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Sarna dhorom

Sarnaism or Sarna[1][2][3] (local languages: Sarna Dhorom, meaning "religion of the holy woods") defines the indigenous religions of the Adivasi populations of the states of Central-East India, such as the Munda, the Ho, the Santali, the Khuruk, and the others. Historically subsumed as a folk form of Hinduism, in recent decades followers have started to develop an identity, and more recently even an organisation, distinct from Hinduism, similarly to other tribal religious movements such as Donyi-Polo or Sanamahism.


Sarna means "grove" and it is etimologically related to the name of the sal tree, sacred to the religion, from which the other name Sari Dharam, "religion of the sal tree".


Sarnaist followers have been organising protests and petitions to have their religion recognised by the government of India in census forms.[4][5] In 2013 Sarnaist followers have organised a protest against use of indigenous imagery by Christians in order to attract converts.[6][7]


They worship a god who is the creator of the universe, variously called Dharmesh[8] or Singboga, or by other names by different tribes, and Chalapachho Devi, the mother goddess identified as the earth, nature, and the world tree symbolised by the sal tree. Dharmesh is believed to manifest in sal trees.

Worship places and rites[edit]

Sarna temples are called sthal or asthal, and can be found in villages, while worship can be performed also in sacred groves, jaher. Sal trees are present both in the temples and the sacred grove. The ceremonies are performed by the whole village community at a public gathering with the active participation of village priests, pahan. The chief assistant of village priest is called pujaar or panbhara.


  • Akhil Bharatiya Sarna Dharam (ABSD)


  • A. K. Sachchidananda. Elite and Development. Concept Publishing Co., New Delhi, 1980. ASIN B000MBN8J2
  • James Minahan. Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. Series: Ethnic Groups of the World. ABC-CLIO, 2012. ISBN 1598846590
  • Kishor Vidya Niketan. The Spectrum of Tribal Religion in Bihar: A Study of Continuity & Change Among the Oraon of Chotanagpur. 1988.
  • Malini Srivastava. The Sacred Complex of Munda Tribe. Department of Anthropology, University of Allahabad, Allahabad 211 002, Uttar Pradesh, India. Anthropologist, 9(4): 327-330 (2007)
  • Phatik Chandra Hembram. Sari-Sarna (Santhal Religion). Mittal Publications, 1988. ISBN 8170990440



  1. ^ Minahan, 2012. p. 236
  2. ^ Sachchidananda, 1980. p. 235
  3. ^ Srivastava, 2007.
  4. ^ SANTOSH K. KIRO. Delhi demo for Sarna identity. The Telegraph, 2013
  5. ^ Pranab Mukherjee. Tribals to rally for inclusion of Sarna religion in census. Times of India, 2013.
  6. ^ Kelly Kislaya. Tribals to remove Virgin Mary’s statue if attire isn’t changed. The Times of India, 2013.
  7. ^ Anumeha Yadav. Tribals torn apart by religion. The Hindu, 2014.
  8. ^ Minahan, 2012. p. 236

External links[edit]