Kurukh
Kurukhar
Kurukh dance of Oraons .jpg
Kurukh in traditional clothes performing dance
Total population
c. 3.8 million (2011)
Regions with significant populations
 Indiac. 3,696,899[1]
   Jharkhand1,716,618
   Chhattisgarh748,739
   West Bengal643,510
   Odisha358,112
   Bihar144,472
   Assam73,437
   Tripura12,011[2]
 Bangladesh50,000[3]
   Nepal37,424[4]
 Bhutan4200[5]
Languages
Kurukh • Sadri • Odia • Hindi • Bengali
Religion
Om.svg
Hinduism (36%)[6] • Sarnaism (32%) •
Christian cross.svg
Christianity (30%) • Other (1%)[6]
Related ethnic groups

The Kurukh or Oraon or Dhangar[7] (Kurukh: Kuṛuḵẖ and Oṛāōn), also spelt Uraon or Oraon, are a Dravidian ethnic group inhabiting the Indian states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. They predominantly speak Kurukh as their native language, which belongs to the Dravidian language family.[8] In Maharashtra, Oraon people are also known as Dhangad or Dhangar.[9][10]

Traditionally, Oraons depended on the forest and farms for their ritual and economic livelihood, but in recent times, they have become mainly settled agriculturalists. Many Oraon migrated to tea gardens of Assam, West Bengal and Bangladesh as well as to countries like Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Mauritius during British rule, where they were known as Hill Coolies.[11][12] They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe for the purpose of India's reservation system.[13]

Etymology

"Oraon" is an exonym assigned by neighboring Munda peoples, meaning "to roam."[14]

Origins

According to the Indian Anthropological Society, Konkan is said to be the original home of the Kurukh tribes from where they migrated to the Chota Nagpur Plateau.[15] The group is said to have settled in the Chota Nagpur Plateau by 100 CE.[16]

Society

The Kurukh are patrilocal and patrilineal. Kurukhs are divided into many exogamous clans. Clans names among the Kurukh are taken from plants, animals and objects. Some important clans are:

[17][18]

Administration

In a Kurukh village, the village level political organization is called Parha which consists of post such as Pahan (village priest), Panibharwa (water-bearer of Pahan), Pujar (assistant of Pahan), Bhandari and Chowkidar (watchman). Each has a particular role in religious ceremonies, festivals and solving disputes in the village. The traditional informal educational institution youth dormitory is called Dhumkuria. The public and common meeting place is Akhra where people meet for the purpose of discussion and solving disputes.[19]

Twelve to thirty villages form a Parha council. Each village has a village council, member of village council act as the members of Parha council in the headship of Parha chief. One of the villages in Parha is called Raja (King) village, another dewan (prime minister) village, another panrey (clerk of the village), a fourth kotwar (orderly) village and remaining village are called praja (subject) village. Raja village has highest social status because headman of this village presides at the meeting of a Parha Panchayat.[19] The Kurukh are patrilocal and patrilineal. Clan name descends from father to son. The major lineage is known as Bhuinhari Khunt. Bhuinhari means owner of the land. Khunt has two sub groups: the Pahan Khunt and Mahato Khunt. Pahan and Mahato are two main office of Bhuinhari lineage.[8]

Culture

Language

Kurukh are traditional speakers of Kurukh, which belongs to the northern branch of the Dravidian family. Around half still speak this language as their mother tongue. However, many have adopted the local lingua francas, Sadri and Odia, as their first languages. This shift to regional languages, especially Sadri, has been most pronounced in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, where the Kurukh are mainly tea garden workers and Sadri is the main link language.[8]

Festivals

The Kurukh celebrate all traditional festivals of the Chota Nagpur plateau: Sarhul, Karma, Dhanbuni, Harihari, Nayakhani, Khariyani etc.[20]

Music and dance

Since time immemorial The Oraon people have a rich range of folk songs, dances and tales,[21] as well as traditional musical instruments. Both men and women participate in dances, which are performed at social events and festivals. The Mandar, Nagara and Kartal are the main musical instruments. In Kurukh, song is known as "Dandi". Some Kurukh folk dances are war dances (between two Parhas), Karma dance (Karam dandi), Khaddi or Sarhul dance, Phagu, Jadur, jagra, Matha, Benja Nalna (wedding dance) and Chali (courtyard dance).[8]

Sarhul dance known as Khaddi
Sarhul dance known as Khaddi

Marriage tradition

Marriage among Kurukhs is usually arranged by the parents. The parents negotiate a bride price, after which the wedding can take place. On the wedding day, the groom arrives with his friends to the bride's house, and they hold a dance. A pandal is constructed in front of the bride's father's house, and the bride and groom stand on a stone, under which is grain above a plough yoke. A cloth is then thrown over the couple, who are doubly screened by the groom's friends. Then the sindoordaan is done: the groom applies sindoor to the bride's forehead, which is sometimes returned. Afterwards, water is poured over the couple and they return to a separate area of the house to change. When they are emerged, they are considered married. During this entire time, the rest of the party continue to dance.[22]

Dress

Oraon House at 'State Tribal Fair-2020' Bhubaneswar, India
Oraon House at 'State Tribal Fair-2020' Bhubaneswar, India

At the turn of the 20th century, Kurukh men wore a loincloth tied around the hips, while women less influenced by other communities would wear a cloth reaching to just above the knee, covering the chest.[22] Today, women traditionally a wear thick cotton sari with detailed stitched borders of purple or red thread. Traditional tattoos include elaborate symmetrical patterns around their forearms, ankles, and chest. Men wear a thick cloth with similar detailed borders as a dhoti or lungi.[23]

Livelihood

Originally, the Oraons relied on the forest and its goods for an economic livelihood. Unlike many other communities of Jharkhand which practice jhum, the Kurukh community uses plough agriculture. At the turn of the 20th century however, due to the policies of the British colonial government, most of the tribe worked as agricultural labourers for the Zamindars on their own lands.[22] However, recently many have become settled agriculturists, while others became migrant workers.[23]

Religion

  Hinduism (36%)
  Sarna (32%)
  Christianity (30%)
  Animism (1%)
  Others[i] (1%)

|^ Others includes Muslims, Sikhs and Jains.

