The wells are full to the brim. Springs emerge from hills. Forests turn lush green. The earth dons a green cover. Paddy crops cover the fields. Bhadrapad is the month when the rainy season melts into autumn. In the Chhotanagpur (Jharkhand) region, it is time for some fun and frolics. At this time, the tribal community celebrates the Karam festival. The festival is closely linked to agriculture and nature. Nature is worshipped, seeking a good harvest. Karam is a celebration of “karma” (work) and also of the selfless love of brothers and sisters. It also represents the primitive tradition of venerating nature. Karam sends out the message of preserving and enriching nature; it is a celebration of the flow of life. Starting on the Ekadashi of Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapad month, it is celebrated for 15 days.
During the festival, baskets made of saal or kendu are placed in the akhda or courtyard of the house and worshipped as Karam tree. Seasonal flowers and fruits, rice, milk, cucumber and java flower (sprouted seeds) are offered. Then everyone listens to the Karam Katha, recited by the Pahaan. Young boys and girls present traditional Karam songs and dance in the akhda. These songs and dances are based on different stories but the message of importance of hard work and preservation of nature is central to all of them. After the puja, the Karam tree is carried to the field and buried there. It is believed that it protects the crops from insects. We are presenting here some glimpses of the celebration of this festival.
Published in the October 2015 issue of the FORWARD Press magazine