Repository of one of India's Richest Ethnic Cultures
cultural mosaic of Jharkhand was dreamt about, shaped
and polished by generations of communities, which have
inhabited this land since time immemorial.
From the legendary Asurs and Santhals, to the Banjara,
Bihor, Chero, Gond, Ho, Khond, Lohra, Mai Pahariya,
Munda, Oraon, Kol or Kawar-over thirty-two tribal groups
(28 % of the total population of the state), have left
their impression on the culture of the region. And with
them, were the cross-cultural influences of local
non-tribal communities and successive waves of Buddhism
and Jainism, Mughal rule and the reign of the Hindu
emperors of Bengal.
Art historians ascribe the 'oldest cave paintings' in
India, the "scroll paintings" to a Jharkhand tribe known
as the Shabars, who today live on the edge of
extinction. It is an established fact that Stone Age
tools discovered in Hazaribagh district and axes and
spearheads found in the Chaibasa area, are remnants of a
civilization dating back a few thousand years. 10,000 to
30,000 years old rock paintings, paintings in huge caves
in the Sati hills and other indicators of ancient, even
pre-historic, human settlements are found in profusion.
Santhals dominate Jharkhand's tribal population. They have a unique
heritage of tradition, surprisingly sophisticated customs and tastes
and lifestyles, and the most evocative of folk music, song and
dance.The Santhali language is elaborate, structured, richly
endowed, with its own, recognized 'script', 'Alchiki', perhaps
unmatched by any other tribal community, anywhere.
The cultural refinement of the Santhals is reflected in their daily
affairs - in the design, construction, colour combinations, and the
cleanliness and order of their homes. The drawings and motifs on the
walls and the neatness of their courtyards, will shame many a swank,
modern urban home.
The innate sophistication of Santhol's are also evident in their
family patterns - patriarchal, nuclear with strong
husband-wife-and-sibling relationships. Marriage rituals are
elaborate and full of community rejoicing. Births, of boy and girl,
are treated as joyous occasions. Santhal philosophy puts acceptance
of death very high and funeral and mourning rites ore seriously
observed. Rejigious beliefs and practice range from animism to
following Hindu and Christian faiths. Among their principal deities
are i- 'Sing Bonga', 'Morang Buru', and 'Jaher-era'. Ritual
sacrifices are often used in worship.
Today many Santhals occupy important positions in Government and
Industry. But the rich culture of these peace-loving but
lion-hearted people continues to reverberate.
As far as tribes in India are concerned, the Santhal is the
most colossal tribe with reference to population. Apart from
Jharkhand, the individuals of the Santhal tribe are well-dispersed
across a good number of states on the Indian turf including West
Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Bihar. A bantam bunch comprising of the
Santhals can also be traced back to Bangladesh.
The dialect that has been accepted by the members of the Santhal
tribe as their mother-tongue is called Santhali. Like most of the
lingos used by the tribes, this language has also been derived from
the Austro-Asiatic group of languages and has a lot of features
common with the languages like Vietnamese and Khmer. The alphabet
utilized by the Santhali language is known as Ol Chiki. A strange
feature of this alphabet is that it does not possess any similitude
with the Indic or the Devanagiri scripts. Another specialty of the
Santhali language is that they possess three extra vowels along with
six regular ones.
The scientists have conjectured that the individuals of the Santhal
in Jharkhand had the Proto Australoids as their ancestors. These
so-called Proto Australoids had embarked upon a journey towards the
eastern frontier of India and eventually settled there.
The members of the Santhal across Jharkhand also possess a mellow
spot in their hearts for music and dance. The notes that are emitted
from the deep interiors of a flute have a magical effect on the
minds of the Santhals as it brings alive all the happy moments of
their lives. Other significant instruments include Tamak and Tumdak.
One of the most primitive tribal communities, they are
known for their centuries-old "iron-smelting" skills. Men and women
work together, eat together, take care of offspring together, and
struggle to earn bread for their families, together. Division of
labour is unique and socio-economic patterns well delipeated. So
called modern society has a lot to learn from them.
are "Asuri" and "Bhalay". They also speak nagpuri and
hindi. In present day they lived in Ranchi, Lohardaga, Gumla,
Singhbhum, Dhanbad and Simdega. Their main gotras are Beng, Indwar,
Barwan, Badhna etc. Their festivals are Sohrai, Sarhul and Navakhani.
Religious works have done by Bainga and Pahan. Singbonga, Marang
Bonga etc. are their main gods.
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
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.
race ranked in the third position by way a population in Jharkhnad.
History suggests that they migrated here from morht-western parts. Munda
woman are very fond of ornaments.
Their Language is mundari.
