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Kurukh woman dancers in Bangladesh on Indigenous People's Day, 2014
|Regions with significant populations|
|Hindi • Kurukh • Sadri • Konkani • Tamil|
|Hinduism (57%) • Christianity (30%) • Sarnaism (18%) • Other (5%) |
|Related ethnic groups|
The Oraon or Kurukh tribe (Kurukh: Oṛāōn and Kuṛuḵẖ), also spelled Uraon or Oram, are a Dravidian ethnic group inhabiting various states across central and eastern India, Rakhine State in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. They spoke the Kurukh language, which belong to dravidian languages family.
Traditionally, Oraons depended on the forest and farms for their ritual and economic livelihood, but in recent times, a few of them have become mainly settled agriculturalists. Small numbers of Oraons have migrated to the northeastern part of India, where they are mainly employed in tea estates. Population estimates are unreliable, but the total population is estimated to be around 3.5 to 4.5 million people. They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe for the purpose of India's Reservation system.
"Oraon" is an exonym assigned by neighboring Munda peoples, meaning "to roam."
According to the Indian Anthropological Society, Konkan is said to be the original home of the Kurukh tribes from where they migrated to Northern India. A Kurukh substratum is very prominent in the Konkani language.
Kurukhar are divided into many totemistic clans. They live all throughout the Chota Nagpur Plateau in east-central India: in Raigarh, Surguja, and Jashpur districts of Chhattisgarh; Ranchi district of Jharkhand; Alipurduar district of West Bengal; Sundergarh district of Odisha, Bihar; Rakhine State in Myanmar, and Bangladesh. A sizable number of Oraon have migrated to the northeastern part of India, where they are mainly employed in tea estates of West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura.[user-generated source]
Gotra or Totem system plays very important role in the social structure of the Kurukh. Among the Oraons, the Gotra system is believed to directly relate to their god Lord Dharmesh's desire to keep the social structure of the tribe pious. Gotra means that every single family in the Oraon tribe trace their roots to their ancestors’ respective families, each of these families further traced their roots to their unique Gotra. It is also believed that these auspicious living beings helped their ancestors’ families to come out of the difficult times and as a result the entire generations of the families of a certain Gotra are indebted to them.
Since time immemorial The Oraon people have a rich range of folk songs, dances and tales, as well as traditional musical instruments. Both men and women participate in dances, which are performed at social events and festivals. The Mandar, Nagara and Kartal are the main musical instruments. During festivals or any occasions of celebration they consume an alcoholic drink called hadiya, a rice wine made from fermented rice, which distributed among all villagers in a Dona, a bowl of leaves.
Tribal Administration & Justice
A unit of 5 villages represented a sector like today's Gram Panchayat. The unit of 33 villages was called RajiParha and it was headed by the king himself. With the help of this federal structured Parha the king was able to implement various schemes for the development of the subjects. The citizens were provided due justice through these Parha units. The law and order were perfectly maintained by the employed heads of each Parha unit. These administrative units of the Parha were, however, paralysed in the course of the Muslim invasions. The Orams establish concrete link of the history of Parha with that of the Indian independence movement.
Mahatma Gandhi, according to them, came to know about the merits of the Parha organization when he visited Chotanagpur. Imbibing the functioning pattern of this old Parha organization, Mahatma Gandhi discovered a system of 'Panchayat Raj'. Due to PESA Padaha system of is still the best and cheapest justice system of Oraon tribe. They resolve their differences, set priority areas and take decisions for the welfare of the community.
The Oraon follow the Sarna Dharam (Sarnaism), which is based on nature worship. Some of the groups started following Sarnaism in a Hindu style, as the sects of the Bishnu Bhagats, Bacchinda Bhagats, Karmu Bhagats and Tana Bhagats. The Oraons have established several Sarna sects. Oraons worship Sun biri (a name given for Dharmesh). Kurukhar also believe in Animism.
Most of population is Sarna, which is a religion that is indigenous to Adivasis in Central India. Sarna perform religious rituals under the shade of a sacred grove. They worship the sun as Biri and the moon as Chando, and call the earth Dharti Aayo (Earth as mother). Chando Biri are the words which are used in Sarna pujas. Dharmesh is their supreme almighty god.
The Tana Bhagat was formed by Oaron saints Jatra Bhagat and Turia Bhagat. Tana Bhagats opposed the taxes imposed on them by the British and staged a Satyagraha movement even before Mahatma Gandhi. All Tana Bhagats were followers of Gandhi during the Independence movement. Tana Bhagats still wear a khadi kurta, dhoti and Gandhi topi (cap) with tricoloured flag in their topi. All Tana Bhagats perform puja to the Mahadeo and the tricolour with a chakra symbol on it, which is fixed at their courtyard.
Among Christian Oraons, there are Roman Catholics and Protestants, the latter of which having several denominations.
In popular culture
- Veer Budhu Bhagat, freedom fighter
- Kartik Oraon,Adivasi Member of parliament, Lok Sabha
- Jual Oram, Minister of Tribal Affairs, India
- Dilip Tirkey, MP of Rajya Sabha for Odisha
- Birendra Lakra, Indian hockey player
- Sunita Lakra, Indian hockey player
- Deep Grace Ekka, Indian hockey player
- Namita Toppo, Indian hockey player
- Renee Kujur, model
- Dinesh Oraon, is an Indian politician currently serving as speaker of Jharkhand legislative assembly and a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party from Jharkhand.
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- Ghosh, Abhik (2003). History and Culture of the Oraon Tribe : Some Aspects of Their Social Life. Mohit. p. 237. ISBN 81-7445-196-X.
- Jha, P. 41 India and Nepal
- Cinema & I pg.116 Archived 25 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- Sinlung Sinlung - Indian tribes