Tribal youths wearing colourful paper caps dance during a procession to mark Sarhul on Main Road in Ranchi on Saturday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, April 13: The festive mood was in the air as major thoroughfares of Ranchi were adorned with red and white flags, decked-up akharas and youngsters dancing to the beats of nagara, mandar and flute on the occasion of Sarhul today.
Celebrated to worship nature, tribal youths in their vibrant best, complete with headgear, joined the procession that concluded at the main sarna sthal (place of worship) at Serom Toli near Ranchi station.
Sarhul is the tribals’ spring festival that marks the union between earth and nature.
The revelries began yesterday with tribal priests, known as pahans, launching a fast before performing the rituals. According to traditional tribal belief, the pahan places three earthen pots and fills them up with water. Judging by the water level next morning, he foretells how much rainfall will be there this year.
The phool-khonsi ritual forms an integral part of the festival. As a part of the ritual, the pahan gives saal flowers to all as a symbol of camaraderie. Later these flowers are stuck to the roofs of their houses for well being.
In Ranchi, Sarhul celebrations got a boost about three decades ago when tribal ideologue late Ram Dayal Munda encouraged students of the tribal and regional languages department of Ranchi University to celebrate such festivals.
Karma Oraon, a professor of Ranchi University, said in the day of industrialisation, the message of this simple festival holds utmost significance.
“It spreads the word of ecological conservation. The festival has gained more relevance now,” said Oraon.
However, this year, even Sarhul got a taste of technology. Rumbul, a social organisation, acknowledged Ram Dayal Munda’s contribution through a post on a social networking site. Many others conveyed sarhul johar (greetings) to friends online.
“We take out this religious procession every year,” said Sanju Oraon of Doranda. “Apna parab hain, manana hi chahiye (It’s our festival and we must celebrate),” he said, summing up the general feeling of the day.