Binjhia are found in Simdega and Khunti in Jharkhand. The Binjhia villages are located in and around the forest and hills. They are found living with the other tribes. A few villages are of only Binjhia tribe.
The Binjhia erect their houses with wood, bamboo, mud, leaves, grasses and tiles. They prepare tiles themselves. The houses are generally rectangular in shape. Each house has two rooms and verandah. The house, there is no separate kitchen and both room. The same room is used for the purpose of cooking and sleeping. They have wooden rack in the house.
Their household possession consists of earthen pots and metal utensils for cooking and serving food, they have mat, baskets, tray and cot which they prepare themselves. They have knife, sickle, tangi (axe), kudal, khanti, a khurpi and plough as agricultural and hunting gathering implements. They have harpoon and not for fishing. Dol and flutes are their musical instruments.
The Binjhia men wear Half dhoti and a Gamachha when they are in house or worksite. At the time of going market or in the other villages, they wear Dhoti, Kurta, Ganji. They also wear a plastic shoes or slipper. Women wear Sari, Saya and Blouse. The buy wear only Ganji in early childhood. But in old childhood, they wear paint, Ganji and shirt. The girl wears paint and frock in early childhood. In late childhood, they wear salwar suit. They purchase clothes from the local Haat.
The Binjhia women are also fond or ornaments. They wear ornaments in finger, wrist feet, neck and ear. The ornaments are made up or steel, copper, bronze, glass, silver and imitation of gold and silver. They also wear beads of forest seeds and thread made ornaments. They have loraha, silant and okhali for crushing grains.
The family is the smallest form of the society. It is nuclear in structure. It consists of father, mother and their unmarried children. The married sons and daughter establish their own families. The old parents are looked after by their sons. The family is patriarchal. The head or the family is a father. Descent is patrilineal lineage includes only male descendants of a known male ancestor. Thus, lineage is patrilineal. Inheritance and succession are also patriliheal.
The relation between husband and wife is generally cordial. They live together, work together and discuss together. Both struggle hard to raise the family income and maintain their existence. They maintain the division of labour for smooth functioning of the family. The wife cooks food for the husband children. The husband performs work outside the house. But both work in the house forest and field together. The division of labour is not set tight, when wife is ill, the husband and wife relationship becomes sour only when any one develops extra marital relation with someone else. Leggings and cruel behaviour of any one also lead to bitter relationship. When the relationship becomes bitter, a compromise is generally reached when compromises gets fail, divorce is sought. For divorce, the permission of the community Panchayat is a must.
The relation between the parents and the children are also very good. The parents love their children very much they by to fulfil the desire of the children within their economic limit. The maximum punishment for committing mistake is scolding. Physical beating is generally absent. For developing premarital relation, they are not discouraged because it leads to marriage finally. But for developing pre-marital relation with the girls of other tribes or in the same clan, the parents have to pay penalty in the form of community feast.
The relation between siblings of both sexes is very good. In the childhood they live together, eat together, step together and play together. They perform work together and assist the parents. In late childhood, brother and sister start maintaining a distance. The sisters spend more time in the house assisting the mother, while the brothers spend more time outside the house in assisting the father. After marriage, all brothers and sisters establish their own family.
Brother's families are included in lineage group. Sisters are excluded from the lineage group married brothers and sisters maintain relationship through the reciprocal exchange of invitation, visit, service food items, loan, gift and presentation. The relation between brothers gets sour at the time of division of father's property. But the relationship is restored with the help the panchayat. The relation between brother sister and sister-sister never go under conflict because sisters do not get share in the property of their father. They extend help to each other in joys and sorrows.
The Binjhia maintain a good relation with the families of the lineage, clan and tribe. They do the reciprocal exchange of visit, talk, invitation, loan, service, plough oxen, gift, presentation etc. Reciprocity is the best way of maintaining good relation with the families of lineage, clan and tribe.
The Binjhia are peace loving and they want to maintain smooth relation with the other tribes of the same and neighbouring villages. They participate in joys and sorrows of each other. The relationship the Binjhia with the tribes and castes or the village becomes sour due to rape, adultery, extra marital relation and witchcraft etc.
Marriage is an important ritual which comes in the life of every normal Binjhia is between 18 to 25 years of both sexes. The marriage leads the formation of family. The Binjhia follow the rule of tribe endogamy and clan exogamy strictly. They do not allow inter-tribal marriage and inter-clan marriage. Those who do not obey these rules of endogamy and exogamy are ousted from the society. But are included again when they accept their fault and becomes ready to pay community feast. Widow re-marriages are permissible. The Binjhia follow the rule of monogamy generally. But in situations like barrenness, widower hood, they follow bigamy and even tri-gamy.
