Online Santal Resource Page: the Santals identity, clans, living places, culture,rituals, customs, using of herbal medicine, education, traditions ...etc and present status.

The Santal Resource Page: these are all online published sources

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India—Volume I (of IV)

by R.V. Russell

Santal, Saonta, Sonthal.—An important tribe of Bengal, belonging to the Munda family. The transfer of five of the Chota Nagpur States has brought more than 10,000 Santals into the Central Provinces. They belong principally to the Sarguja State and a few are returned from Udaipur State and from the Bilaspur District, but in all those tracts they are known as Saonta and appear to have been cut off from the main tribe for a considerable period. According to Mr. Skrefsrud the name Santal is a corruption of Saontar and was given to the tribe by the Bengalis because they lived in the country about Saont in Midnapur. Sir H. Risley held that the tribe might equally well have given its name to the locality, and there was no means of ascertaining which theory was correct. The forms Santal and Sonthal are only used by natives who have come into contact with Europeans. Santals call themselves 'harko,' men, or 'harhapan,' man-child. [488] At the present day when a Santal is asked to what caste he belongs he will almost invariably reply Manjhi, which means a village headman, and is the common title of the tribe; if further explanation is demanded, he will add Santal Manjhi. Whether the term Santal was derived from the Saont pargana or not, it is therefore at any rate a name conferred by the Hindus and affords no evidence in favour of a separate origin of the tribe.

There seems good reason to hold that the Santals are only a branch of the Kols or Mundas, who have been given a distinct designation by their Hindu neighbours, while their customs and traditions have been modified either by long separation from the Mundas of Chota Nagpur or by contact with Hindu influences. Sir G. Grierson's account of the two dialects Santali and Mundari shows that they closely resemble each other and differ only in minor particulars. The difference is mainly to be found in the vocabulary borrowed from Aryan neighbours, and in the grammatical modifications occasioned by the neighbouring Aryan forms of speech. [489] Of Mundari he says: "Aspirated letters are used as in Santali, the semi-consonants are apparently pronounced in the same way as in Santali; genders and numbers are the same, the personal pronouns are the same, the inflexion of verbs is mainly the same." [490] Some points of difference are mentioned by Sir G. Grierson, but they appear to be of minor importance. The Mundas, like the Santals, call themselves hara-ko or men. In the vocabulary of common words of Mundari and Santali given by Colonel Dalton [491] a large proportion of the words are the same. Similarly in the list of sept-names of the tribes given by Sir H. Risley [492] several coincide. Among the 15 names of main septs of the Santals, Besra, a hawk, Murmu nilgai, or stag, and Aind, eel, are also the names of Munda septs. The Santal sept Hansda, a wild goose, is nearly identical with the Munda sept Hansa, a swan; the Santal septs Kisku and Tudu are sept-names of the Hos, a branch of the Mundas; and in one or two other names there is a great resemblance. The principal deity of the Santals, Marang Buru, is a Munda god. In the inheritance of property both tribes have the same rule of the exclusion of daughters. In his article on Ho, Sir H. Risley indeed states that the Santals, Hos and Mundas are local branches of the same tribe.

The Saontas of Sarguja and Bilaspur appear to have been separated from the parent tribe for some generations and to have assimilated some of the customs of the Gonds. They have some Gond sept-names, as Markam and Dhurwa. Those of Pendra zamindari have no traditions of their origin beyond saying that the adjoining Kenda zamindari was their original home. They profess to revere only the sun, fire and water. In order to worship the Jal-deota or water-god they pour water round the fire and then throw a little butter on the fire in his name. Mr. C.U. Wills, Settlement Officer, records of them the following curious custom: When a man is at the point of death or actually dead, they sometimes set fire to the hut in which his body is lying and run away, no doubt to save themselves from being haunted and troubled by his spirit, to the attainment of which end so large a part of funeral ritual is everywhere directed.

