Oraons: Political & Social Institutions (Part-II)

Dhankothis (or Grain-golas) was an old Oraon tribe institution that disappeared into thin air.

It had deep roots in the Adivasi economy and formed an important aspect of Adivasi culture. The Village Council used to run these. For Dhankothis, each cultivator contributed a small quantity of paddy per acre of land towards their share capital of Dhankothi, where they stored food-items, for rainy days and other exigencies.
One institution that has survived the ravage of time is weekly Bazaar or Haat, in these weekly markets, the people from the neighbouring villages within a radius of 5 to 10 miles, assemble to participate in all kinds buying and selling activities, few items were bartered too. Weekly Haat was more like a modern day club or a shopping mall, where people meet their friends, eat, drink, and make merry.
Every Adivasis living in nearby village eagerly looked forward to these weekly Haat, almost everyone used to turn in their best attire with special preparation like washing, cleaning and dressing them. No doubt, more often than not, even the marriages were negotiated and the cupid used to find its naive victims in these weekly Haat, buzzing with boundless energy, unbridled laughter of innocent Adivasis.
According to our age-old traditions, the marriages have to take place in the season in which people do not have much agricultural work. It takes place between January and April. Besides having leisure from agricultural pursuits, the house are also full of food-grains and it is easy to invite a large number of people on this occasion of marriage feast.
In the ‘lota-panni’ ceremony that precedes marriage, the boy’s guardians have to make substantial presents to the girls and her family, for the respect that they accord to bride who is joining their family post marriage. The bride price has to be given and this is known as ‘Dali-Dhiba’.
Marriage is considered an joyous occasion for the exchange of gifts not only between the couples but also between the families in which marriage is taking place and the kin group of which it is part. When one gets an invitation to attend the marriage of his relative or friends it is the usual practice to take two pots containing four seers of rice beer, some rice, pulses and vegetables.
It is customary for married girls in a village to receive gifts from their parents-in-law on the occasions of Karma, Sarhul and other festivals. On festivals, the gifts are exchanged between friends who form pacts of friendship such as Sahiya, etc. Even at the time of funerals, to help the grieving family, the community used to bring whatever they could afford to help the deceased’s family to help them in their time of grieving.
The Jharkhand was never an exclusive abode of an Oraon tribe, for many centuries, many different types of Tribes shared their home at Jharkhand without ever indulging in blood-spattered war with each other. Amidst extended period as sovereign units and their peaceful existence during these few thousand years, almost each tribe residing in Jharkhand developed their unique language, art and culture. But these different Adivasi tribes shared a common thread, likes their unwavering worshipping of their nature gods and their forefathers’ religion, also known as Sarna religion.

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