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Kurukh woman dancers in Bangladesh on Indigenous People's Day, 2014
|Regions with significant populations|
|Hindi • Kurukh • Sadri • Odia|
|Hinduism (57%) • Christianity (30%) • Sarnaism (18%) • Other (5%) |
|Related ethnic groups|
The Oraon or Kurukh (Kurukh: Oṛāōn and Kuṛuḵẖ), also spelled Uraon or Oram, are an ethnic group inhabiting states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. They predominantly speak Kurukh as their native 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. Many Oraon have migrated to tea garden of Assam and West Bengal. They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe for the purpose of India's Reservation system. Most Indians in Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname are of Oraon origin.
"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.
Tribal Administration & Justice
In oraon village, the village level political organization is called parha which consists of post such as Pahan (village religious priest), Panibharwa (assistant of Pahan for carrying water), Pujar (assistant of Pahan), Bhandari and Chowkidar. Each has a particular role in the religious ceremonies, festivals and solving dispute in the village. The traditional informal educational institution youth dormitory is called Dhumkuria. The public and common meeting place is Akhra where people meet for the purpose of discussion and solving disputes.
Twelve to thirty village form a parha council. Each village has a village council, member of village council act as the members of parha council in the headship of parha chief. One of the village in Parhra is called Raja(King) village, another Dewan(prime minister) village, another panrey(clerk of the village), a fourth Kotwar(oderly) village and remaining village are called Praja(subject) village. Raja village has highest social satus because headman of this village presides at the meeting of parha panchayat.
Oraon are divided into several clans. Clans among Oraon is taken from birds, fish, animals, plants etc. Some important clans are Aind(a fish), Bakula(Heron), Bara(banyan), Barwa(wild dog), Beck(Salt), Chidra(squirrel), Dhan(Paddy), Edgo(mouse), Ekka(tortoise), Gede(duck), Halman(langur), Khoya(wild dog), Kiro(a fruit), Kachhap(tortoise), Kashyap, Kerketta(Hedge- sparrow), Khakha(crow), Khalkho(pigeon), Khess(paddy), Kujur(Creeper), Lakra(tiger), Minz(a fish), Nag(Cobra), Panna(Iron), Tido(a fish), Tirkey(mice), Toppo(woodpecker), etc. Oraon are patrilocal and patrilineal. Clan name descends father to son. The major lineage is known as bhuinhari khunt. Bhuinhari means owner of the soil. Khunt has two sub groups: the pahan khunt and Mahato khunt. Pahan and Mahato are two main office of Bhuinhari lineage.
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 Parha 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.
Music and dance
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. Some kurukh folk dance are war dance(between two parha), Karma dance, Khaddi or Sarhul dance, Phagu, Jadur, jagra, Matha, Benja Nalna(Wedding dance) and Chali(Courtyard dance).
Some traditional festivals of oraon are Sarhul, Karma, Dhanbuni, Harihari, Nayakhani, Khariyani etc. 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.
Originally, the Oraons relied on the forest and its goods for a economic livelihood. However, recently many have become settled agriculturists while others became migrant workers on tea estates.
Women traditionally a wear thick cotton sari with detailed stitched borders of purple or red thread. Traditional tattoos include elaborate symmetrical patterns around their forearms, ankles, and chest. Men wear a thick cloth with similar detailed borders as a dhoti or lungi.
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 as 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
- Budhu Bhagat, freedom fighter
- Jatra Bhagat, freedom fighter and social reformist
- Sudarshan Bhagat, Member of Parliament
- Deep Grace Ekka, Indian hockey player
- Renee Kujur, model
- Santiuse Kujur, MP of Assam
- Birendra Lakra, Indian hockey player
- Provat Lakra, Football Player of West Bengal
- Sunita Lakra, Indian hockey player
- Lilima Minz, Indian hockey player
- Dinesh Oraon, is an Indian politician currently serving as speaker of Jharkhand legislative assembly and a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party from Jharkhand.
- Jual Oram, Minister of Tribal Affairs, India
- Kartik Oraon, Member of parliament, Lok Sabha
- Dilip Tirkey, MP of Rajya Sabha for Odisha
- Ignace Tirkey, Hockey player
- Biju Toppo, Documentary film maker
- Namita Toppo, Indian hockey player
- Telesphore Toppo, Cardinal
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