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Festivals
1. Phaggu

Phaggu is a festival which is observed towards the end of February or the beginning of March. On the evening previous to the feast, a young castor (Palma christi) plant and a semar (Bombax malabaricum) branch are planted in an open place. After that hen, arwa rice, handia(rice made wine) are taken to that place to be offered and then arwa rice is fed to the hen. Soon after, the hen is sacrificed and cooked there. The whole process is done by Naigas,

who after mutilating the hen cooks it and then offers roti(Chapatti). Rice and cooked hens are given to children while adults are supposed to drink handia. Women are prohibited from participating in these sacerd performances. After whole ritual performances, around sacred trees some hay, firewood and dry leaves are heaped. The village priest sets fire to the hay. When fire burns at its brightest the young castor shrub is cut into pieces with an axe. Immediately the young boys of the village light torches from the bonfire and throw the burning torches at fruit trees, saying, ‘Be loaded with good fruit’.

 

 

2. Sarhul

The most important festival for the Oroans and tribals of Chotanagpur is Sarhul.  It is also known as a harvest festival, is marked to welcome new year for tribals. The festival is celebrated at the begning of spring in the month of April, when sal trees becomes greener and blossoms with its flower, called the Shalony or Shalai; the symbolic flower of Sarhul. Different tribes have different ways of celebrating this festival, but each one worships the spirit of the Sal tree to seek its blessings for a good harvest. The festival holds a great significance for the tribals. The festival is very popular for its festive mood. The whole region is highly charged with full pump, dance and song, food and drinks.

Sarhul — a combination of Mundari words sarai (flower) and hul (bouquet) — means a bouquet of summer-blooming flowers. As the name suggests, the tribals worship trees and flowers that decorate mother Earth. These shaal flowers represents the brotherhood and friendship, which the tribal priest distribute in every house of the village.  The village deity who is supposed to be the protector of the Adivasis is worshipped in the sacred grove with this flower. Unless the deities of the village are pleased on them they can not be safe and prosperous.


At the Sarhul festival the marriage of the sun-god and earth-mother is celebrated, and this cannot be done till the sal tree gives the flowers for the ceremony. A white cock is taken to represent the sun and a black hen the earth; their marriage is celebrated by marking them with vermilion, and they are sacrificed. The villagers then accompany the Pahan or Naigas, the village priest, to the sarna or sacred grove, a remnant of the old sal forest in which is located Sarna Burhi or 'The old women of the grove.' "To this dryad," writes Colonel Dalton, "who is supposed to have great influence over the rain (a superstition not improbably founded on the importance of tress as cloud-compellers), the party offer five fowls, which are afterward eaten, and the remainder of the day is spent in feasting. They return laden with the flowers of the sal tree, and next morning with the Naigas pay a visit to every house, carrying the flowers. The women of the village all stand on the threshold of their houses, each holding two leaf-cups; one empty to receive the holy water; the other with rice-beer for the Baiga. His reverence stops at each house, and places flowers over it and in the hair of the women. He sprinkles the holy water on the seeds that have been kept for the new year and showers blessings on every house, saying, 'May your rooms and granary filled with paddy that the Naigas's name may be great.' When this is accomplished the woman throws a vessel of water over his venerable person, heartily dousing the man whom the moment before they were treating with such profound respect. This is no doubt a rain-charm, and is a familiar process. The Naigas is prevented from catching cold by being given the cup of rice-beer and is generally gloriously drunk before he completes his round. There is now a general feast, and afterwards the youth of both sexes, gaily decked with the sal blossoms, the pale cream-white flowers of which make the most becoming of ornaments against their dusky skins and coal-black hair, proceed to the Akhara and dance all night."

To observe the festival, the tribals, decked up in colourful clothes and carrying Sal leaves, organised a procession in villages and cities. To make the procession a success, a youth brigade has been formed. The path along the procession has been covered with sarna flags and special puja has been performed at the sarna sthal on the eve of the procession. Huge arch gates have come up along the procession route, courtesy of certain organisations.

Several programmes are organised on the eve of Sarhul.

 

3. Karma  festival

 

Karma is the second main festival of Oroans. Karma festival celebrated by the other tribals also, mainly in Jharkhan, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal state of India. It is celebrated, when the rice is ready for planting out, It comes after the Agriculture operation of Kharif is completed, generally celebrated on the month of September and as the Kanihari or harvest celebration. After the completion of the agriculture operations, the community prays to God named "Karma Dev" for the bumper harvest. It also signifies a celebration after the hard labour they have gone through the agricultural operations.

