ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Thursday, July 25, 2024



Asur is an important tribe in the state of Jharkhand in the eastern part of the subcontinent of India. Asur in Jharkhand is one of the thirty major tribes of people who have made the state of Jharkhand their home. The people who belong to this tribe form quite a big part of the total population of the state of Jharkhand.

It ranks 21st among all the 30 tribal groups of the state, in terms of population, that is, there are as many as 9 tribal groups in the state that have a smaller population than the Asur of Jharkhand. Asur is one of the most ancient ethnic groups in the state of Jharkhand. The people belonging to Asur at Jharkhand stay within houses made of clay. They live in villages that are grouped into different tolas for the convenience of the people. The houses in which the people belonging to Asur tribe live do not have any window. The people love to make their houses look even more beautiful by painting them on their external walls. They thrive mostly on the flesh of animals and birds and rice. The total population of the tribal group of Asur is 7783. The rate of literacy among the people of the state of Jharkhand is not very satisfying. The rate is only 10.62%.Though their total number is not ignorable, the percentage of the total population of the state that they cover is not a massive one. The people who belong to the Asur tribe cover only 0.13 % of the total population of the state.


The Baiga is one of the most important tribes in the state of Jharkhand in India. The people who belong to the Baiga tribe of Jharkhand are reportedly least civilized of all the different tribes of the state. The people of the tribe of Baiga in Jharkhand inhabit in a particular district of the state. The name of this district of Jharkhand is the Garwah district. The people who belong to the tribe of Baiga constitute a Kolerian ethnic community. The name of this tribe of Jharkhand has quite a few meanings. One of them is 'ojha' or a person who makes medicines. Many of the people who belong to the Baiga tribe make medicines by profession, though their chief traditional occupation has been shifting cultivation. The people who belong to the tribe of Baiga at Jharkhand dwell in the remotest regions of the state and it becomes very difficult for the people of the urban world to reach out to them. Most of them are found to reside in the forested regions and hilly areas of Jharkhand. There are two book references of the tribe of Baiga of Jharkhand. One is the book called 'Highlands of Central India'. This book was written by a person named Forsyth. Another reference of this primitive tribe of Jharkhand is found in the documentation, which is called the 'Seoni Settlement Report'. This report was authored by a captain by the name Thompson. Though these two written documents mention the Baiga tribe of the state of Jharkhand, they cannot be termed reliable written sources of information about the people who belong to this tribe.


The state of Jharkhand came into emergence on 15th November, 2001. The population of Jharkhand in mainly comprised of tribal people. There are more the 30 distinct tribal communities in Jharkhand and these tribes are grouped under the 'scheduled tribes' group of the Jharkhand populace. These tribes are separated on the basis of their language and cultural preferences. Banjara is one such tribe in Jharkhand.

Though smallest in number, the Banjara tribe in Jharkhand is a recognized part of the tribal community. Unlike the Banjara tribe of Rajasthan, the Banjaras of Jharkhand lead a settled life. They generally live in thatched huts with kuchcha walls. Though they remain unperturbed by the modernization around, recent years has seen far reaching changes in the relationship between the Banjaras and the large society. The literacy rate of the Banjaras is about 12.38%. The colorful lives of the Banjaras now have become the source of entertainment to the entire state. Tribal festivals like Sarhul, Tusu and Sohrai are celebrated throughout the state. Banjara music and dances like Chaw, Natua, Ghatwari and Matha now-a-days has become sources of recreation even to the tourist to Jharkhand. They now seem to plan their visit to Jharkhand in the festive seasons of the tribes in Jharkhand.


