Traditionally, these people have lived off the bamboo forests. They have been known to make bamboo baskets for generations and when someone dies, it is their community that is responsible for building the bamboo based products required for the funeral celebrations. They are the Medar community and live in Dandeli in North West Karnataka.
Today, most of them have received education and have jobs like normal people, but there are still many in the community who live off the money they make by using their bamboo crafts. I met such a family during my visit to Dandeli recently. Last year (2013), the Bamboo plant flowered (they flower once every 60 years and then die) and hence all the existing bamboo trees have died and it will take some years before fresh set of bamboo trees come to the forests again.
This lack of bamboo has affected these Bamboo craft people, but they have somehow managed to eke out a living for themselves with this small source of Bamboo. It is very nice to see local artisans still involved in building hand crafted products. If you are ever headed towards Dandeli, I would recommend meeting and interacting with the Medar community people to understand their unique culture.
Courtesy: I met this tribe while on a trip to Dandeli, which was arranged by www.dandeli.com.