The District of Pakur had been the land of Paharias & Santhals. The Santhals are the single largest section of the population though they are not uniformly spread in the district. Their biggest concentration is the Damin-i-Koh (Skirts of hills ) where they form nearly two third of the population. Besides the Santhals there is another important tribe Paharias living in this district on the hill tops. They are the oldest recorded inhabitants of this area. Very little is known about the primitive tribe of this district retaining their most ancient civilization and culture.</p >
Since the tribal have no written records of their own however their original inhabitants might have been authentic records which show that during the 18th century many santhals began settling down in Chhotanagpur and in the neighbouring district of this area. These people who demonstrated considerable skill in clearing jungle for cultivation began to migrate to Rajmahal hills on its northern eastern side The santhals may not have a very advance & sophisticated civilization. So they are not bound to follow a fixed occupation by any caste rule. In fact their social life philosophy or thinking, their rites and rituals practically centre on different agricultural activities. They cling to their land as their principal occupation & means of subsistence. Hunting, fishing, food gathering are still considered good source of subsistence. This had also forced the Santhals to settle down in permanent villages. Though their hamlets are geographically separated from those of other communities.
Historically the Paharias seem to have been original inhabitants of the Rajmahal hills. The Santhals come from Mongolian stock and were introduced in the area by the British mainly to contain violent opposition of the paharias. The Santhals and the Paharias have traditional inimical relationship. To contain the aggressiveness of both these groups, ex-army men in large numbers were settled in this area. The area has remained culturally surcharged with mistrust between the three communities. Plainsmen have penetrated the area over a long period. They are disliked by the Santhals who look upon them as exploiters and trouble makers. Paharias rely on the plainsmen for support in their quarrels with the Santhals although however this does not spare them from the exploitation by the plainsmen.
The Santhals are relatively a progressive tribe and practice settled cultivation. They live in close knit communities and maintain traditional leadership pattern. A section of Santhals have become Christians and have relatively adopted modern way of life. With the introduction of modern political system non-traditional leadership pattern has also emerged. The Santhals are hard working people and migrate in off season to West Bengal and even to Assam. Even though they are settled cultivators their cultivation practices have not improved over time and there is no noticeable impact of modern agricultural technology in the area. The secondary occupation of the Santhals is gathering of forest produce.
Though the Santhal society is patriarchal but women play a very important role for the social fabrication. Although she occupies a different position but she is said to have right with obligation according to customs & traditions. The religion of Santhal is men’s religion. Women are not allowed to be present at the sacrifices except when they are offered in the house of the ancestors and the family gods. Now the civil condition of the Santhal Women has also been undergoing changes along with the impact of modernism. Santhal Women are gaining their new identity in the field of science, education, art and culture. The spirit of games & sports may be seen in fullbloom among the Santhal Women.
The paharias as a community have gone into a shell. They lost heavily in the past in their struggle with the Santhals and the British and have not recovered from the shock. They live mainly on the hills away from the Santhals and the plainsmen and are inaccessible to the administration. A section of them live on the foothills and are known Suriya Paharia. They are also called high landers, Hillman or hill race. In earlier correspondence they are also known as free booters & cattle lifters. Very little is known about Paharias from the authentic sources. No comprehensive study like Santhals has been made on them. The hill Paharias largely practice slash & burn cultivation methods and supplement their income by collecting minor forest produce. Sauria Paharias practice settled cultivation and are taking minor jobs in Govt. offices. Spread of primary education is good amongst the Paharia groups but they have not made much progress in higher level education.
Poverty in its ugliest form can be seen in Paharia villages. Mal nutrition and diseases have rendered whole villages into a shambles. The traders and money lenders also have a merry time with Paharias due their gamble nature.
Marriage is the principal institution of the society. Marriage system among the Santhals & Paharias is guided by their customary behaviour. The tribal society is accustomed with all sorts of marriages such as monogamy, bigamy, polygamy, polyandry, widow remarriage etc.
The santhals like other tribes look upon marriage such as natural necessity. The people always try to get their children married as soon as they can afford it, so as to get them settled in life. Adult marriages are preferred except certain cases. The young people are not permitted to make one another’s acquaintance before marriage if they do not happen to know each other already. Love is not an essential thing in a Santhal marriage and has nothing to do with arrangement of regular marriage. As matter of fact marriage is practically a leap into the dark, and it is a wonder that it turns out as well as it often does. Divorce is not unknown in tribal society.