Birhor is one of the primitive tribes in Jharkhand. In Jharkhand, Birhor are found in the Palamu, Garhwa, Dhanbad, Singhbhum, Giridih, Lohardaga, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Gumla, etc. Birhor at Jharkhand belong to the Proto-Australoid stock; linguistically, they originate from the Austro-Asiatic group. It is interesting to note that the Birhor tribe of Jharkhand consider themselves as the descendants of the Sun. It is believed that the Birhors are related to the Kharwar tribe, also said to have descended from the Sun. In Jharkhand, the Birhor tribe is divided into two major sub-tribes, namely Jaghis Birhor and Uthalu Birhor. These tribes in Jharkhand portray a distinct pattern of socio-economic lifestyle. In fact, the JaghisBirhor and the UthaluBirhor tribes in Jharkhand are known for their agro-based economy. The JaghisBirhor are nomads who keep moving from one jungle to the other. These tribes practice shifting cultivation: when the food supply of a particular forest is exhausted, they head towards another forest. Furthermore, talking about the lifestyle of Birhor tribe in Jharkhand, it can be said that they live in groups known as Tanda. It is basically a bunch of six or seven cone-shaped huts made of leaves and branches. Family is the basic unit of Birhor society. The social setup of Birhor community in Jharkhand is patriarchal in nature: the father is the head of the family. Besides, the Birhor support monogamous marriages, still, at times polygamy or trigamy is also allowed in unusual circumstances like widowhood, sterility, etc. The economy of the Birhor tribe largely depends on forest resources, labor and agriculture. For the Uthalu Birhor, forest is the main source of food; whereas for the JaghisBirhor, agriculture seems to be the main stay of the people. The agricultural land of the JaghisBirhor is divided into two major types such as Tanr and Don: in the Tanr lands, the Birhors practice dry cultivation, whereas the don lands are known for their water retention capacity.


The Birjia tribe of Jharkhand is found in the districts of Ranchi, Gumla, Palamu and Lohardaga. In Jharkhand, Birjias live in small huts made of bamboo, wood or mud, which are located in the hills or the plains adjoining these hills. The Birjia at Jharkhand live in triangular or rectangular huts made up of bamboo, wood or mud. The huts of the Birjia tribe, usually, are devoid of windows: the huts have a small gate which is closed with a tati or a mat. The Birjia tribe possesses a patriarchal society: a Birjia family is usually a nuclear family with father as the head of the family. Moreover, the Birjia society is known as a monogamous society, yet the prevalence of bigamy cannot be overruled. It goes without mention that they have a rural society where agriculture and forests play a vital role in the socio-economic life. Hence, Birjia economy is based on agricultural yields, as well as on hunting, fishing and labor. The political organization of the Birjia tribe in Jharkhand is primarily based on the Panchayat system. The head of the Birjia society is the 'Baiga', who looks after the social laws and customs. But, the Birjia clan exempts women from participating in the panchayat, which is considered an exclusive right solely reserved for the men folk of the Birjia community.

It is noteworthy in this context that the administration in the Birjia community has largely evolved in recent years, with the exposure of the Birjias to the modern ways of living. Hence, we can find the modern Gram Panchayat Elections making their presence felt in the Birjia society. In fact, both men and women of the Brijia clan now participate in the elections conducted by the State Election Commission.


The Chero are one of the scheduled tribes of Jharkhand. In Jharkhand, Chero dwell in the districts of Ranchi, SathalPargana, Latehar and Palamu. Palamu seems to have a larger concentration of the Chero tribe in Jharkhand. Besides, the Chero at Jharkhand are also found in Bhojpur, Gaya, Champaran, Munger, Daltonganj, Patan, Lesliganj, Bhawanathpur, Rohtas, etc. It is noteworthy in this context that the Chero, also known as Cherwas or Cherus, was a martial group that annexed many new territories through war. They are said to be descendants of the Kshatriya lineage known as Chandravanshi. The Chero of Jharkhand follows a patriarchal form of the society where women are exempted from all the rights to inheritance and succession. The Chero tribe of Jharkhand is divided into two endogamous groups, namely Terahazari and Barahazari and is also divided into a number of clans said to follow endogamy and exogamy. Among the major clans of Chero are:

· Barka

· Mawar

· Barahaka

· Kuar

· Mahato

· Chotamawar

· Samwat

· Rautia

· Manjhia, etc.

Talking about the economy, it can be said that the economy of the Chero tribe is based on wage earning and agriculture: the Cheros also practice animal husbandry. Among the important crops that form an integral part of agricultural yields are:

· Kurathi

· Marua

· Maize

· Paddy, etc.

But, it is noteworthy that the agricultural yields are insufficient: therefore, the Chero engage themselves in wage earning throughout the year. The Chero tribe of Jharkhand seeks work as wage laborers in order to earn their livelihood and support their family.


The Chick Baraik of Jharkhand is found in Ranchi, Lohardaga and Gumla districts. The Chick Baraik in Jharkhand belongs to the Proto-Australoid and speaks Mundari, Hindi and Sadani languages. The Chick Baraik tribe presents a picture of communal harmony. In Jharkhand, the Chick Baraiks do not dwell in a separate village but live with the other tribes and castes within the same village. In fact, it can be said that they celebrate fraternity and brotherhood. Furthermore, the Chick Baraiks present an amalgamation of the Hindu and the tribal beliefs. On one hand, Sing Bonga is said to the titular deity of the Chick Baraiks, when on the other hand, they also worship Devi Mai, the Supreme Goddess of the Hindus. Among the other deities worshipped by the Chick Baraiks in Jharkhand are: besides, some of the major festivals of the Chick Baraiks are:

· Sohrai

· Sarhul

· Durga DeviPuja

· Phagu

· Ramnawmy

· Nawakhani

· Karma, etc.


