About Toto Para

Traditional House at Toto ParaTotopara is a small village in the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, India.

This village is home to the unique Toto tribe that is one of a kind in the world. The village is about 22 km from Madarihat, which is the entry point of the famous Jaldapara National Park, Toto-para name comes from the Toto tribes.

It is bounded by the foothills of Bhutan to the north, Torsa River to the east, and Titi river and the Titi reserve forest on the south-west separated by the Hauri river.

There is a single lane motorable road leading to this village from the National Highway 31 through Hantapara. The area of the village is about 8.08 km².

Totos were nearly becoming extinct in the 1950s, but recent measures to safeguard their areas from being swamped with outsiders have helped preserve their unique heritage and also helped the population grow. The total population In 1991 census, the Toto population had increased to 926 who lived in 180 different houses. In the 2001 census, their number had increased to 1184 - all living in Totopara.

As to the past history of the Totos writes Sailen Debnath, "The Totos are the descendants, most probably, of some fugitive tribe of Bhutan to have been driven out from the mountains by the early Bhutanese-cum-Tibetatans from the period of Sabdrung Nagwang Namgyal. They might have fled that country to take shelter in a cluster in the jungles of the Dooars. The physical appearance and skin colour of the Totos do not anyway confirm their Mongoloid origin. From this it can be surmised that the Totos might have been the offspring of some people of Indian origin to have settled in Bhutan and then driven out from that country to the plains of the sub-Himalayan zone of the Dooars. Or the Totos might have some blood mixture with the fugitive slaves of Bhutan whose forefathers had been dragged away to Bhutan from the plains and enslaved

Ishpa - He is supposed to live in the Bhutan hills, and causes sickness when displeased. The Totos offer him animal sacrifices and Eu. Cheima - She keeps the village and its people safe from troubles and sicknesses. She is also offered rice, fowls and Eu.

The Totos have no priests and offer their worship and sacrifices on their own. Ishpa is worshipped in the open outside the house and Cheima inside the house.

Totos cultivate land. The Totos are not active farmers and hence do not cultivate a particular crop to a great extent. In these gardens they grow vegetables, potatoes and bananas, among others. Sometimes they trade with traders from the outside the village. Some Totos raise cows and pigs as an occupation.

At different stages of history, the Toto tribe has been moving away from a subsistence economy to market economy. Further, the transformations of the village from community ownership of land to individual land holding and from isolated tribal group to a multi-ethnic habitat have also taken place in the recent past.