Sarhul festival is one of the important festivals of Oraon tribe
. The centuries old Sarhul festival is celebrated across Jharkhand
, especially in the tribal belt. It showcases various colours of life through flowers just like the nature undergoes various changes throughout the year in different seasons.
The word "Sarhul" holds special significance for the tribe. It is celebrated in the month of March-April months in the Geogian Calender. Oraon tribe primarily consists of practicing agriculturist; the Sarhul marks the beginning of the agriculture season of their month. The word Sarhul means "Sar" as Year and "Hul" as Set to commence.
The small cluster of Sakhua (Sarai) Tree is called Sarna. In Kurukh language of Oraon Tribe, the Sakhua fruit or Shaal fruit is known as `Naur` and in the local Sadri language
; they are known as `Sarai`. Similarly, Sakhua is popularly called as `Sakhu` and the Oraons consider it to be a god`s gift and extremely auspicious.
The Oraon Tribes believe that the good yield of Shaal-fruit signifies the bumper agriculture harvest for them. From the special chirping of birds, they could figure out the likely advent of the monsoon season and the expected amount of the rainfall in their region; even the snakes` sound gives them clue about the likely heaviness of rainfall.
In the Sarhul Festival, the Oraon Tribe celebrate the holy matrimony of the Earth and the Nature; depicting the masculine race and the feminine race among the numerous living organism in our planet.
On the day of Sarhul Festival, they remember `the Great Lord Dharmesh- the Supreme Being` and thank him for the blessings showered on all the living things. The Sarhul festivity is held in the spring season signifying the birth of `new-borns` all around the planet among many living species.
When the Shaal-tree is bustling with the Shaal-flowers, the "Pahan" or the Village Priest and the "Pahanin" (Wife of Head Priest) are symbolically married in the presence of the whole village. This festival also marks the praying for the good monsoon throughout the monsoon months. For that the bucket full of water is poured on to the Pahan`s head. The Shaal-flowers are distributed as a prasad (offerings) among the villagers.
Sarhul festival is celebrated across two days. The first day is called `Upaas` or the full day fast and the second day is called `Chengna-kati`. On the day of `uppas`, not a single agriculture work is performed in the village. The village-pahan performs fasting. The `dadhi-katna` (the source of drinking water) is properly cleaned in each and every village of the Oraon Tribe. Then the young Oraon boys catch fishes and the crabs; the fish-water is sprinkled in the goshala (cattle-pens) and the fishes are cooked with "bari" (made from cereals). In the night, the Pahan and his companion Pujari fetch the clean water from the dadhi in the two earthen pots and keep them under the Shaal-tree; it is known as shakun-panni. The water vessels are guarded throughout the night.
On the day of `chengna-kati`, the women folks of the Oraon tribal village do the fasting. The Pahan carry out the age-old Oraon tribe rituals, perform the puja (formal prayers) and seek blessings for the entire village. After the completion of the formal worship, the Shakun-panni (water in the vessel) is checked. In case the water level is still good, then the good monsoon season is anticipated. In case, the environment is full of humidity then the water levels rises and in case it is very hot the water dry out.
The Pahan and his associates go around the every home in the village and distribute Shakun-Pani (Shakun-water) and Sarna-Phool (Sarna-flower) there. Finally on the night of the Chengan-Katti the community dance and feast program starts. This night is called Khaddi.
Jharkhand draws much attention during Sarhul Festival. The annual tribal festival is dedicated to Mother Nature. It is also known as "Ba Parb". "Ba" stands for flower and "Parb" for festival. Many people say that Sarhul offers them an opportunity and reason to relate themselves with the Mother Nature.
Like many other Indian festivals, performing the Puja holds utmost importance during Sarhul. As per the ritual, a bird like fowl is sacrificed as an offering to the Goddess Adishakti (the incarnation of Goddess Vaishno devi
) at the Sharan Sthala and seeks her blessings. It is believed Saal tree is the abode of Goddess. Once the Puja is over, the offerings to the Goddess are distributed among all devotees. Besides, it is only after the seasonal fruits and flowers are offered to the Goddess, the villagers can use them as per the ritual.