SOCIETY OF TRIBAL WOMEN FOR DEVELOPMENT

Who Are Tribal

1. Major Tribal groups for we work:
Oraon:

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These Oraon tribes converse with each other in Kurukh and Sadri a popular language belonging to the family. Due to their amiable nature, these Oraon tribes live in close association with their adjoining tribes like Munda and Kharia. Social Activities: What these selected illustrations show is the scale of interaction that prevails between the community and its environment. Whereas the community's dependence on nature is overwhelming, it is far from being passive. The community acts on nature and transforms it into forms that are of use to it. However, the use of environmental resources is limited to the extent necessary for the community. It is this which leads to harmony between community and environment. Such harmony is, however, possible because of the overriding social values that guide Oraon society. These are the values of equality in society, collectivity in economy, accommodation in history, ethical living in philosophy, folkism in literature and group participation in art and music. On account of these, the attitude the Oraons have towards nature is one of rational adaptation and not of mastery over the world.
2.House:The construction of houses, household items and other artifacts too show a linkage with the environment. Chotanagpur is a land of forests. Many products are obtained from the forest. Some of these are major products and others are minor ones. The Oraon house is usually made of mud walls and tile roofs. All the same, house construction requires the use of timber and bamboo. Forest Produce: It is for minor products that we find greater concern among the Oroans. The Oraon household includes such items as mats, cots, wooden stools, baskets, cups, plates, cushions, rope, mortar and pestle and oil presses. All of these are made from forest products. Hunting implements such as bows and arrows, slings, spears and swords are made from forest products. Similarly, fishing tools such as baskets and traps of various kinds are made of bamboo. Fishing nets are made of twine. Umbrellas are made with the handle and ribs of bamboo covered with gungu leaves. Even the hooded waterproof coat is made of the gungu leaves.
3. Medicine: Knowledge of the treatment of diseases is another sphere where we find a close relation between the Oraon community and its environment. Treatment of diseases is invariably based on the use of medicinal herbs found in the region. There are about 34 kinds of disease which are treated with such medicines. These include pain (headache, toothache, stomachache, eye pain, ear pain, migraine), fever (high, ordinary, malaria), wounds, constipation, diarrhoea, dysentery, epilepsy, rheumatism, insomnia, tetanus, eczema, etc. These are treated with medicines based on leaves, roots, the bark of trees, and with plants which grow wild in the jungle. Some of them are grown in their fields by the people themselves.
4.Customs: The major customs among the Oraons, as with any other community, are connected with birth, marriage and death. The linkage of customs with the ecology is best reflected in customs connected with marriage and death. There are many customs preceding marriage with which the environment is very closely connected. There is the custom of men going to the forest to fetch firewood and women to fetch sal leaves for preparing cups and plates. The preparation of the marriage mat and marriage baskets of various sizes are other customs. Setting up a marwa is, however, the most significant. Nine sal saplings with leaves on top are planted in the courtyard in three rows. The middle one of the second row differs in its height. Also planted are branches of bamboo, sidha, bhelwa, mango and mahua. The mango suggests perpetuity of descendants, the bamboo symbolises progeny, the sidha fidelity of husband and wife, the bhelwa protection from the evil eye and the mahua, love between the couple. The marriage ritual would be incomplete without this invocation of trees and plants. During funerals the Oraons practise burial and cremation. Bodies are buried when crops stand in the field. In this custom, various shapes of branches cover the bottom of the grave, lengthwise and crosswise.
5.Festival: Important festivals of the Oraons pertain to the forest, hunting, agriculture and cattle. Besides these, there are socio-religious gatherings known as jatras, which take place at the commencement of different seasons. It is not possible to discuss all their festivals. I shall confine myself to a few for the purpose of illustration.
6. The spring festival, known as sarhul, is celebrated when the sal tree is in full blossom. In this festival the Oraons perform the symbolic marriage of the sky with the earth. This is done to ensure the fertility of mother earth. On this day a propitiatory sacrifice is offered to the old lady (the village goddess) who is believed to abide in the sacred grove of the village. Phaggu is a festival which is observed towards the end of February or the beginning of March. On the evening previous to the feast, a young castor ( Palma christi) plant and a semar (Bombax malabaricum) branch are planted in an open place. Around these some hay, firewood and dry leaves are heaped. The village priest sets fire to the hay. When fire burns at its brightest the young castor shrub is cut into pieces with an axe. Immediately the young boys of the village light torches from the bonfire and throw the burning torches at fruit trees, saying, 'Be loaded with good fruit'.
