The past history of Korku is hazy. The history of erstwhile Central Provinces & Berar has some reference. The present dwelling of Korku in Khalwa Block of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh where they are found numerously was once a part of Central Provinces & Berar. Since 320 BC many political powers reigned here. It comprised Maurya dynasty, South Satvahana rulers, Vataka and Hoysalas of Deccan, Mughals and even Khilji and Bahmani rulers prior to them. Famous Moghul emperors Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb. By 1760 the Marhattas were in supreme command till 1803 when the region went under British rule.
The history shows that in all these political upheavals Korku had no significant role.
The first census of Korku was taken in 1881 and their headcount was 1,10, 951. Their population grew steadily till late nineties when endemics and famines devastated them. The death rate shot up to 70 per thousand. Major killer was malarial fever.
1901 census recorded the decline in head count of Korkus that was1,27, 729 and much lesser than that of 1891 numbering 1,30, 615.
Twentieth century brought in more troubles. The chilling winter of 1905 claimed scores of infant lives. In 1906 the cholera broke out and in 1908 there was severe crop failures. It was the time when Korku began to settle down from their hunter-gatherer life.
During Second World War much tree was felled and Korku found employment as wood cutters and carving of trunks into convenient shapes and carting them to depots and railway stations.
This series of mayhem and their lost dependence on forest and compulsion to settle among other communities is showing its disadvantage with their food & nutrition base weakened and their language and culture facing a threat too.
Aboriginal Korku Festival
Maha Dasshera is one of the important Korku festival with with a distinct shade of aboriginal culture. Five days prior to Maha Dasshera Korku women tidy up their homes and dispose the waste outside the village. For next 5 days they do not use their traditional vessels to fill water. The festival is held on sixth day. On this day a spotless black he-goat is sacrificed. This is done at the brink of the nearby river or stream. On this day Bhumka (the tribal priest) performs his key role of preventing the village from onslaught of evil spirits. This is called Thoka in Korku tongue.He also consecrates the millet and lentils through chants and some seeds are gifted to each family. At some places the it is reported that Bhumka and Padiyar (the traditional healers) are possessed and would dance or swirl their heads and jump on wooden sandals with piques. Maha Dasshera also heralds the marriage season for Korkus. .