Culture & Heritage
Khunti district is mainly dominated by Munda tribes who have being exploited for long and forced to live in isolation. Khunti district is one of the educationally backward district and the major inhabitants are Munda tribes who have been excluded from education system for long, hence the low rate of literacy amongst them.The concentration of tribal population in Khunti district is very high. The condition of STs and SCs is not very good and they are still struggling for their basic rights and dignified life. They are excluded from main stream of development paradigm and basic facilities required for dignified life which perpetuate their problems and ultimately their exclusion continued in-spite of many efforts.
Munda history and origins are matters of conjecture. The territory they now occupy was until recently difficult to reach and remote from the great centres of Indian civilization; it is hilly, forested, and relatively poor for agriculture. It is believed that the Munda were once more widely distributed but retreated to their present homelands with the advance and spread of peoples having a more elaborate culture. Nevertheless, they have not lived in complete isolation and share (with some tribal variation) many culture traits with other Indian peoples. Most Munda peoples are agriculturists. Along with their languages, the Munda have tended to preserve their own culture, although the government of India encourages their assimilation to the larger Indian society.The Mundas are settled agriculturists. They also collect minor forest products from forest to supplement their economy; Hunting, Fishing and Animal husbandry are subsidiary to agriculture. They also work as agricultural labourers and unskilled labourers.
The dormitory system called Gitiora was found among them, but now a days this is out of practice.The Munda believe in numerous Gods and Deities. Their supreme benevolent God is called Singbonga. Next in importance are the presiding Deities of the village namely Hatu Bogkao such as Desauli, Jaher Buri, Chandi Bonga etc. These Deities are of significance during agricultural and hunting operations. The Pahan, the village priest at Sarna, the sacred grove of the village, worships them. Then come the ancestral spirits, the Ora Bongako. Their blessings are invoked on every social and religious ceremony like the Hatu Bongako, which calamities are sure to overpower them. Apart from these, they appease and propitiate a large number of malevolent spirits and ghosts on different occasions.
The Munda tribe celebrates several festivals like Mage, Phagu, Karam, Sarhul, and Sohrai etc. Sarhul is the important festival of Mundas, which is celebrated in the month of March-April. It is a festival of flowers. On this ocassion Sal flowers are brought to the Sarna and Pahan propitiate all Gods of the Mundas. Mage is celebrated in the Full Moon Day of Paush month. The spirits of deceased ancestors are the main objects of worship. Phagu festival is celebrated in the month of February-March. This is characterized by communal hunt. The village Deity is worshipped on this occasion. As it corresponds with Holi festival they sprinkle colour on other. Karma festival is celebrated in the month of August-September for the prosperity of the village. The Karam sapling is brought from the forest by an unmarried male, singing and dancing. They are planted in the village. They take rice beer and dance for the whole night. Sohrai is celebrated in the month of October-November. In the night, lamps are lighted. On the following morning, the cattle shed is washed and sprinkled with rice beer.
Historians are of the view that the Munda tribes have originated from Koal living in Bindhya Parvat. Most Mundas are now found in Bihar. They have many similarities with Santhals. Despite being agriculturists they have good hands in hunting. Cultural life of Mundas resembles that of Santhals. Munda boys and girls perform song and dance in the villages. Three festivals they celebrate every year are Jadur,Lasur and Gena. They choose these occasions to perform dance and also perform Jhumurdance.Yatra ( open theatre ) is another popular item of recreation among the Mundas.They celebrate Dolpurnima with much fanfair when the Munda boys go out for hunting in the night.