The usual ways of attaining marriage mates are bride price, elopement, Raji-Khusi and Golat. The most prevalent form of marriage is by bride price. The bride price is decided at the time of negotiation. It is the father of the boy who approaches the father of the girl for marriage. The fathers or the boy and the girl decide. The bride price is in cash and kind. When the demand is accepted by the father of the boy, the marriage is declared as settled. The marriage settlement communicates pleasant news among the members of the community of both sides. The marriage is held after the harvesting of paddy crops. After fixation of marriage date, the boy and the girl have to observe beautificatory rituals like applying paste, oil and kajal. A marwa is built in the courtyard of the bride. The fathers of the bride and the groom invite their patirval, materval and affinal relatives to participate in the marriage ceremony.
On the day of marriage, the bride and the groom perform purificatory bath in their respective house and wear new dresses. They apply kajal, in eyes and flower beady in their necks and wrist. The female kin of the groom perform white magic for the successful marriage. They spray water, flowers and sun-fried rice over the groom. The spray water, flowers and sun-fried rice over the groom. The groom sits on a palaki or bicycle or rickshaw. The male kin or the groom accompanies him in the form of Barat party.
The Barat party makes attempt to reach the village of the bride before sunset. When the Barat party reaches in the village of the bride, the male kin of the bride extend a hearty welcome to all members boy embracing each other and offering flower beads. The members of the Barat party are brought at a suitable place for night stay. A lantern is kept burning. The members are asked to wash hands, feats and face. They are served fried gram, Handia and Lakatho Sweets in hospitality. After hospitality ritual, the groom is brought is brought in the marwa whse the bride waits for him. The bride and the groom put flower beads in the neck of each other. Now, all members present there share Handia and perform dance. When the dance is over, the feast is shared.
In the morning, the vidai of the bride and the groom is done. All kin of the bride sends her with tearful eyes. They serve breakfast to the members or Barat party and offers vidai by embracing each other and shaking hands.
When the bride reaches in the house of the groom, the female kin of the bride accord a warm welcome. She is brought at the abode of family deity to seek blessing. Then she seeks blessing of all elders present there. The members present there share feast.
The bride leaves in sasural for a week. Then she goes back in mayake. After a year, the groom goes to bring the bride.
The bride comes with some clothes to live with the groom permanently as husband and wife. They cook food and share food. They reproduce children and enter in to family life. They render hard labour to maintain the family. The marriage taken as successful, when the couple is blessed with children. The family life brings marital happiness even in poverty.
The Binjhia women are custodian of culture and family traditions. They are industrious by nature. for the children, they are first teacher and play valuable role in development of social virtues and socialisation process. For husband, they are the friend and life partner. For all family members they are food cooker and food server. They are also family doctor because they have some knowledge about food medicines for different diseases. They enjoy equal status to their male counter parts. As a woman, they have to observe taboos during pregnancy, delivery and nursing period. They have also to observe taboos related to hard work like ploughing, roof making and climbing on trees for plucking leaves, flowers and fruits. They do not take part in community panchayat. But in family level decision, they provide valuable suggestions.
The Binjhia use classificatory as well as descriptive kinship terminologies to call their relatives. For a group of relatives, they use a same term. This refers to classificatory system of kinship terminology. But generally, they use descriptive kinship terminology to trace the exact relation with the individual.
The Binjhia follow the rule of avoidance, joking and takenonymy at the time of behaviour, Sas-Putoh, Sasur-Putoh, Sas-Damad, Sasur-Damad, Jeth-Bahnoi, Jethani-Bahnoi, and Bhawah-Bhaunsur behave following the rule of avoidance. These relatives do not appear face to face and take name of each other. Jija-Sala, Jija-Sali, Nanad-Bhabhi, Devar-Bhabhi, Samdhi-Samadhi, Samadhin-Samadhin, and Samadhin-Samadhin behave following the rule of Joking relation.
Different kin maintain relation through the reciprocal exchange of visits, invitation, gift, presentation, food materials, plough-oxen, etc. Kin conflicts break the reciprocal exchange between two kins. Nag, Kashi, Bhairaw, Agnihotei and dadu are the names of different claws in the Brithia.
Birth is very joyous occasion for the couple, family and Binjhia community. Birth brings joys for the couple because it washes the stain of barrenness and provides status as father and mother. The family becomes pleased to find a child to continue the progeny and inherit family name and property. The community is pleased to hear the addition of members. The navel with delivery wastes is buried at a lonely place to avoid black magic. To avoid the effect of black magic on the mother and the child, a thorny plant is placed at the gate of the room, a knife is kept by the side of the child and fire is kept burning round the clock. The birth brings pollution in the family for five days. On 6th day, the rooms, courtyards, furnitures, utensils and clothes are washed properly. The mother and the child are allowed for a purificatory bath. The purificatory bath ends the pollution period. The mother wears a clean sari and covers the child in the same sari. The mother and the child seek blessings of the elders present there and the family deity. Name giving ceremony is held after one month food serving is done when the first teeth erupts. mundan and ear boring are done when the child attans the age of 2 and 3 years respectively.
