Greetings from Johar – JournalsOfIndia

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In the news India’s 15th President, Draupadi Murmu, took office recently with a ‘Johar’ salute to the country.

What is the ‘Johar’ greeting?

  • ‘Johar’, which basically means ‘hello and welcome’.
  • It is used within the tribal communities of Jharkhandand in some parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • According to several tribal leaders in Jharkhand, the the word ‘Johar’ also means ‘to respect’.
  • The tribal communities are nature worshipers and follow the religious code of Sarnaeven if it is not an official religion.
  • There are 32 tribal communities in Jharkhand who speak different dialects. Almost all, including tribal Christians, use the word ‘Johar’ with a few other words for greeting.
  • Johar, is mainly used by the Santhali, Munda and Ho communities which share some similarities.
  • People belonging to the Oraon community use the word ‘Jai Dharam’, aside from Johar, as a greeting.
  • There are at least four types of “Johar” greeting. One of them is ‘Doboh Johar’which is used between people one of whom has a higher status.
  • In ‘Doboh Johar’ there is a ritual where the person with a cup full of water bows to the higher ranking person.
  • The person bowing will touch the earth and in return the other person will wash their hand (using water from the cup) and let the water fall to the earth. The whole exercise signifies that the hospitality shown has been accepted.
  • Leaders of tribal communities say the greeting has been used since “time immemorial”, adding that it is difficult to determine when it actually started.

What is the Sarna religion?

  • Sarna is an ithe indigenous faith and its followers are nature worshipers.
  • Jal, jungle, zameen (water, forest and earth) are the main elements they hold holy.
  • Word sarna literally means a patch of forest left untouched for the spirits to live there.
  • There has been a demand for a separate religious code for the Sarna Tribals.
  • Currently, according to the census, there are only codes for six religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.
  • When filling out these columns, a tribal resident must identify themselves as one of them or “other”, but cannot specify their religion as different.
  • In the census surveys from 1871 to 1951, there was a separate category for the tribal population. But later it was dropped.
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Source: The Indian Express

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