Jharkhand literally means “Bushland” i.e “The land of forest” is a state in eastern India. The state shares its border with the states of Bihar to the north, Uttar Pradesh to the northwest, Chhattisgarh to the west, Odisha to the south and West Bengal to the east.The vibrant culture of Jharkhand is highly influenced both by the tribal and the non-tribal community people for apart from these tribal communities there are also non-tribal communities and followers of different religion like Buddhism and Jainism.
Jharkhand locally known as Vananchal is noted for its rich mineral and forest resources. Being a newly carved state from the southern region of Bihar, the state has witnessed transmigration of various people from West Bengal and Bihar, retaining individual cultural traits intact. This blend of various tribal cultures has made the culture of Jharkhand for the better. Some of the other features which add up to the culture of the people are their music, festivals, handicrafts, dance, cuisine and life style. The people of Jharkhand celebrate different festivals with the same enthusiasm like people in any other part of the country. Some of the major festivals which are celebrated with great fun and pomp are Sarhul, Karma, Sohrai, Badna, Tusu, ld, Christmas Holi, Dussehra, etc Chhath Puja is reckoned as one of the most important festivals of Jharkhand which is celebrated twice year namely in the month of March and November. Some of the important tribal festivals are Karte, Sumar and Sarhul.
It has been noted that lately the popularity of Kuchai silk, a traditional Indian fabric, is growing, leading to increasing demand overseas. Kuchai silk is produced chiefly in the Kharsawan-Kuchai region of Jharkhand and the state believes that the current scenario will open up several opportunities for this industry.
The trade is expected to be healthy, especially after the State attained ‘organic silk’ registration for kuchai around October 2008.Kuchai silk uses no chemical in its production and is original and organic produce that does not affect the environment, either.Insiders revealed that kuchai silk manufacturers have already received sizeable orders, and are expecting more.Recognizing this, industry decided to double its silk production for 2008 from the 150 tons last year.
Experts stress that the EU as well as the US are potential markets for kuchai silk, even amidst the financial crunch. Calculations show that sales would increase by almost 40-50 percent.According official statistics, 3,300 farmers have been registered for the production of 30 million organic silk cocoons that would be bred in Kharsawan and Seraikela comprising the Kuchai region. Further, there are 2,300 weavers involved in this mission.
Stylists say that the state should promote this skill by encouraging artistic patterns and modern designs. Reportedly, the silk and sericulture authorities of Jharkhand are already in talks with institutions like NIFT (Calcutta, Chennai, Gandhinagar) and of NID, Ahmedabad, so as to lure more consumers by offering creative skirts, scarves, causal and professional wear as well as evening and party wear.
Embroidery (fine needlework)is created by the women of the tribe for traditional, ceremonial and practical uses using a variety of techniques. Similar to other textile societies like the Balouch and other Central Asian tribes, most everyday objects were woven or embroidered by the tribe’s people themselves with materials and dyes gathered from their herds of livestock and the plants and trees growing in the regions through which they migrated. Textiles were pliable and could assume different shapes on their difficult journeys and could be packed flat when not being used. Textiles are also less heavy than wood (not freely available) and breakage was minimal. Additionally, written histories among nomadic peoples is rare. Perhaps some of their communal history is inscribed in the designs and motifs found on their rugs and textiles. On Banjara textiles most patterns are represented in either square or rectangular form. Human forms are rarely created which is another unique similarity with other textile societies either of Islamic origin and others as well. Numerous embroidery techniques can be observed in Banjara embroideries. Often up to 2 or 3 techniques can be seen on a single small tapestry. These techniques include, but are not limited to, chain stitch, cross-stitch, stem stitch, couching, appliqué, mirrors, kashida and quit stitch. For dancing and ordinary ceremonial wear, women use traditional skirts, shawls and backless blouses generally made of commercial textiles, synthetic yarns and locally available mirrors and metal ornaments. The blouses usually are ornamented on the sleeves and fully embroidered with mirrors across the front. Embroidered flaps with metal ornaments are added to the blouses of married women. The shawls have embroidered borders along the top and bottom edges with a wider more elaborate strip of mirror embroidery at the center top that frames the face. The skirts, hanging low on the hips, are worn with the kodi sadak, a long rope of cowries; the waist bands are generally reinforced with sturdy embroidery, worked on a red quilted or twined ground. Particularly fine pieces are made for prospective brides. Banjara women throughout India wear elaborate twisted and braided hairdos that support and display jewelry and textiles; those styles are typical of Rajasthan. The traditional dress is completed with rows of ivory or bone bracelets, with silver bangles, nose gold ring (bhuria), beads or silver coins necklaces.
Costumes of Jharkhand
The cultural mosaic of Jharkhand was dreamt about, shaped and polished by generations of communities, which have inhabited this land since time immemorial.
Costumes of Jharkhand really depicts the nature, culture, style and simplicity of its people. This state was previously a part of Bihar. In November 2000, Jharkhand became a separate state of India.
