SARNA RELIGION (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Vulnerable Sections)

News-CRUX-10     8th May 2024        
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Context: The opposition leader recently pledged to introduce a distinct Sarna religious code for tribals and revise the GST if the INDIA bloc secures power through the vote.

Sarna Religion

  • Nature: Followers of the Sarna faith are nature worshippers.
  • Faith: The holy grail of the Sarna faith is “Jal (water), Jungle (forest), Zameen (land).”
  • Prayer Practices: Its followers pray to the trees and hills while believing in protecting the forest areas.
  • Festival: Sarhul, a festival in which devotees worship their ancestors.
  • Idol Worship and Belief System: Believers of the Sarna faith do not practice idol worship, nor do they adhere to the concept of the Varna system, heaven-hell, etc.
  • Geographical Concentration: They are concentrated mainly in the tribal belt states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and Assam.


The Need for a Distinct Sarna Religion Code:

  • Identity Assertion: The demand for a separate Sarna Religion Code arises primarily from the assertion that they do not identify as Hindus.
  • Census Data: Various tribal organizations contend that during the 2011 census survey, over 49.57 lakh individuals in 29 States and Union Territories across India self-identified as Sarna under the “Others” category, surpassing the count of Jains (44.51 lakh) who have a separate religious code.
  • Distinct Cultural Values: Advocates of the Sarna faith argue that the religious and cultural values of tribals are distinct and cannot be equated with followers of other faiths.
  • Call for Inclusion: They call for the inclusion of a separate column for the Sarna Religion Code in the delayed Census 2021.



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