SANTHAL COMMUNITY (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – History)

News-CRUX-10     2nd July 2024        
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Context: The Prime Minister recently paid tribute to the sacrifices and bravery of the Santhal tribal community.

Santhal Community

  • About: Santhal is the third largest scheduled tribe community in India after Gond and Bhil.
  • Etymology: The word 'Santhal' originates from 'santha' meaning calm and peaceful, and 'ala' meaning man.
  • Background: Historically, Santhals led a nomadic life before settling in the Chota Nagpur plateau.

oBy the late 18th century, they migrated to Santhal Parganas in Bihar and later to Odisha.

  • Major Regions: Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal are the primary areas inhabited by Santhals.
  • Major Occupation: Santhals are involved in cultivation, industrial labor, mining, and quarrying.
  • Santhali Language: Santhals speak Santhali, which has its own script called 'OL Chiki', included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Marriage Practices: Santhals permit various types of marriages including negotiation, elopement, intrusion, and service, along with remarriages and junior levirate.
  • Artforms: Santhal's Phuta Katcha pattern sarees and dresses are gaining popularity through e-commerce.
  • Major Festivals & Rituals:  Erok-sim, Hariham-sim, Iri-guldi-sim, Jantal, Saharai, Magha-sim, and Baha, each marking important agricultural or cultural milestones.
  • The Rebellion: Initiated on 30th June 1855, the Santhal revolt (Hul revolt) against the British involved guerrilla warfare and captured significant territories like Rajmahal Hills and Bhagalpur district.

oLed by: Sido and Kanhu, it encompassed Bihar and surrounding regions.

oThis was India’s first major peasant uprising fueled by the implementation of the Permanent Land Settlement in 1793.

oAs a consequence of this revolt, the British enacted the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act of 1876 (SPT Act).

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