Marriage and divorce:
The Santhals have different types of marriage. Their marriages are exogamous and these marriages known as 'Bapla' are of seven types namely Sanga, Kadam, Kirin, Upagir, Tanki Dipil, Itut, Nirbelok etc. At the end of every marriage, the bride money is collected. A woman made pregnant by another male can be socially accepted in marriage. Divorce can be obtained easily; however, some alimony has to be given whole divorcing. If marriages are undertaken within one's own group, such couples are ostracized and chased away from society. There is also the practice of the son-in-law staying in his in-laws' house.
The dead are cremated as well as buried. After the death of a respected person of the community who occupies an important post such as Manjhi, Paranik, Gudit, etc, all Santhals participate in the death ceremony. The entire village has to mourn the death. On the evening of the death of a person, a rooster is killed and Khichadi (porridge) cooked and offered to the soul of the dead. After seven days the Santhals purify themselves by bathing in a river. The last rites (Mandan) are undertaken at an appropriate time after another seven days. The last rites or purification are undertaken on the same day of the week as when the dead was buried.
Physically short people, men mostly with a beard, long but flat nose, these black complexioned tribals are strong and hard working. In the hills, the Santhals settle in villages comprising of closely clustered houses. Their prime food is Rice, Dal and Meat. Every village has a Headman who is responsible for conducting the affairs of the village. They worship nature in any form as their God and also propitiate their ancestors for their well being. They are very superstitious in character. They make their livelihood on agriculture, Cultivation of fruits and vegetables and at times on hunting. The Santhal women use various ornaments as adornment. They are of silver, brass, bronze, shell, glass or flowers. Their houses are also decorated with beautiful colored animal, and forest motifs. They are very skilled painters as well, and their folk-paintings have inspired many great artists.
(Last Updated on : 02-01-2009)
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