Tribes Who Celebrate Sarhul Puja
Bihar is known for its fairs and festivals all over. Sarhul festival is one of the most popular tribal festivals in the region. It is dedicated to “Dhartimata”. A festival of flowers and worship of Mother Nature,Sarhul festival is celebrated by the Sarna tribe once in a year during the spring season. The tribes that celebrate Sarhul include Santhal, Oraon, Ho and Munda tribes. Those who celebrate Sarhul Puja practiceagriculture. Sarhul literally means ‘Worship of Sal’. This festival marks the beginning of the New Year and it is when the trees and other elements of nature are worshiped. The tribes that celebrate Sarhul 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.
A main festival of the tribal population of Jharkhand, Sarhul can also be redefined as the worship of Sita, the wife of Lord Rama as `Dhartimata`. During Sarhul festival the Sal trees in the forests sprout fresh new green foliage and flowers which are locally known as Shalony or Shalai, they are the symbols of friendship and brotherhood. The Sal tree, which is believed as the abode of Goddess Sarna who protects the village from all kinds of natural calamities and disasters is worshipped during the festival. The entire village gathers near the SarnaSthal and witness the rituals.
Sarnadevi or ''Chala-pachodevi'', the protector of the Oaron tribe is worshipped. She lives in the wooden ''soop'' kept at an auspicious place (''chala-kutti'') in the pahan's house. Mascots of the festival the Sal flowers are offered to the village deities. The sound of traditional drums like dhol, mandar, nagara and turhi reverberates in the air. The ''pahan'' distributes sacred ''achat'' and saal flowers to every villager and also performs ''phoolkhonsi'' i.e. putting the flowers on the roof of each house in the village. There is another ritual in which the ''pahan'' puts few grains of rice on the hen's head. If the hen eats the grains when they drop on the ground, this is an assurance of good harvest in the days to come.
Sarhul is celebrated for several days during which the traditional Sarhul dance is performed. People of different age groups who celebrate Sarhul Puja 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.All savour Hadia or Diang, the Prasad (consecrated and sanctified food), a drink locally brewed with stale rice and ''Sukhua'' prepared by drying the fishes under the sun or just baking on fire. Fish and meat are prepared and consumed together. Several other delicacies prepared with meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and leaves are prepared and relished by the people.
Celebrated by the Sarna followers,Sarhul festival is also called the worship of earth (KhekhelBeja). That is why before the Sarhul puja, no one eats a new fruit or uses the new crop. It is after this when all agriculture activities of the tribe begin.