Oraons: The KARAM / KARMA Festival (Part-I)

In the Chotanagpur Plateau Region, among the local tribal people the Karam Festival is celebrated with great pomp and show. For Oraon Tribe, the Karam festival is one of the most important festivals and it holds a very important place in their social and religious life. It is usually celebrated 15 days after the Kunwaar-Shukl-Paksh. After the fixation of the date for the festival, the local population start their preparation; for instance, they start buying the culinary-items to prepare traditional dishes, new clothes for the occasion, etc. Besides, for the Karam-Puja, they buy oil, Sindoor, Daliya, et al. Being a very important community festival of the region, it is celebrated by the entire Oraon and other local Tribal community (s) of the region; now in its modern day re-embodiment, the festivity has spread far and wide, from the rural to the urban ambience, and from Chotanagpur to other parts of our country.
Use of Jawa-Phool (or Jawa-flowers) by the Girls
Nine days prior to the Karam-Festival, the girls from asame village (now from a neighbourhood in an urban areas) after their ablution,they take their food and then assemble to proceed, towards the nearest river orthe other water bodies, where the sand can be found; on the way, they sing and dance on the Karam-songs. After reaching the river, they make the Patall (plate-&-saucer) made up from the leaf of the Sakhua-tree, called Sakhua-Patall; then they fill them with the sands and return back to their homes, on their way-back, they again sing the Karam-songs and dance on it.
Karam-Song in Kurukh language for the occasion goes like this:
O! – Pellar Hi Jawa Punpunn,
Gola Nado Mena Lagi Re,
Bacha Nado Mena Lagi.
Ki! – Pachi Re Baudan Chaal Malaa Nani,
Gola Nado Mena Lagi Re,
Bacha Nado Mena Lagi.
{It means: the Jawa-Phool belonging to Girls, these lumpsof flowers are being eaten by calf, ox, and oxen; when we ask them to step back, they do not listen to us.}
In their homes, they plant the seeds of corn, rice,jau, etc. in the Sakhua-Patall. For the next nine days, they water these with Haldi-Panni (Tumeric-water) and take good care. When these seeds germinate, these germinated seeds are called “Jawa-Phool”.
This religious ritual has unique philosophical significance; as it draws parallel between the 9 months pregnancy among the women and the Jawa-Phool; also it is a way to thank the Almighty Nature and other gods by the Oraon-people for the blessing called “life”.

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