Santal | Tradition, Customs, Wisdom, Festival, Folk life & Facts

'Tradition' by word we understand is 'belief' or 'customs' that are passed down from one generation to another and which is practiced within a group or society.

To Santal, Tradition is the way of their life. Their rituals and customs are accompanied by folk songs and dances. It guides their people to live and continue their life in prosperous way with taking care of it’s people, ancestors, river, forest , nature as  ‘Community’.  Their rituals and customs remind them to always be grateful to their ancestor and nature and remember them in good and bad.

Their tradition knowledge of songs, stories and medicine is passed down to them from one generation to another.Traditions are followed in a way of what their ancestor told them and what they hold is not just words or practices but words of wisdom,the  'Traditional Wisdom’.

But because of lack of awareness  or  widespread misconception, What is considered and understood about traditions practiced by ‘Santals’ is just build arrows, live in forest , hunt animals , drink ,sing and dance. And while they practice their belief as tradition all is known nothing more than a surface understanding of Tribal Culture.

Even asking riddles and storytelling is also a part of their oral tradition and these all riddles/stories are common to them, These  are also passed down to them by generation to generation . Do you know why ?
Riddles/Stories hold the wisdom of their ancestor, a guidance and principles to live by. The very foundation of how we should live our lives.


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In this article, we’ll try to introduce you with the traditional wisdom of Santals, so you can relate and understand what Tradition means to Santal, and about festivals that they observe, the rituals and customs for common event of life and in between how community plays it's role as part of ‘Tradition’ .


  • 1) Creation Belief : Earth rests on Turtle
    Santal belief of creation of Earth is very similar to that of Native American. According to Santhal FolkTale the Earth was filled with water, there was no sign of land so that two goose could lay their egg. Every aquatic animals failed to bring up the soil on surface until tortoise made an attempt and with help of Earthworm. Thereafter, Two Goose laid egg on Turtle's back and as a result Two Human "Pilchu Hadam" and "Pilchu Budhi" were born. Read the full tale here.  
  • 2) Festivals : Where people bring joy to nature.
    Santhals have mainly two festival which flaunts its rich culture. The first is: Sohrai and other is: Baha . These festivals are either related to nature or agriculture. The celebrations of these festival extends over number of days and include folk dance,  which are accompanied by respective folks songs and music of  Traditional Musical Instrument. Read More..
  • 3) Nomenclature : Leave no ancestors behind
    Every Santal boy or girl is named after their ancestor, it can be either their Grandfather or Grandmother or Grand-uncle/aunt. The philosophy behind this is to never forget ancestor and  this way they keep them reminded between them . Also, One Santal can get idea about ancestry relationship with another Santal just by his Name !!!!. Want to know Santal Clans ,click here to Read More..
  • 4) Marriage : Where two village relates together
    Marriage is the second most important event Santal's life after 'Birth'. There are about 12 types of Marriage in Santal. For Santal, marriage is an occasion of joy for whole village , it binds two village together through the relation of newly wedded couples . Lots of interesting rituals takes place during the marriage process, to know click read to Read More..
  • 5) Sal Leaf : Symbol of Tribes
    Do you know Sal leaf played a major role for initiation of 'Hul'  (war for freedom) ? Also, Sal is worshiped in 'Jaher than' and it's leaf is commonly used in daily life of Santals. To know more click here Read More..
  • 6) Traditional Attire and Adornment 
    Every tribe has particular unique dressing style, they adorn themselves with natural elements. But with the influence of other community living parallel to them, their dressings are becoming modest , getting new designs and colour. To know more about the dressings and types of bangles click here to Read More

Want to know more Santali Culture ?

Explore other different article section which is more focused on Cultural aspects of Santal where you may find interesting articles related to Food habits, Life Philosophy, Counting, General Greetings , Community Living , Self Rule,Folk Song and Folk Dance and many more.
Santali Culture

Discover History

There had been historical event that took place and changed the way Santal live. Find out how ?

Literature | Publication

Santal Literature has history of writings and documenting since colonial period, Read what they were writing and what is published recently.

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