Costumes for Women of Jharkhand
Women cover themselves in sarees and blouses. Women, of well-off families, or costume-crazy women, can hardly ignore the dazzle of the ethnic as well as amazing Tussar silk sarees, manufactured in Jharkhand. Tribal female’s traditional clothing is the Panchi and Parhan. Panchi and Parhan is a traditional attire of the women of Jharkhand. The lower garment being panchi and upper, parhan. Jharkhand popularly known as, Vanachal (the land of woods) is well-cultured with a dynamic heritage of textiles and fabric. Jharkhand’s rich tribal culture has a unique and vibrant expression of taste and style. Panchi and Parhan is mainly worn by the tribes of Santhal Pargana of Jharkhand.
The silk sarees are endowed with a lustrous texture, and often with traditional paintings or print, demonstrating tribal dances, and tribal festivals, i.e. various nuances of tribal life.
Recently, the newly launched Anjana and Swarnarekha silks of Jharkhand are ruling the market. Fashion-conscious women are flaunting themselves in this new innovation, respecting ethnicity.
The tribe-centric culture of Jharkhand, has exhibited its preference for plain but elegant accessories. Gold, silver and beads ornaments are indeed aesthetic and hence, eye-captivating. The local women beautify themselves with the help of these ethnic and artistic costumes of Jharkhand.
Costumes for Men of Jharkhand
Men maintain their decency with only one piece of cloth, called Bhagwan. The major tribes of Santhal Pargana, for instance the Paharis and the Santhals follow a dress-code, unique in appearance. Side by side with the tribals, live the non-tribal people.
These people envelop themselves in the traditional costume of Jharkhand, and almost the whole of India, dhoti, kurta- pajama and shirts.
Men while featuring in ceremonies, dress-up themselves in better quality and attractive-looking kurta, pajama and sherwani. Ethnic costumes of Jharkhand are also superb for both men and women.
Tribes of Jharkhand
Asur is an important tribe in the state of Jharkhand in the eastern part of the subcontinent of India. Asur in Jharkhand is one of the thirty major tribes of people who have made the state of Jharkhand their home. The people who belong to this tribe form quite a big part of the total population of the state of Jharkhand.
It ranks 21st among all the 30 tribal groups of the state, in terms of population, that is, there are as many as 9 tribal groups in the state that have a smaller population than the Asur of Jharkhand. Asur is one of the most ancient ethnic groups in the state of Jharkhand. The people belonging to Asur at Jharkhand stay within houses made of clay. They live in villages that are grouped into different tolas for the convenience of the people. The houses in which the people belonging to Asur tribe live do not have any window. The people love to make their houses look even more beautiful by painting them on their external walls. They thrive mostly on the flesh of animals and birds and rice. The total population of the tribal group of Asur is 7783. The rate of literacy among the people of the state of Jharkhand is not very satisfying. The rate is only 10.62%.Though their total number is not ignorable, the percentage of the total population of the state that they cover is not a massive one. The people who belong to the Asur tribe cover only 0.13 % of the total population of the state.
The Baiga is one of the most important tribes in the state of Jharkhand in India. The people who belong to the Baiga tribe of Jharkhand are reportedly least civilized of all the different tribes of the state. The people of the tribe of Baiga in Jharkhand inhabit in a particular district of the state. The name of this district of Jharkhand is the Garwah district. The people who belong to the tribe of Baiga constitute a Kolerian ethnic community. The name of this tribe of Jharkhand has quite a few meanings. One of them is ‘ojha’ or a person who makes medicines. Many of the people who belong to the Baiga tribe make medicines by profession, though their chief traditional occupation has been shifting cultivation. The people who belong to the tribe of Baiga at Jharkhand dwell in the remotest regions of the state and it becomes very difficult for the people of the urban world to reach out to them. Most of them are found to reside in the forested regions and hilly areas of Jharkhand. There are two book references of the tribe of Baiga of Jharkhand. One is the book called ‘Highlands of Central India’. This book was written by a person named Forsyth. Another reference of this primitive tribe of Jharkhand is found in the documentation, which is called the ‘Seoni Settlement Report’. This report was authored by a captain by the name Thompson. Though these two written documents mention the Baiga tribe of the state of Jharkhand, they cannot be termed reliable written sources of information about the people who belong to this tribe.
The state of Jharkhand came into emergence on 15th November, 2001. The population of Jharkhand in mainly comprised of tribal people. There are more the 30 distinct tribal communities in Jharkhand and these tribes are grouped under the ‘scheduled tribes’ group of the Jharkhand populace. These tribes are separated on the basis of their language and cultural preferences. Banjara is one such tribe in Jharkhand.
