Tribes of Jharkhand

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The tribes of Jharkhand consist of 32 tribes inhabiting the Jharkhand state in India. The tribes in Jharkhand were originally classified on the basis of their cultural types by the Indian anthropologist, Lalita Prasad Vidyarthi. His classification was as follows:

oldest tribe of jharkhand is Asur 31th tribe of jharkhand is kavar in 2003 32th tribe of jharkhand is Kol in 2003


The Scheduled Tribe (ST) population of Jharkhand State is as per 2001 census 7,087,068 constituting 26.3 per cent of the total population (26,945,829) of the State.Among all Sates and UTs, Jharkhand holds 6th and 10th ranks terms of the ST population and the percentage share of the ST population to the total population of the State respectively. The growth of the ST population has been 17.3 per cent which is lower by 6 per cent if compared with the growth of the State’s total population (23.3 per cent)during 1991-2001. The state has a total of thirty (30) Scheduled Tribes and all of them have been enumerated at 2001 census. The Scheduled Tribes are primarily rural as 91.7per cent of them reside in villages. District wise distribution of ST population shows that Gumla district has the highest proportion of STs (68.4per cent). The STs constitute more than half of the total population in Lohardaga and Pashchimi Singhbhum districts whereas Ranchi and Pakaur districts have 41.8 – 44.6 per cent tribal population. Kodarma district (0.8 percent) preceded by Chatra (3.8 per cent) has the lowest proportion of the STs Population. Jharkhand has 32 tribal groups:

Literacy and educational level[edit]

The overall literacy rate among the STs has increased from 27.5 per cent at 1991 census to 40.7 per cent at 2001census. Despite this improvement, the literacy rate among the tribes is much below in comparison to that of all STs at the national level (47.1per cent). Like the overall literacy rate among the STs, male and female literacy rates (54 per cent and 27.2 per cent) are also considerably lower than those at the national level (59.2 per cent & 34.8 per cent). Among the numerically larger tribes, Oraon and Kharia have more than half of the population in the age of seven (7) years and above are literates while Munda have the literacy rate almost equal to that of all STs at the national level. Remaining five larger tribal groups have shown the overall literacy rates lower than that of the national average. Among the total tribal literates, 33.6 per cent are either without any educational level or have attained education below primary level. The proportions of literates who have attained education up to primary level and middle level are 28.6 percent & 17.7 per cent respectively. Persons educated up to matric / secondary / higher secondary constitute 16.5 percent. This implies that every 6th tribal literate is amatriculate. Graduates and above are 3.5 per cent while non-technical & technical diploma holders constitute a negligible 0.1 per cent only. While Kharia, Oraon and Ho have the highest proportion of matriculates i.e.every 5th literates of these tribes are matriculates closely followed by Munda who have every 6th literate a matriculate. Kharwar have the lowest percentage of matriculates, preceded by Bhumij, Lohra and Santhal. While Oraon and Kharia have the highest percentage of graduates, Bhumij have the lowest proportion of degree holders, preceded by Kharwar, Lohra and Santhal. The data show that the proportion of tribal literates decline sharply in higher level of education as the percentage of students after matriculation drops down to almostone third in higher secondary level. Out of the total 19.8 lakh tribal children in the age group 5 –14 years, only 8.5 lakh children have been attending school constituting 43.1 per cent. Alarmingly, as many as 11.3 lakh (56.9 per cent) children in the corresponding age group have not been going to school. The Statement below shows that among the major STs, Oraon, Kharia and Munda have more than 50 per cent school going children whereas Santhal, Ho, Lohra have 36–47 per cent children attending school.[1]

Tribal festivals in Jharkhand[edit]


Sarhul is celebrated during spring season and the Saal trees get new flowers on their branches. It is a worship of the village deity who is considered to be the protector of the tribes. People sing and dance a lot when the new flowers appear. The deities are worshiped with saal flowers. The village priest or Pahan fasts for a couple of days. In the early morning he takes a bath and puts on new a dhoti made of virgin cotton (kachha dhaga). The previous evening, the Pahan takes three new earthen pots and fills them with fresh water; the next morning he observes these earthen pots and water level inside. If the water level decreases he predicts that there would be famine or less rain, and if the water level is normal, that is the signal of a good rain. Before pooja starts, the wife of the Pahan washes his feet and gets blessings from him. At the pooja, Pahan offers three young roosters of different colors to one for the almighty god — the Singbonga or Dharmesh, as the Mundas, Ho and Oraons respectively address Him; another for the village deities; and the third for the ancestors. During this pooja villagers surround the Sarna place.

