In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Local Flavor.”
“Karma, Chandu, Budhiya, Kolha, welcome ! welcome! How have you all been ? How is your grandma, Mangal ? I’m so excited ! Spring is finally here. I get to meet all of you, again”, the old tree shakes her branches in excitement and anticipation.
Karma, Chandu, Budhiya, Kolha along with the other boys have come to clean the premises and ready it for the festivities.
The old tree watches attentively as the boys cut the grass, trim the bushes and whitewash the altar . She is the village tree and tribal from all over Chotanagpur Plateau,India come to pay their tributes to her in spring. They call her SARNA DEVI and her abode the SARNA STAAL.
The dense Saal tree forests have long been destroyed and replaced by the concrete jungle yet the people from far and wide assemble at the SARNA STAAL in the month of April to pay their tribute to nature.
It is a surreal experience. You are transported to the time when man and nature lived in harmony. Tribal representing different villages come to the SARNA STAAL with their village flag.The ‘Pahan’ or priest dressed in white with a Saal flower tucked behind his ear chants and conducts the rituals .People wait eagerly to hear his weather forecast for the coming year. The ‘Pahan’ checks the water level in the holy pot. If the water level has decreased then it is bad new, droughts and dry weather is in store. If the water level is normal then it indicates ample rain and hence good crop. After the rituals the crowd pick ‘Pahan ‘ on their shoulders and carry him to his house. The ‘Pahan’ gives Saal leaves and flowers to everyone. It is the symbol of friendship and brotherhood.
The festivities begin.The song and dance begin. The sounds of tribal drum fill the air. Their songs tell stories of forest and its people. Men and women dressed in their traditional dress dance hand in hand intoxicated by the song and the drum beats. The festivities continue for the whole night.
If you happen to be around this region during April. Do stay back for Sarhul. Come and pay your respect to mother nature.