The following short account of them by Colonel Dalton may be reproduced for reference: [493]

"The name Saont or Saonta directs us to the Santal branch of the Kols, and, as I have already noticed, there is in Sarguja a small tribe so called. They are the sole inhabitants of the magnificent tableland forming the southern barrier of Sarguja, called the Mainpat or more correctly perhaps the Manipat. They are a small tribe living scattered over the vast area of the plateau in about a dozen hamlets, and they are strong in the belief that they were especially created to dwell there, or that they and the plateau somehow sprang into existence together, and cannot be separated. I saw a number of them when I was last in Sarguja, and from their features I should be inclined to class them as Kols, but they have some customs and notions which they must have derived from the Dravidian Gonds. They acknowledge Dulha Deo as a household god, and follow the customs of the Gonds and other southerners in their marriage ceremonies.

"They worship the sun as Bhagwan, and like the Kharias offer sacrifices to that luminary in an open place with an ant-hill for an altar. The Mainpat is their Marang Buru, and as it is 16 miles long, 12 miles broad, and rises 3850 feet above the sea-level, it is not unworthy of the name, but they do not use that or any other Kol term. The great Mainpat is their fatherland and their god. They have it all to themselves except during the summer months, when it becomes a vast grazing field for the cattle of Mirzapur and Bihar.

"The Saonts are armed like the Korwas with bows and arrows, and the peculiar battle-axe of the country, but it is against the beasts of the forest that these weapons are used. Formerly the Mainpat was a magnificent hunting field, especially noted for its herds of antelope and gaur. The late Maharaja of Sarguja strictly preserved it, but on his death it fell into the hands of his widow, a very money-loving old lady, who allowed it to become one of the great grazing tracts, and the pasturage alone gives her an income of L250 a year; but the wild animals have in consequence withdrawn from it.

"The position of the Saonts is altogether very curious, and though they now speak no language but a rude Hindi, the evidence is, on the whole, favourable to their being a remnant of the ancient Kol aborigines of Sarguja, cut off from connection with those people by successive inroads of other races or tribes. Their substitution of a Hindi dialect for their own language seems to indicate that they were first subjugated by Aryans. The Gond chiefs only count about twenty-four generations in Sarguja, and they have all adopted the Hindi language."