Their basic residential place is Aajamgadh. But according to some
scholars they are basic people of here. In present day maximum
numbers of mundas lived in Ranchi, Gumla, Simdega and
Singhbhum. Head of munda society is called as "Pahan" which is main
head of the "Padha Society". In each religious place worship has
done by Pahan. Their main God is "Singbonga". There are many gotra
in munda society - Aaied, Kongadi, Gadi, Kerketta, Terom, Toppo,
Dhanbar, Nag, Kachchhap etc. Marriage between same gotras is not
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 Munda tribals have also been
noted to have established their permanent domicile in Bangladesh as
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.
On an all India basis the Gonds are the
most popular tribal community (with a major part concentrated in Madhya
Pradesh). Gond belongs to Palamu, Singhbhum and Ranchi districts. The Gond of Jharkhand, linguistically, belongs to the Dravidian race; but, racially, the Gond at Jharkhand hail from Proto- Australoid stock. They are usually forest fringe dwellers. with strong family
kinship based on love and affection. Marriage, birth are happy
occasions. Women are the custodians of culture, norms and values in Gond
Their language is mundari but they have forgot their language.
They migrated here from area of Gondwana. In Gond society all
expenses of marraige paid by bridegroom party. Marriages between
same gotra and inter caste marriage are not accepted in their
society. Mundas are also fond of music and dance. There is special
importance of "Akhra". Their living standard is similar with "Udav".
"Handia" is main drink of mundas.
According to the common belief, the Gond tribe belongs to a martial group, who trace their descent from the Kshatriyas. They are said to have migrated in the Central province in the 14th century, legends opine that the Gonds hailed from the South through Bustar and Chanda.
Moreover, in Jharkhand, the Gonds dwell in the areas adjoining the forests: therefore, the Gond tribe is found to be scattered throughout the length and breadth of Jharkhand.
Like the other tribes of Jharkhand, the Gond tribe also projects a patriarchal form of the society, where the father is the head of the family and the laws of inheritance largely support the men folk of the society. It is interesting to note that the Gonds follow division of labor: work is equally divided among the men and women of the society. Man and women work in complete collaboration with each other; yet, cooking and other household chores seems to be duty of the women and is not divided with the male members of the society.
Talking about the economy of the Gond at Jharkhand, it can be said that the Gonds follow labor and agricultural economy. In fact, each family of the Gond society owns a piece of agricultural land, which is used by them to grow maize, marua, bajra and many other vegetables. Besides, each of the families possesses buffaloes and agricultural implements. Furthermore, the Gonds have a subsistence type of economy that does not possess the concept of saving.
This is another group that stands threatened by rapidly dwindling
numbers. Their villages are located near hills and forests. They are
skilled weavers and make mats, baskets, trays, brooms etc. from
grass growing wild in the forest. They move residence often and in a
group. They also go around villages to sing prayers on the birth of
a child. They constitute the 'smallest' tribal population in
Jharkhand. They use local language.
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 has 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 tourists to Jharkhand. They now seem to plan their visit to Jharkhand in the festive seasons of the tribes in Jharkhand.
Banjaras of Jharkhand has become famous particularly for their embroidery works. Influenced by their themes and culture and exploiting the availability of raw materials, the Banjaras embellish their works with ivory beads, shells and colorful threads. The needle crafts of the Banjaras create skirts, jackets, belts, bags, blouses and also different types of room decors.
Composed of sub-seats, the Bansphor Mahali are expert basket-makers,
Patar Mahali are associated with basket-making and cultivation, the
Sulunkhi Mahali survive on cultivation and labour, the Tanti Mahali
are traditional 'palanquin' bearers, and the Munda Mahalis are
cultivators. Mahalis usually maintain excellent relationships with
lineage, clan and tribe.
Mainly they lived in Ranchi, Gumla, Simdega
and Lohardaga. Their language is Sadani. Their five subcasts are
Bansfodh, Patar, Sulanki, Tanti and Mahali Munda. Mainly they follow
hindu religion. They are members of handicraft society.
Spinners and weavers as a community, Chickbaraiks live in villages
along with other tribes and castes. The women like to adorn
themselves with jewellery. Family units are strong and division of
labour is done according to age and sex. Their residential
place is in Ranchi, Gumla and lohardaga districts. They use sadani
language. Their main profession is weaving cloths. Marriage between
same gotras are avoided. their main god is Singbonga and goddess is
The Chick Baraik of Jharkhand is found in Ranchi, Lohardaga
and Gumla districts. The Chick Baraiks in Jharkhand belong to the
Proto-Australoid and speak Mundari, Hindi and Sadani languages.
