Forest Management Policies and Tribals of Jharkhand: Retrospect and Prospect

Bir bano? disum ale horoko kale sukua, said the Mundas to Hoffman when he was writing his Encyclopaedia Mundarica in the last quarter of the 19th century. ‘We the Mundas do not like to live in a country where there are no forests’, is not just a casual statement of some nature lovers. The statement had a deep social and spiritual connotation. Hoffman noted that when somebody dies the Mundas avoid saying that so and so has died, but they would say so and so has been lost in the forest (birjanae instead of goejane). Forests are the dwelling place of the deceased ones. When the village is settled by clearing forests, a patch of the virgin forest is kept untouched with the belief that it is the abode of the mother earth (jaer era) or ‘lady of the sacred grove’ and other spirits. This ‘sacred grove’ or sarna or Jaer (Jaher of the Santals) is the only place of propitiation of the benevolent spirits of all the indigenous peoples of Jharkhand. The forest has a great relevance in life of the Mundas, who think it is associated with their souls and ancestor-hood. In this paper I had tried to explore the relation of forest with its Management in the life of this tribal people.