(Last Updated on : 09/04/2015)
Sarhul or Ba Parab is an important festival of the Munda Tribe
celebrated in the month of Chait i.e. February or March. Ba, in Mundari means flower and Parab is the feast or festival, hence the ba prarb is known as the festival of flower. It is said that once the Mundas felt that they remained so busily engaged in their household chores that they have forgotten to pay their respect and worship their ancestors. Hence with the thought to pay due respect to them they decided to observe a festival once during the beginning of the year as it is the time of the blooming of flowers such as Sal, Mahua, Dhawai etc. No particular date is fixed for the celebration of the festival but generally it is observed on the fifth day of the moon in the month of Chait. The time however, varies from village to village and also from year to year. Sometimes the festival is celebrated at the beginning of the flower season and at another at the end. The festival is however celebrated on days such as Monday, Wednesday or Friday. The date is postponed in case of unavoidable miseries, as death, epidemic or any sort of other calamity in the village. The responsibility of fixing the date and time is handled by the Pahan with the consent of the villagers.
One day prior to the feast the villagers observe fast. The Pahan accompanied by the villagers march to the village dari to clean it. The Pahan anoints the stone of the Dari with oil and puts vermillion marks on it. They then return to the Pahan's house where they are offered rice beer. The Pahan or the Pujar next goes to the dari again with two pitchers to fetch fresh water. The pitchers are then taken to the bajaer, a sal tree thought to the holy abode of the Lutkum Haran and Lutkum Buria. Unmarried youths of the village also accompany them. On the western side of the sal tree, a patch of land is chosen and smeared with cow dung
. The two pitchers are placed there and a stick is immersed in it. The party then returns dancing and singing jape songs. During their return to the village the feet of the Pahan and his assistant are washed by the woman.
The Pahan now orders for four fowls of different colours to be sacrificed at the Sama, the following day. Each colour represents a separate spirit or bonga. Bonga the white or sometimes checkered black fowl is sacrificed in honour of the Buru Bonga while the grey colour of the fowl is reserved for the ancestors of the village. The Red fowl is meant for Luthum Haram and Luthum Buria and the black one for Nage-era and Bindi-era. The fowls are kept on fast the whole day preceeding the day of the festival.
On the festive day the Pahan along with his assistant and a member of each house bathe in the village dari or any pond nearby to purify themselves. Post bathing the Pahan carries all the sacrificial things such as fowls, the sacrificial arwa rice
, thread, rice beer, sacrificial knife and the Sarma Sup i.e. the winnowing fan with him to the Sama. The sal blossom plucked from a sal tree is the most significant item. Upon reaching the Sarna, the Pahan first measures the water in the pitchers. If it diminishes, it is belived that a calamity might occur that would result in a poor harvest while it the water does not diminish it signifies a good harvest. After washing hands with the water the Pahan feeds the fowls on the arwa rice and then it is beheaded with a big knife reciting the following mantra:
"Ter, aben jaer buria, Lutkum Haram, Lutkum Buriskiri, nadoiri omahentan-cedabentanairi, ruara airma, ruara kutuilre. Bohasu banogoka, laihsu banogka, Bugiakankala, urienga meromenga poaposa okako, babaenga, Kode enga rasu-risiri ade Sinleka gora oka butaoka, Senderare nitirre rusod dal sadokako, Tuirijiluda, bata omrur alan udrur alam. Look both of you, matron (and old men) dwelling in the jaer. Lutkum Haram and Lutkum Buria, now that one year has elapsed and the time for this sacrifice has come ain I give and offer you (this fowl). Let there be neither headache nor stomach-ache. Let us keep constantly well. Let our cattle (literally, the cow mother and the goat mother) multiply. Let out grain (literally, the rice mother and the millet mother) throw out many roots and stem even like the garlic and the ginger plants. During the pursuit in the chase may we club and strike them (the game) to death. Give game, give in return rice".
The Pahan sacrifices all the four fowls, one after another. After the sacrifice the sacrificial meal is prepared. In one chatti arwa rice is cooked and in the same the fowls are stewed. In another chatti ordinary rice is cooked for the people who assisted the Pahan. The Pahan puts boiled rice and meat in each of the three leaf cups and offers them before the three heaps of rice. Rice beer in then poured in three cups and finally water is placed before the three heaps of rice in the leaf cup. The Pahan then takes his meal followed by the villagers assembled there.
After the worship the Pahan takes the 'Sarna Sup', keeps some sal flowers in it and carries it home in a procession marked by singing, dancing and beating drums. The head of each of the family then worships his house. They hang Sal flowers on the roofs of the house, wear them as garlands and also scatter in the houses and in the fields. They take their meal in sal plates, drink rice beer and water in sal leaf cups.
As the procession reaches the outskirts of the village the women waiting there washes the feet of the Pahan and sprinkles water on him from the pitcher. It is believed that the more water they pour on the Pahan the more rainfall they would receive. It is for this reason that the Pahan is called Pahar Raja on that day. After the feet are washed the Pahan is taken to his home. Upon reaching he fixes a sal blossom in the house door and distributes it to others present as a blessing. In certain villages the Pahan visits house to house distributing sal flower. In return he gets a few coins. During the evening hours a Munda woman from each family visits the Pahan's house with a jug of water and some oil. She washes the feet of the Pahan anoints them with oil and again washes them with water. She gets a cup of rice beer in return and comes back to her home.
On the day of Sarhul and the day preceding it is considered as a taboo for the villagers to plough the field. Thus, the celebration of the Ba-parab ushers in joy and merriment and is early waited for by the villagers. The blossoming of the sal brings in jollity as the villagers burst into singing songs such as:
"Isu duku suku tebu feweh nam tada,
Sona lekan ba chandu mulua kana,
Kami udam duku teby seler nam tada,
Rupa lekan ba chandu setera kana.
Sona lekan ba chandu mulua kana, Munu potom bandi bata hodoro jana,
Rupa lekan ba chandu setera kana, Kere bore kaluti dubao jana.
Niyatin moririgare chakatiri sanain
Munu potom bandi baba hodoro jana,
Hiyatin moningare chaktur sanain
Kere bore kaluti dubao jana"
After a long sorrow and pleasure the Sarhul has arrived and the golden moon of the Sarhul has arisen. After a good deal of labour, pleasure and sorrow we have come (up to this position) and the silvery moon of the Chait has arisen.
The golden moon of the Sarhul has arisen but the paddy of the new store has exhausted, the silvery moon of Chait has arisen but the hens are no more. We are anxious that the paddy of the new stock has exhausted, we are wondering that the hens are no more.
Children also remain eager to participate in the festival.
The Mundas believe that the Sarhul or Ba Parab is celebrated in memory of the ancestors while others believe that it is celebrated in memory of the marriage of the Mother Earth and Sun God.