Festivals and Fairs in Ranchi
The village priest relates the legend about seven brothers who were engaged in agriculture. Their wives carried lunch for them to the field where they worked hard. Once it so happened that their wives did not bring lunch for them and they went back home hungry only to find their wives singing and dancing merrily around a branch of Karam tree that was planted in the courtyard of their house. They were infuriated and one of them uprooted the karam branch and flung it into the river. This was an insult to Karam deity and with passage of time, their economic condition started deteriorating to the extent of starvation.Then one day a ''brahmin'' (priest) visited them and the brothers narrated their woes to him. The ''brahmin'' advised them to appease Karam Rani (Goddess). The brothers followed his counsel and gradually their economic condition improved.The underlying message is that environment should be protected at all costs.
Young villagers collect flowers, wood and fruits from the jungle for prayers and rituals. The branch of karam tree (''karam dalli'') symbolizes Karam Devta, the goddess of power, youth, wealth and children. Cuttings of three branches are planted in the ground where the community dances and sings in groups. The place where such ''Karam dance'' is performed whole night is called ''Akhara-sthal'' and these branches are known as ''Karam Raja''.
A pot filled with water, an iron rod for digging (''sabbal''), ''diya-bati'', ghee and milk are brought and after digging the earth, the three branches are tied making seven rounds of the thread. They are placed in the hole which is now filled up with mud. The next day is marked by offering of flowers, rice and curd to ''Karam Raja''. Red colour baskets full of grains (''daliya''), two pieces of cloth dipped in ''haldi'' (turmeric) and covering the cucumber, a lighted ''diya'' and small wooden stick (''datwan'' taken from Sakhwa tree) are placed nearby and covered by ''rendi'',''pechki'' or ''kuchu'' leaf (''patti'') to seek blessings . Later, the fasting girls distribute their rice-grain and sit in front of Karam dalli.
The legend associated with this festival are narrated by ''pahan'' or village priest. Barley seedlings are given out to young adivasis, who wear them on their heads. The devotees observe fast for the entire day and night full of prayers and celebration. Prayers are also offered to other Gods and Goddesses and ancestors at home. Parents give their fasting children dhoti, turra-pagri, chaurasi and ghungroo. They return to the ''akhara-sthal'' and enjoy a whole night resplendent with traditional music and dance on the beats of traditional drums. The completion of the festival marks ceremonial immersion of ''karam bough'' in the river or local pond.
The devotees feast together and also drink ''handia'' which is rice beer along with rice, curd and vegetables.This festival reiterates their relationship with nature, need for environmental conservation and its impact on their lives.
Tusu Parab or Makar:
Scientifically, during this time, winter season ends and spring or harvest season commences. According to a legend, Lord Vishnu brought an end to the terror of demons on this day by burying their heads under ''Mandara Parvata''. In Mahabharata, Bhishma used the boon of ''Ichha mrityu'' (death at his own will) given to him and left his mortal body on Makar Sankranti. It is a belief among people that anyone dying during ''Uttarayana'' becomes free from rebirth.
Chura, Jaggery (''gur''), tilkut, tilwa and maska are prepared using sesame seeds along with other sweets which are offered to everyone. On the second day of the festival, ''khichri'' (mixture of rice and daal) is prepared with vegetables such as cauliflower, potato, peas etc.
People take bath early in the morning and start the day with prayers.They offer sesame seeds to the fire and then consume ''dahi-chuda'' (curd and rice), ''bhujia'' (prepared from pumpkin using sugar and salt without adding any water to it),tilkut and lai (laddus prepared with til, chura or beaten rice and chawal). In the evening, khichri is relished along with curd, ''chokha'', ghee, ''chutni'' , ''tilauri'' and pickle (''achaar''). In Bihar and Jharkhand, makar sankranti is also known as ''Sakraat'' or ''Khichdi'' or ''tusu parab'' and is celebrated around 14th or 15th of January.
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