Like the other tribes of Jharkhand, such as Mahli, Lohara, Karmali, the Chick Baraik are artisans who earn their living through spinning threads and weaving clothes. Weaving and spinning is the age-old profession practiced by the Chick Baraiks of Jharkhand. It is interesting to note in this context that the Chick Baraiks are also known as the artisan tribe in Jharkhand. The Chick Baraik society is marked with the presence of the Panchayat system, which is given due respect in the society. The decision adopted by the community panchayat is treated by the Chick Baraiks as the last word: no one, among the Chick Baraiks is authorized to go against the decision of the panchayat.


The Gonds originally belong to Madhya Pradesh: but, in Jharkhand, Gond belongs to Palamu, Singhbhum and Ranchi districts. The Gond of Jharkhand, linguistically, belongs to the Dravidian race; but, racially, the Gond at Jharkhand hail from Proto-Australoid stock. According to the common belief, the Gondtribe belongs to a martial group, who trace their descent from the Kshatriyas. They are said to have migrated in the Central province in the 14th century, legends opine that the Gonds hailed from the South through Bustar and Chanda.

Moreover, in Jharkhand, the Gonds dwell in the areas adjoining the forests: therefore, the Gond tribe is found to be scattered throughout the length and breadth of Jharkhand. Like the other tribes of Jharkhand, the Gond tribe also projects a patriarchal form of the society, where the father is the head of the family and the laws of inheritance largely support the men folk of the society. It is interesting to note that the Gonds follow division of labor: work is equally divided among the men and women of the society. Man and women work in complete collaboration with each other; yet, cooking and other household chores seems to be duty of the women and is not divided with the male members of the society. Talking about the economy of the Gond at Jharkhand, it can be said that the Gonds follow labor and agricultural economy. In fact, each family of the Gond society owns a piece of agricultural land, which is used by them to grow maize, marua, bajra and many other vegetables. Besides, each of the families possesses buffaloes and agricultural implements. Furthermore, the Gonds have a subsistence type of economy that does not possess the concept of saving.


The Gorait at Jharkhand belong to the Austric racial group and are found scattered in the districts of Dhanbad, Palamu, Ranchi, SathalPargana, Singhbhum and Hazaribagh. Linguistically, the Gorait belong to the Proto-Australoid group. The Gorait in Jharkhand are found in the hilly tracks adjoining the forests of the territory. The Goraits of Jharkhand dwell with the other tribes of Jharkhand. This co-existence of the Goraits with the other tribes of Jharkhand has led to the assimilation of the cultural habits of the tribes. Thus, like the other tribes in Jharkhand, the Goraits also build a one-room house containing a bed-room, kitchen and bathroom. Among the Goraits, the authority of the family lies with the father of the family. Although, the father is the head of the Gorait family; yet the father takes decision with the assent of the other family members. Moreover, it can be said that the Gorait tribe celebrates the nuclear form of family: the presence of a joint family is very rare in a Gorait society. It is noteworthy that the Gorait are divided into a number of clans based on their origin. Among the important totemic clans among the Goraits of Jharkhand are:

· Toppo

· Indnar

· Tudu

· Khalkho, etc.

It should be marked that the aforesaid clans are patrilineal. Therefore, marriage in the same clan is a taboo. Talking about the religion of the Gorait of Jharkhand, it can be said that the Goraits believe in manaism, animism, Bongaism, naturalism, witchcraft, Sharananism, animalism, etc. along with a strong belief in the concept of mulitple Gods, the Gorait believe in ancestral spirits who are said to reside in Sarnagrove. Like the other tribes of Jharkhand, the Goraits also have a panchayat based administration. The head of the Panchayat is known as the Pradhan, who is said to adopt laws for the Gorait society. Although the Pradhan is the head of the society, the Pradhan works in close association with the other members of the panchayat.


