'Aa to badha rakhadta loko chhe' (these are wandering people) is the statement that is very casually used with reference to NT and DNTs. But is there an awareness of the fact that the wandering or roving by these communities has a definite purpose, method and pattern to it? And that the method and patterns could actually be quite a few years, decades or even centuries old?
For centuries now, various communities under the NT and DNTs have been leading a wandering life. In the earlier times, when transportation facilities were scarce, electronic modes of entertainment had not even come into existence and the bazaars or market places were few and far between, the specialized skills of NT and DNTs provided the society with the all; important goods, services and entertainment. Their skills and crafts were revered; services were considered unmatched and they were adored for the entertainment they provided in those bygone days. Those were the days when the outskirts of every village would remain continuously dotted with the movements and encampments by the caravans of these tribes.
It is often said that their life stops if their wandering stops. The purpose behind their wandering is earning their livelihood, and for this reason these tribes follow a specific route and annual traveling patterns. They are on a constant move during the summer and winter months, whereas remain stationed during the monsoon months. The monsoon settlement of each of the tribe and its families remains constant for decades. The tribes start developing a sense of belonging to the place where they keep coming over and over again to spend the monsoon it grows to become their "native". Eventually these monsoon settlements become their hometowns. They are identified within their own and other NT and DNT communities through these regions. Such settlements are generally at a distance of 2-3 kilometers from residential areas of a village but are part of the village geography. Each of these settlements has different types of communities staying within, each following its own migration and movement pattern.
Ironically, the NT-DNTs start identifying themselves with their monsoon settlement but the villagers are not generally willing to allow them stay in their village on permanent basis thus, again triggering a need for the NT-DNTs to keep wandering. Their wandering patterns keep evolving and changing with times. While the social and cultural factors compel their wandering, the economic challenge i.e. the near collapse of their traditional livelihood options has triggered the need amongst these communities to settle down at one place.