7. The Karam festival of the Oraons falls within the socio-religious domain. The Karam festival is classified as an agriculture festival. In this sense, it is highly symbolic as it is also associated with the idea of 'productivity' or 'fecundity'. The idea of fecundity applies to the agricultural produce or crops as well as to the recently engaged girls of the village who venerate the Karam deity residing in the Karam tree. Thus the Karam festival also becomes an occasion to petition God for perpetuity of the clan or community through the fecundity of the participating girls of the village. The Karam festival also becomes a motif because the communitarian fervour is invoked and enforced through the sacred and secular observance of it.
8.The Karam festival is celebrated usually on Bhado Ekadashi, on the eleventh day of the bright full moon (Purnima) of the month of Bhado (August-September). The Karam tree, scientifically called Nauclea Parvifolia is the center of the proceedings at the festival. The preparations, for the Karam festival, start around ten or twelve days before the festival. The girls, who wish to participate in the festival, sow barley in their homes. They keep it inside their homes, in shade, away from direct sunlight. They also sprinkle water mixed with turmeric over it due to which the germinating barley acquires a golden yellowish tinge and looks beautiful. The idea behind this ritual is to revive in their memories, the day of the 'great escape' of the Oraons from the enemy tribe Cheros in the Rohtas fort in the Shahabad district of Bihar. The whole process of germinating barley seeds is a ritual and so is replete with the singing of songs to the germinating seeds by the girls of the village who keep watch over the germinating barley like mothers watch over their children. The barley or jawa in the pot is an image of the impregnated earth (or the womb of the earth) fertilizing the jawa seeds and producing shoots or jawa flowers. The image is extremely pertinent in the context of the Karam festival. During this period, the girls participating in the festival abstain from consuming non-vegetarian food to maintain the auspiciousness of the Karam festival.
9.Mundaribe mainly inhabit in the region of Jharkhand, Although they are well spread in the states of West Bengal, Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Bihar. Munda generally means headman of the village. Mundas are the tribal communities from the south east Asia. There are some evidences of the Mundas kingdom in the Pre British times. For example the Ho/Munda kingdom of Chota Nag Language: Mundas speak Mundari language, which belongs to the family of Austro- Asiatic. The complexion of Mundas is blackish. They have short curly hair. With the passage of time some of the Mundas resembles same features as that of the Bengali's. A common surname used among the Mundas includes Topno, Barla, Aind, Hemrom, Guria, Herenge, Surin, Horo, Sanga and Samad.
10.Religion: Mundas have their own religion known as Sarna. Sarna stress on the belief of one God. Mundas believe in the Supreme Being known as the Singbonga, which means the Sun God. According to the Mundas, he saves them from the external enemies and troubles of life. They say Singbonga punishes them if they break the law of marrying in their ones tribe. Mundas are of the belief that Singbonga is not the jealous God and gives his people the right to worship any celestial being. In Sarna the Mundas worship the nature. The Mundas are highly superstitious people. The Sarna people do not have any written code of moral laws. The ides of what is right and wrong is the adopted from their traditions and cultures. Some of the Mundas also worship Lord Shiva. Occupation: Mundas have remained haunters for centuries. But now they have been converted into the settled agriculturist. Most of the then do not have land of their own. They are largely dependent on the labour work in the fields to earn their livelihood. Food and Clothing: Mundas have been the animal eaters for the long time. They usually eat frogs, snakes, rats, earthworms, shells and snails. They prefer having Tari and Haria wine on the various occassions. As the Mundas are in close touch with the Hindu society. Munda men usually wear pant and shirts. While the Munda Women are seen wearing the cotton saris with blouse.
11. Festivals: Mage, Phagu, Karam, Sarhul, and Sohrai are the few festivals celebrated among the Munda tribes.
12. Santhal Santhals are the third largest tribe in India. They are mostly found in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Assam. Santhals belong to the Pre Aryan period. They were the great fighters during the British regime in India. They wagged war against the permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis in 1855. During the late 1850 Santhals hero Sidhu had accumulated around 10 thousand Santhals to run parallel government against the British government. Baba Tilka Majhi was the first Santhal leather who raise weapons against the Britishers in 1789.
