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

Santal Gãota reaḱ onolko ńam lạgit́ SRP khon thoṛ̣a gõṛ̃o ńamoḱa mente ińaḱ pạtiạu ar kạṭić kurumuṭu...

Friday, January 27, 2012

First Santal Bishop for the Diocese of Dinajpur, Bangladesh

Pope appoints new bishop in Dinajpur

Pope Benedict XVI on October 29 appointed Father Sebastian Tudu as the bishop of predominantly tribal Dinajpur diocese in northwestern Bangladesh.

Father Tudu, 44, a tribal Santal diocesan priest was the assistant rector at country’s only Holy Spirit National Major Seminary in Dhaka at the time of his appointment.

He succeeds Holy Cross Bishop Moses M. Costa who was appointed bishop of southeastern Chittagong diocese on April 6 this year.

The post of the Holy See remained vacant until then while Father Joseph Marandy served as administrator of the diocese.

Father Tudu was born on 17 June, 1967 at Changura village of northwestern Gaibandha district. His priestly ordination took place on 30 December, 1999 at Mariampur parish in Dinajpur.


First Santal Bishop for the Diocese of Dinajpur, Bangladesh

Bishop Sebastian Tudu, 45, is the first ethnic Santal priest to become bishop. Education, justice and peace, the "essential needs" of the community, Christian and non-Christian. Appreciating young people, because they are "the future of Bangladesh." His ordination will take place on January 27.

Dinajpur (AsiaNews) - Education and schools, but also justice and peace are "the essential needs of the people of Dinajpur. I expect a great challenge, there is much work to do. But with the help of the people and religious, this diocese will grow. And I with them”, says Msgr. Sebastian Tudu, the new Bishop of Dinajpur, who will be ordained on 27 January. Originally from Marianpur (north), he is the first Santal priest to become bishop. Msgr. Tudu, 45, is a young bishop, he did not expect "all this support and this great welcome. I was a little frightened, the episcopal vocation is something that you can not understand right away. But I depend on the will of God, and am in his hands. "

In addition to the Santal, the diocese of Dinajpur welcomes different tribal communities, like the Oraon, the Munda and Malo. For the most part they are Christians and Catholics, but are very poor populations, often discriminated against by the Bangladeshi and Islamic majority. "I am the bishop of all - says the bishop - without distinction. My vocation is to every community: Santal or other tribes, Christians and non Christians. This diversity is our wealth. "

"Being poor and marginalized - says Msgr. Tudu - education is one of the primary needs. The Church has always created and managed schools dedicated to those who did not have much ability to pay. Today, it is clear that more education and formation are fundamental for the development of society and Bangladesh. " Even so, says the bishop, "I want to pay particular attention to young people. They are often undervalued, but they represent the future of this country. We need to give them the opportunity to study, if possible, at university; this is our duty. "

Injustices, expropriated (or burned) land and assaults are frequent episodes in tribal villages. The dynamics are always the same: the Bangladeshi attack more or less undisturbed, the aborigines react, often without success, while their requests for help remain largely unanswered by the authorities.

According to Msgr. Tudu, "Justice and Peace" are "important issues. The tribal people are often victims, abandoned by society and the institutions which do not give them any support. The Church defends these minorities: so they may see their rights recognized, and understand that it is possible to live in peace and harmony with other communities. "

From October 29, 2011, when Pope Benedict XVI appointed him bishop of the Diocese of Dinajpur, Msgr. Tudu says he has "received incredible and unexpected support. I was frightened by this great responsibility, but the closeness of these populations and the religious orders have shown me, gives me the strength to start this mission. " (GM).



Thursday, January 26, 2012

List of Articles of 2009:


Welcome Message about this blog

Dear all,

I am very happy to create this blogs to all the respected visitors (Santals, Teachers, Writers, Researchers and others) related to the Santals Clans, Culture, Customs, History, Language, Literature, Myths, Rebellion, Religion, Script, Tradition and .. their future.

The Santals are mainly living in Indian, Bangladesh,Nepal and scattered in the World. There is limited number of publications are publishing in every year. Respected researchers and organizations are research about the the Santal for their own purposes. These articles, research papers and books are going to lost or may be developed their collection personally. But, these are unavailable to the Santal Community.

The articles of this blogs are net-based and not customize according to subject wise. You have to click ARTICLE menu if you want the list of previous year chronologically at a glance. This blog may not fulfill your demands. After all, this is a tiny attempt to make a RESOURCEFUL blog for the Santal Community. Visitors may get these articles collectively at a time from any where. Gradually; I will try to make more resourceful this blog by publish all the Santal Community related articles.

There is COPY RIGHT matter to publish any articles personally. All the articles are mainly net-based. I am very grateful the authors, web owners from where I gather those and mentioned the SOURCE at the end of each article. But, the SOURCE sites you may not longer in next time. Because development of cited sites.

I am trying to gather all biased less articles for the greater unity of the Santals.

Respected all visitors are requested to suggest me about their suggestion/queries/demands via comments.


Peter Swapan Tudu

Facebook: Santal Resource Page


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Santali: Bangladesh language audio Bible stories and lessons - free mp3 downloads

Audio recordings available in Santali: Bangladesh

These recordings are designed for evangelism and basic Bible teaching to bring the gospel message to people who are not literate or from oral cultures, particularly unreached people groups.

Download Good News MP3 in Santali: BangladeshGood News (C22271) - Audio-visual Bible lessons in 40 pictures, with Bible overview from creation to Christ, and teaching on the Christian life. For evangelism and church planting..
Download LLL 1 Beginning with GOD MP3 in Santali: BangladeshLLL 1 Beginning with GOD (C73440) - Book 1 of an audio-visual series with Bible stories of Adam, Noah, Job, Abraham. For evangelism, church planting and systematic Christian teaching..

Download LLL 2 Mighty Men of GOD MP3 in Santali: BangladeshLLL 2 Mighty Men of GOD (C72640) - Book 2 of an audio-visual series with Bible stories of Jacob, Joseph, Moses. For evangelism, church planting and systematic Christian teaching..
Download LLL 4 Servants of GOD MP3 in Santali: BangladeshLLL 4 Servants of GOD (C74891) - Book 4 of an audio-visual series with Bible stories of Ruth, Samuel, David, Elijah. For evangelism, church planting and systematic Christian teaching..
Download LLL 5 On Trial for GOD MP3 in Santali: BangladeshLLL 5 On Trial for GOD (C72650) - Book 5 of an audio-visual series with Bible stories of Elisha, Daniel, Jonah, Nehemiah, Esther. For evangelism, church planting, systematic Christian teaching..
Download LLL 6 JESUS - Teacher & Healer MP3 in Santali: BangladeshLLL 6 JESUS - Teacher & Healer (C72660) - Book 6 of an audio-visual series with Bible stories of Adam, Noah, Job, Abraham. For evangelism, church planting and systematic Christian teaching..
Download LLL 8 Acts of the HOLY SPIRIT MP3 in Santali: BangladeshLLL 8 Acts of the HOLY SPIRIT (C72670) - Book 8 of an audio-visual series with Bible stories of the young church and Paul. For evangelism, church planting and systematic Christian teaching..

Somai Kisku honoured with prestigious Tagore awards

Purba Dutt, May 10, 2011, 12.30pm IST

Santali writer Somai Kisku was recently honoured with the prestigious Tagore Literature Awards 2010, instituted by Samsung in collaboration with Sahitya Akademi.

He was awarded for his work Namalia, first published in the year 2008.

Namalia describes and depicts the lifestyle of the Santal people of 'Namal'. Based on facts, it tells the story of the migration of these people to the rich paddy-growing region of 'Namal' due to the construction of a dam on river Kansavati.



Sido Kanhu Statue


Santali: The Language of Santal Tribe

Santali (or Santhali) language belongs to the South-East Asia’s Male-Polynesian language family of Astro-Asiatic branch.

To learn Santali language and its grammar; one can refer to the following authors.
  1. An Introduction to the Santali Language by Germia Philips (1852).
  2. Vocabulary of the Santali Language by E.L. Paxle (1868).
  3. A Grammar of the Santali Language by L.O. Scrayphusruud (1873).
  4. A Santali English and English Santali Dictionary by A. Campbell (1879).
  5. Materials for A Santali Grammar (Part 1 & 2) and A Santali Dictionary by P.O. Bodding (1922,1929 & 1936).
  6. We have seen the use of Devnagri, Bangla, Oriya, Roman and now ‘Ol Chiki’ alphabets for writing in the language.

Santali language has rich collection of folk songs, folk-stories, sayings, riddles, essays, etc.; these can be discovered in the following books.
  1. Horh Sereng and Dorh Sereng by W.G. Archer and G.G. Soren.
  2. Sohrai Sereng and Dorh Soreng by Dr. Sahdev Marandi.
  3. Sohrai Sereng and Dorh Soreng by Bhagwat Murmu.
  4. Horh Kahni Ko by P.O. Bodding.
  5. Santali Lok Kathayein by Bhagwat Murmu.
  6. Horko Rain Mare Haaparamako Reyak Kaatha by L.O. Scrayphusruud, Kalyan Har’aam and Jugia Har’aam (1887).
  7. Horoko Rein Mare Haparamko Reyaak Katha.
  8. Kherwall Bonsa Dhorom Puthi by Ramdass Tudu (1900).
  9. Santalpargana, Santal Aar Pahariyakowalk Itihaas by C.H. Kumar (1937).
  10. Karaam Aar Chacho Chatiyar and Hor Bapla Puthi by S.H. Murmu (1945).
  11. Badoli-Koyanda by Mahadev Marandi (1967).
  12. Kaaram by Manindra Hansdak.

Santali language also has good collection of poems.
  1. Onoarehein Baha Daalwalk (Branch of Poetic Flowers) by Paul Jujhaar Soren.
  2. Saari Dhoroam Sereng by Sadhu Ramchand Murmu (1972 & 1979).
  3. Gira, Kirtaan Kali and Aasaad Binati by Tor’e Sutaam.
  4. Gosoo Baha by Aditya Mitr Santali.
  5. Koyoko Hor by Adivasi.
  6. Bhurka Eipeel, Kuhubau and Lahaak Hor Re by Sarda Prasad Kisku.
  7. Chandmala and Bakhra by Gorachand Tudu.
  8. Bidrau by Basudev Besra.
  9. Jereit Divaha by Paaneer Piyo.
  10. Tiriya-Tetaran by Harihar Hansdak.
  11. Parsi Baha by Raghunath Murmu.
  12. Setaik by Samir.
  13. Sereng Binda by Krishan Chandra Tudu.

