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Fire, Fuel And Oven

The dried up twigs or branches of trees and dried leaves and the dried jute sticks plastered with cowdung are the most common types of fuel used by these people in this area. Sometimes dry grass, straw, jute wastes etc. are also used as fuel. Most of these are collected from nearby places. Coal as a fuel is too costly for them and is hardly used by them. Sometimes fire is preserved by them for future use in a straw rope (bolan) or in an oven or in a pot full of rice-husk, thereby eliminating the cost of match sticks. The oven prepared by these  Oraons, is quite simple and similar to that used by the neighbouring caste people. It is made up of earth and plastered with a paste of mud, cowdung and water. It is triangular in shape, with three corners slightly raised in the shape

of cones, known as Kana or Jhick. These three cones serve as the supporting stands on which the pot or the pan is placed. A small pit is first dug out and on three sides of the pit, three cones are made with earth. Inside the pit, the fuel burns and the ashes are stored.

The use of fire and fuel in Southern Bengal is generally similar to that of the Oraons of the Ranchi area excepting that dried Sal leaves are extensively used as fuel as these are freely available in the Ranchi area. On the other hand, the jute stick plastered with cowdung forms a popular item of fuel among the Sunderban Oraons, but is rarely used by the Ranchi Oraons.

The oven prepared by the Oraons of the Ranchi area, is also slightly different in shape and size from the Oraon ovens of the Sunderban area. The Oraon oven of the Ranchi area is bigger in size and rather rectangular in shape. First of all a big earthen platform is made and a small gap is kept in one of the lateral sides where the oven is made. Within the gap, a small depression is scooped out where the fuel burns. The raised cones of the Oraon oven of Ranchi are less prominent and almost faint as compared to those of the Sunderban. The remaining portion of the platform serves for keeping the cooking vessels.


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