(Last Updated on : 07/02/2012)
Bhumij tribe are Austric-speaking people who have adopted Bengali as their second language due to their contact with the Bengali-speaking people of Purulia district
. They still live in Bhumij, who still live in integrated social groups all over the district of Purulia. They had developed their own traditional life in their own way until they came in contact with their Hinduized feudal chiefs. Bhumij is the Hinduized name of the tribe which means one who is born of the soil.
Bhumij tribes are found in districts of Singhbhum, Hazaribagh
state. Their villages are situated in plain areas. Their houses are erected with bamboo and sal saplins that are tied with grass ropes and thatched with straw.
Bhumij family is manly patrilineal. Monogamy is the form of marriage. Bigamy is not prohibited. Levirate and Sororal marriages are possible. However premarital relations within the lineage group are prohibited. Marriage may take place between boys and girls of two different lineage groups but it is avoided. They follow village exogamy. Bride is acquired by bride-price and through the consent of parents of boys and girls.
Their source of income is agriculture, collection of forest produce from the forest, lac cultivation and basketry. They believe in animism and they practice ancestral worship. They believe in naturalism and worship objects like sun, river, mountain, tree, animal, birds, plants and bushes. The Bhumij landholders rose to the status of feudal chiefs and then to the status of kings claimed themselves as Kshatriyas of Solar or Lunar dynasties. The Bhumij Raja established Hindu temples and shrines. The Bhumij cultivators continued their affiliation to the tribal gods despite being influenced by Hinduism
. The worships of the Hindu goddesses Durga
were introduced within the families of the chiefs, while the others remain satisfied with their traditional worship of the tribal animistic gods. The Bhumij were employed in the infantry of the Rajas and soon they began to take active part in the celebrations of worship of the orthodox Hindu gods
In the western districts of West Bengal
, there are prominent groups of Bhumijes. They live in the territory between the Kasai and Subarnarekha
rivers. Their present area of settlement includes Dhalbhum, Barabhum, Patkum and Baghmundi. Those living nearer to Chota Nagpur Plateau
still retain linguistic links with Mundari, those living deeper east have adopted Bengali as their language.