Few collections of stories and novels written in Santali including few translations have also contributed towards the growth of the literature.
  1. Harmawalk Aato by R.R.K. Rapaj (1946) is a translation in Santali of an English novel Harma’s Village by R. Castreyas.
  2. Mit Ten Kurieng Dulaar Kedya by Gora Chand Tudu is a translation in Santali of an English novel I Love a Girl by Walter Drawicks.
  3. Aato-Orako by Doman Hansdak.
  4. Muhila Chechet Dai, Garbaan Rain Koda and Aapa-Bare Kusi Bapla by Nanku Soren.
  5. Matha Surha by Tore Sutaam.
  6. Bull Munda, Maatal by Dr. Doman Sahu.
  7. Kukum and Pey Pawa Chawale by Armaan.
  8. Dulaar-Chinha by Nunulal Hembrom.
  9. Aaraak Peyaalapur by T.K. Rapaaj.
  10. Disom Bhokta by Adivasi.

The plays written in Santali language are as under:
  1. Bindu-Chandaan and Kherwaar Veer by Pandit Raghunath Murmu.
  2. Aakeel Yaar by Armaan.
  3. Tudu Koda Mandaryiya by Lodai Soren.
  4. Aale Aato and Maangarh Manjhi by Shayam.
  5. Hasa Aar Bhasha and Paheel Maarsaal by Sahdev Marandi.
  6. Horak Bapla by Vasa.
  7. Juri Khatir by Krishan Chandra Tudu.
  8. Bhinsaar Mayaam by Tore Sutaam.

Few magazines and the journals in Santali are also published from time to time.
  1. Hoar-Sombaad, Weekly, Dumka
  2. Silli, Sagain Saakaam, Umool, Jug Sirijool, Chithi Saakaam, etc.




Sunday, January 22, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Download Santali Typing Software:Hoṛ Katha

We made the world first Unicode basis Santali typing software.

Windows 7, Vista, Windows 8. For windows XP or older version of windows install the Framework 3.5 .
Size: 293 kb
License: Under General Public License (GPL v3)
Author: Samar Michael Soren
Publisher: Adivasi Online Community of Bangladesh(AOCBD)
Copyright: ©2011

Santali Typing Keyboard Hoṛ Katha Download Now. ( Click to Download )

  • Features:
  • Unicode Supported.
  • Portable.
  • Writing Capacity to any application of windows platform in Santali Language.
  • Writing capacity to Internet.
  • No fonts required to install.
  • Easy to use.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Esel-safa Hor Kuri: A Santhali story

by: Sunder Manoj Hembrom

Un jo̠khac̓ re̠yak̓katha kana tin re̠ mobile ko̠do̠ ban͂ ta͂he͂ kana. Ado̠ cithi he̠c̓ e̠na, dakbạbu do̠ saykil re̠yak̓ ghạnti ye̠ thirin-thirin ke̠da.

“Shiblal Tudu…Shiblal Tudu, ghar par hai” kazak te̠ye̠kikyạw ke̠da.

Ona anjo̠m kate̠t̓ Sibuda do̠ hako̠-pako̠ bạltin dak’kun͂ kho̠n rakap̓ katet̓ udun̓ duạr sec̓ e̠ dạr̠ calaw e̠na.

“Ka baat hai ho, kaahe gala faad ke chilla rahe ho!” duạrjhic̓ sa͂w te̠ ye̠ tar̠aw ke̠de̠ya.

“Babu apka chithi aya hai.” Dak bạbu ye̠ ro̠r̠ ruạr̠ke̠da.

“In̓ak̓ cithi do̠ o̠ka kho̠n he̠c̓ dar̠e̠ a” cithiatan̓ katet̓ e̠ hudis ke̠da. Ar bego̠r so̠mo̠y kho̠ro̠c e̠ kōna se̠c̓ kho̠ne̠cirạ ke̠da.

“ōho̠ masto̠r sahe̠b e̠ kōl akada Jhajha kho̠n”mo̠ne̠-mo̠ne̠ te̠ ye̠ badak̓-budạk̓ ke̠da.

“Go̠ re̠ anjo̠m me̠se̠ masto̠r sahe̠b e̠ o̠l akada, bạhuye̠ uduk’ ạn̓ lạgit̓ akō se̠c̓ re̠.” cōtkar macha aran͂ te̠ ac̓ go̠go̠ ye̠lạy go̠t̓ adiya.

Sibuda ma ac̓ ge̠ 40 se̠rma kach-kạchi, ōna e̠yạteGo̠go̠ do̠ bud̠hi lapa-lupu. Ac̓ ren kōr̠a bạhu ye̠ ạgu ye̠ya nowa anjo̠mkate̠t̓ rạskạ te̠ ye̠ kuli ruạr̠ ke̠de̠ya: “ado̠ tēs calak̓ hōyōk̓ a ya?”

“Daray mạhnạ du tạrik e̠ ho̠ho̠ akada” cithi do̠raca re̠ sati latar do̠ho̠ tebul re̠ do̠ho̠ kate̠t’ onde̠ ge̠ saman͂ re̠ bilparko̠m re̠ tiyạr kate̠t̓ e̠ ro̠r̠ ruạr̠ ke̠da. “ac̓ do̠ Jhajha re̠ge̠ ye̠tahena, in̓ ge̠ calaw kate̠t̓ uni n̓apamē huyuk’ tin̓a nahak̓”

“fo̠to̠ kō do̠ so̠nge̠ te̠ bay kul akada”

“ban͂ bay kul akada, menkhan e̠ o̠l akaday kur̠I do̠n’elo̠k̓ te̠do̠y cēhra ge̠ya, e̠se̠l safa diku le̠ka.” Shibuda tho̠ra jạstigan e̠ coran e̠da, ce̠dak̓ je̠ calak̓ khōrca ma go̠go̠ ge̠ye̠ e̠mo̠k̓, baba mabạnuy…pe̠ sērma laha ge̠ye̠ bạric̓ e̠na. Ar go̠go̠ wak̓ pēnso̠n te̠ge̠gharo͂j do̠ calak̓ kana.

Baba do̠ se̠rvis re̠ge̠ ye̠ ta͂he͂ kana, bar̠a bạbuye̠ ta͂he͂ kana. Ar ac’ ren sadhe̠r be̠ta do̠ par̠haw aco̠ kate̠t̓ lạtu sahe̠bbe̠naw e̠ me̠n jo̠n̓ kan ta͂he͂na…bar̠a babu ye ta͂he͂ kana tho̠r, sahe̠b kowak̓rōbab e̠ bada̠y kan ta͂he͂na. Menkhan Sibuda, sadhe̠r bēta kạtic̓ kho̠n ge̠jahan abhaw ge̠ ban͂, pase̠c̓ ac̓ baba tēbul latar kho̠n taka hataw e̠ bad̠aykan ta͂he̠n ge̠yay. Nōwa do̠ jạt re̠yak’ do̠ ban͂, kirani post reyak̓ ge̠dōs. Abō ho̠r̠ ho̠po̠n do̠ ban͂khan be̠ho̠k kạmi re̠do̠ usạra do̠ babōnta͂hēna.

Ar go̠go̠ ma go̠go̠ le̠ka ge̠, kazake̠ dulạr̠ lidiyakạtic’ re̠ sadhe̠r bēta tho̠r. Ac̓ baba do̠y metay kan ta͂hen geya: am g̠mbạr̠ijeya bạbu do̠ nahak’. Sạri ge̠ bay par̠haw le̠na jạsti do̠, ja͂ha͂le-ka te̠ mitrik e̠ pas ke̠da, ona ho͂ Shekhpura khon poysa e̠m kate̠t̓…ar mit̓tala ge̠ gate̠ sa͂w te̠ so̠go̠r-so̠go̠r…hana hạtyạ nowa hạtyạ...nowa baplahana bapla, so̠go̠y re̠ ma masto̠r. Ona eyạte̠ge̠ pase̠c̓ ac̓ baba ho͂ so̠mo̠ykho̠n laha go̠c̓ calawe̠nay bhabna te̠. Ado̠ thik ge̠ya hō bam par̠haw le̠na,nukri bam n̓am le̠da…menkhan jahanak̓ rozgar tho̠r e̠m rozgar dar̠iyak̓

ge̠ya…ado ona ho͂ ban͂. Cēlēyēm mētaya ado̠ nonkanic̓ do: “asan̓-po̠da ar dingrạ” ge̠ tho̠r. No̠ o̠y no̠nkay ta͂he͂ kana, abo̠re̠n Sibuda wak̓ pạrico̠y do̠.

E̠skar jiwi, bud̠hi go̠go̠ ho͂ye̠ hudis ke̠da, bạhuye̠ he̠c̓ le̠n khan nahak̓ e̠ n̓e̠l jutiya. Gidrạ ko̠ ho̠y le̠n khan argharo͂j re̠yak̓ bhar par̠aw le̠n khan e̠ jutuk̓a. Jahanak̓ rozgar re̠yak̓ e̠kurumutuya. Ona eyạte masto̠r sahe̠b the̠c̓ Jhajha calak̓ jo̠khac̓ mo̠j te̠ye̠sapraw kade̠ya taka-po̠ysa se̠le̠t̓ ho͂. Se-tak’ e̠ udun̓ e̠na, Dumka khon do̠bas te̠. Jạsidih se̠te̠r kate̠t̓ relgạdi ye̠ sap̓ ke̠ya Jhajha lạgit̓,me̠nkhan train ma go͂dgol ge̠ ta͂he͂ kan, line re̠ pase̠c̓ jahanak̓ kạmicalak̓ kan ta͂he͂na. “Announce” ke̠da ko̠ je̠ 4 bạje tarasin̓ ge̠ gadi hijuk̓a“up-line” re̠do̠. Purạw mo͂re͂ gho̠nta ta͂he͂ kana ti re. Steso̠n kho̠n udun̓kate̠ mo̠j te̠ daka ye̠ jo̠m thik ke̠da ar bo̠lo̠ ye̠nay sur macha sinema-ho̠lre̠ filim n̓el.

