Depicting the shooting competition that concludes the Santals’ Sohrai or Harvest Festival celebrated in early January: A large mural created by village artists to express their cultural identity – West Bengal


Sohrai – The first day

The most important festival of the Santals is called Sohrai. It is the Harvest Festival celebrated after the rice harvest in early January. The celebrations stretch over several days. The first day is Um hiloah.

Every family contributes half a kilo of rice, a young chicken, salt, turmeric powder, potatoes, firewood to prepare khichuri, a mixture of rice with dal and potatoes. They also contribute ranu, a fermenting agent like yeast to prepare rice beer.

On this first day the men perform a ritual on a field outside the village to initiate the festival. After the ritual performed by the Naike (the priest of the village) the men folk eat khichuri and drink rice beer together. Goget, the messenger later distributes the rest of the khichuri to every family on leaves of the Banyan tree.

In the afternoon when the cows return home, an egg is laid on the path to the village. The owner of the cow or buffalo which stamps on the egg will gift a pot of rice beer in the forthcoming Magh Festival of the village.

Source: Santals Celebrate the Seasons published by Ashadullapur Gramin Silpa & Sastha Bidhan Kendra and Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust © 2014

Learn more about this unique project, view the entire series of photographs or download the eBook here: Six Murals by Sanyasi Lohar and his team >

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