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History of Santals
List of Scheduled
Tribe in West
Guidelines for
issuance of SC / ST
Link list

History of Santals.

Santhal Adivasi

Santhals are the largest Adivasi community in India and can be found mainly in the states of
Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Orissa. Santhals can be also
found in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar boarder areas. In Nepal they live in the districts of
Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari. And also one can found significant population of Santhals in Bhutan as
daily wage laborer. In Bangladesh, Santhals have made remarkable history of Santhals identity.
Majority of Santhal are being traced in the Chhotanagpur plateau. Rajmahal hill, Damodar valley and
forest of Dolma are the witness since time immemorial.

Fahien the Chinese traveler was the first to make a pilgrimage in India and first to describe about the
Santhal tribe at large. His journey lasted about sixteen years (A.D. 399-414) and described in detail
about the tribe staying and lifestyle in foothill of Rajmahal. He also describe about the religion followed
by Santhals. It is fact that, Santhals belong to the Austro-Asiatic group of human families. They have
also been called as a sub-group speaking a language belonging to the Munda family (Dahal,
BS2051/052). Some anthropologists also indicate that racially the Santhals belong to the ProtoAstraloid racial group, linguistically they belong to the Mundari group of Austro-Asiatic linguistic family
and economically they may be classified as plain agricultural type.

Origin of Santhals:

The species known as Ramapithecus was found in the Siwalik foothills of the northwestern Himalayas.
This species believed to be the first in the line of hominids lived some 14 million years ago.
Researchers have found that a species resembling the Australopithecus lived in India some 2 million
years ago. Scientists have so far not been able to account for an evolutionary gap of as much as 12
million years since the appearance of Ramapithecus. The people of India belong to different
anthropological stocks. According to Dr. B. S. Guha, the population of India is derived from six main
ethnic groups and main ethnic group which define Adivasis especially Santhals, Munda, Kol and Ho
are as follows:

Pro-Australoids or Austrics: This group was the next to come to India after the Negritos. They
represent a race of people, with wavy hair plentifully distributed over their brown bodies, long heads
with low foreheads and prominent eye ridges, noses with low and broad roots, thick jaws, large palates
and teeth and small chins. Austrics tribes, which are spread over the whole of India, Myanmar and the
islands of South East Asia, are said to form the bedrock of the people". The Austrics were the main
builders of the Indus Valley Civilisation. They cultivated rice and vegetables and made sugar from
sugarcane. Their language has survived in the Kol or Munda (Mundari) Santhali in Eastern and Central





History of Santhals:

Histories of Santhals are only persisting in songs and folklore of Santhal tribe itself. Historians from
different region have come and wrote different things regarding them and large populations believe that
is only the truth about Santhals. Pandit Raghunath Murmu, who develops Santhali manuscript, written
Santhals are from Pre Aryan period. And they were the real great fighters during British regime.
Santhals were the first who fought against Permanent Settlement Act of Lord Cornwallis during 1855. It
was during late 1850, when Sidhu Murmu, Kanhu Murmu, Chand Murmu and Bhairo Murmu hoarded
around 85,000 Santhals to wage a war against British to object all the law which were objectionable to
them at that point of time..

So, Santhals with their entire musical instrument (like Tumdak, Tamak, Banam, and Trio) and
weapons (Aag-Saar, Kapi, Tarwade) start moving towards Calcutta. But they had to face British army
on the way and could not able to reach Calcutta.

It is also recorded that Baba Tilka Majhi was the first Santhals leather who raise weapons against
the British in 1789. It was due to great famine in 1770 and the consequences of Court of Directors
orders influenced by British Prime Minister Pitt the Younger. Court of Director issued ten year of the
settlement of Zamindari and later in 1800, it was permanent. This resulted in minimal chance to
negotiate between local Zamindars and Santhal villagers. Baba Tilka Majhi made bold step to kill one
of the British lieutenant with arrow from the top of banyan tree. Later Baba Tilka majhi was hanged till
death from the same tree to show example for such deeds.