The Chick Baraik tribe presents a picture of communal
harmony. In Jharkhand, the Chick Baraiks do not dwell in a separate
village but live with the other tribes and castes within the same
village. In fact, it can be said that they celebrate fraternity and
Furthermore, the Chick Baraiks present an amalgamation of the Hindu
and the tribal beliefs. On one hand, Sing Bonga is said to the
titular deity of the Chick Baraiks, when on the other hand, they
also worship Devi Mai, the Supreme Goddess of the Hindus.
The Chick Baraik society is marked with the presence of the
Panchayat system, which is given due respect in the society. The
decision adopted by the community panchayat is treated by the Chick
Baraiks as the last word: no one, among the Chick Baraiks is
authorized to go against the decision of the panchayat.
Birjias & The Baigas
These are minor scheduled tribes, still dependent upon forest
resources. They live in deep forest and inaccessible agricultural
areas. In recent times they have discarded shifting cultivation. The
Baigas were first discovered in 1867 and described as 'wild' and
living in inaccessible hills and remote forest areas. Baigas
previously did not till the land because they thought "it would hurt
The Birjia at Jharkhand live in triangular or rectangular
huts made up of bamboo, wood or mud. The huts of the Birjia tribe,
usually, are devoid of windows: the huts have a small gate which is
closed with a tati or a mat.
The Birjia tribe possesses a patriarchal society: a Birjia family is
usually a nuclear family with father as the head of the family.
Moreover, the Birjia society is known as a monogamous society, yet
the prevalence of bigamy cannot be overruled.
It goes without mention that they have a rural society where
agriculture and forests play a vital role in the socio-economic
life. Hence, Birjia economy is based on agricultural yields, as well
as on hunting, fishing and labor.
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
The Khonds and Koras
are minor tribal groups, but with distinctive cultural features. They
are of Dravidian descent. Present residential place of Khonds are in
Palam, Gadhwa and Dhanbad. Basically theybelong to Orissa. In
marriage there is custom of Swayamvar. They use zonal language.
The present resident of Kora tribal of Proto-Ostroloid race is in
santhal Pargana, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad districts etc. They are called
as " Dhangar". Their are many subcasts. Their language is sadani but
they also speak mundari, hindi etc languages. Their main profession
is soil digging. They originate from Nagvansh. Their religious work
is clearly effected by hinduism .
residential place is in Nagpur. In Jharkhand they originate from
Mundas. Their race is "Ostroloid". In present day their residents
are in Singhbhum. Their language is ho. Head of village is called as
"Manki". A Padha is made up of twelve villages. Base of regiment is
Gram-Panchayat. There are also many gotras - Barla, Balubhavu, Suin
Jojo, Hesa etc. They are economically based on agriculture.
In Jharkhand, Ho tribe dwells near the rivers, river
terraces or by the side of the springs. It is noteworthy in this
context that the Ho community of Jharkhand largely depends on
agriculture. Agriculture is the main stay of the people of the Ho
tribe in Jharkhand.
Besides, the Ho at Jharkhand practice wage earning for their
sustenance. In fact, the majority of the Hos earn their living
through daily labor in the different industries and mines in the
territory. It is to be noted that the conditions of the people
engaged as daily labors are better than the people who depend on
Furthermore, the Ho at Jharkhand is known to possess a panchayat
based administration where the Manki, the head of the panchayat,
takes decisions on behalf of the entire society. It is noteworthy
that each and every family among the Ho tribe participates in
panchayat and a unanimous decision is adopted at the panchayat with
the assent of each of the members of the Ho society.
In present day baongas are lived in Ranchi,
Palamu, Hazaribagh and Singhbhum. Their basic resident is in Madhya
Pradesh. Their language is hindi. Their profession is Farming and
labouring. They lived in joint family. Marriage between same gotra
is avoided. They follow tribal religion. Their famous festival is "Bira".
They believed in Shakun.
Basically they were lived in area of Narmada valley. In present day
they lived in Sahebganj, Godda, Devghar and other places of Santhal
Pargana. Their are no arrangement of Gotra. Their descendants are of
sakra races. Their own language is "Malti" but they also speak
Bangla. Their main profession is agriculture. There are many
subcasts - Manjhi, Birhi, Pajhore etc. The center point of their
religion is worship of their elders and Dharti, Gorasi Gosai are the
They are race of Proto-Ostroloid. Their main residential
place was in the area of Karnatak. In present day Mainly they lived
in mountains of Rajmahal and Santhal Pargana. Their own language is
"Malto". Mainly due to residence on mountain they are called as "Pahadiya".
They don't think on same gotra during marriage. Their religious
culture is similar with hindu religion. They are vegetarian. They
are economically based on farming.
Shabar is race of Proto-Ostroloid.
Their language is sadani. Their basic residence is Shahabad
(Bihar) district. Their is no gotra. They are devotees of Kali and
Mansa and they belived in hindu religion. Their main residense is in
Ranchi, Hazaribagh and Singhbhum.