14 Language Santhali is the prime language spoken by the Santhal Tribe. This Indian tribe also have a script of their own called Olchiki. Apart from Santhali they also speak Bengali, Oriya and Hindi.
Livelihood: The Santhal tribes of India have a typical tribal lifestyle. Basic needs are fulfilled by forest tress and plants. The tribes are also engaged in fishing and cultivation. These tribes of India also pose a magnificent skill of making musical equipments, mats and baskets out of the plants. The way this articulate process is carried out is worth wathing.
15.Culture Dancing and music are the streamline of these Indian tribes. Santhal women dress in the red bordered white sari and dance in the line sequence. These tribes in India play mind soothing music with instruments like Tirio, Dhodro banam, Phet banam, Tumdak, Tamak, JunkoandSinga. Religion: Ironically, Santhals don't have a temple of their own and neither do they worship any idols. These tribes of India follow the Sarna religion, with Marangburu, Jaheraera, and Manjhi as their god and goddess. Santhals pay respect to the ghosts and spirits like Kal Sing, Lakchera, Beudarang etc. Animal sacrifices in order to appease the Gods are a common practice amongst these energetic tribes of India.
16.Festivals Karam festival which falls in the month of September and October, is the highlight festival followed by tedany visitor trevelling to these tribes in India. Other festivals of the celebrated include Maghe, Baba Bonga, Sahrai, Ero, Asaria and Namah. They also celebrate haunting festival called Disum sendra on the eve of Baishakhi Purnima
17. Chik Baraik Amongst several tribes that have settled down in quite a large number, the name of these Chik Baraik tribes needs due emphasis. In fact these Chik Baraik is famous as one of the scheduled tribes, mainly found in the rural areas of the districts of the Bihar & Jharkhand state. Anthropologists claim that these Chik Baraik tribes belong to the `proto-anstraloid racial stock and speaks Mundari, Hindi and Sadani languages. ` Unlike many of the tribal communities that reside here, there is no separate village found for these Chik Baraik . Because of their affectionate and friendly nature, they share space with few of the other tribes of the region. They reside with other castes and tribes in the same villages of the Chik Baraik tribes. Like several tribes, namely, karmali, Lohara and Mahli, Chik Baraik are famous as artisan tribe. They mainly involve in the occupation of creating cotton threads and clothes. As far as the languages are concerned, these Chik Baraik tribes speak in several languages including Mundari, sadani and hindi.
18. To sustain the livelihood, most of these Chik Baraik tribes have undertaken the jobs of weavers, bird trappers. Quite a handful of tribes have adapted to the profession of agriculturists and daily laborers. Apart from that, the weaving is one of the customary professions that these Chik Baraik tribes have adapted. Both males and females have been busy in performing these works from the dawn to the dusk. In order to establish better administration and control, the Chik Baraik tribes have their separate panchayat systems even of the community in which Chikbaraik tribes of the adjoining villages have taken the membership. In the meeting of community panchayat several cases related to certain issues like inter tribe marriage, adultery, rape, property division, cruel behavior and divorce etc are being handled with lots of care and concern. . The decision taken by these members of the community panchayat is conformed by all. Just like many of the tribal communities of the whole of the Indian subcontinent, these Chik Baraik tribes too are very much pious and religious minded. Their religion is the mainly Hinduism, though certain of their native customs are nicely being blended with it. Thus these Chik Baraik tribes follow all these religious practices and norms with lots of reverence and enthusiasm. They have got ardent belief in the supreme deity, better known as Sing Bonga . Devi Mai has also been regarded as their supreme goddess. Other deities whom they believe include Gram Deo, Dhiwar Deo, Pitar Deo, Nag Deo, Bagh Deo, Burheia Dei. It is only very obvious that the festivals and fairs that are an integral part of these Chik Baraik tribes are popularly known as Sarhul, Sohrai, Karma, Nawakhani, Durga Devi puja, Phagu, Ramnawmy etc.
19.Lohara The Lohara is one of the Adivasi Groups of the Jharkhand. They are found in the districts of Ranchi, Singhbhum, Palamu, Hazaribag and Santhal Pargana of the Jharkhand State. The Lohara are associated with the preparation of iron tools. So they are known as artisan tribes. They supply iron-implements to agricultural tribes and castes of the villages where they because they have been associated with the occupation of iron-craft-making.

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