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संघीय प्रणाली प्रारुपका सवालहरुFederalism Issues in Designing a Federal System by Jill Cottrell in Nepali language Read more

Janajati

Satar (Santhal)

Satars are one of the most backward ethnic groups of Nepal. They live in the districts of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari. The ancestral stronghold of the dark-skinned, curly-haired and stoutly built Australoid Satars or Santhals is the Neplese Plain and the Santhal Pargana of West Bengal in India. Santhals also call themselves Hor. They prefer to live in the peripheries of forests. They have their own unique religion and culture. They are animist. Their ancestral deity is Thakurjiu and their paternal guardian deity is Maranburu. Bow and arrows are their traditional weapons. Their favorite meat is pork. Most Satars are engaged in farming and labor. Their population, according to Census 2001.

ImageThe indigenous peoples Satar living in Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal are also known as Santhal. They belong to the Austro-Asiatic group of human families. They have also been called as a subgroup speaking a language belonging to the Munda family (Dahal, BS2051/052). Their language is called Santhali. Santhals are the only people in Nepal speaking a language belonging to the Austro-Asiatic language family. They have their own script, which was developed by Dr Raghunath Murmu in 1925. It is called Olchiki.

Jhapa district has the highest population of Santhals in Nepal and Morang district has slightly less. Their population, according to the census of 2001, is 42,689. The Santhals follow their own customs regarding birth, death and marriage. After the birth of a child, the Santhal midwife of Daragin cuts the umbilical chord of the child with an arrow and buries it near the door. The child is named on the day of the birth or on any odd numbered day following birth. The first-born son is given the name of his grandfather; he is also given another name for calling him. The Santhals have different types of marriage. 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 thar or endogamous clan 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.

The Santhals celebrate their biggest festival, Sohoray, from the end of Paush and for the entire month of Magh. They also celebrate festivals like Janthad Lonan Puja, Baha Utsav, Aerak Parba or Ashare Puja and Sakranti (Fagu) Parba (Ijam, 2000). Much singing and dancing takes place during festivals. The traditional dress of Santhal women is called Pandhat, which is a covering from the chest to the foot. Bow and arrows are the favourite weapons of Santhals. The Santhals traditionally had an organized system for the management of social and judicial system to solve the various problems within the community. They make every effort to solve the social problems arising within their community by themselves. The head of the Santhal community is called Manjhi Hadam, who is the chief of the executive, judicial and all other functions within society. He is assisted by other office bearers like Paranik, Jagmanjhi, Jagparanik, Naike, Gudit, etc, who work in their respective fields to solve various kinds of problems. After the birth of a child, the Jagmanjhi and following the death of a person the Gudit and others are present. The looking into judicial cases and the dispensing of justice is undertaken by Manjhi Hadam and above him is Disham Manjhi, and above both is Diheri, the highest judicial office bearer of Santhals. The Santhals who generally like to live in concentrated settlements of their own near rivers and forests are divided into 12 thars or groups. As the groups are in accordance with professional specialization, this appears as a form of social system. The Murmu are the priests of Santhals and Murdi the businessmen, while Kisku are the rulers and Hemram judges. Similarly, the Tudu are musicians and Soren soldiers. The organizations of Santhals are village council (Manjhibaisi), Proganna Council (Pramatrabaisi) and the highest council (Labirbaisi).

The Santhals do not worship any idols nor do they make any temples of their deities. They, however, recognize ghosts and spirits like Kal Sing, Lakchera, Beudarang. The gods of Santhal are Jaheraera, Marangburu, Manjhi, etc. The god of the mountains is called Marangburu. The Santhal are animists, and they sacrifice animals to their gods. The Santhal also worship the village deity of Gramdeuta. The priest of Santhal is called Naiki and the shaman Ujha. Pilchuhadam and Budi are their ancestral deities. The religion of Santhal is called Sarna religion.

As the Santhals like to live near forests and rivers, hunting and fishing are their favourite occupations. They are also adept in farming and put much labour in the activity. Although owners of land in the past, there are very few landowners among the Santhals today.

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