4 bạje̠ le̠ka relgạdi he̠c̓ e̠na, Jhajhase̠te̠ro̠k̓-se̠te̠ro̠k̓ te̠ 6:30 baja ye̠na. Masto̠r sahe̠b do̠ gạdi re̠yak̓“disturbance” do̠y bad̠ay kan ta͂he͂ ge̠ya, ona hisạb te̠ge̠ “enquiry” kate̠t̓”platform” te̠ye̠ he̠c̓ akan ta͂he͂na.

“cēlē hō kazakēm bilōm keda?” ti milạw sa͂wte̠ge̠ masto̠re̠ kulē kēdēya.

“ce̠t̓ ban̓ e̠m me̠na Mahaso̠y, gạdi ge̠le̠ the̠lawạgu ke̠da” la͂da kate̠t̓ e̠ me̠ta wade̠ya, “de̠la o̠ka se̠c̓ calak̓ho̠yo̠k̓a?”

Masto̠r sahe̠b do̠ ayak̓ de̠ra te̠ye̠ ạyur ēdēkedēya, jạsti jhạl do̠ ban͂ ta͂he͂ kana. ạbun̓ sapa bad̠a katet̓ ca ko̠ n̓ubad̠a acu kēdeya. Ar so͂ge te̠ye̠ lạy adiyay je̠ pe̠r̠a o̠rak̓ do̠ un hilo̠k̓ge̠ calak̓ hōyōk̓a, ce̠dak̓ jē ōnkō do̠ kō sapr̠aw thik akana. 8 bajele̠ka n̓uhum e̠na ar e̠ lạy adiya je̠ 7-8 km le̠ka motorcycle te̠ calak̓hōyōk̓a. Bir-bir te̠ “railway track” ar̠i-ar̠i te kin fo̠tfo̠taw calawe̠na.Se̠te̠ro̠k̓-se̠te̠ro̠k̓ te̠ 9 baja ye̠na, buru ho̠r tho̠r hilạ-dho̠lo̠.

9 baja do̠ atu lạgit̓ do̠ tala n̓in̓dạ, jo̠to̠ ho̠r̠jạpit̓ caba! Ar go̠ta ge̠ kazak̓ n̓ut, pase̠c̓ motorcycle re̠yak̓ rosni te̠me̠t̓ ạndhwạ wakan takin ta͂he͂na.

“He͂da ho, jạpit ke̠da pe̠” Masto̠r do̠ duạrkhatkhataw sa͂w te ho̠ho̠ ho͂y ho̠ho̠ ke̠da.

“Ban͂-ban͂ bale̠ jạpit̓ akada…” bhitri kho̠n akbakawro̠r̠ anjo̠m e̠na. ar dig-dig marsal ho͂ jul e̠na, pase̠c̓ bijli do̠ me̠nak̓tako̠ ge̠ya..bana ho̠r̠ kin hudis ke̠da.

“Mase̠-mase̠be̠re̠t pe̠, …jạpit̓ sa͂d*** akana ko̠ ya,…ja͂wa͂y bạbu ye̠ he̠c̓ e̠na,hako̠-pako̠y pe̠, he̠nda ya Lubin, Be̠tka, Tho̠te birit̓ pe̠ya” bhitri kho̠nkajak-kajak te̠ ro̠r̠ anjo̠mo̠k̓ kan ta͂he͂na..n̓indạ ēyạte̠. O̠na ko̠ ro̠r̠anjo̠m kate̠t̓ Sibuda ar Masto̠r bana ho̠r jalna kho̠n kin uyun̓ n̓o̠k̓ ke̠da.Jo̠to̠ ho̠r̠ ayo̠, baba ar gidrạ raca re̠ge̠ ko̠ ge-te̠c’ akan ta͂he͂na.A͂r̠an͂ a͂njo̠m kate̠t̓ dhar̠-par̠aw kate̠t̓ ko̠ be̠re̠t̓ e̠na ar gidrạ(pasec̓Lubin, Be̠tka ar Tho̠te̠) do̠ ko̠ dal bērēt ke̠t̓ kōa.

Nit̓ dhạbic̓baku jhic̓ akat̓ kin ta͂he̠na. Bhitri se̠c̓ ōyun͂ ke̠t’ khan ạdi landa“scene” kēn n̓e̠l n̓am ke̠da: Tala n̓indạ gidrạ kō dal bērēt’ kate̠t̓pawdo̠r-sunum o̠jo̠k̓ kate̠t̓ ko̠ nạkic̓ safa ye̠t̓ ko̠wa. Ar ayo̠ ho̠r̠ ho͂kajak̓ ko̠ saprak̓ kan. Lagbho̠g 15 minit bad duạr ko̠ jhic̓ ke̠da.

“De̠la ho͂bo̠lo̠k̓ ben, ko̠yo̠k̓ ho̠r-ho̠r te̠ le̠ jạpit̓ hirin̓ akat̓ ta͂hena” mit̓ense͂r̠a macha baba ho̠r̠ pase̠c̓ kur̠i ac̓ baba ye̠ ta͂he͂ kana, ye̠ daram ke̠t̓kēna. Jhat-pat kuri ko̠ sajaw bar̠a ke̠da, raca re̠ge̠, ar pạri-pạri te̠ko̠do̠bo̠k̓-jo̠har ke̠da. Jo̠to̠ te̠ do̠s-baro̠ ti gan ho̠r̠ ko̠ ta͂he͂ kana.Bạhu kur̠i do̠ pase̠c̓ bako̠ so̠do̠r le̠de̠ ya. Inạ bade̠ ge̠ misti, ca nastako̠ sōr bad̠a ke̠da. Nasta bad̠a kate̠t’ parico̠y-pati ko̠ ho̠y bada̠y ēna.Ado̠ enạ bade̠ kur̠i apat̓ e̠ ro̠r̠ ke̠da: ma mahaso̠y to̠be̠ biti kur̠i le̠uduk̓ abe̠n kana.

Tala n̓indạre̠ bạhu n̓el, pạhil do̠m hōyōk̓ kana pase̠c̓. Jo̠to̠ o̠r̠ak̓ re̠n ho̠r̠mit̓ nakha re̠ko̠ durup̓ ena. Sibuda ar masto̠r mo̠say mit̓ nakha kursi re̠ arbạhu kur̠i do̠ saman͂ re̠ ko̠ ạgu ke̠de̠ya, sạri ge̠ ạdi cērha, diku kur̠ile̠ka, ȧdi mo̠j sapr̠aw ho͂ ye̠ sapr̠aw akan ta͂he͂na. Hindi filim renhēroyin le̠ka ge̠ n̓elo̠k̓ kan ta͂he͂na…co̠r̠o̠k̓-ci͂kạr̠ ce̠rha. Sibuda ma n̓e̠lte̠ge̠ ye̠ ta͂he͂ ye̠n.

Dosar din se̠tak̓mo̠j ge̠ nawa lungi, gamcha ar gạnji ko̠ e̠mak̓ kēna, gada kho̠n dạbrạhijuk̓ lạgit̓. Jạsti jhạl do-ban͂ ta͂he͂ kana, ade̠-pase̠ n̓e̠l-n̓e̠l te̠kin calak̓ kana…e̠ke̠n jo̠lha or̠ak̓, mit̓e̠n ho̠r̠(santal) ho͂ bakin n̓apam le̠t̓ ko̠a…e̠ke̠njo̠lha. Ar jo̠to̠ ho̠r̠ landa kate̠t’ ko̠ me̠ta wakin kana: ja͂wa͂y babupranam!

“He̠nda ho,mahaso̠y…ako̠ o̠r̠ak̓ rēn jo̠to̠ ho̠r̠ ma ạdi n̓uhum he̠nde̠ ar kud̠i do̠ ce̠kate̠ ōnạk̓ e̠se̠l do̠?” Sibuda tho̠r̠a asbasaw macha kate̠t̓ masto̠r e̠ kulike̠de̠ya.

“…ce̠ka te̠lan͂ me̠n kēya!” khato̠ te̠ ro̠r̠ kate̠t̓ masto̠r sahe̠b do̠ ye̠ thir utạr e̠na.


Ayma din dhạbic’Sibuda do̠ masto̠r re̠ kuli bad̠a kēdēya cithi te̠…je̠ “ōna babo̠t te̠ ce̠t̓ēm hudis bad̠a keda?” Sibuda wak̓ jaw do̠m mite̠c’ ge̠ jo̠bab…”acha yin̓ hudisbad̠a le̠ge̠.” Uni do̠ ona atu re̠ onạk̓ jōlha n̓e̠l kate̠t̓ e̠ bo̠to̠r e̠na.Ho na ho…no̠ko̠ jōlha ēyạte̠ge̠ uni kud̠i do̠ unạk̓ e̠se̠l, safa ar ce̠rhaye̠ n̓elo̠k̓ kan ta͂he͂na.

Mit̓ sērmabad masto̠rak̓ cithi ye̠ n̓am ke̠da: “He̠nda hō Sibubo̠yha, no̠wa cithi te̠yin̓ bad̠ay aco̠ ye̠t̓ me̠a jē…amak’ asra ko̠yo̠k̓ ho̠r te̠ye̠ mulin caba ye̠na…pase̠c̓bam bapla a…ona ēyạte̠ in̓ ge̠ yin̓ do̠ho̠ kēdēya. Ma to̠be̠ Johar ge̠!”




Assessment and Administration of Health in a Tribal Community of India

The Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology

ISSN: 1939-4594

Sudipta Ghosh Lecturer (Ad Hoc), Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, Delhi 110007, India
SL Malik Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, Delhi 110007, India

Citation: S. Ghosh & S. Malik: Assessment and Administration of Health in a Tribal Community of India. The Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology. 2009 Volume 3 Number 2

Keywords: Health, Nutrition, Santhals, Health care services, Reproductive health fitness, Primary health centers, West Bengal, India


Tribal development is a vast and complex issue, which is multidimensional. Some of the important aspects of tribal development are health, education and economic development. There cannot be a singular policy for such diversified Indian tribes having specific and distinct needs. Thus, it is necessary to understand their needs, conditions, cultural norms, traditions and socio-economic life.The present paper focuses on status of health and availability of treatment and aides among Santhals, a tribal community from Ranibandh block of West Bengal, India. Through the health centers, which conduct grass root level survey in the villages almost every month, Santhals of the region have gained awareness over time about their health and nutritional status.