Pahan(The tribal Priest) taking Holy Bath during Sarhul Worship in Ranchi, Jharkhand

Traditional drum — Dhol, Nagara and Turhi — players keep drumming and playing along with Pahan chanting prayers to deities. When pooja is finished, boys carry Pahan on their shoulders and girls dancing ahead take him to his house where his wife welcomes him by washing his feet. Then Pahan offers Saal flowers to her wife and villagers. These flowers represent the brotherhood and friendship among villagers and Pahan the priest, distributes saal flowers to every villager. He also puts saals flowers on every house's roof which is called "phool khonsi". At the same time Prasad, a rice made beer called Handia, is distributed among the villagers. And the whole village celebrates with singing and dancing this festival of Sarhul. It goes on for weeks in this region of Chhotanagpur. In Kolhan region it is called "Baa Porob" meaning Flower Festival. it is the festival of the grest happiness.


The Karam festival is a worship of Karam devta, the god of power, youth and youthfulness. Karam is held on the 11 of moon in Bhadra month. Groups of young villagers go to the jungle and collect wood, fruits and flowers. These are required during the Puja of Karam God. During this period people sing and dance in groups. The entire valley seems to be dancing with the drumbeatth day of the phases. This is one of the rare examples of such a vital and vibrant youth festival in Jharkhand’s tribal area.

KARAM of Ramgarh --- Every year on the 11the day of bhadar the people of Jharkhand, Bengal, North odisha and some parts of chatishgarh celebrate the birth anniversary of Karam thakur with pomp and ceremony. On that night we feel as if the mountain of Ramgarh dance with chotanagpur plateau. According to legend and songs of Karam raja we find out that he was a thakur (king ) of jura thikana of Jawa estate(mewar).This chief's Kingdom was near Banas river. The neighbouring state was sirohi the king of Indore called on him for a war at Bengal. Karam story described about the Karam Rajas collection of wealth from the business(war) and how he and his men remains here because of dense jungle and unable to found the route to his country even also by sending message through pigeon To Jhalda (jhalod ) for their rescue from the unknown jungle but the unfortunate king and his men struggled here in poverty and starvation, and lastly settled here as cultivators. A few people who are now cultivators at this region associates themselves with Rajput clans as Guhilor, Jhal (badnawar ),katiwar, pundiriwar, Bag (badnawar ) etc. and also some territorial name as Tilwar, mutra, khyrod, Dumriar, Kesriwar, Nagtawar. The Karam songs hold the name of cities like Dhar, Indore, Malani, Sirohi, Sonigorea, Fulbaria, Ratanpur, Jhalda (Jhalod ). They observe Chhau (war) dance along with jhumar which are related to western India. The above said clans with their men and the regional tribal people have great faith on Karam raja so they worship him by two branches of Kedi kadam tree. This Kedi kadam tree is known as Karam tree,as a symbolic name of Karam thakur. The people worship him to get rid of misery and poverty. The birth anniversary of Karam thakur is so popular in the region like Ramgarh, Ranchi, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur and Purlia, the Chinnamasta mandir of Ramgarh is famous for Jitiya and KARAM. Karam is celebrated at chutupalu 8 km south of ramgarh. Many places Near Ramgarh were named after Karam(karampur,karmaratol,karambay ) great historian GS sardesai gives some light on the basic fact of this history, it is sorry to say that in this 21st century the story is still in dark. The newly settled urban people consider it as a tribal festival,with out any deep knowledge. East Indian historian were unknown about the story of this RAWAT KARAM THAKUR of SALUMBAR...


