09 September, 2012

The World of the Oraon: Their Symbols in Time and Space

The World of the Oraon: Their Symbols in Time and Space

By- Abhik Ghosh

In the early 1990s renowned anthropologist Sarat Chandra Roy published his ethnographies on Oraons, one of the numerous tribes in Chotanagpur region. Since then there has been no major work on this tribe, one of the largest in the areas.

The present work begins by using the symbol as a key ingredient in classifying and analyzing criteria used in the cognition of the Oraons. It goes into the detail of symbol formation to show how they are used in everyday contexts. Symbols include aspects of rituals, festivals and knowledge about other spheres of Oraon life. Since the raw material of anthropological studies comes ultimately from the individual, it is the latter who is the focus of this study.

The idea of time, space and boundaries help the Oraons to practice a large variety of medical practices for their curative and other health requirements. Further, the identity of the Oraons as one having a religion is also ambivalent, caused by inclusion-exclusion realities of various kinds operating on them. This makes them include converts to Christianity for certain reasons and also to resent and reject them for others. These ideas further enable them to politically create a pan-community identity as Jharkhandis, creating a demand for a space to be created called Jharkhand, having its own individual culture separate from other states around them. This imagined homeland became a reality recently with the creation of Jharkhand.

This work attempts a major stocktaking of the Oraons nearly a hundred year after Roy’s classic works appeared.

Abhik Ghosh is a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Panjab University, Chandigarh. He holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Delhi. He has conducted fieldwork in the Chotanagpur region of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

ISBN  81-7304-692-1    2006   364p.   Rs.895/ pounds 55

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