Health and nutrition are important elements in the development process. Adequate nutrition enhances physical health, thereby improves immune systems and reproductive health fitness. Both nutrition and health increases life expectancy, which is known to be important for development 1 . Although primarily health is a function of nutritional status, other factors like availability, quality and cost of health care services, living standards, sanitary conditions, quality of drinking water and economic condition are also important 2 . With the significant development in treatments and medical services, people have become highly aware and cautious about their health and fitness.

In tribal societies the concept of health, fitness and diseases varies between different tribal groups. In a tribal habitat, a person is usually considered to be afflicted with some diseases if he/she is incapable of doing the routine work, i.e., incapacitation from work is the universal index of poor health. Thus the concept of ill health becomes a functional one and not clinical 3 . Reproductive health is also very poor among most of the tribal communities. Among Pahira tribal population of India, for instance, pre-reproductive mortality is significantly high. The mothers are used to frequent child bearing with the aim of making up the loss, despite the consequent risk to their own survival and physical fitness 4 . Unfortunately, this is the case in many tribal societies of India.

In India, the general health status of the tribal populations is known to be poor. The widespread poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, absence of safe drinking water and sanitary and living condition, poor maternal and child health services have been traced out in several studies as possible contributing factors for miserable health conditions prevailing among tribal populations 3, 5, 6 . Information regarding the health status of tribal societies, especially among tribal women from West Bengal state of India is scarce. The ailments among tribals are often region-specific. For example, in the arid climate of Purulia, Leprosy is a predominant disease, while in Bankura it is Malaria and in Medinipur Tuberculosis is prevalent 7 . Further, the above study suggests that although majority of the tribal women took doctor’s advice during pregnancy, negligence and ill behavior of the staff of government hospitals are important causes deterring these women from availing pre-natal and post-natal facilities. Tribal mothers are generally aware of the immunization programme for children administered by rural sub-centers or primary health centers.

Keeping these objectives in mind, the present study has been conducted on Santhal tribes of Bankura district of West Bengal, India, to examine socio-economic profile, health and nutritional status of Santhals, focusing on reproductive health fitness of Santhal women and availability and quality of different health care services accessible to them.

Materials and Methods

A survey of 400 households was conducted on Santhals of Ranibandh block of Bankura district of West Bengal, India 8 . In order to gather information on the socio-economic aspects, all the members of each household were interviewed. In addition, 400 randomly selected ever-married women were interviewed to collect information on their reproductive profile. Data were collected from 18 villages of Ranibandh block of Bankura district, West Bengal, using multistage random cluster sampling method.

Household survey consist information about Primary occupation, Pattern of house, position of kitchen and sources of fuel. Subjects were interviewed to obtain information regarding their Dietary intake, Smoking and Drinking habits and Morbidity pattern. Interview technique was used to gather information from selected ever-married women concerning their reproductive profile, consisting Age at menarche, Age at menopause (where applicable), Age at first child, Age at marriage, Status of their children and Number of total children. In statistical analysis, Mean and Standard deviation were estimated for Age at menarche, Age at menopause, Age at first child and Age at marriage using computerized statistical software, SPSS and MS Excel. Additionally, frequency distribution of Primary occupation, various housing characteristics, dietary habits, Smoking and Drinking habits, Morbidity pattern, Age at first child, Status of children and Number of total children were calculated 9 .

Ranibandh block is one of the 22 Community Development Blocks of the district Bankura. The total land area of the block is 428 km 2 with a population density (244 per km 2 ), the lowest as compared to the other blocks of this district. The total population of the block is 1, 08,591 10 . The sex ratio of Ranibandh at 964 is the highest as compared to the other blocks and is also higher than that of the district, as well as the state average. The total number of tribal population of this block is 49,321 out of these 24,912 are males and 24,409 are females.

Santhals of Ranibandh strictly follow the rule of tribal endogamy and clan exogamy as evident from the information gathered on marriage / mating pattern. Not even a single intra clan marriage was found in this population. Moreover, they have the preference of bringing their brides from the same village or from the neighboring villages with a marital distance not more than 15 km.

Guha 11 classified Santhals as Proto-Australoid, which he considered to have arrived in India soon after the Negritos. They are the largest tribe to retain an aboriginal language, known as Santali, belonging to Austro-Asiatic, sub-family of the Austric family. This language is closely related to Mundari as well as Ho, Korku, Savara and Gadaba languages spoken by smaller tribes of India 12 .

The Santhals have been living in southern and western part of the West Bengal for at least five hundred years. It was found that some of the Santhal villages in Bankura district are over three hundred years old. They live in tropical environment, which is humid and hot. Their habitational places are generally covered with forest and hills that are intercepted by streams and springs. In some parts, there are ranges of low hills, while in others, the conical shaped hills rise abruptly from the undulating plains. Most part of the countryside is covered with the Sal (a variety of tropical tree) forest that contributes to the well being of the dwellers (tribal belief). The area in the plain is characterized with the lateritic reddish soil having scanty water supply.

Santhals practice settled agriculture, though food gathering and hunting are their important subsidiary occupations. Familiarity with animal husbandry contributes marginally to their livelihood. Santhals are expert hunters who hunt a variety of games that are available in the surrounding forests. They fish in river, ponds and other water- logged areas with the help of nets, traps, bow and arrows. They also do fishing with the help of poisonous plants.

Monogamous marriage system is the most prevalent one among Santhals, though polygynous marriage system is also found in some cases. There are seven accepted forms of marriages or Bapla namely, Kring Bahu Bapla, Ghardi Jawae Bapla, Itut Bapla, Sanga Bapla, Kiring Jawae Bapla, Tunki Dipil Bapla and Nirbolok Bapla. The Santhals are divided into 12 exogamous totemic clans, locally known as Paris. These are: 1) Hansda, 2) Marndi, 3) Soren, 4) Hembrom, 5) Tudu, 6) Kisku, 7) Murmu, 8) Baske, 9) Besra, 10) Pauria, 11) Chore and 12) Bedea. Pauria, Chore and Bedea clans are on the verge of extinction and not even a single member of these three clans was found during the present study.

Results and Discussion

Availability of health care services and health treatments among Santhals of Ranibandh are depicted in this section. Ranibandh block has one Block Primary Health Center (BPHC) and four Primary Health Centers (PHC) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Primary health centers of Ranibandh block

Three PHC that are governed by the state are Jhilimili, Barikul and Haludkanali. Khejuria, the fourth PHC, is governed by the Gram Panchayat. The block has four sectors, viz. Ranibandh, Jhilimili, Barikul and Haludkanali, which are further, divided into a number of sub health centers (Figure 2). 24 sub health centers are distributed all over the block, thus covering almost all the villages of this block.

Figure 2: Distribution of Sub- health centers of Ranibandh block

The block primary health center is situated at Ranibandh village. This center consists of four doctors, eight nurses, one Block Medical Officer of Health (BMOH), one Block Primary Head Nurse (BPHN) and one Block Sanitary Inspector (BSI). It has 25 beds, 13 are for females and 12 are for males. Each primary and sub health center has one doctor, two nurses, one pharmacist and one sweeper. Health centers provide free meal and medicines to all in-house patients. Patients that fall Below Poverty Line (BPL) are paid two hundred rupees for transport in antenatal cases and five hundred rupees for treatment in other cases, as most of the Santhals fall into this category they get the charges. The administrators of block primary health center conduct meetings every Saturday to discuss progress in developmental programmes on health and problems faced by these health centers during this process. Doctors, nurses and other staffs of primary and sub health centers attend meetings, which are headed by the Medical Officer. These health programme meetings are held either in block primary health center or other primary health centers. Health centers also carry out Direct Observation Treatment (DOT) Programme at the grass root level, thrice a week, where a doctor and a nurse go from door to door in all the villages that fall under that primary health center to investigate about the health and diseases of these people. Health awareness camps are held every third month, with the help of Anganwari centers (It is a Non Government Organization to conduct developmental programmes at grass root level in rural areas) to spread knowledge about proper nutrition and good health. For those remote Santhal villages that do not have any nearby health center, ‘Medical Camps for Outreach Villages’ are held every fourth or fifth months. In the camp, two-three doctors, three nurses and technicians visit remote villages with the help of local police. The doctors check the local people’s health, do the require treatments and give medicines free of cost. Even during immunization or vaccination programme, block primary health center sets special immunization camp for these ‘outreach’ and remote villages.

Socio-economic, nutritional and health status of Santhals could reflect how far the health programmes, carried on in this region, are helping or influencing the Santhals of this block. The distribution of Santhals according to their primary occupations suggests that majority (72.5%) of the Santhals are self-cultivator cum daily laborer (Figure 3). Santhals falling under this category own only a small piece of cultivable land, which is not sufficient to sustain livelihood. Therefore, to substantiate, they work as daily laborer in the construction sectors or in the land of affluent people. A sizable number (18.7%) of them are self-cultivators, who have cultivable land to maintain their subsistence pattern. Some of them (6.8%) serve the government, whereas for a small percentage (1.5%) of Santhals daily wage is the only source of income, as they do not own any land. A negligible percentage (0.5%) of this population is in business.

Figure 3: Distribution of Santhals, by Primary occupation

Investigation of various housing characteristics of Santhals suggests that majority of them (97.0%) own single storied kaccha (House build up of straw and mud, instead of cement and brick) houses (Table 1). Only few can afford to have pucca (when house is built up of cement and brick) -single storied (2.2%) or pucca-double storied houses (0.8%). Most of the houses have a room and a kitchen (79.0%). Sometimes, when they don’t have a separate kitchen, they use the space outside their living room (14.7%) or a corner inside their living room (6.3%) for cooking purposes. Forest wood is the only type of fuel used by Santhals. In majority of the cases (90.3%) kerosene (a type of oil use in rural India for country made lamps, to light huts) light their houses, whereas, only few (9.7%) of them can afford to use electricity. This reflects that the benefits of modern technology like LPG, electricity, etc. have not reached the common people in this area.

Table 1: Housing characteristics of the Santhals

The staple diet of Santhals is rice. Majority of them (80.6%) take meals thrice a day; whereas some (15.0%) take meals twice a day and a few (3.8%) can afford to have meals four times a day (Table 2). As milk is scarce, consumption of milk is almost negligible (98.5%) and only a few (1.5%) can afford to consume milk. Pulse intake is low among the Santhals and they take pulses only two (33.0%) or three (31.1%) days a week. Since they generally don’t cultivate pulse, they purchase it in cash (not through barter system) from market. They take green vegetables twice (57.1%), thrice (42.1%) or once (0.8%) a day. Although all of them are non-vegetarian, consumption of fish or meat is rare. Majority of Santhals take non-vegetarian food once (70.1%) a month, while only few of them can afford to consume it thrice (4.5%) or four (3.1%) times a month. They don’t purchase fruits from market but collect them from forest; therefore, the consumption of fruits depends on the season.

