“ Sarpa Santhal-The tribe at extreme ”

I was on an unofficial visit to Jharkhand. It’s in my habit now to not be a boredom sack rather I utilize my time to explore the surroundings.

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My friends and few my colleagues had said to me that Jharkhand is a, not happening place but here I would like to say opposite of what they said as I was fortunate enough to find a gem in a mine.

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Tribal Cultural Center, it is a place which showcase the amalgamation of tribal world in contemporary sphere. One need permission to visit this Center. I was lucky enough to get the permission.

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This Cultural Center is a great venture by TATA Steel.  This Center helps tribe to showcase their culture and talent by providing platform and resources. The moment I entered the beautiful arena, I experienced something vehement and unique.

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Can you believe; to experience the tribal culture in this urban chaos? And that too, when we have studied that their existence and their culture is fading away.

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Well, I experienced and witnessed it. I met famous Santhalis, famously known as “Sarpa Santhal Tribe”. Though they have located in several part of India like west-Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha etc. The one I met were from West-Bengal. I had read it that their contribution during the British Regime could not be explained in words and hence still people remember them as the courageous soul. Also got the tag of “The Tribe at Extreme” because of their heroic participation in need.

In Jharkhand, there are total 32 tribes, which have been recognized till now. Most of them are categorized in 4 types on the basis of cultural types.

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I noticed, that the tribe is amiable but yes only their male head was allowed to interact to the outsider first and when he will find the interaction safe then only he will allow you to interact further. I find tribal women quite hesitant about the interaction but it was a plus point for me as a woman for the first time because both male and female part was comfortable talking to me.

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Sathalis have very unique faces which is common or can say characteristic features of their tribe like dark skinned, wrinkled and stretched skin, thick, curly and black hair. Women wear sari with borders whereas motif in it is most of the time are inspired from Mother Nature like flowers, leaf in fact color of their clothes were also inspired from the beautiful nature. Whereas men matches their bottom attire with of women. Santhali men prefer to wear their traditional clothes like dhoti for all auspicious moments. Santhali Women wear silver anklet. Music was inspired from their residing surrounding, perhaps nature is one of the influencer here hence their dance movement also had kind of patience and dedication in every step. They were vacillating as the branches of trees swing during rainy season. They dance in a particular rhythm and sequence with their musical instrument. The tribe I met was capable of communicating in Hindi, Bengali and also in Santhali. They are also categorized under the settled agriculturists.

The most interesting part was their tribe name i.e. “Sarpa Santhal” which was taken from a musical instrument named Sarpa. The sound of the fixed small copper bells in the instrument was similar to the sound of Rattlesnake void tail.  The quad-pod instrument was made of a particular kind of wood. Had 4 strings/nylon rope attached along with bells at the bottom. So, when they used to pull strings up, one could hear the bells in sync.

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In my perception, it is important to understand our culture or sub-culture before adapting or understanding any other culture. Do, visit places like this which encourages tribal people to face reality with much confidence. Moreover, it broadens the mind set of our young generation to understand our cultural hierarchy and diversity in perfect manner.

Few points to note

  • No entry ticket.
  • Need permission before.
  • Photography and videography allowed with due permission.
  • No food joint available inside.
  • Washrooms are there.
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