Tribes of Jharkhand

Tribes of Jharkhand

Jharkhand State in India is rich in tribal population. There are 32 types of tribe inhabiting the state. The tribes in Jharkhand were originally classified on the basis of their cultural types by the world-renowned Indian anthropologist late Professor L. P. Vidyarthi (1958). His classification was as follows:

# Hunter-gatherer type -- Birhor, Korwa, Hill Kharia
# Shifting Agriculture -- Sauria Paharia
# Simple Artisans -- Mahli, Lohra, Karmali, Chik Baraik
# Settled Agriculturists -- Santhal, Munda, Oraon, Ho, Bhumij etc.


Jharkhand has a population of around 26.90 million, the sex ratio in Jharkhand is 941 females to 1000 males. The tribals population is around 28%. Jharkhand state has been a home to a variety of tribal communities since time. Jharkhand has 32 primitive tribal groups:

* Munda
* Santhal
* Oraon
* Gond
* Kol
* Kanwar
* Savar
* Asur
* Baiga
* Banjara
* Bathudi
* Bedia
* Binjhia
* Birhor
* Birjia
* Chero
* Chick-Baraik
* Gorait
* Ho
* Karmali
* Kharwar
* Khond
* Kisan
* Kora
* Korwa
* Lohra
* Mahli
* Mal-Paharia
* Parhaiya
* Sauria-Paharia
* Bhumij

Tribal festivals in Jharkand


Sarhul is celebrated during Spring (season)|spring] season and the "Saal trees" get new flowers on their branches. It is a worship of the village deity who is considered to be the protector of the tribes. People sing and dance a lot when the new flowers appear. The deities are worshipped with saal flowers. The village priest 'Pahan' keeps fasting for a couple of days. Early morning he takes bath and puts on new 'dhoti' made of virgin cotton (kachha dhaga}. At previous evening 'Pahan' takes three new earthen pots and fills them with fresh water, next morning he observes these earthen pots and water level inside. If the water level decreases he predicts that there would be famine or less rain,but if the water level is normal,that is the signal of a good rain. Before pooja starts wife of Pahan washes Pahan's feet and gets blessings from him. At "Sarna" the pooja-place Pahan offers three chickens ( young cocks) of different colors to one for the almighty god - the "Singbonga" or "Dharmesh", as the Mundas ,Ho and Oraons respectively address Him, another for the village deities and the third for the ancestors.During this pooja villagers surround the "Sarna" place.And traditional drums -Dhol,Nagara and Turhi players keep drumming and playing along with Pahan chanting prayers to deities. When pooja is finished,boys carry Pahan on their shoulders and girls dancing ahead take him to his house where his wife welcomes him by washing his feet. Then Pahan offers Saal flowers to her wife and villagers.These saal flowers represent the brotherhood and friendship among villagers and Pahan the priest, distributes saal flowers to every villager. He also puts sasl flowers on every house's roof of the village which is called "phool khonsi".At the same time 'Prasad' a rice made wine called 'Handia' is distributed among the villagers. And the whole village celebrates with singing and dancing this festival of "SARHUL". It goes on for weeks in this region of Chhotanagpur. In Kolhan region it is called "Baa Porob"-flower festival.


This festival is a worship of KARAM devta, the god of power, youth and youthfulness. Karam festivals is held on the 11th day of the phases of moon in Bhadra month. The groups of young villagers go to jungle and collect wood, fruits and flowers. These are required during the Puja of KARAM God. During this entire period people sing and dance in groups. The entire valley seems to be dancing with the drumbeats. This is one of the rare example of such a vital and vibrant youth festival in Jharkhand’s Tribal area. At the same time, the unmarried young tribal girls celebrate the Jawa festival, which has its own kind of songs and dance. This is held mainly for the expectation of good fertility and better household. The unmarried girls decorate a small basket with germinating seeds. It is believed that the worship for good germination of the grains would increase the fertility. The girls offer green melons to the Karam deity as a symbol of ‘son’ which reveals the primitive expectation of human being, i.e grains and children. The entire tribal area of Jaharkhand becomes tipsy during this time.

Tusu Parab or Makar

This festival is mostly seen in the area between Bundu, Tamardn and Raidih area of Jaharkhand. This belt has a great history during India’s independence movement. TUSU is a harvest festival held during the winter in the last day of Poush month. It is also for the unmarried girls. Girls decorate a wooden/ bamboo frame with coloured paper and then gift it to the nearby hilly river. Although there is no documented history available on this festival but it has huge collection of scintillating songs full of life and taste. These songs reflect the simplicity and innocence of tribal people.

Hal Punhya

Hal punhya is a festival which begins with the fall of winter. The first day of Magh month, known as “Akhain Jatra” or “Hal Punhya”, considered as the beginning of ploughing. The farmers, to symbolize this auspicious morning plough two and half circles of their agricultural land this day is also considered as the symbol of good fortune.

