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December 2005 Newsletter

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 From the Editor

 Dr. Bipin Jojo, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Karam Festival in Mumbai

     The country has been experiencing hard time with series of disasters – natural and manmade in last few months. Despite all this there is spirit to face this difficult time and move on. This is a festive season all over the country across the communities. The Adivasi sisters and brothers of Chotanagpur in Mumbai celebrated Karam festival in series.

     Karam is the name of a tree (nauclea parvifolia). The legend on Karam festival signifies Karam tree as savior and guarantor of prosperity. It is a popular festival among Oraon, Munda, Santhal, Ho, Kisan, Kol, Bhumij and other tribal communities of Central India. Out of the five types of Karam celebrated at the different times of the year, which coincides with the events of agricultural cycles, Raji Karam is the most popular. It is celebrated on the 11th day of the moon in the month of Bhado (August- September). The celebration is meant for the protection of standing crops. It is primarily meant for the young girls who are recently engaged. They pray for the healthy children in their future life. It is also believed that these ascetic practices bring down blessings upon their brothers and protect them from harm and evil.

     The brothers and sisters from Chotanagpur living in different cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune would like to commemorate the significance of this celebration and maintain the tradition of their forefathers. Due to the modernization and conversion to Christianity the celebration gets improvised at place to place. However, the Karam festival reminds and reinforces the symbiotic relationship between tribals and the nature. It strengthens the element of caring and sharing in the family and the community.

     In Mumbai this year, the first celebration was held on September 18th 2005 at St. Xavier High School premises. There were about five hundred sisters and brothers gathered to celebrate Karam. The celebration was led by Fr. Thomas Barla with the song and dance by colourfully dressed spinsters followed by Holy mass. Fr. Domnic, Fr. Amalraj, and Fr. Ricoper joined them in the celebration. It was a great feeling to listen to songs and the beats of mandar in south Mumbai. The girls were so happy dancing, feeling at home, meeting friends, and catching up with each other.


     Following this celebration there were series of Karam celebration in Mumbai.

Andheri  Sept.25th
Bycula Oct.9th
Malad Oct.16th
Vasai Nov. 4th

     This kind of celebration reinforces one’s own identity. It is of feeling of Home away from Home.

Dr. Bipin Jojo (


Letters to the Editor

WRITE TO THE EDITOR Tribalzone, 704, Sachidanand, Wing A, Raheja Complex, Malad East, Mumbai - 400097 or via the internet to Include name and address. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

Dear editor , I heartily appreciate the effort on your part to bring about such a newsletter among the adivasi mass. It might even serve out to help and enrich the nagpuris around the globe. I am a Oaron and am currently studying in IIT Kharagpur, 3rd year , electrical engineering. I want to prepare for the UPSC examinatons and be a IAS officer, but there are some problems. The major one is that I do not know the Kurukh language, which would be a very essential requirement for it. So in order to learn it I had decided to buy some books from Satya Bharti, Ranchi. But the book failed to instil a correct learning attitude. So if you and your allies can find any solution to it I'd be very grateful for your sincere help. If you know of any institute that can impart us the knowledge of our language, please let me know.....K.V.Ekka, IIT Kharagpur


WRITE TO FORUM Tribalzone, 704, Sachidanand, Wing A, Raheja Complex, Malad East, Mumbai - 400097 or via the internet to Include name and address. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

     In the past 5/6 months I've been interacting with many Santals who come to Delhi for interviews, competitive exams, sight seeing, treatment at AIIMS, etc. They hail from Rairangpur, Baripada, Rourkela, Bhubaneswar, Jamshedpur, Kharagpur, Kolkata etc. I have observed that Santals from Orissa would speak in Oriya; similarly santals from West Bengal would speak in Bengali. When I speak to the older persons they reply in Santali, but they prefer talking to their sons/daughters in oriya/bengali. Students when approached in Santali would generally reply in oriya/bengali/hindi. This means that they can understand Santali, but hesitate to speak in Santali.
     Even the second-generation students from Rairangpur, Baripada, Kharagpur (Which are Santal populated area) are also not fluent in Santali. I can imagine what will happen students who are brought up in Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Ranchi, Mumbai or Chennai?
     On one hand I feel very disappointed and ask myself, why should I help them, what identity do I share with them? And I realise that the only bond we share among each other is our CASTE CERTIFICATE. Again on the other hand I feel my people need me and I should help them, without which they might face lot of problems in a big city like Delhi. I feel awkward to ask my guests, why they wouldn't speak Santali.
     Who is to be blamed for this problem? Youngsters, their parents or society as whole? I feel parents are to be blamed as much as the society, our various social organisations are not promoting Santali language properly.
     What is the solution to this problem? I feel rather than criticising younger people/student at the first stage, we should encourage them to learn Santali. But Parents need to be advised/BLASTED, if they don't teach their sons/daughters. Neither GOVT nor GOD can help us unless we help OURSELVES. GOVT has already recognised Santali LANGUAGE. At first, We will have to CONTRIBUTE and then ask GOVT for more. Barisa Kisku, New Delhi

Are You a Doctor?

Dear friends, we at Tribalzone would like to collaborate with adivasi doctors and form a Doctors Forum and improve the present healthcare status in the neglected tribal areas of Chotanagpur Plateau. We have ongoing programs and activities for data collection, health awareness (health education camps), field health camps, telemedicine and hospital based services in collaboration with the local govt. agencies.  We are looking for likeminded adivasi doctors of Chotanagpur region who think they have the fire and zeal to selflessly help and cater to the health demands of Adivasis of Chotanagpur. If you are a doctor and would like to be part of this movement - please join our doctors forum by becoming Tribalzone First Citizen. Dr. Manju Kerketta, Tribalzone, Birkera Jhariatoli, PO- Ranto Birkera, via Lathikata, Dist Sundergarh, Orissa - 770037. 

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