Though smallest in number, the Banjara tribe in Jharkhand is a recognized part of the tribal community. Unlike the Banjara tribe of Rajasthan, the Banjaras of Jharkhand lead a settled life. They generally live in thatched huts with kuchcha walls. Though they remain unperturbed by the modernization around, recent years has seen far reaching changes in the relationship between the Banjaras and the large society. The literacy rate of the Banjaras is about 12.38%. The colorful lives of the Banjaras now have become the source of entertainment to the entire state. Tribal festivals like Sarhul, Tusu and Sohrai are celebrated throughout the state. Banjara music and dances like Chaw, Natua, Ghatwari and Matha now-a-days has become sources of recreation even to the tourist to Jharkhand. They now seem to plan their visit to Jharkhand in the festive seasons of the tribes in Jharkhand.
The Chero are one of the scheduled tribes of Jharkhand. In Jharkhand, Chero dwell in the districts of Ranchi, SathalPargana, Latehar and Palamu. Palamu seems to have a larger concentration of the Chero tribe in Jharkhand. Besides, the Chero at Jharkhand are also found in Bhojpur, Gaya, Champaran, Munger, Daltonganj, Patan, Lesliganj, Bhawanathpur, Rohtas, etc. It is noteworthy in this context that the Chero, also known as Cherwas or Cherus, was a martial group that annexed many new territories through war. They are said to be descendants of the Kshatriya lineage known as Chandravanshi. The Chero of Jharkhand follows a patriarchal form of the society where women are exempted from all the rights to inheritance and succession. The Chero tribe of Jharkhand is divided into two endogamous groups, namely Terahazari and Barahazari and is also divided into a number of clans said to follow endogamy and exogamy.
The abode of the members of the extremely cherished Munda tribe is not confined to the borders of the state of Jharkhand. The Munda people have also penetrated into other beleaguering states of Orissa, Chattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal. As a matter of fact, a handful of the Mundatribals have also been noted to have established their permanent domicile in Bangladesh as well. The sphere where the Munda in Jharkhand bears a remarkable similitude with its contemporary tribes is mainly concerned with a conspicuous dialect and a unique life-style. This could be vividly illustrated from the fact that the lingo restricted to them is known as ‘Mundari’. The legend that exists behind this extremely coveted and revered language elucidates that Mundari actually belonged to the Austro-Asiatic family of languages. According to the last census, the estimated number of members of the Munda across Jharkhand totals up to twenty lacs or two millions. As a matter of fact, the language of the Mundas had been inspired from the designation of the tribe itself and bears uncanny resemblance with the other vernaculars fluently used in India like Sanskrit and Dravidian. The Mundari language is considered to be included in the group of interrelated languages like Ho, Santali and Mundari.
The religion that is followed by a quarter of the population of Munda of Jharkhand is Christianity. However, they also have evolved their own religion known as Sarna. They consider the celestial bodies like the moon, sun and the planets to be holy and ‘Sing Bonga’ or the ‘Sun God’ is their principle deity.
The individuals of the Oraon tribe not only inhabit the domain of Jharkhand but a handful have also successfully fanned out into many economically and technologically sound cities like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai as educated and well-employed individuals. Previously, the members of the Oraon clan extracted their livelihood from chopping trees, accumulating timber and other forest related activities. They also depended on the woods to procure them with all the essential ingredients required to perform their rituals. But as we entered the threshold of the 21st century, the tribal people of the Oraon of Jharkhand have taken up agriculture as their primary means of earning their livelihood. However, the petite bunch of the Oraon tribe who had opted to seek refuge in the northern realms of India has been mostly employed in the flourishing tea estates. The lingo that has been accepted by the population of the Oraon tribe in Jharkhand is Kurukh. This language has originated from the Dravidian family of languages and bears significant similitude with other contemporary dialects like Brahui and Malto. The individuals belonging to the Oraon tribe also like to have a grandeur lifestyle. This can be evaluated from the zeal and enthusiasm with which they perform dances, sing enchanting folk songs and play a vast array of musical instruments with adeptness.
Art and Craft of Jharkhand
One of the oldest tribal paintings in India, these are also called scroll paintings due to its appearance, depicts life after death. This form of painting is in the process of extinction due to lack of funds for promoting it.
The Malhar and Tentri communities in the State are experts in the metal crafts and make household wares.
Another traditional craft of the tribes in the area is stone carving but it is also in the process of extinction. Only few stone carvers are left with the knowledge and they are also not doing it as it does not generate any revenue.
The tribals in Jharkhand region are found of ornaments and artisans of the region make simple ornaments using gold, silver or beeds. These ornaments are simple but depicts the traditional culture of the region.
In the hilly regions of Jharkhand and around its capital city Ranchi, there dwell families who, for generations have reveled in toy making. Their wooden cut outs, glossed with an eye-catching canary paint depict the nature around. Of course the sizes are miniaturized for they are really playthings for children that have wheels for mobility or detachable limbs that allow free acrobatics manipulated by the pulling of string. These agile puppets are usually made from palm leaf slivers painted with pink dots and finger paintings, giving the right accents to a day of fun and frolic.