The paharias and santhals are having peculiar dresses which are specially prevalent among the trebles of Santhal Paragana.Generally female use panchi and Parhan. Panchi is the upper garment and parhan is lower one. There as the men who a piece of cloth to cover their nakedness. That piece is called Bhagwan Even offer the down of new aria old fashion in dress & of ornaments still continued among the tribals.
The non-tribal men folk use dhoti, pyazama,kurta & shirts and woman wear sarees,blouses etc. On ceremonial occasion kurta, pyazama & sherwahi are used. People of higher status of the society use the modern European dresses. Perfumes oil are also used by the people.
Dietary system a food habits is completely difference from the plainsmen. The food may be divided into the main classes viz. (i) Cereals prepared as that with curry of some kind added as (2) Other food eaten raw or roasted but without cereals. They include varieties of vegetables, & leaves of plants in their foods. They take all kinds of birds, animals, reptiles as fish. Virtually the tribals are omnivorous. Except the Sapa Hore sect who are the strict vegetarians.
The district is a polyglot one, for aborigines live more or less side by side with speakers of Aryan languages and in some parts as many as four languages are spoken by different communities. The Santhali, Hindustani , Bengaly and Malt are the main languages.
Santhal is a language belonging to munds family and is remarkably uniform having been only slightly influenced by the Aryan languages. This influence only confined to the vocabulary and broadly speaking the structures of general character of the language have remained unchanged. Santhaly does not possess or written literature, though traditional legends are current among people. Roman is the script of the language though Devnagri script has also been adopted to some extend. Its grammar is developing stage. But according to Machpails Santhali is very rich in terms of all natural objects. Malto is the languages of the paharias which are also divided into factions.
Sauria Paharia and mal paharias use this languages with certain alteration in their tongue and tones. It is a dravidian language appearing to have a close resemblance to the kurukh language spoken by oraohs. It is however influences by the Aryan or Santhal both. It does not possess the literature and grammer of its own.
Plainmen migrated form Bihar up and Bengal use Hindustani & Bengaly language maithili & Bengaly is the local dialect influenced by magahi. The result is well marked dialect called the chhika – chhiki Boli.
The district is predominantly agricultural in character. The main occupation of the people is cultivation. The indigenous people of the district are either working as agricultural labourers or cultivators. Kharif and Rabi are the main agricultural season. The cultivable area is 75505 hectors, While 16117.08 hectares are follow land. Per capita cultivable land holding is 01.446 hecters. The soil is red, sedentary and suitable for paddy crops and rabbi crops like kurthi, Arhar, and Barbatti. It is also suitable for maize, wheat, gram, Masoor, Mustard, rapseed & vegetables. Commercial crops like jute, sugarcane, onion and potato are also grown here. Orchards are also maintained for the production of fruits such as mango, papaya, guava, and jackfruits.
Though Pakur is not rich in minerals. However a number of economic minerals occurred here & there being worked out. Among the minerals found here coal, china clay, fire clay, quarter, silica sand and glass sand. However a lot of infra structural constrains stand in the way of development of mineral industry. But in respect of mines Pakur is famous for stone industry. Approximately 585 mines & 800 crushers are in operation with the support of one lac labour force in present time. The stone industry is paying eight to nine crore rupees per year as royalty to Govt in addition to commercial taxes. The quality of Pakur black stone chips is excellent for constructional purpose. Black stones of Pakur are also exported in South Asian countries.
The quality of livestock is very poor as cows are of local variety and the average milk yield is around a life per day. To some extent other cattle supplement the income of the people. Though its contribution to the family is almost insignificant but there is scope for enhancing income from animal husbandry.
A preliminary attempt has been made to provide a rough estimate of income generations in the area. Paddy thrashing, leaflet making, bamboo baskets making are the sources of their trading activities. In the absence of major industries and employment opportunities the economic options are limited to agriculture. Stonechips, rice milling, forest produce like Mahua, Sabai grass, tasser, bamboo setting are the source of their commercial activities. Barbatti is also good source of income for the Paharia tribe. Though in resent time poultry farming, piggary, animal husbandry and fishering have extended like commercial opportunities but no scientific structure is prevalent to crop it up. Even the private entrepreneurs are not interested to experiment new things in this area for the betterment of the lot.
The district of Pakur is presenting a picture of mixed heterogeneous society consisting of tribals, harijans, muslims, Hindi and Bengali speaking people with different languages, cultures and heritages. The founding fathers of this area had a vision of developing agricultural operations and small industries in the locality for the betterment of the lot of the people especially of the aboriginal classes and it is time for introspection whether the cherised objects have been achieved after a lapse of time. The main reason behind the backwardness is obvious. Fruitful efforts are being made by implementing different schemes to bring the society into the mainstream of national life.