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a portal for Santals
About Santal

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Santal at Glance
Population     : 10 million
Region          : Assam; Bihar; Orissa; Tripura; West Bengal in India  Also spoken in Bangladesh, Nepal.
Language     : Santali
Script            : Ol Chiki
Profession    : Mostly agriculturist

 

Santal & its language

The Santals are numerically largest homogenous tribal groups in India and its major concentration is in Jharkhand State. The Jharkhand state is one of the most thickly populated areas of tribals in India. The major tribal groups in this area are Santals, Oraon, Munda, Kharia, Ho, Gonds, Bhumij and Khond. Compares with other groups of Adivasis in India, the Adivasis of this area are more organised, educated and are aware of their problems. Santal and other tribal communities,  who inhabit the Chotanagpur palateau of Jharkhand and the adjoining areas in the states of old Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal, Assam and Tripura have a certain amount of culture homogeneity, particularly with regard to language, culture, and ownership rights on land. Like the other tribal communities elsewhere in India, these tribes too live in comparative isolation for a long time. But during the British rule, with the development of communication facilities, they came in steady contact with various caste groups, who had penetrated to this region from the adjoining areas. They facilitated and brought in a gradual process of acculturation among the tribes of the region, and in course of time a symbolic relationship grew up between the artisan and vocational castes and tribal communities living side by side in the rural area.   [Click here for more details ]

Hul : Freedom struggle

Hul is a Santali term. It means a movement for liberation. Santals in Santal Paraganas (presently in the State of Jharkhand) belongs to Santali tribe. Two Murmu brothers, Sido and Kanhu.

Master minded the famous Santal Hul (liberation movement) of 1855-57; a heroic episode in India's prolonged struggle for freedom. It was, in all probablity, the fiercest liberation movement in India next to Great Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.

With the capture of political power of India by the East India Company, the natural habitats of the indigenous people including the Santals began to shatter by the intruders like money lenders. Traders and revenue farmers, who descended upon them in large numbers under the patronage of the Company.

Believe it or not, the rate of interest on loan to the poor and illiterate Santals varied from 50% to 500%. These intruders were, needless to mention the crucial links in the chain of ruthless exploitation under colonial rule. They were the instruments through which the indigenous groups and tribes were brought within the influence and control of the colonial economy.

Discontent had been simmering in the Santal Paraganas from the early decades of the nineteenth century owing to most naked exploitation of the indigenous Santals by both the British authorities and their collaborators, native immigrants.

Sido Murmu and Kanhu Murmu, hailing from the village Bhognadih in Sahibganj district, had long been brooding over the injustices perpetrated by the oppressors like hundreds and hundreds of their tribe's men. The situation finally reached a flash point and, not surprisingly, a small episode that took place in July 1855 triggered one of the fiercest uprisings that the British administration ever faced in India.

The emergence of Sido and Kanhu, youthful, dynamic and charismatic, provided a rallying point for the Santals to revolt against the oppressors .On 30th June 1855, a large number of Santals assembled in a field in Bhagnadihi village of Santal Paragana, They declared themselves as free and took oath under the leadership of Sido Murmu and Kanhu Murmu to fight unto the last against the British rulers as well as their agents.

Militant mood of the Santals frightened the authority. A Police agent confronted them on the 7th July and tried to place the Murmu brothers under arrest. The angry crowd reacted violently and killed the Police agent and his companions. The event sparked off a series of confrontations with the Company's Army and subsequently reached the scale of a full-fledged war.

At the outset, Santal rebels, led by Sido and Kanhu, made tremendous gains and captured control over a large tract of the country extending from Rajmahal hills in Bhagalpur district to Sainthia in Birbhum district. For the time being, British rule in this vast area became completely paralysed.

Many moneylenders and native agents of the Company were killed. Local British administrators took shelter in the Pakur Fort to save their life. However, they rebel could not hold on to their gains due to the superior fire power of the East India Company came down heavily on them.

The courage, chivalry and sacrifice of the Santals were countered by the rulers with veritable butchery. Out of 50,000 Santal rebels, 15,000 20,000 were killed by the British lndian Army. The Company was finally able to suppress the rebellion in 1856, though some outbreaks continued till1857.

It is believed that Sido was captured by the British forces through treachery and Kanhu through an encounter at Uparbanda. And was subsequently killed in captivity. The Santal Hul, however, did not come to an end in vain. It had a long-lasting impact. Santal Parganas Tenancy Act was the outcome of this struggle, which dished out some sort of protection to the indigenous people from the ruthless colonial exploitation.