Only Santal part's is taken from:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Pritishri Parhi**
INTRODUCTION Indigenous knowledge is local knowledge, that is unique to a given culture and society. This knowledge is the information base for the society. Codified in the language of the society, it facilitates communication and decision making. Indigenous knowledge is dynamic, it changes through indigenous creativity innovativeness as well as through contact with other knowledge system. Indigenous knowledge is passed down from generation to generation usually by word of mouth. Today because of its oral tradition, as well as the introduction of new technologies, the preservation of indigenous knowledge is at risk unless it is documented. Being inspired by the uniqueness of the indigenous knowledge, the author tempted very much to collect some of the indigenous practices prevailing among the tribals of Santal tribe in Mayurbhanj District of Orissa, relating to child care practices because of the following considerations. Parents the world over are interested in the well-being of their children. Almost every phase of family living affects the child. Child care must be considered as an important part of total programme for improved living . * Lecturer, College of Home Science, Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar. ** Paper presented in National Seminar on "Indigenous Technologies for sustainable Agriculture" organised by National Council of Development Communication, Varanasi, in collaboration with Division of Agricultural Extension, I.A.R.I., New Delhi. But large number of children die every year from causes that could be prevented by the parents if they had been taught the healthful way to care for their children. Child care begins with the mother when she isn't pregnant, what she eats and how she cares for herself affects her chances to have a healthy strong baby. She needs to know how to feed and care for the infant now and when to wean the child and how to properly feed and care for the toddler after weaning. The mortality rate in children between the ages of two years and four or five is great in many areas. When the children are no longer given breast milk, they are often fed only a diet of starchy gruel with no protein for which protein deficiency in preschool children is one of the great nutritional problems with which Government around the world are now concerned. Child care emphasizes good nutrition in relation to progress of the child in school. It includes children's needs and how to meet these leads from infancy to adolescence. Parents need to understand that to give their children better living, both the home and the community must increasingly become healthful places to rear children. If there is not proper food to eat, houses have no windows, if they are unsanitary, if they have no latrines, if water for their family is unsafe and scarce, if there are flies and mosquitoes everywhere, the children have little chance to grow healthy and strong. Whether the mother is categorized as tribal or non-tribal, urban or rural, she is constantly attempting to keep her child healthy either through conventional child care practices. Since the tribal mothers have better opportunities and greater exposure to indigenous child care practices over conventional methods the location for the study was selected through purposive sampling technique and the data were collected through participant observation method and key informant technique. Some of the practices which seem to be conspicuous and interesting were collected which are as follows: 1. FOR EASY DELIVERY a) Wearing of the root of a young tamarind plant uprooted by hand around waist region of the body of the mother at the time of delivery pain hastens easy delivery. b) Applying the flower/plant of Gloriosa superba (Family Liliaceae) after properly ground in a paste form at the time of delivery pain on the belly portion of the mother relaxes the muscles promoting easy delivery. c) When the delivery pain is acute, the castor oil is massaged gently on the belly which causes easy delivery and immediately relieves the pain. d) It is also adopted by some women folk that tightening the belly portion by means of a cloth in a gentle manner and then swinging the belly lightly relieves all complications and pain during delivery. 2. PRACTICES FOLLOWED AFTER CHILD BIRTH a) After the child is born, immediately normally an old lady called Traditional Birth Assistant (Dhai) cuts the umbilical cord of the child kept on a coin with the help of a barber's knife (Khura) or by sharpen edge of a Samuka (Pandara). Then ash of burnt goat cake (Chheli lendi in Oriya) is put on the umbilical cord for its drying and immunization against any attack by micro-organisms. It is done regularly two times a day till the cord is fallen, thus separated from the body. Contrary to the above, also hot fomenting by fire with the help of oily thumb of right hand is done on the umbilical cord for quicker drying and its separation from the body. As long as the cord remains alive and intact with the body, the bathing of the baby is strictly prohibited for the Santals. b) The child is not breast-fed for about two days thinking that the milk is poisonous and concentrated. Instead the child is fed a honey-water mix as its food. But after two days the tribes encourage breast-feeding till next issue or after three to four years of birth. c) Massaging the baby by mustard oil boiled with garlic twice a day is done -to strengthen muscles and to prevent against cold and cough. 3. PRACTICES FOLLOWED FOR HEALTH CARE OF SANTAL CHILDREN i) Stem of Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi) with garlic petals and purified Kochila seeds (Strychnos nux-vomica) are worn around the neck or waist of Santal babies to prevent against cold, cough and evil spirits. Juice of tulsi leaves with honey given to children for cure against cold, cough and fever (essential oil of garlic and alkaloid of Kochila seed probably have the medicinal value against diseases of children). ii) Against the viral infections like chicken pox, small pox and measles, seeds of Harida (Tarminalia chebula) and root of Moti-saga and Cannabis sativa tied to left or right arm of children in black thread during spring season particularly on Saturday or Thursday as a preventive. iii) The petiole of betel leaf smeared with caster oil and applied to the anus of the constipative baby to facilitate motion, i.e., passing of stool. iv) Against severe headache, acute fever and for reduction of body temperature, the paste prepared out of Dalchini (Cinamomum xylanicum) is smeared on the forehead of the baby. It gives an instant relief to the child. v) Gall stone of a cow called "Gorochana" is used as a medicine. It is added with mother's milk or honey and given to the children to cure indigestion, hiccups, flatulence, and liver malfunction. It is a very common practice. vi) "Jastimadhu" i.e. stem part of Glycyrrhiza glabra is roughed on a clear polished stone and given with "Gorochana" for prevention against indigestion and used as a carminative, improves vigour, voice and skin colour of Santal children. It is also given with honey to cure jaundice. Decoction prepared with milk and sugar given to weak babies and anemic babies increases iron content of the blood. vii) On an auspicious day namely, "Bata-Usha" the children of the household and neighbourhood are given gentle strokes with Bajramuli plants (Sida cordifolia). It gives as it is believed, longevity and vigour to young child and delays the aging process. The root powder, the seeds and the decoction of the entire plant also if taken continuously with lukewarm milk for a fortnight gives miraculous recovery of liver weakness. It was collected with a religious rite so that during "Bata- Usha" time it is cheaply available which we have perhaps forgotten and currently it has been reduced to gentle stroke. viii) A very useful plant to the tribals called "Puruni" (Boerhovia diffusa) is used in different forms. The entire plant especially the root are ground and given to the children with food for rejuvenating the body cells. The leaf juice with honey given to children against body weakness, cough, jaundice and liver troubles. ix) For the children suffering from the loss of memory, low intelligence, sore throat, hoarse tone, an instant improvement has been marked by chewing the rhizome of the plant called "Bacha" (Achorous calamus) and taking its powder with honey or lukewarm milk at the time of full lunar eclipse. CONCLUSION The information as collected above are by interviewing and observing the tribal women folk in Santal areas of Mayurbhanj District. The informations have been gathered are based on their age-old practices being followed. Some of the cases/practices need further scientific analysis to establish their authenticity by proper reasoning and further study. REFERENCES: 1) Agricultural Extension - A reference manual, F.A.O, Rome, 1972. 2) CIKARD News letter, Vol-I, No. 1, Iowa State University.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