Smoking habit of the Santhals suggests that majority (57.3%) of them are Non-smokers, while several of them are Smokers (39.3%) and only 3.4% of them are Ex-smokers (Figure 4). Investigating both genders separately, it is observed that women shows higher percentage of Non-smokers (91.1%) than their counterpart men (29.5%). Thus, smoking is not a common practice in this population, especially among women. On the other hand, as compared to women (7.7%), percentage of Smokers is considerably higher among men (65.3%). Statistically significant gender differences (χ 2 = 485.15; P < 0.05) are observed in smoking habits of Santhals at 5% probability level.

Consumption of liquor is rare in this community (Figure 5), as majority (70.0%) of them do not consume it at all, more so among women (85.4%) than among men (57.4%). Statistically significant gender differences (χ 2 = 117.37; P < 0.05) are identified in drinking habits of Santhals at 5% probability level.

Handia and Mahua are two popular locally prepared liquors. Even those who devour liquor, they drink it mostly on special occasions, especially during festivals. Santhals prepare Handia from fermented rice and Mahua from Mahua, a variety of local flowers. Generally, they don’t take any other type of liquors that are available in the market due to their low economic conditions.

Morbidity record of the Santhals for last three years suggests that Malaria is the most prevalent disease in this community (Table 3). Little les than half (41.1%) of the total population have this disease. Percentage of occurrences of Malaria is higher among women (43.6%) than among men (39.7%), which could be because women are nutritionally deprived as compared to men. High prevalence of malaria in this community, as compared to other diseases, could be because of the preponderance of mosquitoes in their inhabited forest area. Evidently higher occurrence of T.B. in Santhal men (16.8%) than in women (4.0%) could be because of the fact that smoking habit is more common among men as compared to women.

Higher incidence of arthritis in women (4.4%) than in men (3.1%) might be due to the difference in their work posture, resulting from the differences in their activity patterns. Certain diseases like Bronchitis, Leprosy and Pneumonia are found only in Santhal men and not in Santhal women. However, overall Santhals are not highly prone to diseases, except Malaria. For treatment, Santhals always first consult the village Shaman. He is generally an old person who treats his patient with local herbs. Santhals believe he is the most knowledgeable person of their community. If he fails, only then they consult doctors at the primary health centers, which are distributed all over the block with the main center being located at Ranibandh. However, these days Santhals of young generation visit health centers directly without consulting village Shaman.

Reproductive health fitness of Santhals is presented here. It is one of the ways to measure the health of a community. Majority of the Santhal girls have their age at onset of menarche at the age of 13 years (28.1%), 14 years (24.9%) or 15 years (16.0%), with a mean age at menarche as 14.1 (Figure 6).

The mean age at menopause of Santhals is 49.0 with insignificant percentage of women having menopause after 55 years and before 43 years (Figure 7). Reproductive life span of the Santhal women ranges from 25 years to 46 years, with a mean of 35.0 (S.D. = ±3.66).

Examination of reproductive profile of Santhal suggests that (Figure 8) usually Santhal women have their first child at the age of 17 years (16.3%), 18 years (13.8%), 19 years (13.8%) or 20 years (13.5%), with a mean age of having first child at 19.4 years (S.D.= ±2.91). This is perhaps because mean age at marriage of Santhal women is 15.6 years (S.D. = ±3.49), which is higher as compared to Thoti (12.9 years) and comparable with Jaunsari (15.7 years), other tribal communities of India 13 .

Santhal women generally have three (29.0%), four (21.5%) or five (17.3%) children (Figure 9). Having children more than eight is rare among Santhals and only one woman has identified with nine children during the present study. The crucial roles played by primary health centers regarding this aspect are surely acknowledgeable. During the DOT programme doctors from these centers make the local people aware of contraceptives and other birth control measures.



Primal Elements in the Santhal Musical Texts
Onkar Prasad

In traditional vision, man is a replica of the cosmos. He is constituted of five basic elements — sky, air, fire, water and earth. His life-cycle, mode of thought and pattern of behaviour are all governed by the cosmic laws. This primal vision of man is found to be fully integrated both in textual and oral traditions. While in the textual tradition it has been very systematically and analytically presented, in the oral tradition it remains unexplored. In this chapter, folk songs collected from among the Santhals of Bolpur-Sriniketan in 1991 have been dealt with.

The study centres on some of the basic postulates such as whether the Santhals in their primal thought follow an evolutionary scheme with regard to the basic elements, i.e., sky, air, fire, water, earth,1 whether the Santhals view themselves as constituted of five or four basic elements and whether the primal elements are referred to in songs connected with cosmogonic practices of the Santhals.

The Santhal Myths

Archer (1974), who made an extensive use of the Santhal sung-poetry to understand the life and culture of the Santhals observes:

Santhal poetry is Santhal life;

Santhal life is Santhal poetry

[Archer, 1974: 346]

This observation, showing the embeddedness of the Santhal life in their sung-poetry, suggests that methodologically it would not be wrong if the sung-poetry of the Santhals, connected with cosmology, is studied as evidence of their thought and feeling. It is worth mentioning here that songs dealing with the cosmology cannot be fully understood without some knowledge of the myths behind them (Bowra, 1962). The two Santhal myths of origin, originally collected by Skrefsrud (1887) in the Santhali dialect and later translated into English by Bodding (1942), are given here.


Towards the rising of the sun (the east) was the birth of man. At first there was only water, and under the water there was earth. Then Thakur2 Jiu created the beings that live in water, the crab, the crocodile, the alligator, the raghop boar fish, the sole prawn, the earthworm, the tortoise and others.

Thereupon Thakur said : "Whom shall I now make ? I will make man". Then he decided to make two of earth. He had just finished making the two, and when he was going to give them souls (life) the Day-Horse3 came down from above, trampled them to pieces and left. Thakur became awfully grieved by this.

Then Thakur said : "I will not make them of earth; I shall make birds". Then he made the two Has Hasil birds4 pulling (the material) off from his breast. He placed them on his hand; they were looking very beautiful. Thereupon he breathed on them, and they at once became alive and flew upwards. They moved about flying, but as they could not find a place to alight anywhere, they therefore always alighted on Thakur’s hand. Then the Day-Horse came down along the gossamer thread to drink water. When he was drinking water he spilt some froth of his mouth and left. It floated on the water; thereby foam was formed on the water.

Thakur then said to the two birds: "Do alight on the froth." They did so. When they had alighted they moved about over the whole sea, the froth carrying them along like a boat. Then they implored Thakur : "We are moving about, that is so, but we do not find any food."

Then Thakur Jiu called the alligator; he came; and the alligator said to Thakur: "Why did you call me Thakur?" Thakur said to him: "Would you be willing to bring up earth?" The alligator answered him: "If you tell me to do so, I might bring it up." Then having gone down in the water he went on working, bringing up earth; but all was dissolved.

Thereupon Thakur called the prawn. He came. Having come he said to Thakur: "Why did you call me, Thakur?" Thakur said to him: "Would you be willing to bring up earth?" The prawn answered him: "If you tell me to do so, I might bring it up." Then he went down in the water; having gone down he went on working, bringing it up in his claws; all the earth was dissolved.

Thereupon Thakur called the raghop boar fish.5 He came. Having come he said to Thakur: "Why did you call me, Thakur?" Thakur said to him: "Would you be willing to bring up earth?" The raghop boar fish answered him: "If you tell me to do so, I might bring it up." Then having gone down in the water he bit (the earth); he was bringing some of it in his mouth and some on his back; all the earth was dissolved. Since that time the boar fish have no scales on their body.

Thereupon Thakur called the stone-crab. He came. Having come he said to Thakur: "Why have you called me, Thakur?" Thakur said to him: "Would you be willing to bring up earth?" The crab answered Thakur: "If you tell me to do so, I might bring it up." Then having gone down in the water he went on working, bringing it up in his claws; all the earth was dissolved.

Thereupon Thakur called the earthworm. He came. Having come he said to Thakur: "Why did you call me Thakur?" Thakur said to him: "Would you be willing to bring up earth?" The earthworm answered Thakur: "If you tell me to do so, I might bring it up, provided the tortoise stands on the water."

Thereupon Thakur called the tortoise. He came. Having come he said to Thakur: "Why have you called me, Thakur?" Thakur said to him: "No one is able to bring the earth up. The earthworm has promised to bring it up, provided you will stand on the water." The tortoise answered Thakur: "If you tell me to do so, I might stand." Then he stood on the water.

When he had taken his stand, there Thakur chained his four legs in the four directions. The tortoise became immovably quiet on the water. Then the earthworm went down to bring up the earth; he reached the earth. Now he had put his tail on the back of the tortoise and with his mouth down below he began eating earth, and this he brought out on the back of the tortoise. Then it was spread out and fixed like a hard film. He continued to bring up earth; he brought up enough for the whole earth.6 Then he stopped.

Thereupon Thakur caused the earth to be harrowed level. By continual harrowing some was heaped up on the implements; these became mountains. Then, when the earth had been brought up and levelled, the foam that was floating on the surface of the water stuck to the earth, and as Thakur sowed sirom seed7 on this foam the sirom plant sprang up first (before all other plants). After this he let the dhubi grass8 be sown and then next to come up was the karam tree,9 thereupon the tope sarjom, the labar atnak, the ladea matkom,10 and after this all kinds of vegetation. The earth became firm. In all places where there was water, there he let sods be put, and in all places where water was bubbling up, there he let it be closed up by pressing pieces of rock down on it.

Thereupon, having made a nest in a clump of the sirom plants, the two birds laid two eggs. The female bird sat on the eggs, and the male bird looked for and brought food. Continuing in this way they hatched the eggs : "O mother! Two human beings were born — one boy and one girl". Then both of them sang :

O dear dear, on the sea,

O dear dear, these two human beings,

O dear dear, have been brought into the world,

O dear dear, these two human beings,

O dear dear, where are they to be put?

