Expression of Ethos and Ideology....

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Cultural ethos of Jharkhand

Jharkhand, the 28th state of India carved out of Bihar state on 15th November, 2000 has been blessed by the nature in terms of having rich mineral deposits of various kind which include the popular Coal to the precious Uranium ore. As per the Hindu mythological traditions, the existence of Jharkhand region has been traced back to the period of “Manu Sanhita”. As the name Jharkhand suggests, it means a place full of shrubs or jungle. The forest of Saranda in Jharkhand is well known in Asia for its “Saal’ trees found in abundance.

The culture of Jharkhand stands nowhere without its rich treasure of jubilant  festivals. Following are some of the most popular and widely observed festivals in Jharkhand :-

Sarhul  which is observed at the spring time when the tribes appease the village gods and sought their protection and safety. Flower (Saal flower) Sarhul is given as offerings; it also symbolizes friendship and brotherhood .The tribal priest distributes these flowers to every village household.

Badhna is a popular festival of Santhal Pargana area held during `Kartik Amavashya`. During the festival animals are worshipped acknowledging their contributions to the society and also to pacify their destructive quality. The songs of this festival are popular as Ohira.

Tusu is observed as the common festival mostly in Chotanagpur region,  celebrating harvest time during winter season in the last day of the month of `Poush`. Rites and customs related to this festival are diligently maintained by the locales.

Karma is observed during the eleventh day of the Indian month of Bhadrapad or Bhado. A branch of Karam tree is cut and brought to the village by the dancing male and female and established in the village or at a household by the Pahan or the priest. The festival signifies the bondage of affection between a brother and a sister.

 Folk music and dance are part and parcel of the culture of Jharkhand. There are different kinds of dances  and folk tunes based on the climate cycle of the region. Some of the popular dance forms are  Akhariya Domkach, Dohari Domkach, Janani Jhumar, Mardana Jhumar, Faguwa, etc. Similarly, the folk tunes of the region have also been categorized according to the time of its recital. The popular tunes are Udasi, Pawas, Daidhara, Pahilsanjha, Adhratiya, Vinsariya, Pratkali, Jhumta etc . These tunes are often sung in accompaniment of musical instruments like Singa, Bansuri, Arbansi, and Sahnai. Rungtu Ghasi Ram, Ghasi Mahant are someof the  eminent musicians who emerged from Jharkhand state. It is an abode of  32 archaic tribes . Santhal, Asur, Oraon, Munda, Korwa, Kharia and Ho etc are few among them..

The culture of Jharkhand traces the tradition of the tribal society of Indian society ,also remaining unperturbed by the trends of modernization. Rather it asserts its originality and ethnicity and continue to do so. Music, dance, lifestyle, art are the torchbearers of this trend of the cultural tradition. One of the most exciting tribal dances of Jharkhand is the 'Chhou Naach.' The Chhou Naach is often performed in an open area and generally at night. The dancing area is covered by fire poles called as mashaals, for the sake of lighting. The performers play the character of Gods in the dance. They use colorful and beautiful big masks for their dance. The dance is based on the myths of 'Ramayana' and the 'Mahabharata.' They use traditional ornaments as well as the weapons. Chhou Nach is a unique expression of the culture of Jharkhand.Folk spirit defines the unique features of culture of Jharkand and what else can denote it than the art and crafts of the Jharkand. Woodcrafts of Jharkand are popular and various items like panels for doors, windows, wooden spoons have demands in the national market. Bamboo crafts made from a special thin and strong bamboo trees are in thing in household décor. The folk artists of Jharkhand area are expert in paitkar paintings. Masks too are made by the expert hands representing moral elemental passions, better known as tamasik.

Threat to indigenous culture

In a changed environment of modern development when the green forests have been replaced by the heavy industry set up or extensive mining area, the rich cultural and social heritage of the different tribal communities are heavily affected. The heavy influx of job seekers and traders have multiplied into the vanishing cultural traditions and practices as there is pressure of other main stream cultures on the day by day diminishing population of tribal communities in comparison to the job seekers and traders. This has created a grim situation in the social and cultural lives of these communities as the new generation is adopting main stream behavior very fast posing threat to the rich cultural heritage of the area.

The uniqueness of the cultural heritage of the tribal people of this region is that all kinds of knowledge pertaining to functioning of the society and other social traditions is passed on from one generation to another through the word of mouth. That is why their history, culture and customs and traditions are found mostly narrated in their folk lores and songs. 

Since the Jharkhand has become a separate state, the policy makers are assessing that it will soon become the industrial hub of the country as there is rich mineral deposit and huge coal bed in the region. It is understood that under the heavy commotion and activities of industrial growth in the area, the oral tradition of the tribal communities is not going to survive any more. Sadly, if this happens the rich cultural heritage and history of the tribal people will become a thing of the past like many other forgotten cultures of the world.


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