     At the Karma Festival a party of young boys and girls went to the forest and cut a young Karma tree(Nauclea parvifolia) or a branch of that tree, which symbolizes fertility and they bring this home in triumph and plant it in the middle of an open ground or Akhra and young boys and girls spent the whole festival night singing and dancing around it. Next morning all they may be seen at an early hour in rejoicing mood.  Elders gathered under the fine old tamarind trees that surround the Akhra, and the boys and girls, arm-linked in a huge circle, dancing round the karma tree, which, decked with garlands, decorated with strips of colored cloth and sham bracelets and necklets of plaited straw, and with the bright faces and merry laughter of the young people encircling it, reminds one of the gift-bearing tree so often introduced at our own great festival. Festival celebrates the renewal of vegetation". Accompanied by song, drums and flutes they dance round and round. Planting of Karma saplings is an essential part of the dace ritual. The songs sung on this occasion narrate the legends of Karma and Dharma. The Karma dance is associated with fertility.

Devotees fast from morning till the next day – a good 24 hours on the day of worship. Young boys and girls dance together and the girls offer to the boys sprouted barley seeds. Java and wheat is germinated a few days earlier and the small plants are put in a small bamboo basket and placed before the branch of the Karam Tree. This branch represents Karam Deo. A lamp is lit and placed before Karam Deo. 

There are some stories behind scared performances. Karma and Dharma are two brothers. Once their father asked who among them is greater. On being asked this Karma started worshipping Karma the tree of Karma and started farming and Dharma kept busy himself in doing something else. Finally Karma became richer than Dharma. Therefore this scared performance is celebrated. One another story privilege among Kurukhs " Long ago, there were seven brothers of a family, destroyed the Karma tree and thrown out the village. Karm Dev became very angry with them. After few day they suffered from some kinds of skin disease. They were understood, why those disease came to their home. They had decided to bring a branch of Karm tree and plant it in front of home. One brother went far from the seven sea and brought a branch of Karam tree. They planted it and started worship regularly. Soon, their all disease gone from their bodies and  they became healthy.

There are various types of Karam festivals are also celebrated by the Oroans. Main Karma is Dasay Karama, another Karama festivals are Jitya Karama, Kotta Karama, Chali Karama, Rashka Karama, Luchki Karama, Udaypuriya Karama, Gangpuriya Karama, Renja Karama, Lahsuwa Karama, Kesalpuriya Karama, Birinjya Karama, Adjho Karama, Thapdi Karama, Thadia Karama, Bharni Karama and Chatawa Karama. Chali Karama is divided in Pata Karama, Bariyo Karama, Pairi Karama and Riyori Karama.

 
4.The Harvest Festival
 

The Kanihari, as described by Father Dehon, is held previous to the threshing of the rice, and none is allowed to prepare his threshing-floor until it has been celebrated. It can only take place on a Tuesday. A fowl is sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the new rice. In the evening a common feast is held at which the Naigas presides, and when this is over they go to the place where Mahadeo is worshipped and the Baiga pours milk over the stone that represents him. The people then dance. Plenty of rice-beer is brought, and a scene of debauchery takes place in which all restraint is put aside. They sing the most obscene songs and give vent to all their passions. On that day no one is responsible for any breach of morality.

 

5. Fast For The Crops.

Like other primitive races, and the Hindus generally, the Oraons observe the Lenten fast, as explained by Sir J. G. Frazer, after sowing their crops. Having committed his seed with every propitiatory rite to the bosom of Mother Earth, the savage waits with anxious expectation to see whether she will once again perform on his behalf the yearly miracle of the renewal of vegetation, and the growth of the corn-plants from the seed which the Greeks typified by the descent of Persephone into Hades for a season of the year and her triumphant re-emergence to the upper air. Meanwhile he fasts and atones for any sin or shortcoming of his which may possibly have offended the goddess and cause her to hold her hand. From the beginning of Asarh (June) the Oraons cease to shave, abstain from eating turmeric, and make no leaf-plates for their food, but eat it straight from the cooking-vessel. This they now say is to prevent the field-mice from consuming the seeds of the rice.

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