O dear dear, you two please tell him,

O dear dear, the great Thakur Jiu,

O dear dear, the two have been brought into the world,

O dear dear, these two human beings,

O dear dear, where are they to be put?

So they implored Thakur saying: "How shall we two support these two human beings?" Thakur gave them some cotton and said to them: "Whatever you two eat, press the juice out of these things and make a place on the cotton wet therewith, and put this into their mouths to suck." By sucking and getting food in this way they grew and commenced to walk. But as they were growing the anxiety of the two birds increased. Where to put the two when they grew up?

So they besought Thakur, and he said to them: "Do fly round and find for us a place for them to stay. Then they flew towards the setting of the sun; they discovered Hihiri Pipiri. Having returned they told Thakur of this. He said to them: "Do take them there." Then they took them along carrying them on their backs. They put them down and left them there. What became of Has Hasil, this the ancestors of old have not told us; therefore we do not know.

The names of these two human beings were Haram and Ayo.11 Some people call them Pilcu Haram and Pilcu Budhi.12


The sons of man (i.e., the Santhals) say, it is told, that at first this earth did not exist; it was sea, and it was dark; but the spirit of Isor (god) was flying round over the water, and Isor was alone. (The expressions used show that the narrator must have been in contact with Christians.) From heaven above, it is told, Isor came down along the gossamer thread to bathe; having bathed he again passed along the same gossamer thread upwards to heaven. It is told that Isor or Chando (the sun) has no parents; and when the sun rises we call this to be born, and about the setting of the sun we say: "Now he has entered the body of his mother; but the parents of Chando or Isor are sarag (heaven) and patal (nether world)." As he was coming down and passing up one day, some thought came to his mind; he had just put his clothes down and had had his bath. Then he created those that stay with him; he created Jolmae rani (the water-mother queen), Kalibhanj rani, Bintoria rani, Jhimoli rani (the earthworm queen) and several others that stay with him.Thereupon he created the five — the six — Jaher era (the lady of the sacred grove), Gossae era (the goddess of the sacred grove), thereupon Maran buru and Mahadeb to stay with him.

When he afterwards came down to bathe and was sitting there rubbing himself, he rubbed out who knows how much dirt from his collar-bone; he was pressing this with his fingers and of this he made two very beautiful birds and put them down near his clothes. When he had bathed he brought up with him a little water in the hollow of his hands and was sprinkling this on his clothes; some water spattered on the two birds and this became their gift of life. They at once flew upwards. And, it is told, as he saw that they were very beautiful, he sang (in corrupt Bihari):

The Has Hasil birds are flapping their wings,

Up to heaven, father, they went,

In the heavens they are strangely flying round.

And, it is told, because he has also told us of this wonder, we sprinkle flour-water (refers to part of the ceremonies at the name-giving festival), and after this the midwife tells us the race and sept or country. When the two birds became tired of constantly flying, from high up they caught sight of Mahadeb floating on the water; then flying down they alighted on him, because they did not find any other place to alight on. Everyday they alighted on him, and by constantly doing this they worried him, and by letting droppings fall on him they covered him with filth.

Then Mahadeb thought: "Why did you Thakur Jiu, make these two birds? Look here, by constantly alighting on me they have been troubling me, and by dropping dirt they have also covered me with filth. I shall, at once tell Thakur Jiu this." He did so and said this to him. When Thakur Jiu heard this he said to Mahadeb: "Wait, let them alight for a while and also let them drop filth; we shall first have a talk about these two." Then he called together those he had created first and told them all about the two birds. He said to them: "Well, I have made these two birds, where shall we place them? For we have no place for them to stay." They then said: "To give these two a place to stay we shall bring up earth." And they said: "Well, whom shall we get hold of to bring up earth?" Again they said: "Who is master of the water?" They said: "Raghu boar." (the same as raghop boar); they asked him and sent Maran buru to fetch him. Here they sing to a buan melody :

O dear, dear, do go to him,

O dear, dear to Raghu boar.

O dear, dear, he will bring up the earth.

O dear, dear, he will make the earth appear,

O dear, dear, he will bring up the earth.

Then Maran buru called and brought Raghu boar. They asked him: "How is it, are you master of the water?" He answered: "Yes, I am." They asked him: "Would you be willing to bring up the earth?" He said: "Yes, because if you tell me to do so, I might bring it up." Then, it is told, they decked him up like he was at first; when they had done this, he became very glad and started singing to a sohrae melody.

Father, deck me out, Father, give me a cloth round loins;

Father, like the large prawn. Father, let me become grand.

Then, it is told, the boar at once with a great display entered the water; who knows how far away the earth was, he went along and reached there and took some earth on his back. When he was carrying it up, all the earth was dissolved and flowed away. He brought only some dal (Panicum stagninum): this they kept. They said to him: "You were unable to bring up the earth." He answered: "Quite so, Father, it has not been done through me." Then they asked him: "Who is, beside you, a master of the water?" He answered: "The master of the water is the sole icak’." ( a name for the large prawn). Then they sent Maran buru to fetch him. Here follows a song like the first to a buan melody, only with sole icak’ for Raghu boar.

The prawn was brought, and now follow the same questions and answers. They then said to him: "Come then, give up your head." For some reason or other they asked for and kept his head. The prawn entered the water, reached the earth, used his two claws, and took earth on his back; but it was all dissolved and flowed away; but in one claw he brought along the roots of the dhubi grass and in the other claw the roots of sirom. This they also kept. They asked the prawn: "Above you who is master of the water?" He answered: "Above me is Dato kuar master of the water." (Dato kuar, the crab prince, is another name for dhiri katkom and heard in Karam binti). They did not give the prawn his head back; therefore prawns have no heads even now-a-days.

Maran buru was asked to fetch the crab, and here follow the same questions and answers, and the same result. In one claw the crab brought the root of the karam tree, in the other claw the root of the lotus. They also asked for and kept his head; therefore crabs have no heads even now-a-days. They asked him who was master of the water above him, and he named Kachim kuar (the tortoise prince).

Maran buru was sent and fetched him. (They sing the same as previously, only with Kachim kuar as the name.) When they asked him whether he would bring the earth up he answered: "No. Father, I shall perhaps not be able to bring it up; but if somebody will bring it up I might keep it." Then they asked him who was master of the water above him, and he answered that it was Jhimoli. Maran buru was sent to fetch her. (Again they sing the same song with Jhimoli named.)

When Maran buru had brought Jhimoli rani (the earthworm queen), and they asked her whether she would bring the earth up, she answered: "Yes, I might bring it up, but who would keep it?" They said to her: " We have got a person who will keep it." Then these two took counsel together, and Jhimoli said: "When I bring it up perhaps enemies will eat me?" They arrange to prevent this; they made the stem of the lotus hollow and made her enter into this; they made Kachim kuar lie on his stomach on the water of the sea and placed the posterior of Jhimoli on the back of the tortoise. Jhimoli commenced to eat down in the water and was punging excrements on the back of the tortoise. She punged a tremendous heap. Then when Kachim kuar became tired of lying on his stomach, he suddenly moved, and all the earth was dissolved and flowed away. Then they said: "Oh, oh, the earth was brought up, but as the tortoise did not remain standing, it was lost." And they said: "Let us chain him." Then, it is told Chando from somewhere brought a chain; they fixed an iron post and chained his four legs. The Tortoise then said: "Don’t chain all my four legs; let me have one leg free, so that I may scratch myself with it. They therefore let one leg be free." It is told, when Kachim kuar sometimes scratches himself, the earth is moved. They tethered the Tortoise to the iron post, and as the Earthworm again ate earth she punged excrements on the back of the Tortoise, and this time the earth remained there.

When the earth had been brought up, they yoked the bull and the cock together to level it. They harrowed its level, and where here and there rubbish remained, these places became mountains or hills.

In the earth which was brought up they sowed grass and planted the root of the karam tree, and they arranged a garden to plant different things, fruits of all kinds and trees. Among all the trees the karam at once became very high, and when the Has Hasil birds saw this they left Mahadeb, flew to the karam and alighted there. They found their food in pools, but came to the karam to rest.

As time passed they had intercourse with each other and found a clump of sirom grass to lay their eggs. Having made their nest in the clump of the sirom grass they got two eggs. As they were sitting on these they became fecundated, and a voice was heard from their inside. Being frightened by this the two birds left sitting on the eggs. Maran down 10 buru then said to them: "As you know, I saw that you had laid eggs there; why are you not sitting on them?" They told him: "We were sitting on the eggs; but there is a kind of sound in them; fearing this we are not sitting." Maran down 10 buru then said: "Well then, come along, we shall hear whether you are telling me the truth or not." Then they all went there and listened. The voice was like this (a song, buan melody):

O dear, dear, in the sea,

O dear, dear, dal grass came into existence

O dear, dear, on the dal grass.

O dear, dear, sirom came into existence;

O dear, dear, on the sirom,

O dear, dear, the Has Hasil birds are making a nest

When Maran buru heard this he said to them: "O, don't be afraid of this; sit diligently on the eggs, you two." And by their continued sitting on the eggs two human beings came into existence, and they sing to the same melody:

O dear, dear, with what to support the two

O dear, dear, with what to keep the two?

O dear, dear, with milk to support the two,

O dear, dear, with cream to keep the two.

Maran buru told Chando this, and Chando gave Maran buru milk and said to him: "Do support the two human beings, and take care of them." Then Maran buru was given over to the two, and he supported them, until they grew up. He taught them to work and instructed them. But where the two birds went and what happened to them, we do not know. But where the Has Hasil birds were born, and where they laid eggs, and where the two human beings were born, this place we call Hihiri Pipiri.

These two myths, which differ slightly from one another in their account of cosmogony, are expected to be helpful in understanding the songs under discussion.

It is worth noting again that the usual song-form of describing the matters relating to cosmology is the karam13 but they are also described in other forms of Santhal songs viz: baha14, dasae15, don16, lagre17, sohrae18 etc. However, a study of the latter forms of songs, specially the don, would be more meaningful than the former in understanding the way the Santhals perceive the primal elements in different contexts of their ritual practices and also their underlying principle of cosmogony.

The Cosmogonic View

As revealed through a don song rendered during marriage, this universe was invisible in the beginning. There was darkness all round and it was foggy everywhere. The universe could be seen only after the sun produced light out of anger.

