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Community living of Santals | Event | Social sytem | Administration

Santal lives community living, as the nature of philosophy is found in their community thus Santal society is casteless, there is no person superior or inferior by birth, family or clan. Community living means where all people of village helps each other and have connection with all people, whether it be their festival or any worship they all together gather and celebrate it.
 Also worshipping to bonga for village’s peace, agriculture is done by villagers all together. The organization of Santal’s society is not based on any individuality; it is based on the all people who live in village.
Santal social organization has very interesting characteristics. It contains flexibility in rigidity. Men and Women both are equal in their society and Women are independent.
All of life of villagers revolves around agriculture,  it is the main source of living for them. They do ‘Erok bonga’ a worship to bonga (ultimate form of nature) is done before plantation of crops so that their crops remain healthy and for good production.
The houses in villages are made in a such manner that it cooperates with each houses in linear, also in mid of the village  a wide space is left and ‘Akhra’ is created, it is a place where all people gathered together, they sing ,dance and enjoy all festival together .

Santali social life
Enej(Dance), Santal women dancing together.

Santal’s social Life Event:
Santal experiences event like marriage,birth,festivals,bitlaha and divorce and so many.

Marriage is considered as the sacred event of life in Santal society, it is called ‘Bapla’ in Santali. It adds up the considerable respect in society. There are many customs and traditions to be followed in doing so. [Read More..]

As Santals have community living and all the events in their life are taken by  all the villager specially ‘More hor’ . The presence of Nature is also found in their social events.
Divorce is granted at the wish of either husband or wife. The following are the grounds for which the Santal men and women demand the divorce. The divorce can be demanded by husband if his wife is proved to a witch, or is sexually immortal ad she does not obey him or she lives always in her father's house. The wife can claim divorce, if husband cannot supply sufficient foods, clothing, ornaments or doesn’t obey her etc. Sterility is another ground for divorce. In case husband seeks the divorce, he cannot claim the bride price and he has to pay certain amount of money as fine. If wife demands the divorce then her father has to refund the bride price. The divorce is affected in the presence of the assembled villagers in the following way; The husband is made to stand facing the sun on one leg. He has a cloth rounded his neck each end which is held in the hand along with three Sal leaves. Then taking the name of Sin -Bonga he tears the Sal leaves in the token separation and upset a brass pot full of water. Wife repeats this too. There is belief that if the Sal leaves are not fully torn or the lotta (Brass pot) are not wholly emptied then the couple must come again together.

Birth and Naming ceremony:
In Santals, the birth and Naming ceremony is enjoyed with person’s relatives and villagers.
When Santal women get pregnant, The husband during his wife's pregnancy never kills any animal nor participates in any funeral ceremony and does not come in contact with any dead body. The pregnant woman during the evening very rarely comes out of the house. She does not weep when the death occurs of her relative. On the day of moon eclipse, she will not come out of room. She should not sit on courtyard with her hair or cloth hanging downward. After the birth of a child, the house is considered polluted. So the Santals performs the Janam Chatiar ceremony. Until it is done, no other activities can be undertaken like hinting etc. The usual day for the ceremony is fifth day for male and third day for female child. After ceremony, the men and women and children of the village who have assembled at the house each a leaf cup full of rice water with the leaves of Neem (Neem dak' Mandi). Generally it tastes sour. On the fifth day, the children are given the name. Should it happen to be son and then he takes the name of grandfather. Should it be second son born, he takes the name of maternal grandfather and thus third from paternal grandfather's brother and fourth from maternal grandfather's brother and so on. The same procedure is followed for girls the female relations being in the same order.

Chacho  Chatiar :
It is the important ceremony for Santals which allows the individual to take his place in Santal society and it enables to participate in its rights, ceremonies and rules.  An individual is not authenticated to get married in Santal society.

Village administration:

In the Santal Society village organization is considered to be an essential component of socio-political life.
The cultural analysis of the Santal village administration would pave the way for a clear understanding of the economic and political stratification and their history and evolution in ancient India. This indeed, will give an idea about the contribution of Santals towards modern social system.
The democratic equality characterizes the Santal society. Wealth matters little in the day-to-day life. The clans are regarded as equal to other clans and there is no class distinction either in status or occupation. The village is generally multi clans and each clan has sub number. 