Santhal Language:

Languages can be broadly classified as:

1. Dravidian
2. Munda or Austric

The Kissam Koya and Oraon belonging to Dravidian-language-speaking clan are few in numbers in this
district. The Santhals, Kol and the Munda tribes belong to Austric family and are the prime tribes and
they do have own mother tongue. Santhals have their own language, which belong to Austro-Asiatic
language family. Santhals have well developed manuscript called Ol Chiki developed by Pt
Raghunath Murmu in 1920s. Initially Ol Chiki was regarded as copied one and also considered as,
which doesnt have any characteristic of language. But after lot of studies, when it was found that Ol
chiki is alphabetic, and does not share any of the syllabic properties of the other Indic scripts such as
Devanagari. It uses 30 letters and five basic diacritics. It has 6 basic vowels and three additional
vowels, generated using the Gahla Tudag.

Santhals did not have a written language until the nineteenth century. Therefore, the script is a recent
development. A distinct script was required to accommodate the Santali language, does not combine
any features of both the Indic and Roman scripts. The modern Ol Chiki script was devised by Pandit
Raghunath Murmu in 1925. He wrote over 400- 450 books covering a wide spectrum of subjects.
Darege Dhan, Sidhu-Kanhu, Bidu Chandan and Kherwal Bir are among the most acclaimed of his
works. Pandit Raghunath Murmu is popularly known as Guru Gomke among the Santhals, a title
conferred on him by the Mayurbhanj Adibasi Mahasabh.




Art and Culture of the Santals:

Santali culture is such that it had and has been attracting many scholars and anthropologists since
centuries. The first attempt to study the Santali culture was done by the Mughals and which followed
by the Christian missionaries. The most famous of them was the Norwegian-born Reverend Paul Olaf
Bodding. Unlike many other adivasi groups of the Indian subcontinent, the Santals are known for
preserving their native language despite waves of migrations and invasions from Mughals, Europeans,
British and others.

Santali culture is depicted in the paintings and artworks in the walls of their houses. Local mythology
includes the stories of the Santhal ancestors Pilchu Haram and Pilchu Bhudi.

The Santhal people love music and dance. Like other Indian people groups, their culture has not been
influenced by any mainstream Indian culture and or by Western culture, but traditional Santhals have
own way of music and dance. Santali music differs from Hindustani classical music in significant
ways. Onkar Prasad has done the most recent work on the music of the Santhal but others preceded
his work. The Santal traditionally accompany many of their dances with two drums: the Tamak' and
the Tumdak'. The flute (tiriao) was considered the most important Santhal traditional instrument and
still evokes feelings of nostalgia for many Santhals. Santali dance and music traditionally revolved
around Santhal religious celebrations. However, Santhal music and dance both retain connections to
traditional celebrations. The names of many Santhal tunes are derived from the traditional ritual with
which they were once associated. Sohrai tunes, for example, were those sung at the Sohrai festival.
Santali rituals are mainly comprised of sacrificial offerings and invocations to the spirits, or Bongas.

The Santhals are musicians and dancers par excellence and have dances for every imaginable
occasion. The martial dances - Golwari and Paikha are marked with vigor, virility and a lot of jumping
and leaping in the air. They carry bow and arrows while doing martial dances and perform mock fights
and attacks. Their courtship and marriage dances are typical. These dances, romantic and lively in
nature, are performed on full moon nights. The loud drumming, resembling thunder, calls the belles of
the community and they come dressed in their fineries, adorned with flowers, feathers and assemble
under a large banyan tree. The young men come forward taking strides with drums and lilting songs on
their lips, and then the dance commences in two rows, their arms interlinking in pairs. The rows surge
forward like rhythmic waves and then recede with supple footwork and swaying heads and bodies. The
boys in the row opposite play on flutes, drums, and large cymbals and sing songs in perfect harmony.
After the dance the boys and girls mingle and have a good chat.

Santhals have their hunting and sowing dances. On Dassai festival men-folk dance from one locality to
another. Then there are the Jhika and the Lagren type dances in which men and women dance
together. Men form the outer ring and the women the inner circle. The Dhong and Lagren are
exclusively confined to women. The Lagren has many forms and variations according to the occasion,
be it a marriage, a festival or social gathering. All these dances reflect their collective nature,
cohesion, community feeling and social awareness. They are great spontaneous collective singers and
dancers. The Santhal women and girls can be seen singing and dancing while engaged in their daily
chore like sowing, plantation, journeying to and from the forest. They work and sing simultaneously
and in between pause for a round of dance. They use song and music as a convenient tool of dancing.
Dance is a super ordinate and all the rest is subordinate.

