Monday, March 10, 2008

God sends disease to kill Parhaiya Tribe of Jharkhand State, India?

God sends disease to kill Parhaiya Tribe of Jharkhand State, India?
A report on culture.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

The Parahaiyas are one of the lesser known Scheduled Tribes of Jharkhand State of India. In this state they are found in the districts of Palamau, Hazaribagh, Ranchi and Santhal Paragans.
Living in and around the hills from time immemorial, the Parhaiyas have been carrying on a strenuous struggle for bare existence and are constantly engrossed with the problem of food.
To make their houses clean, sweeping is done in the morning and in the evening. This is done mostly by the women. The rubbish is thrown into the kitchen garden as they have no particular places for depositing it. Most of the people do not take their bath daily. In rainy season and winter, they seldom take bath but in summer season, they take their bath once a twice a month. Giving the reason of it, they said that they have mostly one set of cloth as a result of which, they do not take their bath daily. Due to having one set of cloth, the clothes worn by them are very dirty and bad smell comes out of it. Due to living in such dirty environment they suffer from various diseases and die from various diseases.
But according to them diseases are sent to them by God Himself when they are not properly appeased. Most of the Parahaiya tribe hold that they have been created by God for the perpetuation of the tribe and all of them are sent on earth by the God for a fixed period and as soon as this prescribed period of life is over, a man dies. It is nothing to do with the dirty surroundings or unhealthy environment in which they live.
The soul does not die rather it is recalled for transferring it to some other man and woman taking birth as desired by the God. For recalling the Soul, the God sends various sorts of diseases, viz. malaria, dysentery, fever, pox, cholera and if the prescribed time of life has ended the men and women suffering from these diseases die and the soul is carried by the ‘Yam’ who is messenger of the death.
As soon as a Parhaiya suffers from any disease, it is presumed that the God is angry and he must be appeased. An Ojha (local magician who claims to cure the patient with the help of divine forces or with the help of ghost) is sent for divination. After knowing the cause and name of the angry deities, the Ojha asks the patient to sacrifice the animal or any other element which are generally liked by the angry deity.
The Parhaiyas hold that a man dies when the heart stops functioning and the body becomes very cold. The dead are burned, except in case of cholera, when they are buried.
The old people said that about 80 to 90 years ago they used to throw dead bodies of such persons who died of cholera, pox into the caves of distant hills or into the big rivers having strong current.
Most of the tribes in the Jharkhand State of India live around coal, bauxite, uranium mining etc. where they are forced to drink contaminated water and breathe polluted air which has affected their longevity.
Mohan, H. 1975. The Parhaiya: A study in Culture change. Bihar Tribal Welfare Research Institute, Ranchi.
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