Santal village
Santal Atu(Village)

The Santal villages are social and political entities with great cohesion and continuity. Each village has well established political organization with a secular headman called Majhi who is a man of great prestige. The village council controls the entire social system of the Santals. The village council or Atu Mone Hor is consisted of Majhi(village headman), Jog Majhi (Deputy village Headman), Paranik (Assistant to village Headman), Goddet (secretary to village Headman), Jog Paranik(deputy Paranik), Naeke(head village priest) and Kudam Naeke (Assitant to village priest). All the villagers are member of the village council. The disputes in village are settled by institution Village Council. Santal community as a whole maintains certain uniform customs and laws with relation to marriage, divorce, birth etc.  Majhi presides over the village council meetings when they are held to discuss the matters related to village. In event of disputes arises with different village, he acts as representative of village. Paranik is the principal assistant to Majhi and representative of Majhi. If Majhi dies without any male issues or brothers, then paranik will get the office.  and Goddet. No public sacrifice, no festival, no ceremony such as marriage can be done without Majhi taking initiative. Jog Majhi serves as the supernatant of the youth of the village and he is one the link between younger generation to older generation and he generally passing all the secrets to younger ones. In the absent of Jog Majhi, the Jog Paranik officiates. Equally important is the religious headman called Naeke and his assistant Kudam Naeke.

Religious philosophy of Santals | Sarna

Religious Philosophy of Santal | Sarna

Santal have their own religious philosophy where their style of living,tradition, culture belongs from .They follow the Sarna religious belief, which we’ll later tell you about ‘Sarna’ at the end of this post.
Santals are the nature worshipper, they don’t believe in worshipping any idol, statue, shape and temple, assuming the nature as the form of their own life they respect it, worship it, sing for it and dance for it.

The ‘Bonga’ is venerated as the supernatural power that is ultimate form of nature.
In other way they worship and believe in all the natural sources around them who have influence on their living and this is what where they show their gratitude, respect towards nature by worshipping, dancing and singing.

Marang Buru is worshipped in Santals as the Supreme source of power.  Which doesn’t possess any shape,face,idol.  Marangburu is worshipped in the shape of nature.  It will be totally wrong to consider him as ‘God’ or ‘Godess’. In actual, this nature is believed to be ‘Marangburu’ who gives them everything rain, water, air, land, forest, river everything that is present in this nature and which they use in their life .

 Dhiri, Nadi, Hoy, Hasa, Sengel, Da( Rock,Vine, Air, Land, Fire, water) or say the whole nature is Marang Buru in context of Santali. The literal meaning of Marang Buru is ‘The Great Mountain’ Marang means ‘Big’ or ‘Great’ and Buru means ‘mountain’.

The folksong of the Santals is not a fanciful song sung in Explanation of natural phenomena and inexplicable events, but a method of expressing inexplicable events certain ways of thinking and
Feeling about the facts of life and how they are interlinked with the  almighty  ‘Nature’.

The Santals feels and experiences the Marangburu(nature) as a real friend or Helper of all people who helps them in their trouble and blesses their hard work. The Santals of course suffered a lot through drought, famine, epidemics and socio-economic oppressions, even poverty. Like when nature causes disasters, such type of calamities are believed to be the signs of Marangburu’s(Nature’s) displeasures. But at the same time the Santals have experienced God's merciful liberative acts recorded in the history of the Santals.

As nature is the greatest strength whose origins are unclear as the world and thus can be considered as the supernatural power whose has controlled on everything, who is nature and who created the human and everything that we see in on Earth, in this way the philosophy of worshipping to nature by Santals is more practical and realistic.
Their religious philosophy and belief is connected to river which helps them in cultivation, they worship to mountain and forest which gives them wood and other resources, they worship ‘SUN’ who gives light and energy and thus they call it ‘Sin Bonga’ (Sin in Santali means ‘Day’ or ‘Light’ or ’Sun’ and Bonga means God ) .
Whether it be their religious philosophy                , folk song, Community living or any social rituals, the philosophy, presence of nature is found everywhere.

