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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 ]

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.


Folklore of the Santal Parganas/translated by Cecil Henry Bompas. New Delhi, Gyan, 2001, 324 p.,

List of some Santali Books


Santhal 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.

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.


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