Sarhul is a most popular festival of tribals of Middle-East India celebrated in the tribal areas of Jharkhand, Odisha, Bengal and Central India.
Sarhul festival is celebrated on the third day of Chaitra month on Chaitra Shukla Tritiya. The festival is the tribal New Year and is celebrated by the Munda, Oraon, etc. tribes of Jharkhand. This annual festival is celebrated during the spring and worship of trees and other elements of nature, at this time Sal (Shorea Robusta) trees get new flowers on their branches. After this festival, most of the agricultural activities such as the sowing of seeds, etc. are started by the locals. The tribals believe that they can use the new crops, mainly paddy, leaves of trees, flowers and fruits of fruits only after celebrating this festival. This day is a state holiday in Jharkhand.
Sarhul literally means ‘Sal Worship‘, the Sarhul festival is dedicated to Mother Earth – nature is worshiped during this festival. Sarhul is celebrated for several days, with the tribal people, including men, women and children, dress in colourful ethnic attire, worship trees, dance, sing and dance on this day.
How Sarhul is Celebrated?
Flowers are brought on the sarna during the festival and the priest makes atonement of all the deities of the tribes. A sarna is a group of trees where tribals worship on various occasions. Such a growth, among many others, should also be known as shorj to at least five trees that are considered very sacred. It is the worship of the deity of the village who is considered the guardian of the tribe. New flowers appear when people sing and dance.
After worshiping the trees, the village’s priest known locally as Pahal puts some rice grains on the head of a hen. Local tribals believe that if the hen eats rice grains after falling to the ground, prosperity is predicted for the people, but if the hen does not eat, disaster awaits the community. In addition, precipitation is predicted by looking at a pair of twigs in the water in the coming season. These are age-old traditions, which have been coming down for generations from precious times.
Tribes in all Jharkhand celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm and joy. All the tribal people, including men, women and children, dress in colorful and ethnic costumes, they drink locally made rice-beers, called handia, grind with a concession of rice, water and some tree leaves and then sing and dance around the tree on this day.
Though a tribal festival, Sarhul is not restricted to any particular part of Indian society. Other faiths and communities such as Hindus, Muslims, Christians participate in greeting the dancing crowd. Sarhul presents a perfect example of a collective celebration, where everyone is a participant.