Tribals flock Damodhar ghat for immersion of ancestors' bones

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Baripada, Jan 17 (UNI) Thousands of tribals flocked the 'Baruni Damodar Ghat' near here for immersion of the bones of their dead ancestors in the river Damodar,as the ancient Santhali ritual of 'Jiling Dahar', popularly known as 'Damodar Yatra', commenced yesterday.

The Majhi Pergannas (social heads of the Santhals)have fixed the schedule for the three-day long Damodar Yatra to be held from January 16 to January 18.

Sources said about one lakh Santhals from remote villages of Mayurbhanj and from adjoining villages of Singbhum(Jharkhand) and Midnapur (West Bengal) are likely to participate in the rituals, said Jayram Soren Sipahi,Majhi Pergannah who was in charge of welcoming the Santhals.

The Santhals consider the confluence of the three rivers, namely Budhabalanga, Sarali and Jarali at the Barunighat at Baripada as their 'Holy Damodar' and flock to this Ghat for performing 'Jilling Dahar', said Gurva Soren, a social activist and Secretary of Society for Research and Development of Tribal Culture(the SRDTC).

The Ghat acquired its importance during the reign of late Pratap Chandra Bhanj Deo, the last king of the Bhanja dynasty in the erstwhile princely state of Mayurbhanj.

Prior to this,the Santhals used to trek long distances from their villages to Thakurbadi under Gopiballavpur in West Bengal for the immersion ceremony in the Subarnarekha river,Mr.Soren said Groups of Santhals carrying the bones of dead ancestors make a foot-march from their respective villages to the Damodarghat chanting slogans like 'Hirla Marangburu Hirla Marangburu' designed to appease the Chief deity of the community.

The people embark on an elaborate ritual of treating the bones with 'Handia rasi', wrapping it with a yellow cloth and then placing it in a sack prepared for the purpose.

After 'Janbaha'(immersion of the bones) people make offerings which resemble the 'Pindo daan' ceremony of the Hindus.These offerings are prepared with mud,toothpicks, parched rice and sweetmeats placed on three 'Saal' leaves on a specially erected altar. Murmu Thakur(Santhal priest) Mangal Muru performed the 'pindo daan' ceremony, while Kunar Marandi, Gadi Pergannah and Mangal Marandi, Ghat Pergannah assisted the tribe in performing other associated rituals.

After all the rituals over, the Murmu Thakur sprinkled 'Tulasi water' on the members of the tribes for final purification.Earlier, the barbers present at the Ghat had a special task to perform. They get the Santals tonsured before they take the holy dip at the Baruni Damodarghat.

UNI XC-DP PL SY BST1552

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