The Department of Post, Government of India can claim accolade from the country-loving Indians for its commendable action by releasing a beautiful commemorative postage stamp on the valiant martyrs Sido Murmu and Kanhu Murmu on 6th April 2002. It's a right and timely move by the Department of Post indeed. No doubt about it.

 

Santal, the original habitants of India

This is a some points whcih exculsively proved our traditonal thinking that Santal and as whole tribals are the original habitants of India. An international study led by Michale J. Bamshad of the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics of the University of Utah of caste origins has found (the findings have been reported in a recent issue of the journal Genome Research) that members of the upper castes are genetically more similar to Europeans, Western Eurasians to be specific, whereas the lower castes are more similar to Asians. This finding is in tune with the expectations based on historical reasoning and the prevalent views of many social historians. In exercising their superiority over native proto-Asian populations, the Aryans would have appointed themselves to higher rank castes. The 18-member research team includes scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Estonia. The collaborating Indian scientists were anthropologists Bhaskar Rao, J. Mastan Naidu and B. V. Ravi Prasad from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, and P. Govinda Reddy from the University of Madras. Here is some articles

1. "Fundamental genomic unity of ethnic India is revealed by anal ysis of mitochondrial DNA" by P. P. Majumder Current Science, Vol 79, 10 November, 2000
.2. "Ethnic populations of India as seen from an evolutionary perspective" P. P. Majumder , Journal of Bioscience,Vol 26, No 4, Nov, 2001
3. "Ethical Challenges as we approach the end of the Human Genome Project"  Editor: Darryl R. J. Macer, Ph.D.
4. "Genetic evidence on the origin of Indian caste populations" Michael Bamshad etl Genome Research, 2001

This web site contains all data related to regional language of India. You can have look at it.

The Adivasi (indigenous peoples) constitute the oldest and, often, the original inhabitants of this land. They constitute many different peoples with different languages. In the northern part of Bangladesh the Adivasis numbered 2.2 million in the late sixties but now have declined to 0.8 million. This decrease in their population is symptomatic of the continuing encroachment into their lands and their livelihood by the dominant Bengalis.

A REPORT FOR THE LAND TENURE SERVICE OF THE  FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION,DECEMBER 2001 by Marcus Colchester (editor)

How did gender relations change, leading at some point to the establishment of patriarchy? Engels noted that the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male

On the  deciphering of the Indus valley script and the solution of the brahui problem by Anans M Sharan . This is one the much needed support to find the missing link of Indus script and Santhal.

 

Santal Society

Santals has wonderful socio-cultural mosaic, which often we round of it in the present caste rifted Indian society.  the following are the main socio-religious characteristics of the Santals:

  • The society is devoid of caste hierarchy. The Santal's is a casteless society
  • By birth no person, family, clan group is superior or inferior.
    Image or idol worship is absent and there is no temple in Santal society.
  • Blood offering is prevalent in the community.
  • Earlier practice of cow sacrifice is now restricted.
  • Both burial and cremation are practiced. A chicken is dedicated to the dead body. Offering during worship is made within the pictorial
  • boundary known as khond as a mark of the mundane relationship of the supernatural power.
  • Priesthood is not appropriated by a particular clan group or a sect but is owned by the family members of the first settlers of the village.
  • Occasionally selection of a successor of the old priest is held if he leaves no issue (male child). Such a selection is made mainly by a divinated person and it is undisputed.

 

The History of Jharkhand

Forgotten struggles and so is the unsung Heros ! The  brave freedom struggles by Adivasi, specially Santals (Details, Santals Huls ), against the British tyranny  and cruelty of Desi (native) landlords have often gone unnoticed and sometimes, by nefarious design excluded from History text books. However, mere omission from the History books in educational curriculum, can not conceal the stories of bravery of Adivasi Heros and stiff resistance, they had offered in the struggles. But creation of Jharkhand state, which came into existence on 14.11.2000,  gives us opportunities to recall our history and  unfolds plenty of untold stories, more often than not,  excluded in text books. Consequently, to understand the bravery of Adivasi, there is need to deep understanding the History of formation of Jharkhand state, which inextricably mixed with Adivasi freedom struggles dates back to British period. Here is a list of brief events, which marked the  way to new state, Jharkhand. The text is complied by Subhas Soren.

