Instead of collecting them from jungles in the Adilabad district of Telangana, Adivasis these days are purchasing the peacock feathers from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan and Chattisgarh states thanks to the fast depleting forests.
Adivasis use peacock feathers to make hats that are worn by Gussadis( Adivasis) to perform the Gussadi dance as part of Dandari, celebrated for 15 days coinciding with Diwali.
In the Adilabad district, forest cover has come down to 20 percent from the 44 percent in the last 50 years due to various reasons including indiscriminate felling of trees, wood smuggling and penetration of non- tribals into tribal areas and expansion of small towns in the agency areas in the district.
In the process, peacocks’population has also come down due to deforestation. Adivasis who used to collect peacock feathers from jungles these days purchases them at high prices.
A single peacock feather sell for Rs 5 while a bundle for 100 comes for Rs 300. During Diwali, thanks to the demand, each feather sometimes sells for Rs 20. comprising 100 peacock feathers sell for Rs 300 and each Rs 5.
Peacock feathers are also being collected from Zoos and peacock farms in other states. There are 10 shops in Jainoor selling peacock feathers and each shop will sell hundreds of bundles during the Diwali festival season.
Adivasis use to collect peacock feathers in the forests along with minor forest produce and some of the cattle grazers would also collect the feathers when they went to forest daily.
Abdul Khadir of Jainoor, owner of kirana shop that also stocks peacock feathers, said Adivasis were purchasing peacock feathers from their shops these days as finding them in jungles has become difficult due to drastic fall in the forest cover.
He added that that they have been selling peacock feathers during Diwali for the last 20 years. While earlier only a few bundles would be sold, now he sells hundreds of bundles. Khadir said they purchase peacock feathers in bulk from Rajastan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Gujarat.
Adivasi leader Kanaka Yadavrao appealed to the panchayat raj minister K. Taraka Ramarao at Jodeghat to ensure state funds to Gussadis to celebrate the event on the occasion of Diwali.