Bhagta Parab

This festival comes between the period of spring and summer. Among the tribal people of Jharkhand this festival is best known as the worship of Budha Baba. People fast during the day and carry the bathing Pahan the priest, to the tribal mandir called Sarana Mandir. The Pahan sometimes called Laya, gets out of the pond, the devotees make a chain, locking their thighs with each other and come forward to offer their bare chest to Laya for walk over. After worship in the evening, devotees take part in dynamic and vigorous Chhau dance with lots of gymnastic actions and masks. The next day is full of primitive sports of bravery. The devotees pierce hooks on skin and get tied at one end of a long horizontal wooden pole, which is hanging on the top of a vertical Shal wood pole. The height goes up to 40 feet. The other end of the pole which is connected with a rope, pulled around the pole by the people and the tied devotee display the breath-taking dance in the sky. This festivals is more popular in the Tamar region of Jharkhand.


This festival is perhaps the first festival of Jharkhand. It is a festival of sowing seeds in the field. Farmers starts sowing seeds from this day but there is no dance or song like other tribal festivals but just a few rituals. There are some other festivals like Rajsawala Ambavati and Chitgomha are also celebrated with Rohin.


Bandana is one of the most famous festivals celebrated during the black moon of month of Kartik (Kartik Aamavashya). This festival is mainly for the animals. Tribals are very close with animals and pets. In this festival, people wash, clean, paint, decorate feed well and put ornaments to their cows and bulls. The song dedicated for this festival is called Ohira which is an acknowledgement for animal’s contribution in their day-to-day life. The belief behind this festival is animals are integral part of life and have souls as human being do. The most exciting day of the bandana week is the last day. Closured Bulls and buffalos are chained to a strong pole and they are attacked with a dry animal Hyde. The angry animals hit the dry skin with its horns and the crowd enjoys. Generally the colour used for decorating animals are natural colours and the is artwork is of folk type.


This is held once every 12 years. The womenfolk wear menswear and go for hunting in forest. This is performs in remember of driving away the mohameddens by the kurukh womenfolk in Roh-tas-garh, who wanted to capture the fort on the karam festival, when men used to be in drunken condition. They had tried to capture twelve times in twelve years and every time they were driven by the kurukh women, who wore the men's wear while in the field of war.

Tribal artwork from Jharkhand

Chhou mask

Chhou is a type of dance done with colourful masks. The mask made of paper mache in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. Paper mache of Saraikela and Charinda are famous for Chhou dance. Some times it appears similar to the masks used in kerla in Kathakali.

Tribal woodwork

Jharkand is full of good quality saal forest and hence wooden artwork in the "should" of Tribals of Jharkhand. The wood is used for cooking, housing, farming, fishing etc. The tribal artists of some villages have explored their creativity in art, like beautifully decorative door panels, toys, boxes, and other household articles.

Tribal Bamboo Artwork

The bamboo found in this area are different from bamboos of Southeast Asia. There is tourist place Netarhat in jahrkhand which means a Bazaar of Bamboo. These bamboos are thin in shape and strong and flexible. The tribal people use bamboo for making baskets, hunting & fishing equipments. Specially the bamboo made fishing cage is very attractive.

Tribal Pottery

Tribal pottery is a part of tribals but still no specific working style observed.

Tribal jewellery

The tribal people particularly like jewellery. They use metallic ornaments made of gold, silver, brass, copper for their earrings, nose ring, bracelets, bangles etc.


Tribals use ornaments a lots but the spiritual concept of ornament is very different. They believe that all ornaments are human made and are mortal. Therefore they invented tattoos as permanent ornament. Majority of tribal woman have tattoos called Godna, on their bodies. However, tribal man also use Godna.They believe that Godna are the only ornament which goes with them after death also.

Tribal weapons

Bow and arrow is the symbolic weapon of the tribals of this area. Apart from this they use iron made Axes and Doulies and Ghana (Big hammer).

Tribal religion "Sarna"

The tribals have their own way of conscience, faith and belief. Basically, they believe in the super natural spirit called the ‘Singbonga’. ‘According to the belief of the Santhal community, the world is inhabited by numerous spiritual beings of different kind; and the Santhals consider themselves as living and doing everything in close association with these supernatural beings.’ They perform rituals under the Sal trees at a place called ‘Jaher’ (sacred grove). Often the ‘Jaher’ can be found in the forests. They believe in Bonga’s appearance in Sal trees and have named their religion as ‘Sarna’.

The genesis of the ‘Sarna’ religion is interesting. According to the mythology of the Santhal community, the ‘Santhal tribals had gone to the forest for hunting and they started the discussion about their ‘Creator and Savior’ while they were taking rest under a tree. They questioned themselves that who is their God? Whether the Sun, the Wind or the Cloud? Finally, they came to a conclusion that they would leave an arrow in the sky and wherever the arrow would target that will be the God’s house. They left an arrow in the sky; it fell down under a Sal tree. Then, they started worshiping the Sal tree and named their religion as ‘Sarna’ because it is derived from a Sal tree.4 Thus, Sarna religion came into existence. There are priests and an assistant priests called "Naikey" and "Kudam Naike" in every Santhal village.

Tribal metalwork

Most of the metal works are done for agricultural purpose, hunting and weapons. There are specific communities like Lohar, Malhar and Thentri have expertise in metal work.

ee also

* Tribes of Jharkhand


* [ Artilysis! Give your art a global audience.]

External links

* [ Unexplored Tribal Dance]
* [ Tribal Festival-Held once in 14 years]
* [ Tribal Picture gallery]

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