Santal Religion:

Santhals have Jaher and Gosade are two places where Santhals do religious activities. Santhals dont




have even shape of God and do not believe in idol worship. Santhals follow the Sari/Sarna religion. The
common God and Goddess of Santhal are Marang-buru, Jaher-era. Santhals pay respect to the ghosts
and spirits like Kal Sing, Lakchera, Beudarang etc. They have village priests known as the Naiki and
Ujha. Animal sacrifices to the Gods are the common practice common practice among the Santhals
to appease the Gods and Goddess.

Santhals do believe in many Gods and Goddesses except common GOD and patrimonial one.
According to them the Sun is omnipotent. He is the creator and father. The earth is believed to be their
mother. She brings up all. Mother earth is the female and the Sun God is the male and all other are
their off springs.

Different clans of Santhals worship the God with different names. The ancestral GOD is important and
followed by some rituals in regular interval of time. Santhalis worship the powerful Sun God as
Singabonga (also spelled as Singhbonga) in common.

Sari Dhorom
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article does not cite any references or sources . Please help improv e this
article by adding citations to reliable sources . Unsourced material may be
challenged and remov ed . (April 2010)
'Sari Dhorom refer to truth(Satya). Sari and Sarna are originated from the same root.According to the
myth, Hapram ko(Ancestors) fired an arrow (usually taken as part of ritual) in search of Dhorom
(religion), when they searched for the arrow they found the arrow under a Sal tree( Shorea robusta
). In rejoice for getting their answer for their religion the women cried out 'Sarna' and the men
concluded 'Sari' as the arrow fell under Sari Sarjom (Sal tree). And since then both are followed as
Santhal religions.

Some western authors and Indian sociologists refer to adivasi beliefs as animism and spirit worship,
and hold them to be distinct from Hinduism, Christianity or Islam. In Jharkhand, Chattisgarh
and Orissa states, their religion is sometimes called Sarna. The Jharkhand movement gave the
Santals an opportunity to create a great tradition of their own.[87] As Orans reported, The
movement is spoken of in the following terms we should not leave our religion; we should continue to
use rice-beer; we should have our worship at the sacred grove. We will call our religion Sarna
Dhorom.[88] Sarna is the Munda word for Sacred Grove while Dhorom is the Oriya word meaning
Sarna involves belief in a great spirit called the Sing Bonga. Santhal belief holds the world to be
inhabited by numerous spiritual beings of different kinds. Santhals consider themselves as living and
doing everything in close association with these spirits. Rituals are performed under groves of Sal
trees called Jaher (or sacred grove), where Bonga is believed to appear or express himself. Often,
Jaher are found in the forests.
According to the mythology of the Santhal community, the genesis of the Sarna religion occurred
when the Santhal tribals had gone to the forest for hunting and they started the discussion about their
C reator 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 C loud? 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 Gods 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.[citation needed ]4 Thus, Sarna
religion came into existence. There are priests and an assistant priests called "Naikey" and "Kudam
Naike" in every Santhal village.

Demands for a separate religion code

Some Adivasi organizations have demanded that a distinct religious code be listed for Adivasis in the
2011. The All India Adivasi C onference was held on 01.01.2011 and 02.01.2011 at Burnpur, Asansol,
West Bengal. 750 delegates were present from all parts of India and cast their votes for Religion code
as follows: Sari Dhorom - 632, Sarna - 51, Kherwalism - 14 and Other Religions - 03 Census of





Santhals celebrate loads of festivals in different occasion. Santhals follow cycle of nature and
agricultural term to celebrate festivals and celebrate festivals accordingly. They celebrate this festival
to invocations the Nature for helping them in getting where ever they have and sometime to increase
their wealth and free them from all the enemies. It is the tradition among the Santhals to grow the tree
outside their house after the purification process for different purposes.