The Oraon follow their traditional religion (Sarnaism), which is based on nature worship. Some of the groups started following Sarnaism in a Hindu style, as the sects of the Bishnu Bhagats, Bacchinda Bhagats, Karmu Bhagats and Tana Bhagats. The Oraons have established several Sarna sects. Oraons worship Sun as biri (a name given for Dharmesh). Kurukhar also believe in Animism.

Most of population is Sarna, which is a religion that is indigenous to Adivasis in the Chota Nagpur Plateau. Sarna perform religious rituals under the shade of a sacred grove. They worship the sun as Biri and the moon as Chando, and call the earth Dharti Aayo (Earth as mother). Chando Biri are the words which are used in Sarna pujas. Dharmesh is their supreme almighty god.[24]

Kamru Bhagats (Oraon or Munda devotees) originated when Oraons acquired special powers after making a pilgrimage to Kamakhya in Assam to pay respect to Durga.[25]

The Tana Bhagat was formed by Oraon saints Jatra Bhagat and Turia Bhagat. Tana Bhagats opposed the taxes imposed on them by the British and staged a Satyagraha movement even before Mahatma Gandhi. All Tana Bhagats were followers of Gandhi during the Independence movement. Tana Bhagats still wear a khadi kurta, dhoti and Gandhi topi (cap) with tricoloured flag in their topi. All Tana Bhagats perform puja to the Mahadeo and the tricolour with a chakra symbol on it, which is fixed at their courtyard.

Among Christian Oraons, there are Roman Catholics and Protestants, the latter of which having several denominations.

In popular culture

In 1957, film-maker Ritwik Ghatak shot a preparatory test film named Oraon on the life of the Adivasis of the Ranchi region in Jharkhand and on the Oraons of Rani Khatanga Village in Jharkhand.[26]

Notable people

See also

References

  1. ^ "A-11 Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Kurux". Ethnologue. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  4. ^ "National Population and Housing Census 2011: Social Characteristics Tables" (PDF). Nepal Census – via Government of Nepal.
  5. ^ "Oraon of Bhutan". PeopleGroups. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Census of India Website : Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  7. ^ "The Long Journey: From India to Guyana".
  8. ^ a b c d Prasad, R. R. (1996). "Encyclopaedic Profile of Indian Tribes, Volume 1". books.google.com. ISBN 9788171412983.
  9. ^ Singh, Kumar Suresh; Mehta, B. V.; Anthropological Survey of India (2004). Maharashtra Part 3. Anthropological Survey of India. p. 1585. ISBN 9788179911020.
  10. ^ Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India (December 2002). 27th report of Standing Committee on Labour and Welfare with regards to SCs and STs order (Second Amendment) Bill, 2002 (PDF) (Report). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2020.
  11. ^ "The Long Journey: From India to Guyana".
  12. ^ "Oraons - Dictionary definition of Oraons". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  13. ^ "List of notified Scheduled Tribes" (PDF). Census India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  14. ^ Dalton E T, The Oraons, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, 1872. Section 1, page 215.
  15. ^ Indian Anthropological Society (1986). Journal of the Indian Anthropological Society, Volumes 21-22. Indian Anthropological Society. pp. See page 75.
  16. ^ Singh, Anjana (August 2018). "Linguistic Politics and Kurukh Language Movement of the Oraons in Jharkhand". Journal of Adivasi and Indigenous Studies. 8: 37–50 – via Academia.edu.
  17. ^ "Tradition of Clan names and conservation among the Oraons of Chhattishgarh". niscair.res.in. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  18. ^ "आदिवासी गोत्र". vikaspedia. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  19. ^ a b Team, Mai Bhi Bharat (16 May 2016). Tribes of India, PESA Act & Padaha system of Oraon tribe (Television production). Mai Bhi Bharat (in Hindi). RSTV. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021.((cite AV media)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  20. ^ "Marriage Customs among The Oraons". etribaltribune.com.
  21. ^ Ferdinand Hahn (1906). Blicke in die Geisteswelt der heidnischen Kols: Sammlung von Sagen, Märchen und Liedern der Oraon in Chota Nagpur. C. Bertelsmann. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  22. ^ a b c Hewitt, J. F. (April 1893). "Art. VII.–The Tribes and Castes of Bengal, by H. H. Risley. Vols. I. and II. Ethnographic Glossary, Vols. I. and II. Anthropometric Data". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland. 25 (2): 237–300. doi:10.1017/s0035869x00022395. ISSN 0035-869X.
  23. ^ a b Winston, Robert, ed. (2004). Human: The Definitive Visual Guide. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 439. ISBN 0-7566-0520-2.
  24. ^ Ghosh, Abhik (2003). History and Culture of the Oraon Tribe : Some Aspects of Their Social Life. Mohit. p. 237. ISBN 81-7445-196-X.
  25. ^ Jha, P. 41 India and Nepal
  26. ^ Cinema & I pg.116 Archived 25 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine

This article includes material from the 1995 public domain Library of Congress Country Study on India.