Sarhul Festival

Sarhul is one of the grand festivals of tribals in Jharkhand. This festival is celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Tritiya, the third day of bright half in Chaitra month. Tribals celebrate ‘Sarhul’, a festival marking the beginning of New Year, by worshiping trees. This annual festival is celebrated during the spring season when trees and other elements of nature are worshiped. Sarhul literally means ‘Worship of Sal’. Sarhul festival is dedicated to Dharti mata — Mother Earth. The mother nature is worshiped during the festival. Sarhul is celebrated for several days during which the main traditional dance Sarhul dance is performed.

Sarhul is celebrated during spring season and the Sal (Shorea robusta) trees get new flowers on their branches. Tribals believe that they can use new crop mainly paddy, leaves of the trees, flowers and fruits of the season only after this festival is celebrated.

THE LEGEND

The history of the Sarhul festival dates back to the period of Mahabharata as per several legends of Sarhul festival. The popular folklore is a story of Bindi, daughter of Mother Earth.

Bindi, the only daughter of Mother Earth, one day didn’t return home from bathing in the pond. Mother Earth sent her messengers all around in search of Bindi, but she couldn’t be found anywhere. Distressed and in grief, she started crying. She was gravely saddened. Leaves started falling off in empathy. It was gloomy everywhere.

After a long search, news came that Bindi is with the God of Death in the underworld. The messengers informed the God of Death that Bindi is the only daughter of the Mother Earth and they appealed for her return. But the God of Death was not willing to listen He argued that nobody can return once they reach there.

However when the messengers lamented that Mother Earth would die if Bindi didn’t return to her and the whole creation would come to an end. The God of Death was in a dilemma then. He then agreed for a compromise to save the creation and  Mother Earth. He said that Bindi would spend first half of her time on Earth and the other half in the underworld. Ever since then, when Bindi comes back, Mother Earth is full of happiness and there is greenery everywhere. Sarhul is celebrated for Bindi’s return.

THE CELEBRATION

During the festival Sal flowers are brought to the sarna (sacred grove) and the priest propitiates all the gods of the tribes. A sarna is a cluster of trees where the adivasis would worship in various occasions. Such a grove among many others must house at least five saal (shorea robusta) trees also known as sorjum, held very sacred by the tribals. It is a worship of the village deity who is considered to be the protector of the tribes. People sing and dance a lot when the new flowers appear. The deities are worshiped with saal flowers.

After worshiping trees, the village priest locally known as Pahaan puts a few rice grains on the head of a hen. Locals believe that prosperity for the people is predicted if the hen eats the rice grains after they fall to the ground, but if the hen does not eat, disaster awaits the community. Also, pahaan predicts the rainfall in the coming season watching a pair of twigs in water. These are age-old traditions, coming down through generations since time immemorial.

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Tribes all across Jharkhand celebrate this festival with great fervor and joy. Tribal men, women and children dress up in colorful and ethnic attires and perform traditional dances. They also drink a locally made beer, called Hadia,  brewed out of a concoction of rice, water and some tree leaves and then dance around the tree.

Although being a tribal festival, Sarhul is not restricted to a particular section of Indian society. People from other faith  and community like the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians take part in greeting the dancing crowd. Sarhul presents a perfect example of collective celebration, where everyone is a participant.

Happy Sarhul!

18 Thoughts

  1. jharkhand ORAON tribes are the best tribes in the world because they worship the nature,They worship earth because they are born in earth and is called as DHARTI AAYO
    ,They worship air,trees,water,and every thing which is suited in the earth…..
    JAI SARNA MAA
    JAI CHALA AAYO
    JAI DHARMESH BABA
    JAI JHARKHAND……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amar Oraon

    SARHUL

    Sarhul Festival, Jharkhand Sarhul festival is one of the important festivals of Oraon tribe. The centuries old Sarhul festival is celebrated across Jharkhand, especially in the tribal belt. It showcases various colours of life through flowers just like the nature undergoes various changes throughout the year in different seasons.

    The word “Sarhul” holds special significance for the tribe. It is celebrated in the month of March-April months in the Geogian Calender. Oraon tribe primarily consists of practicing agriculturist; the Sarhul marks the beginning of the agriculture season of their month. The word Sarhul means “Sar” as Year and “Hul” as Set to commence.

    The small cluster of Sakhua (Sarai) Tree is called Sarna. In Kurukh language of Oraon Tribe, the Sakhua fruit or Shaal fruit is known as Naur and in the local Sadri language; they are known as Sarai. Similarly, Sakhua is popularly called as Sakhu and the Oraons consider it to be a god`s gift and extremely auspicious.

    The Oraon Tribes believe that the good yield of Shaal-fruit signifies the bumper agriculture harvest for them. From the special chirping of birds, they could figure out the likely advent of the monsoon season and the expected amount of the rainfall in their region; even the snakes` sound gives them clue about the likely heaviness of rainfall.

    In the Sarhul Festival, the Oraon Tribe celebrate the holy matrimony of the Earth and the Nature; depicting the masculine race and the feminine race among the numerous living organism in our planet.

    On the day of Sarhul Festival, they remember the Great Lord Dharmesh- the Supreme Being and thank him for the blessings showered on all the living things. The Sarhul festivity is held in the spring season signifying the birth of new-borns all around the planet among many living species.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this feast really connected with the nature and the very life of the tribal people of jharkhand but the way of celebration is shallowly changing. so i request please preserve the status of the festival

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was pleasantly surprised to see ‘like’ for my post on sarul. I thought that people cared little about such festivities. But then I visited your blog and found this wonderful description of sarul.enjoyed reading it.Mamta

    Liked by 1 person

  5. पढ़ कर मजा आया। बहुत सरल सी कथा , सरल सा रिचुअल उस पर सुंदर सा नाच वाह !

    Liked by 1 person

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