Death is a natural and universal phenomenon about which the Binjhia know from very childhood. But the peculiar thing is distinction between deaths and associated beliefs. Natural death i.e., death during a old hood is taken good. Because if transforms the old body is to new ones through rebirth. It also provides the occasion of salvation for the individual soul on the bases of deeds in the previous life. Un-natural death, i.e., death in childhood and young hood is not taken good. Because the souls of such persons remain dissatisfied and wandering till their rest life.
The death of an individual brings pollution for a period or nine days. The dead body is buried or cremated depending upon the season and availability of wood. On 10th day, the male members save there head, mustache and beard to become clean. The female members wash house, utensils, furniture, and perform bath. The pollution period is shared by the lineage and the clan. A purificatory feast is organised and after sharing feast, pollution period ends. They believe that old persons become that old persons becomes ancestor after death. They take their abode in ancestral world. They take rebirth also. The ancestral spirits are worships at feast once in a year or at the time of birth and marriage.
The economic activities of the Binjhia are collection of forest produce, fishing, basketry, settled agriculture and wage earning.
The Binjhia are found in and around the forest. So, they know very well about the plants and frees available in their locality. They also know well about which plants will field in which season. All men, women, children and aged know the work of collecting forest produce by visiting the forests. Previously, they used to do gathering and hunting. But forest Regulation and Acts have snatched away this type of occupation.
At present the main means of stay for the Binjhia is agriculture and labour. Each Binjhia family owns houses and cultivable land. The land cultivated near by house is kept for the purpose of extending house in near future after division of family. This land is also known as Bari land because in this land kitchen gardening is done. The agricultural land of the Binjhia is of two types (1) Don and (2) Tanr. In Donland, wet cultivation of paddy is done. But in Tarland, Dry cultivation of maize, marna, kodo, kurthe, til, arahar, etc. is done. Rabi and Garma crops are not cultivated due to non-availability of irrigational facilities. Seeds are dropped in the month of June. Transplanting is done in July. Weeding is held in August and spraying fertilizer is done in September. Watching is done till the harvesting. After harvesting bundles of the crops are made and brought in the thrashing field. Thrashing is done with the help of oxes, cow and buffalo. Winnowing is held with winnowing tray. Then grains are brought is the house. The paddy is crushed to get rice in Dehki or Okhli. Now-a-day, paddy is made with help of machine.
Those who have sufficient land own plough and oxen. But those who do not have sufficient land, they exchange plough and oxen with their own labour. Axe, Kudal, Khanti, Gaita, Khurapi, Sickle etc. are owned at family.
They also keep goat, chicks and ducks to eat meat.
The Binjhia go to get work in live industries as casual or contract labour. They also go in forest to work as forest labour. They visit in neighbouring villages to work as agricultural labour. It is because the collection of forest produce and the agriculture do not provide them employment round the year. They get full engagement only for six months. The other Six months of the year, they have to work to get wages. But they are not in a position to get work regularly. They have also to migrate temporarily for work and wages in other neighbouring areas. Nearly the members of all Binjhia family are dependent on wages as Coolie and Reja.
Now-a-day, some educated persons of the Binjhia community have been able to get job as government employees. But their other family members go to earn wages.
Generally the family income of the Binjhia family is less than the family expenditure. As a result they have to incur loan from the mahajan in cash and kind. They have to pay heavy interest of loan.
Men, women and children visit the Haat and do shopping. The medium of exchange is money generally. But sometimes forest produce are exchanged with Salt, Gur, and Grains. In the market, they avail credit facilities because the shopkeepers know them by name, face and village. They repay the loan after selling agricultural produce or receiving.
The Binjhia believe in a number of deities and spirits whose abodes are situated in and around their settlement. They offer sacrifices of goats are made to the deities. They celebrate festivals like Sarhul, Sohrai, Karma, Dasehra, Jitia, Diwali, Kartik Purnima, etc. They celebrate festivals at community level. On the occasion of worship and festival, dance is performed at the akhara.
The Binjhia have their own traditional community panchayt in which deals cases related to incest, rape, extra marital and pre-marital relation, intertribal marriage, intraclan marriage, theft, destruction or property, cruel treatment to family members, division of property divorce etc. are decided the lead of the community panchayat is known as mahato. All heads of the families are members of the community panchayat The decision is taken unanimously. The members of the community are involved in the decision of the punishment. If anybody dares not to obey the decision of the panchayat, these family members are ousted from the community. Food water relation is stopped. No body keep reciprocal relation with the family concerned when guilty is accepted. Thana, police and court have affected this panchayat.