make sure that it must not touch the earth. The beliefs and practices related to whooea may be designated as Whooeaism. It may be concluded that in of spite of various existing theories related to the origin of religion viz. Animism, Animatism, Manaism and totemism and others, the origin of religion initially developed from the Whooeaism and then other concepts of religion evolved gradually by the manifestation of human beliefs and assumptions.

Keywords: Andaman Islands, Jarawas, origin, religion, Whooea.

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