Like most of our states
Jharkhand is also a melting pot where people from different parts of
the country have come and settled down.But the original inhabitants
are remarkably prominent.
The state has a tribal population of about 28 percent.There are 30
different tribal communities, major one being Santhals,Oraons, Mundas
and Hos. Some other tribes being Kherwar, Chero, Birhor and Paharias.
The predominant communities have their strong presence in the
state that is reflected through their festivals, rituals, music,
language and literature. Their lifestyle are also so distinct that
they have influenced the characteristics of the areas they dwell.
With over 18 lakh population,the Santhals are the largest
tribal group in the state and their concentration is mainly in
Dumka,Godda,Deoghar,Jamtara and Pakur district of Santhal parganas and
east and West Singhbhum districts.
Their mother tounge is Santhali,a language of Austro-Asiatic family.
Most of them also know Hindi or Bengali. The Santhals are divided into
twelve matrilineal totemic clans.Settled agriculture is their main
occupation followed by gathering of forest produce since they
traditionally prefer to live in hilly forest clearings.Educated among
them work for government and non-government agencies. They have their
owm folk songs. The Santhals have their own three-tire community
council-The village council, the pargana council and the hunt
The Oraons are the second largest tribal community of Jharkhand with
over 10 lakh population. Majority of them reside in Ranchi and
Hazaibagh areas. They speak Kurukh belonging to a sub-group of
Dravidian language family. They also speak Hindi and Sadri. The Oraons
have several exogamous totemic clans and they use their clan names as
surnames. They prefer to live in the forest areas, land and forest
being their main economic resources. They are mainly settled
cultivators but depend on forest produces during the lean months.
Educated Oraons are engaged in government and private jobs in large
They have their own folk songs and folk tales. Both men and women
participate in dance during festivals.
The mundas are the third largest tribal group buff the state, mostly
concentrated in Khunti barea of Ranchi district. Their mother-tongue
is Mundari, one of the major Austro-Asiatic language of India. They
speak Hindi also. The Mundas are divided into totemic clans.They are
patrilocal and agriculture is their traditional and primary occupation
which they supplement by forest produce. Education has spread among
them remarkably and many of them are employed in private and
government organization. Mundas are mainly nature worshippers. They
also worship their ancestors, clans and village deities. Mundari folk
songs and music are rich.
The Hos are the fourth major tribal community of Jharkhand ,mostly
found in Singh hum. Their mother tongue, Ho, belongs to Austro-Asiatic
family language. They are divided into a number of exogamous totemic
clans which control their marriage system.
They follow patrilocal rule of residence. Agriculture is their main
occupation followed by gathering and fishing as subsidiary
occupation.They follow their traditional religion.
The Birhors, though much less in numbers, are found in Jharkhand.
The name Birhor is derived from the word bir meaning jungle and hor
meaning man and thus the Birhors are the forest dwellers in true
sense. They are a nomadic community, though the government always
tries to settle them. In Jharkhand they are distributed in the
district of Ranchi, Gumla and Hazaribagh in Chhotanagpur plateau.
Their language is Birhor, which is considered to be an Austro-Asiatic
language. They also speak Sadri and Hindi.
Regarded as landless community, Birhors are mainly gatherers. They are
also found engaged in rope making.