The Santhals celebrate other festival like, Sohorai, from the end of Paush and for the entire month of
Magh. "Karam" festival is celebrated by the Santhals in the month of Aswin (September- October) in
order to have increased `wealth and progeny` and to get rid of the evil spirits. During this festival, two
youths after being purified, fetch two branches of Karam tree from the forest and plant them just
outside the house. Other festivals of the Santhal community include Maghe, Sakrat, Baba Bonga,
Sahrai, Ero, Asaria and Namah. They also celebrate haunting festival called Disum sendra on the eve
of Baishakhi Purnima.

Ero (Paddy sowing festival)

The Santals, Mahali, Bhumija and Lodha celebrate this festival on the day of 'Akshitrutiya' to worship
mother earth with religions flavor and enthusiasm. The black cock is offered as sacrifice with nonboiled rice, flower, Vermillion and incense sticks to propitiate mother earth for bumper harvest,
prosperity peaceful and disease free life. Dance amidst traditional tribal songs and beating of drums
rent the air, which makes the festival quite enjoyable.

Jamtala Bonga (Jantal Festival):

This festival is celebrated when the ear of paddy hangs downward exclusively in the year when crop is
destroyed due to scanty rainfall. The fill treated as God is offered male goat as sacrifice with a belief
that propitiation of hill God will bring about bumper crops. The male goat so killed is distributed among
the villagers.

Karam Parva:

This festival is celebrated in the month of 'Ashwina' or 'Kartika' and the auspicious day in fixed by the
village meeting. A 'Karam Bough' is planted on the altar in the middle of village. The village maids offer
molasses non-boiled rice, flower and vermillion then story of 'Karamdharan', the God of fate is recited
and it continues amidst dance, song and beating of drums till morning and then immersion of 'Karam
Bough' is solemnised with the blessings of God of fate the life becomes enriched with health and this
is their sincere belief.

Makar Parva:

The prime festival of Santhals is celebrated with pomp and grandeur by Adivasis month of 'Pausha' and
English month 'January' when the paddy reaping is half done and the mind is free from all lures and
anxieties. Irrespective of colour and crew and age all partake in religious gaiety and fervour.

This festival lasts for three days and celebration primarily starts night before 'Makar Sankranti'. First
day is celebrated since morning by the burning of log of woods in the bank of river or near water




reservoir. It is told as 'Kumbha', done mostly by the children and teens. The process is done in the
early morning. Day of Sakrat, everyone in the family will take bath early and wear new cloths. In every
household 'Makar Chaula' and delicious cakes are prepared. After that head of the family offer food and
drinks to ancestors and Ora bongs (house God) in the inner most (Bhitar orah) part of the house. In
other words we can say the deities are worshipped. After having food which includes mutton curry,
chicken, pork, lamb, sheep, palatable cakes and country liquor 'Handia', in every village or collection of
villages, male will participate in archery competition and female come to witness. First village priest
Naike will purify the target and set the distance for competitors. Three chances will be provided until
someone hit the target. If someone hit the target, then hell be the winner and awarded with garland of
flowers and someone (assign by headman of village) will take him in shoulder till Gosande.
Manjhi/Naike will worship and is followed with singing, dancing and playing of instrumental music. All
those present there, are given rice-beer. Winner will be accompanied by Santhali traditional dance,
song and music. In that occasion men and women dance in the Gosande till late night with
boisterous music, songs and drums. The traditional dress of Santhal women is called Pandhat, which
is a covering from the chest to the foot.

Second and third day is for the occasion of Makar a special 'Monkey Dance' named as 'Gari-aseen' is
performed. The tribal folks adorning their bodies in many forms roam door to door asking for paddy,
rice and cakes, which becomes quite enjoyable. Also female makes-up by men and dance with
tradition songs and drums called Budhi-Gari.
Finally in a village meeting all the collected items will be disclosed. And villagers will organized for
feast or grand village party on some free day. Rice will be distributed to different household to brew rice
whisky or rice beer and collected on the day of grand village party. Relatives are also invited to join.

By nature, the Santhals love Dance, Music and wine. There cannot be a festival without these. Their
fairs and festivals are very colorful.

Judicial system:

The Santhals traditionally had an organized judicial system for the management and solution of the
various problems within the community. They make every effort to solve the social problems arising
within their community by themselves. The Santhal system of governance, known as Manjhi
Paragana, is compared to what is often called Local Self Governance. This body is responsible for
making decisions to ameliorate the village's socioeconomic condition.

