The Brave Santhal Tribe of Bangladesh
The Santhals of West Bengal can also be found in Bangladesh, as well as Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, which are states of northeastern India. Bengal is a region that is situated partly in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and in India. The Santhal or Santal are one of the central tribes in these regions and are known for their rich cultural practices and customs.
The Santhals are a resilient group of people known throughout history as proud and brave soldiers. In fact, it was Baba Tilka Majhi, a Santali leader, who instigated one of the first rebellions against the British in 1789. Baba Tilka Majhi and his men were able to hold the British back for several weeks but in the end their enemy proved too strong.
The Santhals are physically short in stature, they have a black complexion, their noses are flat and long and the men wear beards. What is first impressed upon you when you meet the native Santhal people is their lively nature and way of life. They are known as a people who are inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds them. They use what they see and transform it into a variety of arts and crafts that are sold all over the world. The Santals produce beautiful and intricate weaves using colors that they see occurring naturally.
The Santhals love to dance and enjoy their food and wine. Their main cuisine includes meat, like fish, rice and dal, which is a combination of dried beans, lentils and split peas. The Santals often have festivals and fairs through the year, which always incorporate lively dancing along with large amounts of food and drink. The festivals of Saharari, Sakrat and Baham are some of the celebrations that the Santal tribe takes part in.
The Santhals live in villages made up of houses that are crowded together, one ontop of the other. A Headman, who has the responsibility to look after the village and the people, runs each village. The Santhals make their living mainly from the farming of vegetables and fruits. When possible they will also hunt for game and fish. The god of the Santhals takes many different forms, all of which come from nature. They also worship their ancestors in order to ensure their wellbeing and that of their families.