Worshipping Waghoba: Faith meets conservation in Maharashtra where humans and leopards share space

The Warli tribe, an indigenous community that lives in northwest Maharashtra, believes that the cat-god Waghoba will protect them from the negative impacts of sharing spaces with leopards.

“Powerbaaz”. “Main boss”. No, these descriptions don’t refer to any power-hungry politician or underworld don. It’s how the indigenous Warli people of Maharashtra see their animal god, the Waghoba. The Waghoba is a cat-deity, usually depicted as a leopard or tiger. For the Warlis, their Waghoba is an all-encompassing, powerful force: the god who helps them live with large cats, for they must often share space with leopards in northwest Maharashtra – the foothills of the Western Ghats – where they live. The institution of the Waghoba, and people’s faith in the deity, is extremely widespread here, found a recent preliminary study.

This article has been authored by Aathira Perinchery and has been republished from Mongabay.


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