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Sunday, August 9, 2009

The cultural spirit and heritage of the tribal people of Jharkhand

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Tribal ladies performing the Earth Dance



Some of the traditional craft work done by the tribal people of Jharkhand state of India


Jharkhand, the 28th state of the Indian Union has been carved out of the state of Bihar after the passage of the State Reorganization Bill 2000 from Lok Sabha on 2nd August 2000, and afterwards by the Rajya Sabha and the approval of the President of India. It emerged out as a new state of India at midnight of 14th November, with Ranchi city as its capital, Mr. Prabhat Kumar, a retired Civil Servant as its First Governor, and Mr. Babulal Marandi, the leader of the National Democratic Alliance(NDA) as its First Chief Minister. The statehood to Jharkhand was the result of a series of revolts, insurrections, and movements organized by different groups of people against seizure of land, oppression, colonial rule, agrarian injustice, miseries and hardships of the native population, right since the time of the British Rule in the country. Now, let us have a glimpse of some important facts about this beautiful and unique state of Jharkhand before going into a vast discussion about its wonderfully great Cultural Spirit and Heritage.

The total area of the land of Jharkhand is 79714 sq km with 4 divisions, 33 sub-divisions, 24 districts, and 212 blocks. The population of Jharkhand as per the census of 2001 has been recorded as 26909428, with the Sex Ratio of 941and 54.13 percent of the rate of literacy. The Sal is its sacred State Tree, elephant is its State Animal, and Cuckoo is its State Bird. The longest National Highway in Jharkhand is NH 33(Bahragoda to Barhi), the length of theNationalHighway in Jharkhand is 1006 km, and the length of the State Highway in the state is 4662 km.
The beautiful state of Jharkhand which is located on the eastern side of the Vindhyachal Hills, and at the Northern Fringes of Deccan has a golden history of its rich and diverse cultural heritage, spiritual belief, lifestyles, and acts of bravery. In spite of being inhabited by a vast diversity of different sections of people since time immemorial and even after remaining at the crossroads of many historical forces and facing impacts of different cultures right from the medieval times, the spirit and base of its traditions and culture, and that of its heritage have been preserved by its brave, polite, and disciplined people belonging basically to the tribal communities. The artistic expressions of the cultural heritage of Jharkhand are functional in character having deep social and utilitarian significance. What do we mean by the culture and heritage in the present context?

Well, the word culture as understood here stems in Latin as cultura from colere which means “to cultivate” and refers to the pattern of human activities and symbolic structures. It can be defined as all the ways of life including arts, beliefs, and institutions of a population those are passed down from generation to generation. It can be called as the way of life for an entire society. The heritage of people, as understood here in these texts here, belonging to a land refers to something that has been inherited from their ancestors. It may be cultural, natural,traditional, virtual, biological, industrial, and transportational etc. Here, in the present study we are concerned with the dance and music, languages, fairs and festivals, folk arts and crafts, cuisine, lifestyles, educational profile, sports, natural resources including river systems, waterfalls,minerals, forests, and wildlife etc. of the newly formed state of Jharkhand.

Education profile
Jharkhand is the 28th state of the Indian Union. This new state, Jharkhand formerly a part of Bihar state, was formed on November 15th, 2000 with Ranchi as its capital. Today Jharkhand is known as one the most industrialized regions of the country. Besides being a hub of industrial
activities, the state of Jharkhand is also a popular educational destination in the country. Over the years, presence of highly-prestigious centers of learning including Birla Institute of
Technologyand Indian Scool of Mines, has earned huge laurels to the state for their cutting-edge programmes in wide-ranging disciplines.

Schooling in the state starts at the age of 5. The Schools in the state are either affiliated to the state board of secondary education or to the CBSE or ICSE. The schools run by the state government use Hindi as their medium of instruction; however schools affiliated to CBSE or ICSE use English as their medium of study. The Jharkhand government has adopted the free and compulsory education policy to provide primary education to all children up to the age of 14. The notable educational scheme includes the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan- an extensive scheme which has been introduced in the state to universalize elementary education through district based, decentralized specific planning and implementation strategy by community ownership of the school system.

Jharkhand follows the 10+2 system of school education which is followed by 3 years degree courses. After completion of +2, a student goes for higher education. There are six universities in the state including three deemed universities. The state has some of the country’s best institutions in the field of engineering and management. According to the 2001 census the literacy rate of the state is 54.13%,a cause of concern for the State Government.

The people of Jharkhand have their unique and specific types of dance and music styles. The most popular dances of Jharkhand include Jhumar, Paika, Chhou, Agni, Santhal, Nachni, Jamda, Ghatwari, Natwa, Choukara, Sohrai, Lurisayro, and Matha. These dance forms are very graceful, rhythmic and attractive, and are heavily accompanied by the drum beats and the songs or music. Some of the important dance forms which are practiced in Jharkhand include:

The Santhal Dance- This dance is based on the folk dance of Madhya Pradesh. This is the dance that generally covers the themes related to the issues of gender and land rights. Both men and women participate in the Santhal dance.

Agni Dance- In the Rig Veda, Agni was described as the god of fire. The Agni dance is considered as the religious dance of Jharkhand. It is usually performed on the occasion of Bipu or Manda worship in Jharkhand.

Jhumar- It is a folk dance that is performed at the time of the harvest season. It shows a live demonstration of the happiness of the man. Jhumar is performed anytime, specially during the weddings, melas or some other important functions and celebrations. This dance is generally
performed in a circle. The dancers wear very colourful costumes.

Paika Dance- Paika is the dance of Jharkhand that is performed on the ceremonial occasions such as festivals and weddings. This dance is performed by the males along with the traditional weapons like the shield and the sword. The musical instruments that are used to accompany this form of dance are nagara, dholak and shehnai.

Phagua- This is a dance that is performed by the males during the time of Hindu festival of Holi. During their performance, the dancers throw coloured water and powder on each other. Women also join this Phagua dance in some of the parts of Jharkhand.

Chhou Dance- It is one of the chief tribal dances of Jharkhand. This is a dance form that is performed in the tribal areas of Jharkhand as well as some parts of Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The Chhou dance is performed in an open space or a ground field, generally at the night time. The dancing area is surrounded by the fire poles called the mashaals, for the sake of lighting in the dark. But in some of the advanced parts of the state, electrical lamps and light have started replacing the fire poles. The dancers have a bath and perform some puja before their performance. This is for maintaining the sacredness of the dance, because the characters in the dance are of those of various Gods. These dancers use colourful, big sized and decorative masks. Chhou dance is one of the tribal forms of the 'nritya natika' that means dance drama. Most of these Chhou dance performances are based on the stories of Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The dance is accompanied by the traditional nagada i.e. the drums, and the flute, which provide the background music.

The people of Jharkhand have their unique and specific types of dance and music styles. The most popular dances of Jharkhand include Jhumar, Paika, Chhou, Agni, Santhal, Nachni, Jamda, Ghatwari, Natwa, Choukara, Sohrai, and the Earth Dance, Lurisayro, and Matha. These dance forms are very graceful, rhythmic and attractive, and are heavily accompanied by the drum beats and the songs or music.


A scene of the traditional Chhou Dance of Jharkhand the state of India

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