At the same time, the unmarried tribal girls celebrate the Jin awa festival, which has its own kind of songs and dance. This is held mainly for the expectation of good fertility and better household. The unmarried girls decorate a small basket with germinating seeds. It is believed that the worship for good germination of the grains would increase the fertility. The girls offer green melons to the Karam deity as a symbol of ‘son’ which reveals the primitive expectation of human being (i.e., grains and children). The entire tribal area of Jharkhand becomes tipsy during this time.

JAWA OF RAMGARH-Jharkhand has its own primitive and new culture. Some are indigenous and others are exotic, the former culture is the bone immersion and the later culture is the Tusu's immersion and some culture have got its own historical identity like Jawa or Jawas and Jitiya. In the passage of time 273 years have passed,some people of Jharkhand remember their past native estate Jawa and Jitiya with pomp and ceremony. By analysing the songs of Jawa and the history we found that Jawa or Jawas had a glorious past.Jawa an erstwhile estate of Mewar ruled by Rawat of Salambur. It is situated 66 km south west of Udaipur, this place is known as Kherwara. It is stated in historical annals of the Mewar that in Mewar the three major Bhumiyas chiefs were those of Jawas Para and Madri. The Bhumiyas chiefs of Jawa and Para are called Sambari chahuhan. Rao lakhan Singh the progenitor of the family left Sambar to Marwar and in the 13th century two of his descendants Ganga and Manik came to Jawas, the two brothers divided the conquer territory among themselves. Ganga got Para and Manik got Jawas.later on the hilly area situated at the Western part of Jawa were also ruled by the purbiya chahuhan. These area are known as Jura, Ogna and panwara. Rawat Patta is reputed to have come from Edur in 1398 Ad to Jura. The Western boundary of Jura is Sirohi state. All the above-mentioned estate of Mewar were ruled by the Bhumiyas chiefs and later on these chiefs were under the ruling family members of Salumber known as Thakur and their headquarter was at Jawas...u JITIYA - Jitiya was situated near chitor of Mewar, now it is situated at Bhilwara district of Rajasthan. It was a former estate of Mewar, it is now situated in the western part of Mandelgarh andnorthern part nearer to Chitor district. Jitiya was ruled by the descendants of Biram Singh.Biram Singh was younger brother of Rana Pratap Singh, the second wife of Uday Singh was Sahaja Bai, she had two sons Shakti and Biram. Shakti who saved the life of Rana Pratap during the Battle of Haldighat by giving his horse Ankara. After the death of Chetak at Gogunda hill. Biram Singh was very close to Rana Pratap, he saved the family of Rana Pratap during the time of his trouble from Haldighat and after wards. Man Singh the grandson of Biram was first Sisodiya jagirdar or Thakur of Jitiya. Jitiya,Mandelgarh were also ruled by the Bhumiyas chiefs of Solanki origin,the Bhumiyas of Mandelgarh were courageous to others. Now the question comes who were Bhumiyas and Thakurs? The ancient clans prior to Rana Sangha had ceased on the rising greatness of the subsequent new division of clans. They took to plough, they never forsook their arms and past culture. Their descendants were known as Bhumiyas. The ruling family members who enjoyed the estate by the grant of Prince are known as chief or Thakur, both had duties to protect the country and also took parts in the expedition to abroad. When and how they came to Jharkhand? After Nadir shah's invasion to India the fall of Mogul empire came to its end, and the Maratha power was on the expansion having severe internal rivalry, this internal dispute between peshwa and Bhonshle ended with clash at Jharkhand for Bengal. At the time of Bengal expedition peshwa left puna with the object of check mating Raghu Ji in Bengal. At that time in 1742(March -April) peshwa asked tribute or help from Rajput princes of Rajputana,when he was at Bundelkhand.At that time Rawat Bhakt Singh was(1739–61) chief of Jawas. Probably Karam Raja was his cousin brother and Thakur of Jura. At that time the total Rajput soldiers and Bhumiyas soldiers came under the leadership of Rawat (Sisodiya) Karam Singh to Bengal. So they came to Bengal in the train of Peshwa Nana saheb and reached near Murshidabad on 13 March 1743. Their returned journey was very much painful with a heavy clash with their fellow brother Raghu Ji Bhonshle of Nagpur near the dense forest of modern purulia to the mountain pass of Bedu gharh near Ramgharh.On April 27 -1743 it was their last day of happiness. The advance troops of Nana saheb fell into prey by the act of deceiving by Bhonshle near the Mountain pass of Ramgharh. peshwa and his troops halted after Ramgharh near Lilajan river for near about 12 days but the wandering troops of Karam Raja and others unable to join the Peshwa troops, probably they were pushed by Bhonshle (mund kata troops) towards Damodar river.They were unable to found the direction in the dense forest to Ramgharh.Then they settled here as cultivators, the descendants of Karam Raja and other Thakurs are known as Kurmis having their own clans of Rajput. Bhumiyas are known as Bhumij and other people were also known as Kurmis (cultivator) having some territorial name of Rajputana Gujarat and Malwa in their septs. Maximum Thakurs and employees resided nearby the jungle of Damodar river and the place was named as Bokaro (the settler of foolish) and some also resided near Ramgharh. The Bhumiyas of Jawa never retained their position in Jharkhand, they lost their time and wealth by wandering their route to their motherland with Karam Raja. Probable the Bhumiyas of Jitiya and Mandelgarh were witty to adjust in those circumstances and retained their position in the Jungle. They became the chiefs of newly created areas like Manbhum (probably the land of Mandelgarh mBhumiyas). later on they proceed towards Barabhum, Patkum,Dholbhum, and Baghmundi. In the Year 1742 the name of areas like Manbhum, Purulia, Jhalda, Bokaro, Udaipur, Singhbhum etc. were not in existence .Only Pachet estate was there in this jungle area. Their happiness didn't last for long. After the British penetration to this jungle mahals, they slowly lost their power and estate to Bengali officers. The Bhumiyas chiefs were gradually lost their independent and superior status after Bhumij revolt (1832–33).on being defeated by the British force they completely disintegrated and came and took refugees in adjacent area mostly with munda people, so the newly creating culture and traditions by the People of western India like Karam Jitiya Jawa and Tusu flourished by the Bhumiyas chiefs of Jharkhand. The maharana or the Sisodiya family of Udaipur pare the highest in ranks and dignity among the Rajput chiefs of India and treated them and continue to treat them with great respect. So the people of their country and other Rajputs respect Sisodiya Karam or karmu and Dharam or Dharmu with their native estate Jawas and Jitiya. After the clash at Jharkhand peshwa became the super hero among his rivals in India, leaving behind the sorrow and the painful life of his comrades in this jungle,having social stigma as Adivasi and their traditions and culture are recognised as Tribal festival of Jharkhand.

