Monday, May 3, 2010

Rituals And Festivals Of The Ho Tribe

(Last Part)
In some cases it is also observed that some of the educated/retired (from service) Hos, who are living in their native village, worship their traditional Bongas like, Singhbonga, Marangbonga and Dessauli etc. during their festive occasions and simultaneously they also worship the Hindu deities both in their family and village levels. Example may be cited of Mr. Satrughan Bari (M/42) of village Sunamara of Jamda block of Mayurbhanj district, who is a retired army person believes and worships his traditional deities at his village but when he purchased a bajaj kawasaki motorcycle in 1999 he bought it to his nearest Hindu temple to take blessings of deity. Besides, before he starts his motorcycle he utters the name of a deity, who is from Hindu religion. Similarly, lord Ganesh and Devi Saraswati are being worshipped each year regularly in their village school officiated by a Hindu priest. Another example may be cited here, that of Miss Subasini Singh (F/37), who is working as a nurse at village Kulgi, is highly qualified and she is living with the adherents of wider Hindu pantheon. She speaks and writes Oriya for communication and worships Hindu deities like lord Ganash, devi Saraswati and devi Laxmi etc. each day in her house. Her villagers celebrate Saraswati puja in their village. They also perform Soni-mela in their houses. Once she was also worshipping Sontoshimata continuously for fourteen Fridays for fulfilling some of her desires. We may also summarize that women folk in simple tribal societies are more prone to adoption of multifarious religious traditions seeking fulfillment of their desires. Duary has studied the Hos of Chaibasa area where also we noticed element of synthesis of dual religious beliefs. He has obversed that " many Ho people go to the local temple twice or thrice a week to make offerings of fruit, flower and incense like their Hindu brethren. Like wise whenever they purchase a new vehicle they visit a Hindu temple preferably the Kali temple to seek her blessings" (2000: 187).
Tusu vasani is the main attraction of the Makar Sakranti or Makar parab which is celebrated, basically by the Hindu caste people, in almost all part of south Jharkhand and north Orissa in the month of January. This festival is also popularly known as Tusu parab. During this festival the villagers prepare an image of Tusu devi and worship her. On the fixed date the villagers from all neighbouring villages gather their Tusus in a common place nearer to any water source, where they sing Tusu songs and dance. Finally they immerse their images. The Hos of Mayurbhanj district in general and the Hos of Bahalda, Tiring, Jharadihi, Jamda, Gorumahisani, Rairangpur and Badampahar area in particular also participate in this Tusu parab directly or indirectly. They go to their nearer Tusu vasani centres like Ranibandh, Satikudar (Rairangpur), Ghumal, Gambharia, Kulgi, Bahalda, Basingi, Mahulpani and Paharpur etc. on different fixed date and enjoy the festival with great joy.
The use of different types of colour papers, ribbons, flags, plastic flowers, colour powders is also evident during their different puja and festivals. "In some cases the Ho people also use the mango leaves, tulsi sakam (basil leaves) and da (water). It is probably borrowed from the neighboring Hindu society" (Duary 2000:187).
According to Majumdar most of the malevolent Bongas of the Hos are not their own and seems to have come from some Hindu equivalent deities found among the neighbouring Oriyas. As per him the Gara Satamai of Ho is not other than the Devi Nai Bhagawati of the Oriya, which is perhaps a name for that spirit that presides over the tanks and ponds. Satamai is the impure word of Sat-ma, the stepmother, and the actual mother being Nage- bonga or the river goddess. At the time of analysing the Kar-bongako like, Suni kar, Rahu kar, Dinda kar and Chuhar kar he argued that "Kar is not a Ho word, it is the same word as Kal, the destroyer, and is associated with ‘time’. The word Kali that signifies the goddess of that name in popular Hinduism is derived from the same word Kal. Suni kar, Rahu kar are none other than the planets Sani (saturn) and Rahu, known to the Hindus as Kal…….The word Chandi (Another name for Kali) is taken from the Hindus, particularly from the Oriyas. For example, Bisai Chandi (poisonous), Ranga Chandi (blood thirty or red), Chinta Dain and Kaltud (a corruption of Kalketu), Jugini-bonga is none other than Jugini, who with her counter part Dakini is said to accompany Kali or Chandi" (Majumdar 1950 :255-256). From this statement of Majumdar it is clear that most of the deities worshipped by the Hos during the different festivals are not of their own, but are borrowed from their neighbouring Hindus. We see here a long process of adoption of several deities from the dominant Hindu neighbours and moulding the original names to tribal pattern of vocabulary.
