There are 75 tribal communities in India. The Kondhs are a predominant tribal community with the largest population in Orissa. The Dongria Kondhs, like most other tribal communities of India, are animists, who predominantly believe in the worship of nature, deities and spirits.
Dharani Penu (Earth Goddess) is the supreme Goddess of the tribal community. According to them, worshiping her increases their crop produce and protects them from evils. The idol is represented by three elevated stones horizontally placed and is found in front yard of the Dongria Kondhs. She is worshiped during the Bihan festival (Bihan Laka) and the Meria Festival (Meria Laka).
Niyam Raja is the male deity of the Dongria Kondhs. He is represented by a sword which is worshipped during Dasahara (a major Hindu festival) and the Jura Parab festivals. The Dongria Kondhs believe that worshiping Niyam Raja protects them from accidents and unnatural deaths. The sword representing Niyam Raja used to be worshiped in the temple of Goddess Durga (also a widely worshipped Hindu deity) at Bissamcuttack during the Jura Parab. This festival has now become obsolete. Niyam Raja is now worshipped primarily in the villages and does not have a permanent abode.
Apart from the Dharani Penu and Niyam Raja, other Gods worshiped by the Dongria Kondhs include Kotebali, Jatrakudi Penu, Bima Penu, Lahi Penu, Takrani Penu, Lada Penu, and Hira Penu. Each of these gods has a special significance and is worshiped for a particular cause. The major festivals celebrated by the Dongria Kondhs include Ghanta Parab, Salangi Puja, Mandia Rani, Nuakhai, Pidika, Punapadi, Dongar Puja, Meria festival and others.