Events
1765 - Successful military mobilization to bring Santhal Pargana under British rule
1772-80 -  Paharia revolt
1780-85 - Tilka Manjhi led the tribal revolt and managed to injure British army chief
1785 - Tilka Manjhi hanged to death in Bhagalpur
1795-1800 - Tamar revolt
1797 - Munda revolt under the leadership of Vishnu manaki
1798 - Chaur revolt in Birbhum Bankura
1798-99 - Bhoomij revolt of Manbhoom
1800-02 - Munda revolt under the stewardship of Dukhan Manaki of Tamar
1819-20 - Munda revolt in Palamu under the leadeship of Bhukan Singh
1832-33 - Khewar revolt under the leadership of Bhagirath, Dubai Gosai and Patel Singh
1833-34 - Bhumij revolt under the leadership of Ganga narain of Birbum
1855 - Santhals waged war against the permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis
1855-60 - During late 1850s Sidhu had accumulated about Ten Thousands Santhals to run parallel govt. against British rule. The basic purpose was to collect taxes by making his own laws. British govt. had
announced an award of Rs. Ten Thousand to arrest Sidhu and his brother Kanhu. This movement remained very active in Kahalgaon and Raniganj.
1856 - Police brigade was constituted
1856-57 - Martyr Sahid Lal, Vishwanath Shahdeo, Sheikh Bhikhari, Ganptrai and Budhu Veer led a movement against the British gov. in the sepoy mutiny
1874-99 - This period is famous for Birsa movement
1874 - Kherwar movement shot into fame under the leadership of Bhagirathi manjhi
1881 - Kherwar movement started
1895-1900 - Launching of ULGLAN under the leadership of Birsa
1912 - Bihar bifurcated from Bengal and some parts of Chotanagpur merged into Bengal
1913 - Constitution of Chotnagpur unati samaj
1914 - Tana Bhajgat movement started which had the participation of more than 26000 tribals
1915 - Publication of Adivasi titled magazine started
1929 - Simon commission presented with a memorandum which demanded the information of Jharkhand state
1936 - Orissa was created as a separate state
1947 - On Dec. 28 All India Jharkhand Party came intoinception
1951 - Jharkhand party was elected to Vidhan Sabha as a main opposition party
1969 - Shibu Soren founded the Sonat Santahl Samaj
1971 - A.K.Roy founded the Marxist M.C.C to demand the separate Jharkhand state
1973 - N.E.Horo named his party as Jharkhand Party and on March 12th he presented the then Prime Minister a memorandum for separate Jharkhand state
1977 - Jharkhand party proposed for separate Jharkhand state which included not only Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana of Bihar but adjoining area of Bengal
1978 - The convention of All India Jharkhand Party was held on May 21
1978 - June 9 came to commemorated as Birsa day
1980 - Establishment of Jharkhand Kranti Dal
1986 -September 25, All Jharkhand Students Union gave its first call for Jharkhand bandh , it was a huge success
1987 - Call for boycott of Independence day . The home minister of India directed the bihar government to prepare a report on detailed profile of all districts of Chotnagpur and Santhal Pargana
1989 - 72 hours of economic blockade by AJSU was total success
1989 - 6 days of economic blockade by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was success
1994 - On Jan 6 Laloo Prasad Yadav declared in Ranchi that Jharkhand devlopment autnomous council bill will be passed in budget session
1995 - Jharkhand area autonomous council was formed which comprised of 18 districts of Santhal Pargana and Chotnagpur  and Shibu Soren was nominated as the Chairman
1997 - June , Bihar government sanctioned 24 Crores for conducting the elections of Jharkhand Autonomous Council
1997 - July , Shibu Soren offered support to minority government of Laloo Prasad Yadav with a condition of a separate Jharkhand bill in the assembly

The Year 2000 August 2 - The bill to create a separate state of Jharkhand to be carved out of Bihar was passed in Lok Sabha by voice with two key allies of ruling NDA strongly opposing the measure and the opposition Rashtriya Janta Dal and the CPI - M demanding it to be referred to a parliamentary committee. The long cherished demand of people of the region was fulfilled, the celebration is on through out the Jharkhand region.

August 11 - Parliament today approved the formation of Jharkhand when the Rajya Sabha passed by voice - vote the Bihar reorganisation bill 2000 to carve out the new state out of Bihar's northern region.

August - 25 - President Mr. K.R. Narayanan approved the Bihar reorganisation bill 2000.

October - 12 - The center has issued the gazette notification starting November 15 to be the appointed date for the formation of new Jharkhand Government and First Chief Minister of Jharkhand is Mr. Baulal Marandi.

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