Sarna is the Munda word for ‘Sacred Grove”. According to the mythology of the Santhal community, the genesis of the ‘Sarna’ religion occurred when the ‘Santals had gone to the forest for hunting and they started the discussion about their ‘Creator and Savior’ while they were taking rest under a tree. They questioned themselves that who is their God? Whether the Sun, the Wind or the Cloud? Finally, they concluded that they would leave an arrow in the sky and wherever the arrow would target that will be the God’s house. They left an arrow in the sky; it fell down under a Sal tree. The after day after this, when women went to forest to collect leaf and other resources they found that arrow on Sal tree, they shouted “Sar na, Sar na” when they saw it. Those men came and yes got the same arrow to that Sal tree.
Then, they started worshiping the Sal tree and named their religion as ‘Sarna’ because it is derived from word ‘Sar’ which means arrow in Santali and this is why their religious place ‘Jaher’ consists of a group of Sal tree’ where they do community worshipping.  Thus, Sarna religion came into existence. There are priests and an assistant priest called "Naikey" and "Kudam Naike" in every Santhal village.

Creation of Human being according to Santal

This describes the kinship between human being and animals.  According to this, God created  two birds ‘Has’ and ‘Hasil’- out of his hair when all of Earth was covered with water, before the dry land appeared. The birds, which flew below the sun and above the Earth, were able to connect Heaven to Earth because they could operate in both domains.  They built the nest on the earth and laid their egg, they are cosmic eggs, out of which two creatures; human male and human female are born - Pilchu Haram and pilchu Burhi. Both these myths creation of world and mankind refer the birds and animal as ancestors. Thus Santal concept of life begins with animals. The first human couple grew up in ‘Hihiri Pipiri’.

After the creation of Earth, the male and female human being gave birth to seven sons and seven daughters. The children later married among themselves, and each couple became the ancestors of a Santal clan. Later, five more groups formed, for a total of twelve clans. Each of these clans has ‘totem’ a plant or animal with which member of the clan share a sacred link.  A total 12 clans is found among the Santals. They are Hansdak', Murmu, Hembrom, Soren, Kisku, Tudu, Marndi, Baske, Besra, Chonre, Puria and Bedea.  An affiliation or sacred contact is believed to link these clans and their respective totems.  Therefore, each of the names of clans is derived from either from the plants or animals species.
creation of human being according to Santal
Creation of human being according to Santal

The Hansdak clan from hans( Hans means goose and dak means water) has highest social status because their name has derived from the name of their clan from first ancestors. It is significant that bird is goose, because geease walk on Earth and build their nests there but they fly in the sky.

Next in order are ‘Murmu’, whose totem is Niglai or antelope. The ancestor of this clan hunted the antelope. The antelope was the first animal to be sacrificed by Santals. Murmu serves as priest. The all remaining clan totems are the kingfisher, betel nuts, grass(traders), a star constellation(soldiers), owl(musicians), stale rice(cooks),pigeon, sheep and lizard. Santals do not hunt or eat the animal of their totem as totem animals & nature are considered members of their clan

Creation of world according to Santal

Every native group has its own mythology and that further recreates the specific culture, Santals do have the mythology of creation of world.
They believe that in the beginning, there was only water and this primitive world was filled with water everywhere. God pondered about how he could form the land where man can live . To operate both land and water he created seven amphibian animals which were –crab, crocodile, eel, pawn, earthworm and tortoise. For creating land, God then asked the king of these species to help him figure out how to make land. The entire king appeared before God one by one, but none of them couldn’t solve out the problem. Finally, earthworm came and succeeded, it is said that for seven day and seven nights earthworm ate at the bottom of the water which excreted on the back of tortoise. The tortoise anchored himself on the both side firmly and brought up the earth when he swam to the top of the water, and thus the earth formed.
This is why there is a belief among Santals that movement of tortoise causes earthquake. In other words, when tortoise moves or shakes, earthquakes occur in earth. Santals myth about the creation of world is substantially different from myth associated with creation of world among the other indigenous peoples of India and in many sense it is unique that it ascribe the creation of earth with the help of amphibian animals, specially the earthworm and tortoise. This is all about the story of creation of earth. We also get this story on folk songs of Santal which tells about the creation of world.

creation of world according to santal myth .
In this story, the animals are created in order to help God, it is the lowly king of earthworm that helps God create the land, we can get this true even from scientific viewpoint, because earthworm do aid in the formation of soil, thus this story from Santals  captures some empirical truths.

