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Draupadi Murmu has been elected as the 15th President of the country. Murmu is the second woman and the first tribal to become president. He hails from the Santhal tribal community. The Santhals are the third largest tribal community in the country after Gonds and Bhils.
In such a situation, today we will tell the explainer what are the santhal tribes, what are their socio-economic conditions and what are their unique traditions.
Most Santhals in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal
Santhal is also called Santal. Santha means How and Aala means Man. In other words, a calm person. Most of the Santhal community people live in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. Draupadi Murmu hails from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, home to a large number of people from the Santhal community.
Due to the lack of written records, the exact date of origin of the Santhal community is not known, but they are believed to have originated in the Champa kingdom of northern Cambodia. According to linguist Paul Sidwell, the Santhals came to India from the Odisha coast between 4000 and 3500 years ago. By the end of the 18th century they were a nomadic group that gradually settled in the Chota Nagpur plateau of Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand.
The people of the Santhal tribe speak the Santhali language. This language has been written by Santhal scholar Pandit Raghunath Murmu in a script called Ol Chiki. The Santhali script in Ol Chiki has been included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Apart from Santhali they also speak Bengali, Oriya and Hindi.
Santhals have the highest literacy rate among the tribes
In general, tribal communities living in states other than the North East have a low literacy rate, but it is higher among the Santhals. The reason for this is the awareness of school education since the sixties.
This is the reason why Santhals have the highest literacy rate compared to other tribes in Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand. 55.5% of Santhali people are educated. The effect of this has been that many people in the community have risen above the limit of the creamy layer.
Santhals follow very different traditions
There are 12 ways marriage happens…
Women can divorce their husbands whenever they want
In Santhal society, divorce is not seen as a taboo. In other words, there is no impediment to divorce here. Any man or woman can get a divorce. A Santhal man can divorce his wife if she proves to be a witch or disobeys his orders.
On the other hand, a Santhali woman can be divorced because of her inability to take care of herself, as well as because of her desire to marry another man. However, the person to whom the woman marries a second time must pay damages to the first husband.
The husband cannot kill any animal while the wife is pregnant
There are also some unique rules for the husband in the Santhal community, which must be followed. For example, when the wife is pregnant, the husband does not kill any animals and does not attend the funeral.
Santhals are also known for their folk songs and dances. They do this at community events and functions. They play musical instruments like kamak, dhol, sarangi and flute.
Karam is the main festival of Santhals.
The main Santhal festival is Karam. It falls in September and October. In this they want to increase their money and free it from all enemies. There is a tradition among the Santhals of planting Karam trees outside the house after the purification process.
women get tattoos
Despite their social rise, the Santhals are generally attached to their roots. They are nature worshipers and can be seen worshiping in the zaher (sacred groves) of their villages. Their traditional dress, a dhoti and gamcha for men and a short check sari for women, is usually blue and green. Women also get tattoos.
Santhal houses can recognize Olah from afar because of its special color.
Santhal houses are called Olahs. A special pattern is made of three colors on the outer walls of his house. The lower part is painted with black clay, the middle part white and the upper part red.
The ashes are immersed in the Damodar River itself.
The Damodar River has a special significance in the religious life of the Santhals. When a Santhal dies, his ashes are immersed in the Damodar River itself.
50,000 people from 400 villages declared war on the British
Although the first war of independence against the British is considered to be in 1857, the Santhal tribe of Jharkhand raised the flag of rebellion against the British in 1855 itself. This is called the Santhal Hull. In the Santhali language, Hul means rebellion.
On 30 June 1855, rebellion started from Bhagnadih village in Sahibganj district under the leadership of Sidhu and Kanhu. More than 50,000 people from 400 villages had declared war after reaching Bholnadih village. Here, under the leadership of the Adivasi Sidhu-Kanhu brothers, the Santhals, besides not paying revenue, announced to the British to leave our soil.
Frightened by this, the British began to stop the rebels. Which the Santhal fought vehemently. Meanwhile, the British crossed all limits of cruelty to stop them. Sidhu and Kanhu were captured by the British and hanged on 26 July 1855 by hanging from a tree in Bhognadih village. Hool Kranti Diwas is celebrated every year on June 30 in memory of these martyrs. In this great revolution, around 20,000 people were martyred.
Source: Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), Bhubaneswar, https://ignca.gov.in/, Austroasiatic Studies: State of the Art in 2018.