(Last Updated on : 05/02/2010)
The Kharia tribes have occupied a major portion of the rugged slopes of Ranchi
, Lohardaga and the furrowed incline of west and east Singhbhum and Hazaribagh
of the Jharkhand
. Although the Kharia tribes have mainly concentrated in Jharkhand, yet they can also be found in Orissa
and West Bengal
l in little number.
Being a part of the 'Proto-Austroloid' family group, the language of the Kharia tribes are known as Kharia language. These Kharia tribes also speak languages like Sadani, Hindi language
and few other dialects that have originated locally. As per the ancient history of the Kharias, they are the descendants of Nagvanshi Raja, Munda.
The major source of livelihood for this Kharia tribe is agriculture. Some of them also depend on small forest products like roots, seeds, flowers, edible herbs, leaves, fruits, wax, honey, etc. Instances are also not rare when these Kharia tribes adapt to labor works. Fishing, hunting as well as animal husbandry is exercised as supplementary occupations. They cultivate Bari crops like marua, maize, vegetables and bean etc. Their lands are of two types namely Tanr land and Don land. They cultivate Til, Arahar, Kurathi, Tisi etc. along with Vadai crops in Tanr land and paddy in the Don land. They practice wet cultivation to cultivate Rabi crops like Masuri, Chana, Khesari etc. Apart from these the Kharia people also grow brinjal, lady's finger, tomato, bean, potato, peas etc. in their lands.
The Kharia tribal society is segregated in to three broad segments, each having different occupations. These are namely the Dudh, Dhelki and Hill Kharia. The Hill Kharia tribes are amongst the most ancient community and are also known as Savar. For their sustenance, they depend mainly upon forest resources such as collecting honey, eatable roots, fruits and herbs. The other parts of the Kharia tribes have taken up cultivation .The Hill Kharia is most ancient community. The house of Hill Kharia comprises of only one room, which is utilized as bed, room, storeroom, kitchen and guest room.
Family is the core of social set up in the society of Kharia tribal communities. Most of the families of this tribe are nuclear. The general trend is that the children of Kharia tribes live separately after getting married. The Kharia tribes adapt to partlineal, patrilocal and patriarchal family. Amongst them also, there is wide prevalence of clan system. Popular clans of Kharia are Badya, Gulgu, Bhuiya, Jaru, Tesa and Hembrom etc. Moreover, there are several of Delkhi Kharia tribes, which include Muru, Soren, Samad, Barliha, Charha, Amongst Dudh Kharia tribe, Hansda, Topno, Mail etc. are popular.
The houses of the Kharias are built with mud, wood, bamboo, straw, Khar grass and rope. There is no window in those houses and are of rectangular shape. Doors are made with wood and iron. Some of the people of this tribal community build pigsty and cattle shed for domestic animals.
The whole of the Kharia tribe has been rightly identified by their kinship to a common object, known as totem. They protect these totemic objects from being injured. Marriage is an important institution. Although the Kharia society is monogamous polygamy is widely prevalent. The Bride price is an important element of the marriage of any of the Kharia tribal families. In order to curtail the huge expense of bride price, often it has been found that two Kharia tribes marry the two sisters of the same family. The popular practice is not to marry, within the clan, which is taboo in the Kharia society. The Kharia people are religious people and worship a number of deities. The religious head of the Dhelki Kharias and Dudh are called Pahan and the Hill Kharias call their religious head Dihuri. This is a post which one holds on a hereditary basis.
The costumes of the male groups of this Kharia tribe includes shirt, ganji, pants, half Dhoti, Kurta and Gamachha. The female groups of this community wear salwar-suits, frock, Jhula, Saree, Sata. Ornaments are highly sought after in their community and the women wear earrings, nose rings, necklaces, metal hair pins, wristlets, rings, anklets etc are some of their favourite ornaments. They use seed, shell, bronze, thread, brass, nickel, silver, gold and silver imitation as the metals of their jewelleries.
Several religious ceremonies are feted where almost all the Kharia tribes revere the Giring or Bero. Burha Burhi or Marsi Masan is the progenitor of Kharia tribes whom also these Kharia tribes worship and also are respected. Their religion is a blend of the beliefs and rituals of Hinduism
, tribalism and Christianity
. They worship the deities of Nag Deo, Jal Deo, Gram Deo, Dharati Mai, Burn Deo, Thakur Deo, Fire God, Burha-Burhi Deo etc. and the spirits. Sometimes they offer sacrifice to their deities to appease them. The common ritual is to conjure up the spirits of deceased ancestors who believe to be dwelling near the oven. When the Kharia tribes carry the ventures of hunting and also pray for rainfall, the mountain spirits are being invoked. These spirits are popularly known by the names of the hill in which they are thought to live in.
Moreover, the Kharia tribes, a lot of local festivals and occasions are also celebrated by the people of the tribal community. Just like other tribes of the region, these Kharia tribes celebrate festivals like Karma, Sohrai, Sarhul, Nawakhani, Ramnawami, Dussehra
etc. Dance and music are an important part of their festivals and occasions. They use Kartal, Dol, Nagara, flute etc during their musical performances. During their tribal dance whistling and clapping also serve as rhythmic tune.