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Monday, April 26, 2010

Vishu Shikar - the traditional ritual of Jharkhand

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Mid April brings great terror and disaster to the wildlife in Jharkhand in general and in Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary in particular when the so called nature worshipper – the tribal community of the state sends out its girls armed with traditional armaments on a ritualistic mass hunting adventure called as Vishu Shikar or the Jani Shikar.

 Armed with spears, arrows, axes, and other traditional armaments they mark the traditional Sendra (means killing or sacrificing) Festival by sacrificing most of the wild birds and other animals that happen to come in their way to, as per their faith, please the local deity called as Dolma Baba. For the wild animals kept in Dalma sanctuary, this festive period is nothing more than a great disaster as their legal savior – the government itself becomes helpless and unable to protect them. Despite the government ban on poaching wild animals, government itself feels at weak end somewhere in protecting the wild animals as no one and not even government is allowed to come in way of religion and tradition of a community in a democratic set up. Under these conditions any one living far away from the state remains in a sound position to comment that there in Dalma wild animals are reared for Sendra only … don’t talk of conservation.

The Department of Forests, the Government of Jharkhand has mentioned in its report on its website “… also known as Jani Shikar usually held on 14th of April which is a New Year Day when the people go to the forest sides and kill the animals as a mark of jubilation on the occasion of New Year. Apart from this they also remove the mud from the ponds and sprinkle among one another which is part of this eco-friendly festival, so that the rain/flood waters may be stored in ponds. Such practices of hunting are a threat to the wildlife and should be discouraged as a part of ritual”. An old report of ANI reads - Of late, the forest department has launched several awareness programmes among the tribals against the killing of wild animals”.

Cultures and traditions of Indian Communities are regarded as considered as important components of Indian Civilization. As such, any traditional practice can be reviewed or revised by the community itself. Under these circumstances the Government under a democratic set up tries to make a community aware of the demands of the current age and to do important modifications. And so the Government is doing by making requests through different means of communication. Here is a sample scanned from a local Hindi Daily News Paper through which the Governor of the state has made an Appeal -

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