History of Organization of Santali


The development of Traditional Santali language and literature was started from the very beginning of British Rule (East India Company) since 1870-75 over the region by some literary loving British prominate among them were L.O.Skerfsurd, P.O.Bodding, Campbell etc in a Roman script after written down the mythology of santhal from one famous santal/hor Guru Known as “Kaleyan Guru”. Though they have contributed lot for the development of modern Santali language and literature by establishing the press at Benagaria for popularizing the works over the linguistic concentration area of north Eastern Region, So many drama, folk tale, Santali dictionary etc were written during the period and enrich the traditional literature, prior to that the language and cultures of Santali people known as “Kherwal Community” were hoarded on teeth and myth from generation to generation. No doubt that the Santali or Hor language is an ancient dilect/language of the country world language and culture said to have been influence and base from this language as per the scholars and researchers. The Indo-European & Dravidian language, literature and Culture of modern Bharat bias towards this language, literature and culture in large extend after Independence. It can be said that santhali language and literature is pre-Aryan literature highly developed traditional modern literature and rich cultural heritage of pre-baidic (Beidin) age presently designated as Austro-Asiatic groups of language by the scholars.

The further invention of distinct modern script for the development of traditional modern Santali language, literature and culture was done during the period of development of others modern Indians language, script or culture for the shake of modern literature & culture identity of Jaher-Khand people i.e., nature worshiper groups of Kherwal community. The pioneers of modern Santali ” Language,literature & Culture” by invention and developing a distinct modern script known as “Ol-Chiki Parsi” in the first quarter of 20th century which has both capital & small letter. Subsequently the “short hand” concept of Olchiki was composed and developed by one Pruthunath Murmu of Tanki Sahi Baripoda for strengthen the Olchiki concept.

Only to spreading the “Modern Santali language, literature and Culture“ the following books were written and published for popularizing over the linguistics concentration area of Odisha, Bihar, west-Bengal, Assam etc since from 1920 by Sadhu Ramchand Murmu, Pondit Raghunath Murmu, Pruthunath Murmu etc and try to start the elementary education to the people in large scale under the banner of organization known as “Saonta = means Society, Seched=means Education, Lacture=means Literature & Semlled =means Association was formed from Rairangpur since 1941 now existed as dumps.

