Sarhul - The Beginning of New Year
One of the most popular tribal festivals celebrated across the Jharkhand region, Sarhul festival marks the beginning of New Year. It is celebrated by the Oraon, the Munda and the Ho tribes, of the Jharkhand region. Celebrated every year in the first month of the Hindu calendar, 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”.
Sarhul means worship of trees. Being close to nature, these tribes start the Sarhul festival with the worship of trees and other elements of nature. It is seen that Sarhul festival marks the beginning of New Year for thesetribes because 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.The Saal tree holds great importance in the Sarhul festival. 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 Saal flowers and Prasad or offering to the deities, are distributed amongst the villagers.
As the Sarhul festival marks the beginning of the New Year and other festivities, the tribes celebrate this festival with a great zeal. 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.