(Last Updated on : 24-08-2016)
The Mal Pharia or Paharia Mal is a tribal
group concentrated in state
s of eastern India namely, West Bengal
. More specifically, this group is considered to be a tribe of the Rajmahal Hills
, which may be an isolated branch of the Savars
. The Mal Pharia Tribe is known by different names such as Mal, Maler, etc.
Physical Features of the People Belonging to Mal Pharia Tribe
According to Sir H. Risley, people belonging to Mal Pharia Tribe have dark complexions. There average stature is low and they are also known to be sturdy.
Clothing and Ornaments Used by Mal Pharia Tribe
The female Mal Pharia wears sarees, whereas the male Mal Pharia dresses up in ordinary cotton
cloth. To beautify themselves they wear ear rings
Surnames of People Belonging to Mal Pharia Tribe
People Belonging to Mal Pharia Tribe have surnames like Singh, Kumar, Ahri, Ghiri, Manjhi, Pator and Ghuns.
Literacy Rate and Language of Mal Pharia Tribe
The Mal Pharia Tribe is known to have a literacy rate of about 7.59 percent. They use Oriya language
Traditional Occupation of Mal Pharia Tribe
and gathering is associated with the people of Mal Pharia Tribe. Hunting is one of their main pastimes and also their major occupation. They use poisoned arrows for hunting. After killing the target, the hunters remove the flesh around the wound. This is because they hold a belief that the surrounding flesh is unfit for consumption. But they have certain rules and regulations, which are to be strictly followed during hunting. If a man seeks the help of other members in order to find out the animal
he has killed, he has to give one-half portion of the animal to them. The headman of the village
is known as Manjhi
and he is entitled to get share of all the animals killed in hunting. A person breaking rules and regulations is subjected to penalties. Killing a dog will result in a fine of 12 rupees. The hunters are also forbidden by laws to kill a cat
and doing so will result in the person distributing salt among the children in the village. He would give a meager amount of salt to each child in the said case. Their God
of hunting is called Autga and on every successful expedition they offer their thanksgiving to Him.
But it is also known that most of the people of Mal Pharia Tribe are agricultural labourers, who engage themselves in cultivation. They earn their daily living through basket making. They also garner bamboos
and raw materials from forests
Status in Traditional Caste Hierarchy of Mal Pharia Tribe
Mal Pharia Tribe considers itself seated above the two other groups namely, Paharia -Sauria
- Paharia and Kumarbhag-Paharia, in the traditional caste hierarchy. These groups do not engage in intermarriage. They do not even accept food from each other. These groups consider the Santa impure as they consume beef.
Customs Related to Marriage followed by Mal Pharia Tribe
The Mal Pharia follows similar customs as the other hill tribes of the Chota Nagpur
. They have some religious traditions regarding marriage ceremonies. Like for instance, on the day of the marriage the bridegroom proceeds towards the house of the bride with his parents and relatives. The bride's parents then make them seated on cots. After that the bride's father places his daughter's hand over the hand of the groom and urges him to be faithful, loving and loyal to the bride. Then the groom puts vermillion on the forehead of the bride with his right hand's little finger. Again linking his little finger with the little finger of bride's right hand he leads her towards his home. The people engage themselves in dancing and other recreational activities during every occasion.
Recreational Drink of Mal Pharia Tribe
Mal Pharia is known to have a passion for drinking. It is under the influence of God Bacchus that they engage themselves in merrymaking, which involves dancing and drinking. A beverage associated with Mal Pharia Tribe is the universal Pachwai. Pachwai stands for fermented grain. There is a process followed to make Pachwai. Among the grains, Mal Pharias use either maize
or janera. After the type of grain is chosen, the selected one is boiled or spread out on a mat to cool. They then mix it with a ferment of vegetables
called takar. The mixer is then kept in a large earthen vessel for a few days. Warm water is also added. It takes a few hours for fermentation after which the Pachwai can be consumed.
Festival Celebrated by Mal Pharia Tribe
Annapurna Mela is known to be celebrated by Mal Pharia Tribe.