The popularity of Manasa Devi (A Hindu goddess, believed as a daughter of Lord Shiva who presides over snakes) is not only limited among the Hindus it is equally popular among the tribes (particularly of the Hos) of the region. The entire Kolhan area as well as its neighbouring areas are covered with hills and forests and the people of the region are very much dependent on their local ecology. Everyday they move in and around the dense jungle in search of games and other forest products. As different types of poisonous snakes are abundant in this forest ecology, there is much possibility of snakebites. Therefore, the Hindus of the region worship Devi Manasa for protection. In the earlier days, the Hos were trying to cure the victims of such accident by their own traditional methods. However, sometimes they were unable to protect the lives of the victims. Because of the insufficiency in their own method it encouraged a number of Hos to force to worship this Hindu goddess. Therefore, the Hos of the region adopted this alien goddess and started worshipping, which gradually got assimilated in their culture. According to Chatterjee and Das (1927:59) the people of Purti khili (of Ho tribe) of village Nohadi, which is situated near to the town of Saraikella, worship goddess Manasa to whom they offer sweets and flowers and before whom they sacrifice fowls and goats.
The religious syncretism is again noticed in the Ho, which is adopted. There are many Akharas (training centres) functioning in different parts of the region where a number of tribal and non-tribal people are learning incantations (mantras) from their Gurus or teachers. According to Majumdar "a number of young men have learnt the spells and prayers to this goddess as a protection against snake-bite, and as a method of driving the poison from the system. The Guru or teacher is usually an Oriya Ojha, who teaches spectacular methods of invoking the goddess. Mantras which are nothing but names of Hindu gods and goddess with their modes of worship, the details of the offerings of which they are fond, and stories of the assistance they have rendered to this or that individual in times of calamity. They are muttered and sung in such a sing-song tune that very few could understand them. They were mostly in Bengali spoken in Oriya style"(1950: 360-361). According to Majumdar in every fortnight, two days before the Amabashya or the new moon the Guru set in meditation under a tamarind tree. He decorates his forerhead with vermilion and place plates of Arua rice and banana cut into small pieces on his either side. Besides these offerings he (Guru) also keeps a few leaf cups of illi (rice bear). If we analyse these offerings it will be evident that though the tribals adopted their alien deities, they worship them in their own methods which includes both the Hinduised methods of worship along with their tribal method of worship.
All the tribal communities of the studied region have a very strong belief in witchcraft. Continuation of any kind of disease for a long time is regarded as the action of Dian (witch) or evil Bongas. These Dians are generally elderly women members of their society. Though some of the aged women are generally treated as Dian, irrespective of all age group they can learn the Dian bidya (the technique of witch craft). In the night of Amabashya the Dians go to their nearby Smashan (burial place) where they change their cloths and wear broom sticks at their waist and dance around the tree. Some times they supposed to have intercourse with the malevolent Bongas or spirits so as to acquire power to bring any type of natural calamity in their region or to harm their enemies or to kill. Ojha or Deonwa is the traditional medicine man among the tribes who tries to find out the causes of disease of the people and their solutions.
According to Das Gupta, the belief in Dian among the Ho is due to culture contact of Hindu where they belief in their Bongas (both benevolent and malevolent) as well as sacrifice to them their indigenous procedure through Dehuri to get rid of the problems. He further stated that the Deonwas cult is not originally of the Ho and is borrowed from the neighbouring ‘low’ Hindu caste people. Most of these Deonwas belong to Gouda (milkman) caste of Hindu. The Guru of these Deonwas is again from the Hindu community, who trains the Deonwas in their Akhara. As mentioned above the Mantras are nothing but the names of different Hindu god and goddess, and which are rearranged with some Hindi words. It shows a clear-cut influence of Hindu cultural elements in the Ho community (1978:86-90).
Whenever a Ho suffers from the severe disease they, usually, take the help of a Deonwa, who tries to detect the causes, whether it is happened due to some evil Bongas or Dian or some other causes. Some times, he first gives some herbal medicines and if he was unsuccessful, he tries to detect its actual cause. He usually follows two types of methods for identifying the causes. First of all, he checks the pulse rate at the hand where high pulse rate signifies about the influence of unnatural causes. Secondly, he grinds some Arua rice along with sindur either in a sarjom sakam or on a hata. Failure in traditional methods of treatment forced them to bring the patient to their nearby hospital. However, some times it is also noticed that they yet continue their traditional method of treatment simultaneously with the modern medicines.
Most of the rituals and festivals of the present studied tribe are associated with their agricultural activities, which is celebrated during their different stages of agricultural session. Due to the regular contact with the wider Hindu pantheon, spread of education, popularity of printed and electronic medias, availability of easy communication facility they gradually have started to adopt some rituals and festivals of their neighboring people. They celebrate their traditional rituals and festivals at their village and house levels side by side participate in various religious activities of their neighbors. Finally, it may conclude that though some aspects of rituals and festivals of the Ho are highly influenced by the Hindu religion and practices their traditional rituals and festivals are still not much changed. Source:
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