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Tribal Rituals & Festivals

The festivals of the tribals constitute a integral part of their social life and relate to their strong beliefs in the power of supernatural elements and community togetherness. Parab Festival is highly significant to the tribal groups of Orissa as it gives a platform to even the small tribal groups existing in the state Their traditions can best be captured at these fairs and festivals. These tribal groups are able to remain in forefront due to the festival and preserve their culture to the fullest. Most festivals are occasions that mark the change of season relating to harvest of crops and some are religious events commemorating a local deity. Innumerable folk traditions and spirits are manifested by way of observing vratas and oshas (fasts) by Hindus in Orissa.

Among the tribesmen, festivities connected with sowing, harvesting and consumption of first fruits, and among shifting cultivations, the feeling of the jungle and burning it down for reduction to ash manure, are important ones. Interestingly, enough, success in ceremonial collective hunting in April-May often is believed to contribute to the success of their agricultural efforts . The Santhals have a special spring festival of rejoicing with sprinkling of water, special songs and dances. When the roles of the deities are acted out by men, and thereby many traditional social barriers fall. Usually, the supreme god is not offered any specific worship among tribals. But among the Santhals of Mayurbhanj ,one may perform the worship every fifth year or at least one in a life-time. Bondo festivities have a great relevance for the tribal communities of Orissa. The Bondos spend a great deal of time on their religion, and the feasts and holidays are an important part of Bondo life. Moreover, the collective festivities foster a sense of solidarity of the village and fortify one's confidence in undertaking major activities in economic and social life as possible. Thus proving herself to be virtuous and devoted. The wife presents a number of delicacies to her husband at the end of her fast.

The religion of the tribal Orissa is a nature-worship, fetishism, shamanism, anthropomorphism and ancestor worship. The annual cycle of rituals commence right from the initiation of agricultural operation, for instance, among the Juang, Bhuyan, Kondh, Saora, Gadaba, Jharia, Didayee, Koya and Bondo, who practise shifting cultivation. Religious beliefs and practices aim at ensuring personal security and happiness as well as community well-being and group solidarity. Their religious performances include life-crisis rites, cyclic community rites, ancestor and totemic rites and observance of taboos. Besides these, the tribals also resort to various types of occult practices. In order to tide over either a personal or a group crisis the tribals begin with occult practices, and if it does not yield any result the next recourse is supplication of the supernatural force.

Among all the tribes conformity to customs and norms and social integration continue to be achieved through their traditional political organizations. The tributary institutions of social control, such as family, kinship and public opinion continue to fulfill central social control functions. All the rituals centering agricultural operation, first-fruit eating, human, live-stock and crop welfare are observed by the members of a village on a common date which is fixed by the village head-man in consultation with the village priest.

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