The primitive aborigines of India contain variety of tribes, which shows its richness. Kharia, being an indigenous group falls in “Austroliod” group but distinctly resembles Mongoloid. The language spoken by them is also known as ‘Kharia’. The arrival of Kharias belongs to ‘Kolarian tribe’. Their folk songs are fully informative about their past dynamic life. The folksongs itself indicate their way towards Chotanagpur starting from Burma ➔ Mizoram ➔ Bangladesh ➔ Assam ➔ Bhutan ➔ Tibet ➔ Kathmandu (Nepal) ➔ Delhi ➔ Rajasthan ➔ Ayodhya ➔ Rohtasgarh ➔ Patna ➔ Chotanagpur(Ranchi) ➔ Gumla ➔ Simdega ➔ Orissa ➔ Puri ➔ Purulia ➔ Mednipur.
Kharias are found in Jharkhand (Ranchi, Gumla, Singhbum and Simdega district), Orissa (Birmitrapur, Sundargarh, Puri, Jhunmur, Mayurbhanj), West Bengal (Mednipur) and Assam. Rislay divides six types of Kharias but actually it is parted into three. Dudh Khairias, Delki Kharias and Pahari Kharias or Hill Kharias. The Patrician family system is found among them. The name of the family is carried according to patrilocal residence and patrilineal descent. Among Dudh Kharias nine clans can be found, namely Kerketta, Bilung, Soreng, Toppo, Baa, Kiro, Kullu, Tere and Dungdung.
The story regarding the origin of Kharia tribe goes like this: God created the earth and sky. He also created a hen from which egg came into existence. The white cover of egg became first Puran, which is the part of Mayurbhanj hindus. The yellow part became the Royal family of “Bhunj”. The first person was known as “Adhi Kharia”. “Adhi Singh” named the first Ring. This event took place in the district of Panch-Peer in Bihar. Now it is known as Adhipur.
The population clearly indicates their struggle for survival. The decreasing of population is due to changing of their tribal identity, and because of the political pressure. The table of population from the census of 1891 to 1981 pictures the increasing and decreasing graph:
Year Population 1891 31455 1901 162071 1911 133657 1921 124531 1931 146037 1941 87525 * 1961 168983 1971 321190 1981 430165
Jharkhand is a land of tribes, which is expressed deeply in variety of languages, art and culture. The five major languages namely Santhali, Mundari, Ho, Kurukh and Kharia are spoken in different parts of state.
Kharia is one of the Austro-Asiatic languages chiefly spoken in Jharkhand, some parts of Orissa, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar, and Assam. The origin of Kharia language is based upon the nature. It is the combination of Root theory, imitative theory, interjectional theory and evolution theory which derives from the sound of nature, animals, birds clashing of trees and after all the outcome of human feelings. The social behavior was also injected practically at their expression. Gradually, the sounds develop as speech and other grammatical forms, which show their intimate union with the nature. For them, nature became the mother of Kharia language and literature.
Dalton, Hunter, Baal, Rishlay, Hisalan, Grierson started writing in Kharia language firstly. In 1880, Baal, a foreign writer wrote about Hill Kharias in this book “Jungle Life in India”. In 1894 Gagan Chandra Benerjee wrote a book “Introduction to the Kharia language”. In 1903 Cardon L.S.J. wrote a book “The Kharias and their custom”, which covers the anthropological view of Kharia. In 1965 Bilgiri presented his thesis on Kharia. The title was “Kharia Phonology, Grammar and Vocabulary”. Pinnow a German scholar used Roman script to articulate the sound symbols for the expression of thought in 1965, this book was: “Kharia Text prose and poetry”. In 1937 Seradh Chandra Ray and Ramesh Chandra Ray published a book named “The Kharias”. In 1980, L.P. Bidyarthi and B.S. Upadyaya wrote – “The Kharias Then and Now”. Beena Bahal “Studies in the Kharia Linguistics”. In 1986, R.P. Sahu wrote about Kharias and also about Kharia grammar. Shree Julius Baa wrote “Kharia Phonology and Kharia Da”. In 1977, Herman J. Kiro wrote “Kharia Basu Kayom”. In 1981, Anthony Doongdoong S.J. published “The Kharias of Chotanagpur”. In 1986, Fr.Mathaias Dungdung S.J. presented the comparative study of Kharia and Hindi. Beside these books, Fr. Paulus Kullu S.J. also wrote Kharia grammar and short vocabulary. At present, the collection of Kharia-English-Hindi dictionary is at work. Hope to be published soon.
In the early stage, foreign writers picked Kharia language so naturally they started writing in Roman script. The names of the writers were Dalton, Hunter, Baal and Pinnow. W.G. Archer followed Devanagri script and collected “Kharia Along” with Manmashih Tele, Jatru Kharia and Daud Dungdung in 1942. In 1935 J. Paster adopted, Bangla script and collected firstly ‘Kharia Along’ (Kharia hymns) staying in Assam. Nuas Kerketta followed the Devanagri script for the linguistic expression in 1948. Further few changes brought by Nuas Kerketta, Julius Baa, Rose Kerketta and R. P. Sahu. Though these are different styles of writing but show the flourishing glimpse of Kharia language. As early as Grierson around 1960, Kharia was declared to be a dying language, a view that also found support in Pinnow in 1960. It is true that the linguistic development slowly enrolled that was indicated by the early writers but Kharia language and literature survived facing many social, religious and political obstacles. The script of Oriya is also one of the strong and clear expressions started by Nuas Kerketta. The script of Junas Bilung is more economical which eliminates vowel length and redundant retroflex nasal. The symbolism is more complicated; the diacritic irregular and the script is on the whole very restricted in use. It probably represents the one more attempts at devising a unique, idiosyncratic script in quest for Kharia identity.
The more practical and worth solution is to write and follow in Devanagri script with certain modification. And so in 1813 Gagan Chandra Banerjee realized that the synthetical structure of Kharia language entirely based upon those principles, which regulates the ‘Hindi Grammar’. Above all Devanagri script is adopted due to its practical norms which is: The Devanagri script is the medium of teaching in schools and colleges but the learned group also favors Roman script and symbols because of its more accuracy in expression of pronunciation. At present Kharia is taught till graduation and post-graduate level in Ranchi University since 1976. The university Grants Commission (U.G.C.) has also recognized Kharia as a language and literature are coming up for its survival. Recently, it is recognized and adopted in Primary classes as language and literature. The book is already published by Human Resource Ministry and Tribal Research Institute, Ranchi.
Copyright CIIL-India Mysore