The Grove of Gods

Tripathy, Dr. Biyotkesh


Karama and Vegetation Worship

No idol Worship, but a "Salagram" Stone in a Grove of "Sala" Trees

The Ritual Festival of Jahira, the Gods of the Grove


Hari Singh
[M 70. Tribe: Teli. Village: Bhudurubani, Udala, Mayurbhanj. Date: Feb 4, 2000. Interviewer: F. P. Puthal. Cassette No. 209, Side A. O. Tr. Pp.: 8807-16. F.N.: Mbj 3, p. 4. Transcriber: F. B. Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing & emendation). Type: Lore.]

Translator: Biyotkesh Tripathy

Karama and Vegetation Worship

       (Q: Tell us about your pujas during the year.)

    First comes Magha Puja. That takes place after Makara [the solar transit during December-January], in the month of Magha [January-February]. It is a one-day ritual. This takes place in every home. But there is no compulsion, in case someone is unable to perform it.

    (Q: Who is worshipped in this?)

    Its done near a Sal tree. Goddess Sindura Gaura is worshipped ["sindura" is vermilion]. The rituals are done at the place of the goddess [near Sal trees].

    (Q: What are things done in this puja?)

    Vermilion, rice, puffed rice in molasses, sweetmeats and joss sticks.

    (Q: Who performs the puja?)

    The dehuri [priest]. But in our tribe there is no fixed person. Other tribes may have designated priests. In this puja an uncastrated he-goat is also sacrificed.

    (Q: What other festivals do you have in the month of Magha?)

    "Sauli Puja" is done. That is done during the period of "holi" [festival of colours], on the day of the fair. Sauli puja is done on the day of the holi festival [around early March]. It’s of one day’s duration.

    (Q: Whom do you worship on that day?)

    We worship our elders. When the Sal flowers blossom, this puja takes place. This is done in the place of the goddess [grove of Sal trees]. In this puja rice flakes, puffed rice in molasses, coconut, banana, he-goats are offered. Cattle are also worshipped. This Salei puja is performed the day after the fair. On the day of the fair, the worship is done in the grove. The next day the puja takes place in every house. Branches of Sal tree are brought and kept in every home. It’s propped up against a wall and offered rice batter and smeared with vermilion. We do this at home by ourselves.

    (Q: After that?)

    Then comes the Karam puja. It is done in the Bhuda [Bhadraba] month [around September]. It is not done at home. It is, I mean, it is also "Mahadeva."

    It is called "Karam Bas" [period of misfortune]. When one’s parboiled rice sprouts, a stink comes from food, one knows that Karam Bas has come. Then the person will pray to the Karam God. When he prays, he will be told and she will do the puja on the first day after Full or New Moon day. He will plant Karam and raise sand. He will do his worship rituals. In this puja, corn, til, mustard, lentils like kolatha, muga etc. will be offered. This is done for three days.

    On the first day, he will lift sand. The sand comes from the riverbed. About a cartload is brought.

    (Q: Does any puja take place when you go to fetch sand?)

    Ah, yes. The drum is beaten. They go with the drum. When returning they would play the drum and dance. Puja would be performed on the riverbank. When they come the children would come dancing all the way. On arrival they would carry the sand into the house.

    They carry the sand in baskets on their head. The girls, who carry the sand, observe fasting for three days. Then they go to fetch the sand. The drums and such musical instruments would go. There they would bathe. After bathing they would lift the sand. They would, then, pile it there and do their worship. After the ritual they would lift it up. Three girls would be on fast. They lift the sand. Having brought it they would plant the washed and cleaned seeds they had kept in the house, this corn seeds, lentil seeds, til, mustard etc., seven kinds of seeds. They mix the seeds in the sand. This, the three girls who had fasted, lift to their heads and dance a little. Then they keep it at home. They plant a turmeric bush and a paddy bush in it and put it in the house. Fragrant resin and incense will be burnt. Milk will be poured. In three days they will sprout. The next day these will be bigger. By the day of the Karam, the plants will have grown. That day all fasting women come and worship. All the women who fasted will gather. Those who have undertaken the Karam would perform the ritual. They would take it outside and do the rituals.

    After that all the women of the family who had fasted will pour milk. The milk is poured during the next morning, not in the night.