The list of Books written and published during the periods:


v LITA GOODET : 1925

v HITAL (Evaluation of Earth & human being) : 1930

v BAKHENL (Mantra in Santali) : 1935

v HOL-SERENG (Santali Song) : 1936

v OL-CHEMED (Formative style of Olchiki) : 1941

v PARSI-POHA (Combination of Script) : 1948

v OL-UPRUM (Recognition of Script) : 1953

v LACTURE SERENG (Religious Song) : 1963

v ELKHA (Math in Santali) : 1966

v RAG-ANDOL (Religious Bhojaon in Santali : 1970

v RONOL (Grammar in Santali literature) : 1974

v BIDU-CHANDAN (Literary Drama) : 1930

v DALEGE-DHON (Health is Wealth- Drama) : 1935

v KHERWAL-BIR (Patriotic Historical Drama) : 1940

v SIDO-KANHU (Patriotic Drama) : 1946




During their working period over modern santali language, literature and culture Pandit Murmu has published the calendar “GOODET’ where he has arranged Maha & Mahit“(Day’s & Date) calculated as per the lunar clips to get the religious identity of the “JAHER-KHOND” people in a modern way like the others religious community in modern era under SARNAISM groups. His noble deed over modern santali language, literature and culture pointed towards the principle of “identity of self rather than imitation“. In a totalitarian sense it can be said that according to them modern society can only be developed and changed when education will imposed to it by mother tongue and cultural identity can only be achieved when its literature became developed with own script. On the whole it is seen from their literary works reflected through poems in many ways that they were try to educate the linguistic people as well as warn the political leaders of the community and country during the period of partition of India as well as about the intentional suppression of modern Santali language, script & culture in a plan way by the British and modern thinkers. This historical path breaking not only gave them confidence for the development of modern Santali language and literature but also facilitate proper expression of their language written as it was not at all possible by any of the available script of modern Bharat.


During the pre-independence era and as proposed by the British to give the political dead lock to Indians after Second World War the three members committee of British Cabinet were sent under “Cabinet Mission plan” in the year 1946. They were Lord Pathic Lowerence, Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr. Alexander when they recognized only three main communities in India i.e. General, Muslim & Sikh. But the Sarnaism Religious Community of Santali linguistic groups whose culture relates with Jaher, Jahira,Disauli etc and were demanded the separate state identity in the name of Jharkhand comprising of Chhatanagpur & Santal Parganna Commissioner were denied. It was either deliberately ignored by them taking the plea as Algao-Bad or kept within General category reason best known to them. On the other hand in the constitutional drafting committee appointed under the chairmanship of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar these Sarnaism groups of peoples were not even included as representative of religious community or minority. Whereas the following religious minorities were kept as a representative in the constitutional drafting committee: From Sikh i) Hukum Singh & ii) Ujjal Singh, From Parsi i) Hami Modi & ii) R.K.Sidwa, From Indian Muslim i) Md.Sadaullah & ii) Jafar Immam, From Christian: John Mathai & ii) Joseph D souza, From Anglo Indian i) Frank Anthany & ii) SH Petter than the drafting committee submitted and published their drafted constitution report on 26th Feb 1948. Since the “Sarna” religious community were ignored during the period presuming the divide and rule policies over the people were imposed by the commission and the linguistics area were divided within Orissa & West-Bengal state under Merger Act. It was strongly opposed from Jharkhand political leaders leaded by Jaipal singh and Mr. Sunaram Soren on 1st January at Rajkhursuang and 6th feb 1949 at Rairangpur Orissa an great public meeting was called by them for re-inclusion of area with Chatnagpur Santal Pargana commissionaire as the people language literature and culture were having the separate identity like others modern spoken peoples and have demanded the separate identity in the name of “Jharkhand State”. But all the gathering was dispersed by using the military oppression taking the view as Algao-Bad people as Algao-Badi. Is not it the innocent unarmed people of Santali were massacres during the period in the name of Algao-Badi ? than Mr.Sunaram Soren and Jaipal Singh were taken to New-Delhi as per the order of Pandit Jabahar Lal Nehru. Where they were advised to consult with the Chairman of Constitutional drafting committee Dr,B.R.Ambedkar , there after the drafted and published constitution was revised and these people have been defined within “Backward Class”(Social & Educational) for the advancement in service, Politics, Education etc may be Art. 15(4), 16(4) 46, 338,340, 341(1) (2) 342(1) (2) &334 have been inserted and the reservation will seized after every 10 years from the date of commencement of the constitution. It was the “Red Letter Day” in the wake of freedom of modern Santali linguistic people who were fighting against the Bristh Rule over the region for more than 100 years i.e. from 1784 to 1900 under the leadership of Baba Tilka Majhi, Sido-Kanhu, Birsha Munda etc. Than finally the constitution was enacted and adopted by the constituent Assembly on 26th Nov.1949 and came in to force on 26th Jan-1950 and the “Backwards Class commission” started working since 10th September 1950 only to sub- categories these people in to a “Sub- Caste” known as Santhal, Ho,Munda, Mahale, Orang etc in the state of Bihar, Odisha and WB, where as dumped peoples in Assam have not been defined in any class and kept as General categories. Now the caste base thinkers of modern Bharat argued that the reservation is base on caste basis as per the modern constitution.


