(Redirected from Sarna sthal)

Sarna are sacred groves in the Indian religious traditions of the Chota Nagpur Plateau region in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, and Chhattisgarh.[1] Followers of these rituals primarily belong to people of Chotoanagpur Munda, Bhumij, Kharia, Baiga, Ho, Kurukh, Santal and non-tribal Sadan.[2][citation needed] According to local belief, a Gram deoti or village deity resides in the sarna, where sacrifice is offered twice a year. Their belief system is called "Sarnaism", "Sarna Dharma", or "Religion of the Holy Woods".[3]

Sarnaism flag.svg
Flag of Sarnaism
Sarna dhorom 2014-05-30 19-54.jpg
The Sarnaism Symbols used by some worshipers
Total population
c. 7,841,870 - 9,341,870
Regions with significant populations
 India  Bangladesh    Nepal  Bhutan
West Bengal2,512,331


Sarna means "grove" and is etymologically related to the name of the sal tree.


Adherents of Sarnaism believe in, worship, and revere a village deity as protector of village, who is called as Gaon khunt, Gram deoti, Dharmes, Marang Buru, Singbonga, or by other names by different tribes.[4] Adherents also believe in, worship, and revere Dharti ayo or Chalapachho Devi, the mother goddess identified as the earth or nature.

Worship places and ritesEdit

Sarna worshippers following their religious rites

Sarna is place of worship which is sacred grove in Chotanagpur. It is also called gram than among Kudumi Mahato, Jaher than or Jaher gar among Santal, and can be found in villages. Sal trees are in the sacred grove. The ceremonies are performed by the whole village community at a public gathering with the active participation of village priests, pahan and assistant Pujar in Chotanagpur. The priest is called Naike among Santal. The sthal typically has multiple trees like sal, mahua, neem, and banyan.

The main festival of Sarnaism is Sarhul, a festival in which devotees worship their ancestors. During the festival, the pahan brings three water pots to the sarna. If the water pots reduce in level, they believe the monsoon will fail, but if it stays the same the monsoon will come as normal. Men then offer sakua flowers and leaves.[5]


S. No. State Population
1. Jharkhand 4,223,500
2. West Bengal 2,512,331
3. Bihar 1,349,460
4. Chhattisgarh 768,910
5. Odisha 478,317
Total c. 7,800,000 to 9,300,000
Source: 2011 Census of India[6]

Religious statusEdit

As a result of Western colonialism and imperialism in Asia, several attempts of indoctrination and forced conversion were carried out by western Christian missionaries in colonial India, which went on for a century, and have caused sectarian conflict in the tribal areas of the Chota Nagpur region. The arrival of the first German Protestant missionaries in 1845 was followed by Roman Catholic missionaries; conflict between Christian and Non-Christian tribals became evident in 1947–1948, when British colonial rulers left India.[7]

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has suggested that Sarna religion be accorded independent category in the religion code of the Census of India.[8] Several tribal organisations and Christian missionaries are demanding a distinct census code for Sarnaism.[9][10] The then Indian Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram, had, however, claimed in 2015,"There is no denial of the fact that tribals are Hindus."[11]

The Catholic Church in India, led by Ranchi Catholic Archdiocese and Catholic bishops of Jharkhand, has supported a separate religious code for the tribals.[citation needed] The former BJP-led government had introduced an anti-conversion law as they accused the church of forced conversion and usurpation of tribals' land.[12]

In 2020, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's (JMM), which was in power in Jharkhand at that time, passed an unanimous assembly resolution on 'Sarna Code' for the inclusion of Sarna as separate religion in 2021 census, and sent to central government for approval.[13][14]


  • Akhil Bharatiya Sarna Dharam (ABSD)
  • All India Sarna Dharam Mandowa (AISDM)
  • Kherwal Saonta Semled (KSS)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Religious Complexity in Northeastern South Asia". GeoCurrents. Retrieved 2021-10-21.
  2. ^ "बख्तर साय मुंडल सिंह के बताए राह पर चलें". bhaskar. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  3. ^ Minahan 2012
  4. ^ Amit Jha (2009). Contemporary Religious Institutions in Tribal India. ISBN 9780557090532.
  5. ^ Srivastava, Malini (1 October 2007). "The Sacred Complex of Munda Tribe". The Anthropologist. 9 (4): 327–330. doi:10.1080/09720073.2007.11891020. ISSN 0972-0073. S2CID 73737689.
  6. ^ "Fewer minor faiths in India now, finds Census; number of their adherents up". The Indian Express. 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2021-06-12.
  7. ^ Tribals torn apart by religion, The Hindu. 014.
  8. ^ "ST panel for independent religion status to Sarna". The Times of India. 6 February 2011.
  9. ^ Kiro, Santosh K. (2013). "Delhi demo for Sarna identity". The Telegraph.
  10. ^ Mukherjee, Pranab (30 March 2013). "Tribals to rally for inclusion of Sarna religion in census". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013.
  11. ^ All tribals are Hindus, no need for Sarna code: RSS, Times of India, 1 May 2015.
  12. ^ Church writes to Hemant demanding Sarna code for tribals, Telegraph India, 19.09.2020.
  13. ^ "Jharkhand Assembly passes resolution on Sarna Code". The Hindu. 12 November 2020.
  14. ^ Bisoee, Animesh (25 September 2021). "Tribals from nine states seek Sarna code in 2021 census". The Telegraph.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)



  • Sachchidananda, A.K. (1980). Elite and Development. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Co. ASIN B000MBN8J2.
  • Minahan, James (2012). Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An encyclopedia. Ethnic Groups of the World. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1598846591.
  • Niketan, Kishor Vidya (1988). The Spectrum of Tribal Religion in Bihar: A study of continuity & change among the Oraon of Chotanagpur.
  • Hembram, Phatik Chandra (1988). Sari-Sarna (Santhal religion). Mittal Publications. ISBN 8170990440.

Journal articlesEdit

External linksEdit