Jharkhand- Santhal Tribals Angry over Deduction in Santhali festival Holidays in Schools 

The Santhali community feels that a reduction in Santhal holidays in Schools will threaten Santhali society, culture, and their existence.

Jharkhand: Many schools in Jharkhand are seeing widespread outrage in Santhal Parganas due to a reduction in Santhal Adivasi holidays in the year 2021.

On 17th January, Santhal Adivasis conducted meetings at at two places in Dumka and expressed outrage over the issue. A meeting was held in the Gujisimal District of Dumka block under the banner of ‘Marang Buru Akada’. The second meeting was held in the office of the Tribal Primary Teachers Association, attended by Santhal teachers of Dumka, Deogarh, and Jamtara. Sunil Kumar Baski, a Santhal teacher, who was honoured by the President, also attended the meeting.

The Marang Buru Akada and local villagers held a meeting in  Gujisimal village of Dumka in the elementary schools of the Department of Literacy and Primary Education (the directorate)  on the holiday table 2021. The Akada and the villagers discussed how the Santhal and Adivasi holidays are either been reduced or completely removed from the table. It is unacceptable that while the Jharkhand government raises the slogan of “Abuwa Disom Abuwa Raj” (Apna Desh Apna Raj), at the same time it is cutting holidays of the majority Santhal population in the state.

The villagers and the Akada argued that if the total number of holidays is 60 days, as it has been for the previous year, then why cut out the holidays of Santhal people specifically. Holidays of the Santhal Adivasis such as ‘Sohraya Mahaparv’, which had four days, has been reduced to merely one day in the year. Adivasi children will not be going to school on Sohraya Mahaparva, then what is the point of opening schools during the festival? Prior to this, under the “Abuwa Disom Abuwa Raj” government, the following holidays of Santhals were included:  Magha, Baha, Erok, Dashay, Janathad, Hariyar’s holiday. It is sad to see that all of these have been abolished.

The Akada and villagers also go on to say that it is a matter of great sadness that even agricultural holidays are denied in the “Abuwa Disom Abuwa Raj” regime when it is common knowledge that Jharkhand is a dominant agricultural state.

Santhals have expressed anger against the political parties as none of them have wished the people of Jharkhand on these holidays in their hoardings and banners. Other demands coming from the protests include:  that the four day holiday for Sohraya is restored, as well as holidays such as Magha, Baha, Erok, Dashay, Janathad, Hariyar; Agricultural holidays must be given, and political parties and other communities must wish Santhal Adivasis in their banners/hoardings.

The Akada and the villagers say- The move of reduction in Santhal holidays will threaten Santhali society, culture, and rituals. It is a question of the Santhal tribe’s existence. If the government, as well as opposition parties, do not act on this move, Santhals will have no other option but to start a movement.

Among those attending the meeting were Kamli Hembrom, Maloti Tudu, Sona Hembrom, Altina Hembrom, Hoponti Hansda, Anita Kisku, Nani Hansda, Paro Marandi, Bahamuni Tudu, Badki Tudu, Mangal Kol, Mangal Tudu, Mangal Murmu, Raska Murmu, Rasik Soren, Siril, Siri, Siril Som Soren, Sunilal Soren, Surendra Soren, Suresh Murmu, Manoj Murmu, Manoj Soren, Sagen Murmu, Babudhan Murmu, Bale Hansda, Champa Tudu, Jagdish Murmu, Surendra Murmu, were present. In addition, many men and women from rural areas were present in large numbers.

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The Tribal Jharkhand Primary Teachers Association called for a meeting, held at the Sangh Bhavan Dumka, under the chairmanship of Nandkishore Baskey, in which the following points were discussed and decided:

(1)  Under the holiday table created by the Directorate of Elementary Education, Ranchi Jharkhand, no holiday has been included to accommodate Santhal festivals such as Magha, Baha, Eroh, Hariyar, Dashay, Janathar. Only one day holiday is provided for the previous four day holiday of the Sohray festival; this is a matter of great concern.

(2)  A memorandum regarding the inclusion of holidays in the holiday table, will be submitted to the Chief Minister, Governor, Directorate of Primary Education, Ranchi.

(3)  To further discuss these points, a meeting with the Chief Minister at Dumka has been decided.

(4)  On the basis of geographical area, around 65% of people in Jharkhand depend on agriculture as an occupation. This would mean that the majority of the youth and children in primary and middle schools are children of farmers. Thus, agricultural holidays rather than summer vacations should be provided. The currently announced Holiday Table must be amended.

The following divisional teachers participated on the occasion: From Dumka, Rasik Baski, Nandkishore Baski, Naresh Marandi, Satendra Murmu, Sanatan Kisku, Suresh Chandra Soren, Subhash Chandra Murmu, Manoj Kisku, Sukhu Hembram participated. From Jamatara District, President Sunil Kumar Baski, Kripa Shankar Lal Tudu, Rajilshore Murmu and Sunil Kumar Murmu, and from Deoghar, Sujit Kumar Baski participated.

Finally, all members as one, asserted that if ‘Abwua’ holiday is not included in the holiday table of the “Abwua” Government, the Tribal Jharkhand Primary Teachers Association will be bound to carry on a movement.

( This article was first published in janchowk.com. It was translated into English by Savitha Ganesh.)

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