The head of the Santhal community is called Manjhi Hadam (headman of village). He is the chief of the
executive, judicial and all other functions within society. He is assisted by other office bearers like
Paranik, Jagmanjhi, Jagparanik, Naike, Gudit, etc, who work in their respective fields to solve various
kinds of problems. After the birth of a child, the Jagmanjhi and following the death of a person the
Gudit and others are present. Manjhi Hadam undertakes the looking into judicial cases and the
dispensing of justice and above him is Disham Manjhi, and above both is Diheri. The Diheri is the
highest judicial office bearer of Santhals. The Santhals who generally like to live in concentrated
settlements of their own near rivers and forests are divided into 12 thars or groups. As the groups are
in accordance with professional specialization, this appears as a form of social system. The Murmu
are the priests of Santhals and Mardi the businessmen, while Kisku are the rulers and Hemram
judges. Similarly, the Tudu are musicians and Soren soldiers. The organizations of Santhals are village
council (Manjhibaisi), Parganna Council (Pramatrabaisi) and the highest council (Labirbaisi).

Customs of the Santhal:

After the birth of a child, the Santhal midwife of Gaasibudhi cuts the umbilical cord of the child with an
arrow and buries it near the door. The child is named on the day of the birth or on any odd numbered
day following birth. The first-born son is given the name of his grandfather; and second a male child will




be named from maternal side. He is also given another name for calling him.


Birth is regarded as very joyous occasion in the society of the Santhal. It makes the couple fertile and
washes the strain of barrenness forever. It enhances the status of the husband and the wife as father
and mother. After birth of child family has to provide feast to villagers.


Family is the smallest unit of social organization in the Santhal society. Family is nuclear, husbandwife and their unmarried children. Married son established their own family and married daughter leave
the house to lead a family with their husband.

Marriage and divorce:

The ritual of marriage generally comes in the life of all boys and girls of the Santhal, Monogamy is the
usual form of marriage. Bigamy is also allowed. Levirate and Surrogate marriage are possible
depending on the situation. Pre-marital relation within lineage group is not allowed. But in case of other
lineage group it is excused and finally results in marriage. Marriage may take place between boys and
girls of two lineages but generally it is avoided. They generally follow village exogamy. Usual way of
acquiring bride is by bride-price and through the consent of parents of boys and girls. But marriage by
exchange, elopement service and love may also take place.

The Santhals have different types of marriage. Their marriages are exogamous and these marriages
known as `Bapla` are of seven types namely Sanga Bapla, Kadam Bapla, Kirin Bapla, Upagir Bapla,
Tanki Dipil Bapla, Itut Bapla, Nirbelok Bapla, Diku Bapla etc. At the end of every marriage, the bride
money is collected. Divorce can be obtained easily; however, some alimony has to be given whole
divorcing. If marriages are undertaken within one`s own group, such couples are ostracized and
chased away from society. There is also the practice of the son-in-law staying in his in-laws` house.

The death during old age is taken good because it brings occasion of transformation of body and soul
of a person. The dead body is buried or cremated. Only male members participate in death rituals. The
dead are cremated as well as buried. After the death of a respected person of the community who
occupies an important post such as Manjhi, Paranik, Gudit, etc, all Santhals participate in the death
ceremony. The entire village has to mourn the death. On the evening of the death of a person, a
rooster is killed and Khichadi (porridge) cooked and offered to the soul of the dead. After seven days
the Santhals purify themselves by bathing in a river. The last rites (Bhandan) are undertaken at an
appropriate time after another seven days. The last rites or purification are undertaken on the same
day of the week as when the dead was buried.

Population, Economy and Livelihood

Santhals has total Population --96, 05,000 (from 2001 census)

West Bengal

19, 97222







9, 29782





20, 67039

Major economic activities of the Santhal are agriculture, collection of forest produce from the forests
and cultivation. The livelihood of the Santhals revolves around the forests they live in. They fulfill their
basic needs from the trees and plants of the forests. Apart from this they are also engaged in the
haunting, fishing and cultivation for their livelihood. Santhals possess the unique skills in making the
musical equipments, mats and baskets out of the plants. This talent is safely passed on from one
generation to the other. Now days, Santhals, who got education engaged in well paid governments and
private jobs.


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