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The Santal, or Santhal,[5] are an ethnic group native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan in South Asia. Santals are the largest tribe in the Jharkhand state of India in terms of population and are also found in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. They are the largest ethnic minority in northern Bangladesh's Rajshahi Division and Rangpur Division. The Santals mostly speak Santali, an Austroasiatic language and that is the most widely-spoken of the Munda languages.

Santal
Santhali dance photo.png
A traditional Santali dance
Total population
7.4 million
Regions with significant populations
 India,  Bangladesh,    Nepal,  Bhutan
Jharkhand2,752,723[1]
West Bengal2,512,331[1]
Odisha894,764[1]
Bihar406,076[1]
 Bangladesh300,061 (2001)[2]
Assam213,139[3]
   Nepal42,698[4]
Languages
Santali, Odia, Bengali, Hindi
Religion
Sari Dharam  • Sarnaism  • Hinduism  • Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Mundas  • Hos  • Kols  • Kharia
Dhodro banam musical instruments

Contents

HistoryEdit

According to linguist Paul Sidwell (2018), Austro-Asiatic language speakers probably arrived on coast of Odisha from Indochina about 4000–3500 years ago.[6]

The first records of the Santals appear in the British sources, who started encroaching on their land. This sparked the Santal rebellion by Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu, two brothers who led the Santals against the Britishers but were defeated.[7]

The Santals reared cocoons in Hazaribagh, in present-day Jharkhand, in the 19th century.[8]

ReligionEdit

One of the most studied, the Santal religion worships Marang buru or Bonga as the Supreme Deity. The majority of reverence, however, falls on a court of spirits (Bonga), who handle different aspects of the world and who are placated with prayers and offerings in order to ward off evil influences. These spirits operate at the village, household, ancestor, and sub-clan level, along with evil spirits that cause disease and can inhabit village boundaries, mountains, water, tigers, and the forest. A characteristic feature of a Santal village is a sacred grove (known as the Jaher[9] or "Santal Sthal") on the edge of the village where many spirits live and where a series of annual festivals take place.[10]

A yearly round of rituals connected with the agricultural cycle, along with life-cycle rituals for birth, marriage and burial at death, involve petitions to the spirits and offerings that include the sacrifice of animals, usually birds. Religious leaders are male specialists in medical cures who practice divination and witchcraft (the socio-historic meaning of the term, used here, refers to the ritual practice of magic and is not pejorative). Similar beliefs are common among other tribes of northeast and central India such as the Kharia, Munda, and Oraon.[10]

Smaller and more isolated tribes often demonstrate articulated classification systems of the spiritual hierarchy less well documented, described as animism or a generalized worship of spiritual energies connected with locations, activities, and social groups. Religious concepts are intricately entwined with ideas about nature and interaction with local ecological systems. As in Santal religion, religious specialists are drawn from the village or family and serve a wide range of spiritual functions that focus on placating potentially dangerous spirits and coordinating rituals.[10]

A minority of Santals have also converted to Christianity.

CultureEdit

Sohrai is the principal festival of Santal community. Besides that Baha, Karam, Dansai, Sakrat, Mahmore, Rundo, Magsim etc. are important. The Santal traditionally accompany many of their dances during these festivals with two drums: the Tamak‘ and the Tumdak’.[11]

Chadar Badar, a form of puppetry known also as Santal puppetry, is a folk show involving wooden puppets placed in a small cage which acts as the stage.

Notable peopleEdit

ReferencesEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.

  1. ^ a b c d "A-11 Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  2. ^ Cavallaro, Francesco; Rahman, Tania. "The Santals of Bangladesh" (PDF). ntu.edu.sg. Nayang Technical University. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Santali: Also spoken in Nepal". Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  5. ^ Bisoee, Animesh (28 May 2019). "Brave show of support for arrested Santhal". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  6. ^ Sidwell, Paul. 2018. Austroasiatic Studies: state of the art in 2018. Presentation at the Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, May 22, 2018.
  7. ^ Jha, Amar Nath (2009). "LOCATING THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF SANTAL PARGANAS". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 70: 185–196. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44147668.
  8. ^ "Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age" (PDF). NCERT. p. 46. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Jaher Worshiping Place of Santals". Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "The Green Revolution in India". U.S. Library of Congress Country Studies (released in public domain). Retrieved 6 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Chadar Badar". Telegraph. 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2015.

BibliographyEdit

  • Archer, W. G. The Hill of Flutes: Life, Love, and Poetry in Tribal India: A Portrait of the Santals. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974.
  • Bodding, P. O. Santal Folk Tales. Cambridge, Massachusetts: H. Aschehoug; Harvard University Press, 1925.
  • Bodding, P. O. Santal Riddles and Witchcraft among the Santals. Oslo: A. W. Brøggers, 1940.
  • Bodding, P. O. A Santal Dictionary (5 volumes), 1933–36 Oslo: J. Dybwad, 1929.
  • Bodding, P. O. Materials for a Santali Grammar I, Dumka 1922
  • Bodding, P. O. Studies in Santal Medicine and Connected Folklore (3 volumes), 1925–40
  • Bompas, Cecil Henry, and Bodding, P. O. Folklore of the Santal Parganas. London: D. Nutt, 1909. Full text at Project Gutenberg.
  • Chakrabarti, Dr. Byomkes, A Comparative Study of Santali and Bengali, KP Bagchi, Calcutta, 1994
  • Culshaw, W. J. Tribal Heritage; a Study of the Santals. London: Lutterworth Press, 1949.
  • Edward Duyker Tribal Guerrillas: The Santals of West Bengal and the Naxalite Movement, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1987, pp. 201, SBN 19 561938 2.
  • Hembrom. T, The Santals: Anthropological-Theological Reflections on Santali & Biblical Creation Traditions. 1st ed. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1996.
  • Orans, Martin. "The Santal; a Tribe in Search of a Great Tradition." Based on thesis, University of Chicago., Wayne State University Press, 1965.
  • Prasad, Onkar. Santal Music: A Study in Pattern and Process of Cultural Persistence, Tribal Studies of India Series; T 115. New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1985.
  • Roy Chaudhury, Indu. Folk Tales of the Santals. 1st ed. Folk Tales of India Series, 13. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1973.
  • Troisi, J. The Santals: A Classified and Annotated Bibliography. New Delhi: Manohar Book Service, 1976.
  • ———. Tribal Religion: Religious Beliefs and Practices among the Santals. New Delhi: Manohar, 2000.

External linksEdit