Worship of Sal Tree
Sarhul festival is celebrated by the tribes of Jharkhand, specially the Munda, Ho, Santhal and Oraon, who are agricultures by profession and follow Sarnaism, the indigenous religion of the tribes. The role of Sal Tree in Sarhul festival is very significant. The word Sarhul has been derived from two words ‘Sar’ which means Sarai or seed of Sal tree and “Hul” means worship. Thus, the real meaning of Sarhul is worship of the Sal tree. This tribal festival celebrated annually is also known as "Ba Parb" or festival of flowers. These tribes being close to nature dedicate this festival to Mother Nature. In the Sarhul festival, the Oraon tribe worships Lord Dharmesh and Mother Nature thanking them for the blessings they bestow upon all the living beings on earth.Importance of Sal Tree:
All therituals of the Sarhul festival are performed under the Sal tree in the sacred grove known as the ''SarnaSthal'' or ''Jaher''. The Sal treeorSakhua Tree in Sarhul festival holds a prominent place as it is considered to be the abode of the village deity, Goddess Sarna. Therefore this sacred tree and other such sacred trees are grown around the sacred grove. 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).
The place for worship or the “SarnaSthal” is chosen by the Pahan or priest. It is important that there should be at least one Sal tree close to the place of worship else it is not considered to be sacred.Role of Sakhua Tree in Sarhul Festival:
Sakhua is popularly called as ‘Sakhu’' and is considered to be a very auspicious gift of the Gods by the Oraon tribe. In the tribal language of the Oraon “Kurukh,” the fruit of the Sakhua tree or the Saal tree is called ‘Naur’ whereas in Sadri the language of the localsit is called ‘Sarai’. It is believed by the Oraon tribe that a good produce of the “Naur” is an indication of a good agricultural yield. Thus, the Sarai tree worship is the integral part of the Sarhul festival.
At the end of the rituals and the worship of the Sal tree, the priest gives the sacred flowers of the tree to all the villagers and sprinkles holy water in their homes blessing them with health prosperity and safety.