DIBRUGARH, May 16: Sarhul – a popular festival celebrated by various tribes in Jharkhand region was celebrated for the first time at Hingrijan tea estate in eastern Assam’s Charaideo district on Sunday.
The festival was organised by the Central Committee, Women’s Wing and Men’s Wing of undivided Sivasagar and Charaideo district committees of Asom Munda Mahasabha.
Thousands of people from the Munda tribe assembled at the Hingrijan tea estate near Moran despite inclement weather and participated in the festival.
There are around 14 lakhs Mundas in Assam whose ancestors were brought in by the Britishers as workers to work in the tea gardens of Assam.
Sarhul is the tribal New Year and is celebrated by the Munda, Oraon, Ho, etc., tribes of Jharkhand. The word ‘Sarhul’ means “to worship trees” or “worshipping of the sal tree”. As the tribal people are closer to nature, they begin the Sarhul festival with the worship of elements of nature, including trees.
After this festival, most of the agricultural activities such as the sowing of seeds, etc., are started by the locals. They also bring the new crops such as paddy, fruits, leaves of trees, and flowers to use during prayer. All the tribal people, including men, women and children, dress in colourful ethnic attire, worship trees, dance, sing and rejoice on this day.
Sarhul festival’s history goes back to the Mahabharata period. There are several legends of the festival, most stating that it was celebrated in the spring season. A legend states, the villagers during spring offer prayers to the village God or the protector of their tribe.
The villagers celebrate it with lots of flowers, dance and music. During that time too, Sal tree, its leaves and flowers are an important part of worship and celebrations.