Belboron Bonga

Belboron bonga is worshipped by Santals, according to ‘Santal Jom sim’ When human sin increased, The creator of this world made raining of fire  for 12 days and 12 nights to the  ‘Singbir’ and ‘Maanbir’ (Places on Earth) as well as dropped the ‘Puhah’ a type of virus and he decided to end the Human existence .
When this matter came to know to the ‘Thakran’ She said
to Thakur that finishing the existence of human a our creature would only harm us, human are our creature, they are our children and I’ll talk to ‘Litah’ (Maragburu) with regards . Thakran said we both together will show the right path to human.
Belboron bonga santhali worship
Santal People worshiping Belboron

That time, Marangburu was used to live in Earth. After  talking to him with this regards, Thakran called him to Serishimapuri(Place where God lives) from Earth . She told him that Human has got into the path of sin which is why Thakrain is about to end the existence of Human.  It is message from Thakur that we both(Thakur and Thakran) take away the Kaspap(a kind of ornaments and dress) to  Earth and Human to praise us by singing and dancing ‘Dasai’, Take away vermilion in my name and roam around the villages .

She told them to take away the ‘Sapap’(Ornaments and  dress)  and bangles in her name and for the Thakur they must take away  the Sapap and Lipur (For leg) and Pegon(a kind of small bell) and peacock’s feather  in his name .Thakran told some people to wear her  ‘Sapap’ and some to wear  Thakur’s  ‘Sapap’  and then praise them by dancing dasai  around the village . By doing so Thakur will be happy and he’ll be believed that human has started get into righteous path, then he will not end the existence of human. Thakran also said to Marangburu that he will also tell the other 12 bongas to go to Earth, who are skillful at their own field, they are 1.Dhorom guru Bonga – God of religion and money, 2.Kamru bonga – God for health,3. Bhuwag Guru Bonga – God of dance and music etc. 4.Thakran told to let these Bong roam out through the villages the so that it will vanish the puhah( virus)causing diseases in the villages to save the existence of Humans . Human will learn about the medicine, cure and religion by these bongas . Thakran also told to praise them by establishing the relation between Guru and disciple, 
Santal woship festival
Master teaches their disciple about traditional natural music

Santal gathers at Akhra
A week before the Belboron in the village and Master and disciple gather at Akhra
where Master teaches about tradition natural method of medicine .

Santal Dasai enej dance
Santals praise the Thakur and Thakran through dasai dance and song

Belboron woship santal indigenous
Woman while washing the feet to respect the Man who
dances and sings dasai

Belboron worships
Master while worshiping in house for peace and happiness

Thakran further said that he will be revealed in 6th day of Dasai chando(Santal month of Dasai) to Monchopuri  along with Gurubongas . Santal adivasi worships Belboron in this day where 1. Dhorom guru bonga,  2.Kamru bonga,  3.Bhuwag bonga,4. Kansha guru bonga,5. Chemey guru bonga,6. Sidh guru bonga, 7.Sido guru bonga,8. Rohod guru bonga,9. Gaanddu guru bonga,10. Bhairo guru bonga,11. Narsing guru bonga, and 12.Bhedra guru bonga is being worshipped. Generally, No sacrifice is made there in Belboron bonga/worship. Only vermillion, mustard oil and water is used for worshiping. One week before the Belboron, the master and disciple create the gather in village where master teaches about the natural traditional medicine. During this, they go to forest and mountain master also teaches them recognition of natural medicine and their uses in different diseases.
From 2nd to 3rd day of Belboron, master and disciple along with Guru bonga roam around the village and dance dasai, they also visit every house and dance dasai and pray for the happiness and peace of house .

People gives donation to the master in the form of grain or corn .

In this occasion, they get funds or donation in the form of grain, corn etc or sometimes money also. In dasai, Men dresses like women and the main reason for this is to represent the Sapap(ornaments and dress) of Thakran .The 4th and last day of Belboron bonga they dance dasai in their village and the collected funds or donation(grain and corn) is used to prepare cereal and they all eat that together . In this way Belboron bonga of Santals is the worship of relation between Master and disciple which gives us message not to fall in sin and to stay walked on path of truth and religion, to make the community disease free, to preserve the traditional natural method of medicine and to preserve the folk songs,dance,nature and finally to stay happy .

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