During the time of creation of Modern Indians state on the basis of socio-cultural and linguistically similarity the sovereignty in the name of JHARKHAND was demanded by these people under the leadership of late Sunaram Soren and Jaipal Singh Munda. But the said demand was ignored and the present linguistic area was included with the Orissa state under Merger Act in the year 1949 arguing that the demand of Jharkhond is an ALGAO-BAD & their literature is also ALGAO-BADI. It has evident from the incident of GUNDURIA Massac of 6thfeb 1949 near Rairangpur called by Sunaram Soren and Raj Khursuang massac of Jaipal Sing near Chakardharpur of 1st Jan-1949.

Onthe 14th day of Sept.1949 theConstituent Assembly of Drafting Committee were debated over the issue of modern Indians languages under the president ship of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru called by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar and 14+1= 15 languages were initially included in the scheduled VIII of the constitution out of which 13 language recognized as state language in the linguistics’ sovereignty state. As regards to Santali linguistic people in spite of richness of santali literature both modern and traditional with its own modern distinct script the inclusion of “Santali” language was ignored by the Constituent Assembly and the socio-culture, script olchiki were kept under object of research. May it’s be due to the formative style of script as the formative style of “OLCHIKI PARSI” (script) proves the nature shape duly compare with the nature, having both Capitals & Small letters as well as its “Short Hand“. This historic path breaking and invention of “Olchiki Parsi“ is not fully deciphered from the script found from the excavation of Mahenjodara and Harrapan civilizations. It is also inspire and instill a sense of confidence amongst the “Kherwal Community“of Santali linguistic people of Jharkhand, Orissa, Bengal, Assam etc for the development of modern Santali language, literature and Culture which will bring the literature and culture sovereignty of ancient and modern Bharat. How ever they have able to developed their modern and traditional rich “language & literature” like others modern Indians on the basis of socio, cultural and linguistically similarity in spite of kept them deliberately in the edge by infringing the constitutional norms. So many commissions including the Motilal Nehru Commission, Dhar Commission, JVP Commission, and State Re-Organization Commission again Linguistic Commission were set-up from 1925 to 1953 by Congress and government. But all the commission too denied the creation of Jharkhand state, rather the Linguistic Commission argued that these people do not have any common language to be used for all. Also it can’t be ignored that all these act of suppression and depression to these linguistic kherwal community is nothing but an improper patronization by their intellectuals it couse the incomplete knowledge of others over Modern Santali Language, script, and culture invented and propagated for the shake of modern identity.

By : Rapaj Boma Kisku@rapaj



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