    Then they dance. They dance the whole night. The next day the ritual is ended. When all is done they take it [to the river] and set it afloat, the plants and all. That ends the ceremony.

No idol Worship, but a "Salagram" Stone in a Grove of "Sala" Trees

Teller: Brundaban Mohapatra & Jageswar Das

[M-70/M-50. Tribe: Bathudi, Village: Mambudiha, Udala, Mayurbhanj, Date: Aug. 22, 2000. Interviewer: F. B. Puthal. Cassette No. 226, Side A. O. Tr. Pp. 10,770. F.N.: Mbj. 4. Transcriber: Fani Bhusan Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing; editorial explanations and additions in square bracket). Type: Lore]

Translator: Bishwabandita Guru

    (Q: You then worship no idol?)

    No, we don’t worship statues. We have our Badam God in the form of a stone. He is shapeless.

   (Q: In some villages, it is seen that Kerata tree etcetera are there near the place Badam worship.)

    There is nothing special about planting the tree. The stone is the main thing, which is considered as God.

The Ritual Festival of Jahira, the Gods of the Grove


Sana Gardi

[M-55 Age. Tribe: Santala (Santal), Village: Sana Raikia, Khunta, Mayurbhanj. Date: Oct. 11, 1999. Interviewer: B. K. Tripathy and team. Cassette No. 103, Side A. O. Tr. Pp. 5484-5491. F.N.: Mbj 2. Transcriber: Fani Bhusan Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing; editorial explanations and additions in square brackets). Type: Lore]

Translator: Bishwabandita Guru

   Our Majhi Hadam (The Majhi old man) starts for the worship of Jahira. There are so many things to do. A male goat ["khasi buda"], a white goat, will have to be bought. He will set 10-12 pots of "handia" [native cooked wine] to cook. Then all the village people will gather. They will sing and dance for the whole night, near the door of that Majhi Hadam.

    Everybody will sing and dance for the whole night. Mother, sister, son, old men, old women, all will dance. The men will arrange themselves in one single line and the women will be in another line for the dance. They enjoy themselves like this. They have many kinds of axes and arrows. Then they take the goat. They will go dancing. They carry a bell. The girls will go in the front and the boys will come behind. They would carry with them "tangi" [hatchet] "ghanti" [bell]. "Nagra" [trumpet] and "madal" [drum] were to be played. Everybody will go making merry. The dance will go on. The morning will come. Now they will go to the Jahira. The dance will intensify. In the dance some would blow "kulkuli" or "kirkira" [ululation], some would jump. Everybody would enjoy at their fullest. The trumpet and drum will be played and there is happiness everywhere.

    All the village people will go. There will be more dancing. After this they will leave everything and come away. Only the Majhi old man and 7 "dashis" [people who are prone to be possessed by gods] will remain at the Jahira. Some carry "tama" [baskets] on their heads, some carry "kharka" [brooms]. Everything will be put in the baskets. It goes on like this. The dance continues. After the dance ends, the worship rituals will begin. The Majhi old man performs the puja. After finishing puja, they tie the "khasi" [castrated goat] and shoot it with arrows. Then the dashis will butcher and skin the goat. Then, having killed it, all of them will lift it and drink the blood of that khasi. They enjoy the whole night like this. All the helpers, whether they had performed as horses or elephants, would go home. After they leave all things are wound up.

    When everything is cleared the Majhi old man finishes his puja. After finishing the worship, the old Majhi portions out the heads and the rest among the people. After it is portioned out, they cook their portions of the goat meat and everyone eat it. Then they drink the handia [wine] and start dancing again. They bring more wine, carry the pot on their heads and dance again. The drums will be brought again and they will dance. They will bring the old Majhi dancing with them. Carrying the pots and flowers and everything else on their heads. When they reach their homes, they perform three rounds of dance.

    When the dance is over the old Majhi will wash the feet of all the dasis [people prone to possession] present there with water from a new earthen pot. Then the old Mahi will give flowers to everybody since they have come from the Jahira. Then performing like dasis they enter the house. At that time the people outside will carry on dancing and drinking handia. Then everyone will leave.

    (Q: In which month does this fall?)

    In the month of "Falguna" [February-March].

    (Q: When are the other pujas performed)

    Another Jahira Puja is performed in the month of "Karkita" and "Margasira" [October-December].


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