April 9, 2009
HO-Tribes in Chotanagpur
Hos are tribal people living mainly in Chotanagpur plateau, specifically in Singbhum district of Jharkhand. They constitute about ten-lakh population. More than 70% of the Hos live in Jharkhand, while 20% distributed over Orissa.
In Chotonagpur, those Kols who partly adopted Hinduism and to some extent advanced are called Mundas while the name HO or Larka (fighting) Kol is reserved for the wilder section of the tribe.
Singhbhum-district has become the domicile of Hos. Little is known of their first coming to this area. It is argued that the name of Singbhum is derived from Singh Bonga-the supreme sun god of Hos.
Hos represent the oldest and most characteristic race of the Kols.
According to Colonel Dalton, as well as S.C.Roy, the Hos, Mundas and the Bhumij originally belong to a single tribe living in Chotonagpur. Subsequently they became differentiated in course of migration. The Hos speak in HO language, which also belongs to Mundari group of Austro-Asiatic language.
Hos are independent bearings. Sir John Houlton, colonial administrator and author, who spent many years in the area, considers Hos to be” handsomest of the Munda group of the tribes. They are renowned for their courage and are known as larka kols or fighting kols. He further says,” The women are finely built and many of them are really good looking”. According to Colonial Dalton they are” physically and morally superior to Mundas, Bhumij and Santhals”.
Ho’s religion is similar to Santhals, Mundas and Orans. They are the followers of SARNA. Sarna represents worship of nature. Like Mundas they believe in the spirit of nature. Hos do not worship idols as practiced by the Hindus. However, they have gods, goddess and spirits to whom they venerate. The village priest, Deuri normally performs all religious rituals excepting propitiating malevolent sprits. Deona acts as a spirit doctor.
The list of main God and Goddess of Hos are:
1. Sing Bonga: The sole creator of the nature and the principal deity.
2. Marang Bonga: The deity worshipped at the time of great difficulties.
3. Deshuali: The God of the village. He nourishes all creatures and trees; and gives relief them from diseases, troubles and natural calamity.
4. Pawnee: An associate of Deshuali but lives in hills.
5. Naga Era & Bindi Era: They are water Goddesses living in lakes and ponds
6. Others: In Ho community there is a separate kitchen cum worship room known as Andi. According to belief and custom, Hos keep the soul of deceased family member in Andi. The soul is being worshiped; particularly at the time of difficulties souls are addressed. Those holy-souls are called by ‘Hadanko- Tudanko”-meaning elders in sleeping stage in Andi.
Hos celebrates a good number of festivals. Festivals are performed collectively. The following are the routine features of festivals:
· Houses are cleared, repaired and painted
· Offerings are made in the sacred grove- in every Ho-village there is a sacred grove
· Drinks enjoyed collectively
· Community dance
The important festivals are:
1. Maghe: The first important festival, held between February-March. Every Ho-village has a separate date for observing Maghe festival so that all of them could participate in the program.
2. Next is Baa-festival. It is done in the month of April when all trees, particularly Sals bloom .The festival represents worshipping nature.
3. Hero-Festival is done to mark the starting of agricultural practices. It is the worship of sowing and worship is held in the field in the month of may-June- with the arrival of monsoon.
4. Jomnamah- the festival commences when first crop is ready for harvesting during august-September.
5. Kolom: Thanks giving ceremony for Deshauli and Sing Bonga for good harvest and held before threshing.
In Ho community there is no gender discrimination. Bride –price is the status symbol of Hos. In their community female population outnumbers male population.