The Ho is one of the scheduled tribes of Jharkhand. The Ho in Jharkhand belong to Proto-Australoid stock and speak Ho and Hindi languages: a corrupt version of Bengali is also spoken by the Hos of Jharkhand. In Jharkhand, Ho tribe dwells near the rivers, river terraces or by the side of the springs. It is noteworthy in this context that the Ho community of Jharkhand largely depends on agriculture. Agriculture is the main stay of the people of the Ho tribe in Jharkhand.

Besides, the Ho at Jharkhand practice wage earning for their sustenance. In fact, the majority of the Hos earn their living through daily labor in the different industries and mines in the territory. It is to be noted that the conditions of the people engaged as daily labors are better than the people who depend on agriculture. Furthermore, the Ho at Jharkhand is known to possess a panchayat based administration where the Manki, the head of the panchayat, takes decisions on behalf of the entire society. It is noteworthy that each and every family among the Ho tribe participates in panchayat and a unanimous decision is adopted at the panchayat with the assent of each of the members of the Ho society. It is interesting to note that the Hos are more politically aware than the other tribes of Jharkhand: in fact, the Hos are aware of their political rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The Ho of Jharkhand is well versed in the administration of the state and they take active part in the elections conducted by the Legislative Assembly of Jharkhand.


Karmali in Jharkhand are found in Ranchi, Hazaribagh, SanthalParganas, Singhbhum, and Bokaro districts. Karmali at Jharkhand is one of the scheduled tribes of Jharkhand who are also known as the artisan tribes of Jharkhand. Karmali of Jharkhand are known for a nuclear family system where the father is the head of the family. The nuclear family of the Karmali is composed of a man and his wife and children. The children live with their parents till they are single: after their marriage the children set up a family of their own. Therefore, we can say that the Karmali tribe celebrates a nuclear family: the concept of a joint family is completely absent in the Karmali society.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that the society of Karmali is based on the division of labor. Each of the members of the society is given their share of work: both men and women work in complete coordination with each other. Karmali women assist their male partners in making tools: the men, unlike the male members of the other tribe, also assist the female in cooking and other household chores. In Jharkhand, the Karmali tribes practice monogamy. But on the occasions of widowhood and sterility, polygamy is also allowed among the Karmalis. In fact, the Karmali of Jharkhand celebrates endogamy and exogamy: a Karmali is allowed to marry outside their clan; but marrying outside their tribe is a taboo among the Karmalis. The religion of Karmali is centeredaround Sing bonga, Dihwarbonga, Nagbona, Banshbonga, Grambonga, etc. Another aspect of the religion of the Karmalis is animism. Among the important animals worshiped by the Karmalis are pigeon, he-goat, he-sheep, duck, etc. Furthermore, the Karmalis also believe in ancestral spirits. Some of the important festivals of Karmali are Jitia, Nawakhani, Dasehra, Ramnavmi, Vishwakarma Puja, etc.


Kharia at Jharkhand belong to the Proto-Australoid group. The Kharia in Jharkhand are said to be the descendants of Nagvanshi Raja and are divided into three major sections namely DudhKharia, DhelkiKharia and Hill Kharia. The Kharia of Jharkhand are one of the most primitive tribes that chiefly depend on the resources obtained from the forests of the territory. The Hill Kharia largely depend on roots, edible herbs, leaves, fruits, seeds, flowers, honey, wax, etc; the DhelkiKharia and DudhKharia depend on agriculture. The Kharias are basically centered round the hills and plains adjoining the hills. The settlement of the Kharia is dispersed throughout the different districts of Jharkhand. The houses of the Kharias are made up of straw, bamboo, mud, rope, etc. and are generally rectangular in shape. The houses, generally, possess a single room that contains a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom: we can find a cow-shed or pig stay attached to the house. A family is the smallest unit in a Kharia society which is composed of the parents and children. In Kharia society, nuclear family seems to the general trend and joint families are very rare to find. Moreover, the Kharia society is a patriarchal society where the inheritance law and the laws of succession largely support the male members of the society. A Kharia society falls under the jurisdiction of the Panchayat system and a Pradhan is supposed to be the head of the society. Therefore, it becomes the duty of the Pradhan to look after the peace and prosperity of the society. Furthermore, the economy of the Kharias is based on agriculture or wage earning. Besides, the Kharias also practice fishing, hunting, food gathering, etc. Moreover, the agricultural land is divided into two types: Tanr and Don Lands. Kurathi, Arahar, Til, Tisi, etc. are cultivated in the Tanr lands, as it is dry land whereas, the Kharias grow paddy in the Don land, due to its moisture retention capacity.


