Dhabalu Sisa and his wife Samari, a Bonda tribal couple from Odisha's Malkangiri district, have rarely stepped out of their environs and have been cut off from the mainstream.
However, rather unexpectedly, they have received an invitation to meet PM Narendra Modi at the Republic Day function this year.
The Bondas are members of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
Dhabalu and Samari reside in Bandiguda village under Mudulipada gram panchayat of Malkangiri district. The couple might well be the first from the community to go to Delhi and shake hands with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Meeting the President and Prime Minister is something we could not have imagined in life. We will use this opportunity to highlight our problems and how the tribe suffer due to the vagaries of nature," said an elated Dhabalu.
He is younger than his wife Samari as Bonda community has the tradition of girls marrying boys less than their age.
“We will meet the President and the Prime Minister. We will apprise them of the problems plaguing the Bonda Ghats – the habitat of Bonda tribes. We will tell them about the lack of connectivity and infrastructure for our area,” said a visibly excited Samari.
The couple has already started preparation for their traditional dress to suit the Republic Day celebration.
Not just the Sisa couple, the whole village is ecstatic about the rare honour coming their way. They have been celebrating the invitation for one of their own, with non-stop dance and music since the time they first heard about it.
Myth has it that the Bondas, who recently learnt use of clothes, believed that they were cursed by Goddess Sita, as they laughed at her while she was bathing in a kunda (pond) which is named as Sita Kunda at Bonda Hill. Since then, they have remained naked or semi-nude.