Hal Punhya[edit]

Hal punhya is a festival which begins with the fall of winter. The first day of Magh month, known as “Akhain Jatra” or “Hal Punhya”, considered as the beginning of ploughing. The farmers, to symbolize this auspicious morning plough two and half circles of their agricultural land this day is also considered as the symbol of good fortune.

Bhagta Parab[edit]

This festival comes to between the period of spring and summer. Among the tribal people of Jharkhand, Bhagta Parab is best known as the worship of Budha Baba. People fast during the day and carry the bathing Pahan the priest, to the tribal mandir called Sarana Mandir. The Pahan sometimes called Laya, gets out of the pond, the devotees make a chain, locking their thighs with each other and come forward to offer their bare chest to Laya for walk over. After worship in the evening, devotees take part in dynamic and vigorous Chhau dance with lots of gymnastic actions and masks. The next day is full of primitive sports of bravery. The devotees pierce hooks on skin and get tied at one end of a long horizontal wooden pole, which is hanging on the top of a vertical Shal wood pole. The height goes up to 40 feet. The other end of the pole which is connected with a rope, pulled around the pole by the people and the tied devotee display the breath-taking dance in the sky. This festivals is more popular in the Tamar region of Jharkhand.


Ropini is perhaps the first festival of Jharkhand. It is a festival of sowing seeds in the field. Farmers starts sowing seeds from this day but there is no dance or song like other tribal festivals but just a few rituals. There are some other festivals like Rajsawala Ambavati and Chitgomha are also celebrated with Ropini.


