Sarhul Festival in Jharkhand
Jharkhand is well known for its tribal fairs and festivals. Sarhul, Karam, Jawa, Hal Puniya, Ropini, BhagtaParab, Bandna and Jani- Shankar are some of the popular festivals of Jharkhand. The Sarhul festival is celebrated as the beginning of the New Year. In Jharkhand the Sarhul festival is celebrated by the Munda, Ho, Santhal and Oraon tribes.
Sarhul Festival is an important festival of the Oraon tribe. However, the Santals also celebrate the festival with great zeal. The Oraon tribe usually practices agriculture and follows Sarnaism as their religion. Being worshippers of Nature, this tribe celebrates the festival by worshipping trees and other elements of nature, whereas the Santhals celebrate it as the festival of flowers or “BahaParab”. Jharkhand Sarhul festival is celebrated every year in the first month of the Hindu calendar. It falls on the third day of the moon or the fortnight of 'chaitra'. Sarhul marks the advent of the spring season or “Phaagun” and is celebrated till the month of June or “Jeth”.
The Oaron tribe of Jharkhand celebrates the Sarhul festival when the Saal trees get new branches leaves and flowers. The tribals use the Sal and Mahua flowers for the worship of the deities and in other rituals of the festival. The Sal tree has a great importance in the Sarhul festival. Infact, Sarhul derived from two words ‘Sar’ or Sarai or seed of Sal tree and “Hul” or worship; literally means ‘Worship of Sal’. The Sal tree is worshipped by the people of the tribe because they believe that Goddess Sarna protects them from all natural calamities and disasters. The Oroan tribe also is a great devotee of Lord Ram and Sita. They worship Sita as Dharti Mata (Mother Nature).
Travellers across the globe visit Jharkhand to witness this colourful festival of the eastern Indian state. There is always inquisitiveness amongst them to know, when and the howis Sarhul celebrated in Jharkhand. If you want to observe the festivities of Sarhul you must visit Jharkhand in the month of March because the Jharkhand Sarhul festival celebrations start with the onset of spring and the blooming of flowers; music and dance being the main attraction of the festivities.
Sarhul Celebrations in Jharkhand begin with the worship of the village deity, Goddess Sarana and other Gods and Goddesses. All therituals of the Sarhul festival are performed under the Sal tree in the sacred grove known as the ''SarnaSthal'' or ''Jaher''. The villagers encircle the Sarna or the worship area to witness the religious ceremonies. During the festival the Pahan (the village priest) fasts for a couple of days and accomplishes all the religious rituals as per the religious belief of the Oraon tribe. Then the priest distributes the “Prasad” and the holy flowers amongst the villagers. The flowers are also kept on the roof of each house and this practice is called “PhoolKhonsi”.
The Sarhul festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the men and women of the tribe. The tribal dance forms are performed by the native tribes called Kunjbans. Men and women of the Sarna tribe clad in colourful and traditional dresses called ''karia'' and ''khanria'' perform traditional dances on the popular folk tunes of the region. People drink Hadia a locally made beer brewed from mixture of rice, water and it is only after this that they begin to use new crop mainly paddy, leaves of the trees, flowers and fruits of the season.