Song 1

Sedae ma dinre

Jolomoy ma jugre

Candoe tahekana serma cetan

Nutre tahe tahe

Kurha re tahe tahe

Cando aris lena

Aris akan tey marsal keda

Long ago

The sun was above the sea in the sky

The sun became angry

By living in the dark

And by living in the fog

His anger produced light.

As the Santhals believe, in the beginning of creation there were nothing except the sky and the ocean. Whereas the sky had the sun, the moon and the stars, the ocean had some aquatic animals like the earthworm, the turtle, the fish, the crab, etc. When the supreme being wanted to create man, he could not do so. Instead, he created the two celestial birds. But the birds had no place to sit on except on the head of the supreme being. They had found the space below the sky full of water. This belief of the Santhal is reflected through a don song rendered at the manjhithan19 on the day of the Karam festival.

Song 2

Dakma cetan re

Serma lata re

Has hasi cerekin

Rak' homorok

Tokarikin aboka

Tokarikin japida

Has hasi cerekin udau langayen

Thakurak bohok rikin aboka

Onde gekin japida

Has hasi cerekin jiwetgeya

Water is above

It is below the sky

The two, the Has and the Hasin weep

Where will they sit ?

Where will they sleep ?

The Has and Hasin are not tired of flying

They will sit on the head of god

They will sleep there

The two, the Has and the Hasin are alive.

In a another don song rendered on the occasion, the primeval birds are later described to have been sitting on the white foam floating on the cosmic ocean.

Song 3

Umin maran jolompjre

Dak’ma talare

Pondge photo dombol dombol

Nelkin mese daina

Koyok kin me

Photo cetanre barya cerekin nelok kana

In the middle of water

Of that very vast ocean

The white foam undulates,

See O sister !

Look at the pair of birds

Parching on it.

According to the Santhal myth the white foam referred to in the song is nothing but the froth from the mouth of Sin Sadom (Horse of the Day) on which the birds were told, by the Supreme Being, to alight. It is said that the Sin Sadom would come down to the sea along the gossamer thread to drink water. The belief of the Santhals is expressed through a song rendered in the late evening or at night of the second day of the Sohrae, known as Bongan.20

Song 4

Serma khonak sin sadom

Jolamoy tey phedok kan

Nui sona sadom dore

Tokoe ren co ?

Sin cando ren kanae dak

Nui phedok kan

Dak nu katet gecoy

Ruar calak kan

The celestial horse of the day

Descended on the sea from the sky

To whom this horse of gold belongs?

This belongs to the sun

It descends to drink water

It returns after drinking water.

In a don song rendered during marriage, the sky is described to be without water and the earth without soil in the beginning. Later, as the Santhals believe, the air lifted the water up into the sky and the earthworm lifted the soil up that, finally, resulted in the formation of the cloud and the earth respectively.

Song 5

Sermare dak banu

Dhartire hasa banu

Sange dharti sajaw banu

Hoe doe rakap keda sermare dak

Lendon hasae rakap ket

Sangi dharti sajaw ena

There was no water in the sky

There was no soil on the earth

Truly the earth was not fully arranged.

The air lifted the water up into the sky

The female earthworm lifted the soil up

Thus, the earth was properly arranged.

When the earth was created, it was not dry but marshy. It became dry only after the air was created by the Bird King. This vision of the Santhals of the physical nature of the world is found in a don song rendered at the manjhithan on the last day of the Karam festival.

Song 6

Laha pahil dharti losot ge

Thol thole tahekan

Cekate dharti rohor ena.

Losot’ hawet lagit ponkhiraja

Hoy may benaw ket

Ona hadar hoy tege rohor ena

In the beginning

The earth was marshy

How could the earth become dry?

To make the marshy land dry

The Bird King created the air

With that hard blowing air

It became dry.

In some songs the Santhals express their quest to find the origin of the earth and man. As they believe, the earth was created first by the earthworm with the help of the turtle. Later, their first ancestral couple Pilcu Haram and Pilcu Budhi sprang from the eggs of two celestial birds, a goose and gander. Thus, the Santhals do not consider earth and man to be direct creations of god. If the sky and earth stand for god and nature respectively, then man is on the side of nature and hence a product of the earth or nature (Mahapatra, 1984:61). This belief of the Santhals is revealed through a Don song sung just after the Karam festival.

Song 7

Tokoe jonom dharti

Tokoe jonom pirthimi

Tokoe jonom dharti

Manewa hor

Horo jonom dharti

Lendet’ jonom pirthimi

Has-hasi cere jonom

Manewa hor.

From what did the earth originate ?

From what did the earth originate ?

Form what did man of this earth originate ?

This earth originated from the turtle

The soil originated from the earthworm

A pair of swans gave birth to man.

In a dasae song, like man, the cow and the spirit are thought to have originated from the earth itself. In this song the direct role of the Supreme Being in the creation of the terrestrial animal is again being denied. The earth is also believed to be the perennial source of creation not only for living beings but also for non-living beings — the spirits dwelling in the nether world. The song is rendered during dasae daran (begging expeditions) of the Dasae festival.

Song 8


Oka redo ho guru ho

Gaiko janam len guru ho

Gaiko janam len

Toka redo ho cela ho

Bonga upal len cela ho

Bonga upal len

O Preceptor, where did the cows come from ?

O Preceptor, where did the cows come from ?

O Disciple, where did the spirit come from ?

O Disciple, where did the spirit come from ?


Dhiri rarure guru ho

Gaiko janam len guru ho

Gaiko janam len

Sinje buta re cela ho

Bonga upal len cela ho

Bonga upal len

O Preceptor, the cow has originated from the stony place

O Preceptor, the cow has originated

O Disciple, the spirit has originated from under the bel tree

O Disciple, the spirit has originated.

The Santhals believe that world-creation is followed by the world-destruction. The latter is, however, not the ultimate reality, for it leads to the renewal of the world-order. This belief of the Santhals is revealed in a baha song rendered on the first day of the Baha celebration. The song refers to the event of the sengel dak (fire-rain) that continued for five days and five nights21 at the instruction of the Supreme Being and was later, according to a myth, followed by the raining of water, which is symbolic of a new birth order resulting from the catastrophe-like fire-rain as mentioned above.

Song 9

More sin more ninda

Sengel dak doe jari leda ho,

Manwa toka redo ben tahekan

Menak menak dhiri dander

Menak menak dhiri kahar do

Ona relin tahekan

Ona relin sunduc tahekan

For five days,

And for five nights

O man, where did you live ?

Where were you hiding ?

We (two) were hiding in a cave

We (two) were hiding in the cave

We (two) were hiding there

We (two) were hiding there.

Primal Elements Constituting the Human Body

In Santhal thought, a human body is considered to be constituted of three fundamental elements of the universe — air, earth and water. But in Santhal songs available to me, only two of them, i.e., air and earth, are described as essentials of human body. Reference to water is made in metaphorical terms, viz., ‘water like the spring of life’, etc. A don song rendered at the time of performing the ritual of Cumaura22 during marriage illustrates this point.

Song 10

Hasa hormo ho hoe livi

Jian jhardak do chilkau kana

Jivi ban hilok do hasa dhurire mesaw abon

Jian jhardak do mesaw cabak

The body is soil

And life is air

The water of the spring of life overflows.

The day the life goes out

We turn to soil

The water of the spring of life also sinks into the earth.

In another don song, water is again referred to in metaphorical terms like the one mentioned earlier. Moreover, of the other two elements — air and earth — air assumes the greatest importance for a human being to survive and is thought to be located in the chest of the human body.

Song 11

Saru sakam dak do saru sakam dak

Nasiak koce tege duru coa

One onaka gecon koram hormo

Hoe ho nundun lenkhan

Hormo hiri coa dharti rege

The water on the arum leaf

Drops down with its slight bending

Similarly with the coming of the air

Out of the chest

The body falls upon the earth.

The exigency of air for the survival of organic life is further emphasized in sohrae song rendered on the day of Jale23 when the villagers move from house to house to collect tolls.

Song 12

Hoy hoyte dare bancak

Hoy hoyte horko bancak

Hoy hoy tege daina

Jiwet’ menak bon

Hoy gebon ader jonak

Hoy gebon odok ka,

Hoy cabak’ khac ge boeha babon tahena

A tree survives with the air

Man survives with the air

O sister, we are alive for the air

We inhale the air,

We exhale the air,

O brother, we will not survive

If the air is exhausted.

Another don song categorically refers to earth as one of the constituents of the human body.

Song 13

Serma renan ninda sisir

Cando rakap lenkhan ban tahena

Manwa hasa hormo horo goc lenkhan do

Hasa dharti rege mesaw loa

The night dew of the sky does not exist

With the rising of the sun

Likewise after death,

The earthly body of man

mixes with the earth.

However, if man is like other products of the earth, water is one among the three basic elements that constitutes man. In the following two don songs, one rendered after the Erok24 (sowing festival) at the manjhithan and referring to air and water; and another rendered after the Hariar25 (sprouting festival) and referring to earth and water, the paddy-crop, a product of the earth is considered to be constituted of air, earth and water. Hence this derivation of the Santhals with regard to the paddy-crop may equally stand for man.

Song 14

Wealth, Wealth

Where is your mother ?

Where is your father ?

My mother and father

Are wind and rain

My milk is water trickling.

[Archer 1974 : 22]

Song 15

Wealth, Wealth

O mother wealth

Where was your birth ?

I was born

In the soil

I was born

In the splash of water.

[Archer 1974 : 22]

From the two songs 14 and 15, associated with agricultural rites of the sowing of paddy seeds and transplantation of paddy seedlings, it is revealed that for the work of gestation and germination accomplished by nature, the union of wind and rain and water (sky ?) and earth is inevitable.

In yet another don song rendered just before the Erok festival the paddy seed is described to be weeping for its marriage with the earth which is necessary if the earth, which returns to sterility when left to itself, has to be made reproductive. But this is not possible unless the rain from the sky mixes with the earth and makes her wet.

Song 16

The paddy is weeping

The paddy is asking

When will be my wedding ?

When the water of the sky

Drenches the earth

Then will be your wedding.

[Archer 1974 : 22]

It becomes explicit from songs associated with agricultural rites that water is most essential for production. If it does not rain during the rainy season, the peak period for agricultural operation or even after it is over, it would mean a lack of cooperation between the sky and the earth and would result in hunger for all. To bring about the union of the sky and the earth the Santhals observe a cosmogonic practice — the marriage of frogs called Rote Bapla. It is believed that this act of ritual mimesis will bring rain. This occasion is marked with the singing performance of lagre music and dance.

