The third largest tribes of India are the Santhal Tribe. This tribe habitation is mainly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Assam. They belong to the Pre -Aryan period and were the great fighters during the British regime in India. A bantam bunch comprising of the Santhals can also be traced back to Bangladesh. Santhals were brave and courgeous people who wagged war against the permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis in 1855.

In 1850 Santhals hero Sidhu had accumulated around 10 thousand Santhals to run parallel government against the British government. The first Santhal leader who raised weapons against the Britishers in 1789 was Baba Tilka Majhi. According to the earlier census their population is around 49,000.

The scientists have conjectured that the individuals of the Santhal in Jharkhand had the Proto Australoids as their ancestors and these so-called Proto Australoids had embarked upon a journey towards the eastern frontier of India and eventually settled there. Many call them as "the tribes at extreme".

Place /Location (then and now)
West Bengal , Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam
Languages spoken
Hindi, Santhali
Sarna, Sari Dhorom

Santhal Tribes enjoy and love dancing. Dancing is one activity which is in their blood. It forms an important part of the Santhals fairs and festivals. Santhals relax themselves with the light music music and dance after the long day hard work. Santhal women dress up themselves in the red bordered white sari and dance in the line sequence. Apart from dance, Santhals have fun & enjoy& also play great music using Tirio (bamboo flute with the seven holes), an open chest( korom), a short neck(hotok)and a head( bohok), Phet banam (a fretless stringed instrument with three or four strings), Tumdak, Tamak, Junko and Singa. Dhodro banam (which consists of belly called lac covered with an animal skin on which rests the bridge(sadam, lit, horse), Santhal Tribal Communtiy have no temples of their own and they even do not worship any idols.

Santhals follow the Sarna religion. Their God and Goddess are Marangburu, Jaheraera, and Manjhi. The most amazing fact about Santhal is that they pay respect to the ghosts and spirits like Kal Sing, Lakchera, and Beudarang etc. Santhals have village priests known as the Naiki and shaman Ujha. In this community animal sacrifices to the Gods is common to appease the Gods and Goddesses.

The occupation of the Santhals revolve around the forests in which they reside. Their basic needs are fullfiled from the trees and plants of the forests. They are also engaged in the hunting, fishing and cultivation for their livelihood.

They possess unique skills in making the musical equipments, mats and baskets out of the plants.

The talent of Santhal Tribe is safely passed on from one generation to the other.

Santhals speak Santhali, which belongs to the Austro- Asiatic language family. Santhals have their script called Olchiki, which was developed by Dr Raghunath Murmu in 1925. They are generally bilingual. Apart from Santhali they also speak Bengali, Oriya and Hindi. The members of the Santhal tribe have accepted the dialect Santhali as their mother-tongue. This language has also been derived from the Austro-Asiatic group of languages and has a lot of features common with the languages like Vietnamese and Khmer like most of the lingos used by the tribes. The alphabet used by the Santhali language is known as Ol Chiki. A strange feature of this alphabet is that it does not possess any similitude with the Indic or the Devanagiri scripts. Another specititley of the Santhali language is that they possess three extra vowels along with six regular ones.

Santhals have long head and flat nose. Their complexion varies from dark brown to black in colour. Santhals usually have curly hair.

Santhals mainly celebrate the Karam festival which falls in the month of September and October. They celebrate this festival to please the God to increase their wetitleh and free them from all the enemies.

It is the tradition among the Santhals to grow the Karam tree outside their house after the purification process. Other festivals of the Santhal community include Maghe, Baba Bonga, Sahrai, Ero, Asaria and Namah. They also celebrate hunting festival called Disum sendra on the eve of Baishakhi Purnima.

Judicial System
The judiciary system is well organised in traditional manner. It manages and gets solution to the problem inside the community. They make every effort to solve it among themselves within in the society. The Santhal Tribe head is called as Manjhi Hadam. He is considered as the chief of the judicial, executive and other function of society. Manjhi is helped by various others like Jagmangjhi, Jagparanik, Naike and Gudit who work in the other fields in diverse areas.