Thursday, 1 March 2018

Majhi : Village Headman | Santhal


The world Majhi means “ Manang re jagha anij i.e. the person who is always ahead” . So Majhi is kind of foreman of the villagers. In other sense, he is a head of the village. Usually a person who is well aware and experienced about the customary laws and who is impartial in judgement, honest, kind and noble to the villagers, expert in argument, efficient in motivation, also sound economically can be a Majhi. He is the sole authority of the village administration, welfare and cultural affairs. When a dispute arises or tribal offence is committed, he summons the village meeting and presides over the discussion. He begs the views of Atu Monehor i.e. 5 members from the village and announces its decision. In case of major criminal offence, he must arrest the offender and inform the authorities. If the cause of meeting is a civil dispute such as divorce, forcible marriage etc. both the parties explain their cases, other villagers give their views and the Majhi announces the decision. If anyone is found guilty, is punished. The punishment varies according to the nature and range of offence. If the accused does not honor the decision of the Majhi or disrespect the punishment, then Majjhi puts a branch of Neem tree in front of his residence. This is called Neem Dharua. This signifies the non co-operation of all the villagers with the man concerned.
Majhi is also a custodian of village properties. All the abandoned holdings, waste land are in his charge. The time when the santals were the rulers in their land. Majhi had the power to distribute the cultivable lands to the villagers.. Majhi is not only the custodian of the village properties,he is a custodian of villagers life too.
If any epidemic breakout in the village, he calls for meeting and arrange its medical measure through Guru i.e. village doctors. If necessary he calls the Naike and the Naike finds its prevention through Bongas i.e. God and Godess.

Majhi is really a foreman of the village. He  is the first man to attend the marriage birth day and funeral ceremony of the villagers with his village officials. He employs jog Majhi to arrange necessary persons to help the man concerned in the ceremony. No ceremony in the village can be held without invitation to majhi. If any body does so that is not accepted by the villagers or he can not ask for any kind of help, co-operation from the villagers. Majhi also see that the annual festivals are duly observed. Timely, he calls for the village meeting and fix the suitable date for the festival with consultation of villagers.

Majhi live common life like other villager. He go to field for cultivation. He doesn’t get any special attention or act from villagers.
Majhi has no remuneration. Only the service rendered by him commends his pride. Everyone calls him as “Majhi Baba” i.e father of the village.


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