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Who are Kurukhs?

The Oraons are an important Dravidian tribe of the Chhotanagpur. They are the  offspring of Indus Valley Civilization, According to their oral history and evidence of this fact, their culture, custom, food, ornaments and language, which are closely related to the Indus Valley Civilization. Once they were lived in "Indus Valley Civilization" before 2500 B.C., they  lived there peacefully and sophisticated life. They were not enable to stay there, due to frequent attacks of Aryans, flood and anomalous atmosphere. They had been migrated to west coast of India at Karnatka region, M.P., than they came to Rohtashgarh of Bihar, where they made a huge fort. But here also, they could not stay a long time, because they had been driven out by the Cheroes and Afgans/Mugals. And finally they went and settled to the Chhotangpur plateau in Jharkhand state. They were divided into two flocks  from Rohtasgarh, one


went to the Rajmahal area in Santhal Pargran region and made their resending place at plate of river Ganga. Today they are called Malto Paharia and speak Malto. Another larger flock came to the Chhotanagpur plateau in Jharkhad state. They are Kurukhs.

Presently they are living in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bangal, Assam, Andaman & Nicobar island, Tripura, U.P. and Orissa states of India. They are found in  Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh Srilanka and Marisus  countries of the world. A kurukh scholar Dr. Nirmal Minz, former principal of Gossnar Collage Ranchi, expressed - "Kurukh tribal people besides Chhotanagpur, largely found  in Kurus countary (today it is called Sasaram area in Bihar and the area of Rohtashgarh), Khusra, Doyrasha, Panary, Dori, Chhechhari, Nawagarh, Biru, Barwe, Gangpur, Banai Bangla, Sambalpur, Rajgangpur, Manoharpur, Jashpur, Raigarh, Surguja, Pargana and minor at Chakardharpur, Chaibasa, old Purnia, Champaran, Duwars in West Bangal, Jalpaiguri and at Dhinajpur and nearest area of Bangla Desh. Some have gone to the metropolitan cities in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Madras to find job/employment and now they are settled there. He described that some well educated people had been gone for better job to the well developed countries, like Britain and America, and settled there". There are about 90,000 people reside in Dhinajpur, Rangpur, Bogra and Rajshahi districts in Bangla Desh according to a professor of Dhaka Univercity. But they like to speak Sadri rather than Kurukh, only 25000 kurukhs are speaking their mother tongue. Some people gone to the Marisus country to be a labor and settled there.

According to the government record of 1997, population of the Kurukh tribes are 20,53,000(Oroan -18,34,000, Kisan - 2,19,000). About 25 percent of the population are Christians, majority of the educated, have became Christian. Llanguage of the Oraon tribe, known as Kurukh. It is a spoken language and generally has no written form. Kurukh has a rich oral literature, with innumerable fables, fairy tales, ballads,  riddles and popular sayings. Literate Kurukhs write their language in other, Hindi, Bangla or English script. The Kurukhs are a small race (average 5 ft. 2 in.); the usual color is dark brown, but some are as light as Hindus. They are heavy-jawed, with large mouths, thick lips and projecting teeth. Their noses are flat and their hair black and curled. Kurukh tribes are divided in various clains related with the animals, birds, plants and minerals. Every village has a an elected person or hereditary priest or headman, called Naigas or Baiga. They are responsible for religious and social activities of the village.

Oroan people like to call themselves 'Kurukh', but another people called them in a word 'Oroan'. Oroan word is also recognized by the Indian Government and all records of the Oroan people maintained by this name. Another famous name of Oraon is Kurukh. Kurukhs are known in different names as Uroan, Kurux, Kurukh, Kunrukh, Oroan, Kishan, Kunha, Kunhar, Kunk, Kunna, Kuda, Kola, Morva, Birhor, Dhangar, Kurka, Kudkali etc.They are commonly known in the Central Provinces as Dhangar or Dhangar-Oraon. In Chotanagpur the word Dhangar means a farm servant engaged according to a special customary contract, and it has come to be applied to the Oraons, who are commonly employed in this capacity. Kuda means a digger or navvy in Uriya, and enquiries made by Mr. B.C. Mazumdar and Mr. Hira Lal have demonstrated that the 18,000 persons returned under this designation from Raigarh and Sambalpur in 1901 were really Oraons. The same remark applies to 33,000 persons returned from Sambalpur as Kisan or cultivator, these also being members of the tribe.

Like many other ethnic groups, Kurukhs worship different symbols of the nature. They however, believe only as the dwellings of the spirit in that symbols, there is a creator of the universe and sun is considered only as symbol of God's glorious power and brightness,they reverence the sun,and acknowledge a supreme god, Dharme or Dharmesh, who exists in the sun. Kurukhs believe in different gods having symbolic representation in villages, agricultural assets, forests, epidemics etc. They satisfy these gods through religious festivals, similar to those of the other community. Karma and Sarhul are two main festival of Kurukhs. Karama  is a worship of trees performed symbolically with the  Nauclea parvifolia(Kadam) tree or its branches. Karma festival is celebrated, when the rice is ready for planting out and it is the renewal of vegetation. Sarhul festival cannot be done till the sal tree gives the flowers for the ceremony. This takes place about the beginning of April on any day when the tree is in flower. Sarhul is associated with praying for the fertility of land and a good paddy harvest.They either bury or burn the dead. As a mark of respect to the deceased they offer flowers and leaves of sacred trees to the dead on the pyres.

Poverty, illiteracy and rapid dispossession of     land, forcing increasing number of Kurukhs to become a laborer.  Moneylenders continue to charge exorbitant rates of interest and fully exploit the Kurukhs and treat them as a family worker.They did not get much modern education. Poverty is the main cause of their illiteracy. Christian missionaries  tried to spread education among them. Many Kurukhs  are now adopting Christianity. At present, some non-government oorganisations as well government  work among them and implement programmes for their socio-economic development. Today they are progressing well with other people of the society.



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