India | Orissa

Karma Festival

Karma (Karam) is a festival celebrated by the Oraon, Baiga, Binjhwari and Majhwar tribes of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadrapada.

At this instance, the youth of the villages, accompanied by drummers, assemble in the forest to collect fruits and flowers, and they worship Karma Devta, a goddess who is represented with a branch of karam tree. The main ritual of this festival is the cutting of three branches of the ‘karam’ tree, and inserting it on a dancing ground called ‘akhara’. These branches are called ‘Karam Raja’. The installation ritual of the branches is followed by a ceremonial dance, called Karma Dance.

After this, the tribal chief narrates the significance of this ritual and the legends of Karam Devi, who is believed to be the goddess of wealth and children. A unique observance is that a fowl is killed and offered to this branch. Then, they sing and dance whole night.

The branches are garlanded on the next day. Offerings of flowers, rice and curd are made to them. Red colored baskets filled with grains are placed before the branches. Barley seedlings are distributed among the young people, who wear it on their heads. The branches are worshipped and their blessings sought. They are then carried by the women around the village.

Updated on 4th November, 2023


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