Kharwar are found in the Latehar, Lohardaga, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Chatra, Daltonganj, Garhwa, districts and is known to be one of the scheduled tribes of Jharkhand. The Kharwar of Jharkhand is also found in the Rohtasgarh district in Bihar. It is interesting to note that the Kharwar in Jharkhand are a group of traditional people who use the Khair grasses for various purposes. Due to the excessive use of the Khair leaves by them, the Kharwars are named so. A family is the unit of the Kharwar society which is generally nuclear in structure and comprises a husband, wife and their unmarried children because after marriage the children set up their own families. In fact, the concept of the joint family is completely absent from the Kharwar society. Although, the Kharwar at Jharkhand possess a patriarchal society; yet, we can find the division of labor in the society. It is for the smooth functioning of the household that the Kharwars practice division of labor. The father of the family is entitled to all the outdoor work and activities; whereas the mother is responsible for the household work. Furthermore, the Kharwar society is basically a patrilineal society which is based on the terminology of kinship.

Talking about the religion of the Kharwar of Jharkhand, it can be said that the religion of the Kharwar presents a mixture of both the Hindu and tribal cult. Among the important deities worshiped by the Kharwar are:

· Goddess Lakshmi

· Sing Bonga

· Durga

· Bhagawati

· Hanuman

· DihwarBonga

· Gram Bonga, etc.

Moreover, the important festivals of Kharwar tribes are:

· Sarhul

· Chhatha

· Diwali

· Durga Puja

· Nawakhani

· Jitia

· Ramnavmi

· Sohrai

· Phagu, etc.

Like the other tribes of Jharkhand, the Kharwar tribe also depends on agriculture and wage earning. The Kharwars had once been the Zamindars of Jharkhand, but due to their extravagant nature they have been rendered poor. In the present time, the Kharwars largely depend on agriculture. The agricultural land of the Kharwars is divided into two categories, namely Don and Tanr.


The abode of the members of the extremely cherished Munda tribe is not confined to the borders of the state of Jharkhand. The Munda people have also penetrated into other beleaguering states of Orissa, Chattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal. As a matter of fact, a handful of the Mundatribals have also been noted to have established their permanent domicile in Bangladesh as well. The sphere where the Munda in Jharkhand bears a remarkable similitude with its contemporary tribes is mainly concerned with a conspicuous dialect and a unique life-style. This could be vividly illustrated from the fact that the lingo restricted to them is known as 'Mundari'. The legend that exists behind this extremely coveted and revered language elucidates that Mundari actually belonged to the Austro-Asiatic family of languages. According to the last census, the estimated number of members of the Munda across Jharkhand totals up to twenty lacs or two millions. As a matter of fact, the language of the Mundas had been inspired from the designation of the tribe itself and bears uncanny resemblance with the other vernaculars fluently used in India like Sanskrit and Dravidian. The Mundari language is considered to be included in the group of interrelated languages like Ho, Santali and Mundari.

The religion that is followed by a quarter of the population of Munda of Jharkhand is Christianity. However, they also have evolved their own religion known as Sarna. They consider the celestial bodies like the moon, sun and the planets to be holy and 'Sing Bonga' or the 'Sun God' is their principle deity.


The individuals of the Oraon tribe not only inhabit the domain of Jharkhand but a handful have also successfully fanned out into many economically and technologically sound cities like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai as educated and well-employed individuals. Previously, the members of the Oraon clan extracted their livelihood from chopping trees, accumulating timber and other forest related activities. They also depended on the woods to procure them with all the essential ingredients required to perform their rituals. But as we entered the threshold of the 21st century, the tribal people of the Oraon of Jharkhand have taken up agriculture as their primary means of earning their livelihood. However, the petite bunch of the Oraon tribe who had opted to seek refuge in the northern realms of India has been mostly employed in the flourishing tea estates. The lingo that has been accepted by the population of the Oraon tribe in Jharkhand is Kurukh. This language has originated from the Dravidian family of languages and bears significant similitude with other contemporary dialects like Brahui and Malto. The individuals belonging to the Oraon tribe also like to have a grandeur lifestyle. This can be evaluated from the zeal and enthusiasm with which they perform dances, sing enchanting folk songs and play a vast array of musical instruments with adeptness.

The religion followed by huge fraction of the Oraon people is Sarna. The rest have, however, have chosen to embrace Christianity. A recognizable name from the Oraon tribe is KartikOraon who had served the coveted post of a Congress Minister.

Source: www.jharenvis.nic.in

Time: 11:05 AM, 14/02/2015