Bandana is one of the most famous festivals celebrated during the black moon of month of Kartik (Kartik Aamavashya). This festival is mainly for the animals. Tribals are very close with animals and pets. In this festival, people wash, clean, paint, decorate feed well and put ornaments to their cows and bulls. The song dedicated for this festival is called Ohira which is an acknowledgement for animal’s contribution in their day-to-day life. The belief behind this festival is animals are integral part of life and have souls as human being do. The most exciting day of the bandanna week is the last day. Closured bulls and buffaloes are chained to a strong pole and they are attacked with a dry animal hyde. The angry animals hit the dry skin with their horns and the crowd enjoys. Generally the colour used for decorating animals are natural colours and the is artwork is of folk type.


This is held once every 12 years. The womenfolk wear menswear and go for hunting in forest. Jani-Shikaar is performed in remember of driving away the mohameddens by the kurukh womenfolk in Roh-tas-garh, who wanted to capture the fort on the Sharhul festival new year day for tribal community, when men used to be in drunken condition. They had tried to capture 12 times in 12 years and every time they were driven by the kurukh women, who wore the men's clothes while in the field of war.

Tribal artwork[edit]

  • Chhou mask - Chhou is a type of dance done with colourful masks. The masks are made of paper mache in Singhbhum and purulia district of Jharkhand and west Bengal respectively. Paper mache of Saraikela and Charinda are famous for Chhou dance. Some times it appears similar to the masks used in kerla in Kathakali.
  • Tribal woodwork - Jharkhand is full of good quality saal forest and hence wooden artwork in the "should" of tribals. The wood is used for cooking, housing, farming, fishing etc. The tribal artists of some villages have explored their creativity in art, like beautifully decorative door panels, toys, boxes, and other household articles.
  • Tribal Bamboo Artwork - The bamboo found in this area are different from bamboo of Southeast Asia. There is tourist place, Netarhat, which means a Bazaar of Bamboo. These bamboos are thin, and strong and flexible. The tribal people use bamboo for making baskets, hunting & fishing equipments. Specially the bamboo made fishing cage is very attractive.
  • Tribal Pottery - Tribal pottery is a part of tribals but still no specific working style observed.
  • Tribal jewellery - The tribal people particularly like jewellery. They use metallic ornaments made of gold, silver, brass, copper for their earrings, nose ring, bracelets, bangles etc.
  • Godna - Tribals use ornaments a lots but the spiritual concept of ornament is very different. They believe that all ornaments are human made and are mortal. Therefore, they invented tattoos as permanent ornament. Majority of tribal woman have tattoos called Godna, on their bodies. However, tribal man also use Godna.They believe that Godna are the only ornament which goes with them after death also.
  • Tribal weapons - Bow and arrow is the symbolic weapon of the tribals of this area. Apart from this they use iron made Axes and Doulies and Ghana (Big hammer).

Tribal religion: Sarna[edit]

See also: Sarnaism

Although, Hinduism is the predominant religion of the State (68.6 per cent), the Hindu tribes constitute 39.8 per cent only. As many as 45.1 per cent of the tribal population follow ‘other religions and persuations’. Christian tribes are 14.5 per cent and less than half per cent (0.4 per cent) are Muslims. Among the major tribes, Santhal have more than half of the total population (56.6 per cent) professes Sarna Dharam. Oraon and Munda have more than 50 per cent of population follow ‘other religions and persuasions’ followed by Christianity. Ho tribe has the highest proportion (91per cent) of persons professing ‘other religions and persuations’.*[2]

Sarna religion/Sarna Dharam (regarded by tribals as Sari Dharam, that means True Religion) is religion of tribals of India. They have their own worship place called "SARNA ASTHAL/JAHER". They have also religious flag called "SARNA JHANDA". Which can be seen more in Ranchi District. In Ranchi the capital of jharkhand, there are "SARNA ASTHAL". In SARHUL festival every Oraon gather in Ranchi with a great Rally. In this time "SARNA JHANDA" can be seen every where in Ranchi. Some tribe followed Sarna Dharam, where Sarna means sacred grove. Their religion is based on the oral traditions passed from generation-to-generation. The religion is deeply ingrained in their culture and traditions, respecting the superiority of our natural world and its power. It strongly believes in one God, the Supreme Being, the Great Spirit, the Great One, the Creator, the Mighty Spirit, the one who rules over the entire universe, known as Dharmesh. They strongly believe in Lord Dharmesh’s appearance in Sal trees.

