The Santhal tribe is India’s third biggest tribe. Santhal, sometimes written Santal, means “calm, peace.” They used to live in small, self-sufficient villages in Jharkhand’s hills and woodlands. They engaged in hand-to-mouth economy, subsistence agriculture, hunting, and gathering. However, due to the region’s rising urbanization, many Santhals have relocated to towns and cities in quest of jobs and a better quality of life. As one of the largest indigenous communities in the Indian state of Jharkhand, they have a rich cultural heritage and a deep connection to the environment. When people leave their traditional homes and communities, however, they are forced to adjust to a new way of life that is usually in conflict with their cultural practices.
Traditional knowledge and practices of the tribe have been passed down from generation to generation. They may lose contact with their traditional ways of life and the information that comes with them when they relocate to cities. This can result in the loss of traditional ecological knowledge and practices, which can have serious consequences for the region’s long-term viability.
Historically, the Santhal tribe has endured prejudice and marginalization in Indian culture. They experience more prejudice and marginalization as they relocate to cities, making it difficult for them to access education, healthcare, and other essential services. When they relocate to cities, they struggle to find work and experience prejudice and marginalization.
Furthermore, urbanization has resulted in environmental deterioration and land loss, which has a direct influence on the Santhal’s capacity to survive through farming and hunting. The increased demand for resources like water and timber has also resulted in clashes between the Santhal and other communities.
They have a distinct cultural legacy that is presently at the risk of extinction, and they are struggling to adjust to the changes brought about by urbanization. They must be given special consideration so that they do not fall behind. We must place equal emphasis on the tribe’s mental wellness. Members of the Santhal tribe may endure emotions of displacement, loneliness, and loss of identity as they adjust to city life. This can have serious consequences for their mental health and well-being.
To solve the Santhal tribe’s difficulties, it is critical to include them in decision-making and to build community-based solutions that are suited to their needs and objectives. We must advocate for tailored policies and programmes that address the needs of the Santhal community.
Aadivasi Welfare Foundation (AWF) is making efforts to promote awareness and understanding of Santhal culture and history in the wider community as well as within the Santhal community itself. They are helping to build bridges between different communities and promote greater respect and appreciation of the Santhal way of life. By promoting awareness and understanding of their culture, providing targeted support and building bridges between different communities, we can help preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Santhal tribe for future generations. AWF provides nature-based solutions like tree plantation, honey bee farming, water bodies rejuvenation and many more such initiatives which alleviate the socio-economic condition of the marginalized tribals of India and also help in ecosystem restoration and protection.
Overall, the Santhal tribe is an important and distinct element of Jharkhand’s cultural legacy. As the region continues to urbanise, it is critical that we endeavour to meet their needs while also preserving their traditional knowledge and practises. We can assist to develop a more sustainable and equitable future for all members of the community by doing so.