Song 17

In the sky the clouds rumble

O god, on the earth dust flies.

O god, the ears of the corn dry up

The hearts of men are breaking

O god!

The song indicates that the union or marriage between the sky and the earth is possible only through the mediating function of water. This function of water is further observed in the context of marriage specially when the rite of sindaradan (act of affixing vermilion to the bride) is observed. In song 19 the mediating function of water between the groom and the bride — the male and the female — can be clearly marked.

Song 18

More goten ul sakam,

Mimit’ lota dak

Chitkaw amkan com banco,

Hordom bondi yidin jonom jonom

Five Mango leaves,

And a pot of water,

I do not know

If you really sprinkled water over me

I do not know

If you really wetted me or not

But you made me a prisoner

For entire life.

The Analysis

In this chapter I have been trying to give an overview of the Santhal vision of their phenomenal world of unseen and seen nature. The sources have been Santhal songs presented in different contexts of their ritualistic observances. It is observed that some songs, having a dimension outside the present, give an insight into the unseen reality of primeval time. In some songs, for example, it is told that in the beginning there was darkness all around and thus nothing was visible (Song 1), everywhere there was water below the sky and above the earth (Song 2), there was no soil on the earth and the earth was not fully arranged (Song 5), the earth was marshy (Song 6), etc. All these perceptions of the Santhals about the primeval time refer to the beginning of the world with abstract principle26 such as chaos and asymmetry.

Further, as revealed through some Santhal songs, the sky, water and soil had their existence before the terrestrial space was created by the earthworm (Song 3 and 7), air was created by the Bird King to dry up the terrestrial space which was marshy in the beginning (Song 6). Man was born when the earth became inhabitable (Song 7), and god rained fire for five (or seven) days when the descendants of the primordial couple were not living in concordance with the laws of the cosmos (Song 9). All these perceptions of the Santhals relating to evolutionary cosmology help in establishing the following chronology of earthly creation.

  1. creation of the sky (serma), the cosmic ocean or water (dak) and earth (hasa)

  2. creation of the aquatic animals including birds27

  3. creation of land

  4. creation of air (hoe)

  5. creation of trees and plants

  6. creation of man, and

  7. creation of fire (sengel)

As it appears in the process of dealing with the evolutionary cosmology through their songs and myths the Santhals follow a specific scheme.

It is also observed that the Santhals relate themselves to the basic elements which are thought to constitute the universe. In their vision a human body is constituted of the three basic elements — air, earth and water. But in songs available to me it is described to be composed of mainly two basic elements — air and earth (Songs 10, 11, 12 and 13). In these songs the entire body is said to be constituted of hasa (soil). Hoe (air) that makes the body move is said to be located in the chest. Reference to water, the third element, is made in metaphorical term. Life is viewed like the flowing water of a spring. But if the implicit statement of the Santhals made through the origin myth — that man is a product of nature — be accepted and if an analogy be drawn between man and other products of nature specially the plants (thought to be constituted of air, earth and water), then the same is equally valid for man and justifies indirectly the perception based on their inductive experience.

Further, from the study of some don songs associated with agricultural practices of sowing the paddy seeds and transplantation of paddy-seedlings it is clear that the Santhals visualize a relationship among the cosmic elements analogous to male-female paradigm. This perception is clearly marked in the dramatic enactment of the marriage of frogs held to draw sympathy of the cosmos through the union of the sky and the earth. But the dichotomy like air-water (Song 14), seed-earth (Song 16), sky-earth (Songs 18), male-female (Song 14), dry-wet (Song 16) etc., has, by principle of cosmogony, to be negated through the union of contraries28 for the return of fertility of the land and/or the woman. But this can be achieved only through the mediating function of water that brings together the sky and the earth, the male and the female, etc. Apparently because of this significant function water has assumed the property of sacredness in Santhal culture and is, therefore, considered auspicious in various contexts of rituals like marriage, etc. It is noteworthy that in contrast to water, the fire in the baha myth is described as an element of destruction.

It is interesting to observe that majority of the songs that deal with the creation and the body element are don songs of the marriage. This seems to be natural because the marriage-ritual symbolizes union of contraries without which any creation or recreation is impossible. Moreover, as observed by Mahapatra (1986), marriage is the occasion on which the Santhal song of cosmology is recited. The entire song is meant to put the occasion in a wider, universal context of society and tradition. Marriage as an institution, as he adds further, is referred to the beginning of human creation and the particular occasion of the marriage is sought to be viewed in the larger context of the creation of the world, the dawn of human civilization, the emergence of the Santhal community and its migration in historical times (Mahapatra 1986 : 146).

Besides, on its own, the don is rendered on many other occasions like the Karam, the Erok, etc., the karam is a usual song-form to deal with the history of world-creation. But the purpose of singing don after the recitation of the karam is to convey the message that creation is not a process of automation but must be preceded by the union of opposites. Erok is a celebration of sowing the paddy seeds, of introducing them into the womb of the earth. The rendering of don on this occasion does symbolize or mean a celebration of the union of the seed and the earth (Song 15).

Finally, a baha song referring to the continuous fall of fire symbolizes destruction, but only a part of the truth presented in the song. The destruction is not final. In the baha myth, of which this song forms a part, it is said that the fire-rain is followed by the fall of water to restore the world-order. Thus it may be said that the Santhals, in their thought, follow a basal principle of cosmic order, viz., creation, destruction and recreation.


1. In Santhali, sky, air, earth, water and fire are called serma, hoe, hasa, dak and sengel respectively.

2. Lit., 'the lord'.

3. The Sin Sadom is mentioned here. The Santhals connect the name with the sun.

4. Has is the Hindi name of goose or swan; Hasil is the female. Other Munda people have a similar story; the Mundas have only one egg, from which both the first human beings came.

5. The Santhals know a fish called so; this is the Silurus glavis. I do not know the English name.

6. The foreign influence in the story seems to be evident.

7. Sirom is Andropogon muricatus.

8. The dhubi grass is Cynodon dactylon.

9. Adina cordifolia, Hook.

10. Sarjom is Shorea robusta, Gaertn.; the prefix tope is used in the meaning of 'cut off', or 'short'; atnak is Terminalia tomentosa, W. & A.; labar means "highly coloured". Matkom is Bassia latifolia; ladea means 'crooked' or 'bent'.

11. Haram is the common word for an old or elderly man; ayo means 'mother', a word borrowed from an Aryan language.

12. Pilcu Haram and Pilcu Budhi are the common designations of the first parents. Haram is the common word for an elderly man; budhi is the common word for an elder, especially married woman, it is an Aryan word; pilcu means small or tiny.

13. It is known after the festival is held in the name of a sacred tree, the karam (Adina cordifolia). The festival is organized by an individual Santhal with the object of bringing prosperity and pleasure in life. A specialist known as karam-guru is invited to recite the songs of karam on the occasion that deal with the history of world from creation and through ages according to Santhal tradition.

14. This form of song is named after the flower-festival, the Baha, that is organized in the month of Chait (February-March) to celebrate the beginning of the Santhali year.

15. It is named after the festival Dasae, celebrated in the month of Asin (September-October), when the Santhal boys have completed their course in medicine.

16. It is known after a dance performed during the marriage ceremony, the bapla.

17. It is rendered specially on the eve of the Corok puja (hook-swinging festival), but can also be sung on other festive occasions.

18. It is known after the festival Sohrae, held when the harvest is over in the month of Paus (December-January).

19. It is a sacred place in a village street erected in honour of the spirits of the predecessors of the village headman. The place consists of a raised mud-platform at the centre of which is a post with a stone at its base.

20. It is the second day of the Sohrae festival on which every head of the household offers sacrifices to abge (sub-clan spirit), hapramko (ancestral spirits) and orak bongas (household spirits) once a year to ensure their continuing protection.

21. In a different baha song instead of five days and five nights, god is said to have rained fire for seven days and seven nights.

22. It is a rite performed by the bride's mother during the marriage before the new husband and wife enter the house. At the door, the bride's mother waves the winnowing fan three times over the heads of the couple scattering the articles such as dhubi ghas, paddy and adwa caole behind their backs.

23. It is the fourth day of the Sohrae festival on which the Santhals move from house to house of the village to collect tolls and perform that act of mimicry.

24. It is an agricultural festival which is held in the month of Asar (June-July) before the sowing of the winter paddy. The festival is concluded by singing and dancing in the village-street.

25. It is an agricultural festival which is performed in the month of San (July-August) when the paddy seeds have sprouted new shoots. The festival is held before transplantation of the paddy-seedlings.

26. In philosophy, specially Greek, as L.H. Gray (1971) writes, cosmogonies are divided into three classes: (i) those beginning with a spiritual principle, (ii) those beginning with an abstract principle, and (iii) those beginning with a material principle. Overlapping of these three principles to some extent may be found in any culture.

27. The goose and the gander, to which the Santhals refer in their myth of creation, prefer to live in water most of the time. They seem to be originally aquatic creatures, which were later domesticated by human beings as terrestrial creatures.

28. Union of contraries, as Pierre Bourdieu (1977) writes, does not destroy the opposition (which it presupposes), the reunited contraries are just as much opposed, but now in quite a different way, thereby manifesting the duality of the relationship between them at once antagonistic and complementary, neikos and philia, which might appear as their own twofold nature if they were conceived outside that relationship.


Archer, W.G., 1974. The Hill of Flutes: Life, Love and Poetry in Tribal India: New Delhi, S. Chand & Co, (Pvt.) Ltd.

Bodding, P.O., 1942. Traditions and Institutions of the Santhals. Oslo Etnografiske Museum, Bulletin 6.

Bourdieu, P., 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice, Richard Nice (trans.). Cambridge University Press.

Bowra, C.M., 1962. Primitive Song. London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Chattopadhyay, K.D., 1978. Tribalism in India. Delhi, Vikas Publishing House.

Gray, L.H., 1971. "Cosmogony and Cosmology (Introductory)", In Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, James Hastings (ed.), vol. 4, pp. 125-26.

Mahapatra, S.S., 1984. "Structural Approach to Santhal Myth", In Tribal Language and Culture. Visva-Bharati, Department of Oriya, pp. 55-61.

Mahapatra, S., 1986. Modernization and Ritual: Identity and Change in Santhal Society. Calcutta, Oxford University Press.



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