According to their philosophy, the lord Dharmesh is the most powerful and most important deity. He is responsible for the creation of our universe including our ancestors besides acting as our protector. In fact, the whole world (Universe) is regulated by a superpower that is Dharmesh in Kurukh which simply means the almighty, he is also called Mahaedeo. The great one Dharmesh’s purity demands that he be offered sacrifices only of things that are white. Hence he is given sacrifices of white goats, white fowls, white gulainchi flowers, white cloth, sugar, milk, etc. White is the sacred colour of Oraon tribe, in fact it is true for most adivasi.

Among the many important deities, the Chala-pacho Devi (Sarna Devi) is among the most important and most respected deity. The Gram Devi Chala-Pachho is a caring Old age lady with beautifully flowing white hair. It is believed that the Sal tree is the holy abode of the Sarna Devi, the mother goddess that protects and nurtures the Oraon tribe and others. On the occasion of Sarhul festival, the Pahan conducts special puja of the Devi. According to Sarna Dharam, the Devi lives in the wooden soop of Pahan kept at Chala-Kutti place, the auspicious place at Pahan’s home. At Kutti place, one stick made up of Saal wood or Bamboo Wood is fixed on the ground, on this respected wooden soop called Sarna-Soop, the Sarna-Devi resides.

Tribals perform rituals under the Sal trees at a place called ‘Sarna Sthal’, it is also known as ‘Jaher’ (sacred grove); it resembles a small forest patch. In Oraons’ villages, one can easily find the sacred religious place the ‘Sarna Sthal’ that has holy Sal trees and other trees planted at the site. Sometimes the Jaher are located inside the nearby forest area and not in the village.

This Sarna Sthal (Jaher) is a common religious place for the whole village and almost all the important socio-religious ceremonies of the village take place at this place only. These ceremonies are performed by the whole village community at a public gathering with the active participation of village priests known as ‘Pahan’. The chief assistant of village priest is called ‘Pujaar’ or ‘Panbhara’.

The tribals have their own way of conscience, faith and belief. Basically, they believe in the super natural spirit called the Singbonga. According to the belief of the Santhal community, the world is inhabited by spiritual beings of different kinds; and the Santhals consider themselves as living and doing everything in close association with these supernatural beings. They perform rituals under the Sal trees at a place called "Jaher" (sacred grove). Often the Jaher can be found in the forests. They believe in Bonga’s appearance in Sal trees and have named their religion "Sarna."

The genesis of the Sarna religion is interesting. According to the mythology of the Santhal community, the Santhal tribals had gone to the forest for hunting and they started the discussion about their ‘Creator and Savior’ while they were resting under a tree. They questioned themselves that who is their God? Whether the Sun, the Wind or the Cloud? 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 God’s house. They left an arrow in the sky; it fell down under a Sal tree. They started worshiping the tree and named their religion as "Sarna" because it is derived from a Sal tree. Thus, Sarna religion came into existence. There are priests and an assistant priests called "Naikey" and "Kudam Naike" in every Santhal village.

Name of one Sarna Union[edit]

All India Sarna Dhorom,at Jhoradi Odisha in the district of Mayurbhanj. It was from this union that as many procession,demonstration with their drums and equipment like TUMDH, TAMAK, GHURI, CHORCHURI, AAH, SAR, KHANDA, TARWALE etc. held in the various part of the country like Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and in many other places, their aims and objective was to raise the audible voice in ears of State and Central Government so that they are being protected from extinct and their laws and religious are being valued by Government and people of India as other religious.It has its Law and order made by its cabinet committee and it is being followed by all Sarnaism . They too organize seminars, conferences to enhance their Laws and Order among all Sarnaism. There are many charitable trust to provide free medical treatment among the poor people, they too, run many schools and colleges in the mentioned state of India.


External links[edit]