With Sarhul festival over on Sunday, April 10, Manda festival was on Wednesday, April 13. While Sarhul is celebrated to mark beginning of New Year by worshiping trees, Manda is celebrated to pray for monsoon rain. The Manda festival takes place primarily in and around 100 km radius of Ranchi, especially in villages where the majority of the people belong to Munda and Oraon tribes. The festival involves various rituals rituals to bring blessings of Lord Shiva for good crops and health leading to prosperity.
During this festival, processions are brought out from the premises of the temple of Lord Shiva and taken to other villages. Farmers lie with sticks outside Shiva temple, as they wait for blessings from the main priest of the temple on a hot afternoon during the holy procession of Manda Festival. Hundreds of tribals participate in this annual festival for good farming, prosperity and good health.
Scores of tribals carry stick as they pray and walk barefoot on a bed of red-hot steaming coal. The bed of fire is arranged before the village temple, known as Manda Sthal. Devotees after taking holy dip in village pond or river, complete the ritual of walking on fire.
Hundreds of villagers from far and near assemble to watch the awesome ritual with abated breath. The fire-walkers are cheered loudly by the onlookers. The amazing part is that none of the fire-walkers sustain any burn injury. The ancient belief is that Lord Shiva protects them.
The traditional festivals of the tribals are being celebrated even today with undaunted belief and maintaining its originality. The classic example in the genre is the Manda festival of Jharkhand. This festival is observed to appease the Sun God and pray for rain during the hot and dry month. In tribal society there is belief that Lord Shiva fulfills the desire of those people, who participate in the Manda festival.
This year, the annual Manda festival assumes significance as Jharkhand is facing a water crisis. Ranchi, once the summer capital of undivided Bihar, has recorded maximum temperatures of above 40 degrees Celsius in April. The water level in nearby dams – Hatia, Rukka and Kanke has gone down drastically.