Kharia is one of the leading tribal groups settled in the states of Orissa and Bihar. They are also seen in Ranchi, Gumla, Lohardaga and Hazaribagh districts of Jharkhand. Kharias are believed to be an offshoot of the Proto-Austroloid race.

The tribe speaks its own language known as 'Kharia', which belongs to the Kharia dialects of Austro-Asiatic language family. Kharias also speak Hindi, Sadani and other local dialects.

Kharias are classified into three groups - Dudh, Dhelki and Hill Kharia. Each class has a religious head known as 'Pahan'. Monogamy appears to be the general rule among the members, but polygamy is also tolerated in certain cases. Agriculture, forest wealth collection, fishing, hunting and animal husbandry are their main activities.

They worship many gods and spirits. Ancestral worship known as Burha Burhi (Marsi Masan) is a part of their custom. Sohrai, Sarhul and Nawakhani are the main festivals celebrated by Kharias.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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