Baripada, Nov 10 (UNI) If you walk through the lanes of any village of tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district during this season, you would most certainly notice the well decorated huts and courtyards all ready for the Sohrai festival.
''Sohrai'' or the Cattle festival, observed mostly by the Santhals, started yesterday, coinciding with the Kali puja celebrations, and will end tomorrow. However, in some places, the festival will continue for another four days.
The Day One of the three-day long festival is the Gohal(cowshed) puja. The shed is briskly cleaned and smeared with cowdung water.
The ''Alpana'' or the traditional floral patterns made on the floor with a paste of coloured rice flour gives a beautiful look to the cowseheds.
The lady of the house sprinkles water on the cattle from a pot with the help of mango leaves, while the head of the family annoints the horns of the animals with oil and vermilion. Oil lamps are lit in the cowsheds throughout the night.
In Mayurbhanj, it is commonly called ''Bandhna''. It is the biggest and most important festival of the Santhals, says Sahiba Sushil Chandra Hansda, a tribal poet of Brahmanbosh village in Bamanghaty subdivision of Mayurbhanj district.
''The cow is treated as ''God'' and worshipped on this day as it helps us in agricultural operations,'' Hansda added.
The community wash their agricultural tools like ploughs, yokes and anoint them with powdered rice and vermilion.
Hansda, who has written a number of songs related to the ''Sohrai'' festival narrated how a catchy tunes are produced by the ''dancing cows'' whose necks and legs are tied with jingles or ''Ghungors''.
At midnight, the villagers too sing and dance around the cowsheds, he added.
Santhali scholars said that during the festival, besides offering prayers to the cows, the tribe also devote a day for thanksgiving to the raingod and sungod, for helping the community reap a good harvest, scholars pointed out.