Sarhul Festival in Orissa
Sarhul is one of the grand festivals of tribals in Orissa. Sarhrul festival in Orissa is observed on 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 tribes that celebrate Sarhul include Santhal, Oraon and Munda tribes.It is only after this festival that the new agricultural activities like sowing of seeds etc take place, and the tribes bring to use new crops mainly paddy, leaves of the trees, flowers and fruits. It is seen that Sarhul festival in Orissa marks the beginning of New Year,by worshiping Sal trees.The Sal tree holds great importance in the Sarhul festival. The Sal tree is worshippedby the people of the tribe because they believe that Goddess Sarna protects them from all natural calamities and disasters. Thus, the Sal tree worship is the integral part of the Sarhul festival in Orissa.Its flowers are used for the worship of the village deity.
After all the rituals have been performed by the Pahan or the village priest, the Sal flowers and Prasad or offering to the deities, are distributed amongst the villagers. The Oroan tribe also is a great devotee of Lord Ram and Sita. They worship Sita as Dharti Mata (Mother Nature).On this day, the tribal people drink Hadia a locally made beer brewed from mixture of rice, water and some tree leaves; and tribal men, women and children dressed up in colourful and ethnic wears, sing, dance and rejoice. The rituals include the wedding of Mother Earth and Sun God.
The Sarhul dance forms express the enthusiasm and festive feelings amongst the people and the melodious Sarhul songs narrate the stories related to the culture, beliefs and traditions of the tribe. The Santhal dance is a popular tribal dance form of the Sarhul festival in Orissa. Performed during various festivals and occasions it showcases the culture, traditions and unity of the native tribes.
The dresses worn by the dancers are adorned with vibrant colours.The male members of the dance troupe wear a dhoti and a turban and their body is ornamented with colourful flowers as the tribe is very close to nature. People of different age groups who celebrate Sarhul festival in Orissa celebrate the festivities in a merry mood. Young boys and girls sing and dance all night to the beat of the drums, while the elderly crowds, sit around, watch them, and enjoy the celebrations. Several other delicacies prepared with meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and leaves are prepared and relished by the people.