The Gorait are minor Adivasi Group. In the State of Jharkhand, they inhabit in the districts of old Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Palamu, Dhanbad, Santhal Pargana and Singhbhum (Chaibasa and Jamshedpur), They are proto-australoid racially and belong to Austric group linguisitically. The habitat of the Gorait is located in hill ranges covered with forest. In these areas, they live with other tribes and castes.
The construction of house is not uniform in different areas where they live. They have imitated the pattern of house construction from their neighbours. But generally they erect one roomed house, in the same room, they have kitchen, bad, store. Attached to the house is a verandah which they use as cattle shed. The cattle shed is protected by wooden and bamboo poles. The house is erected with the help of wooden poles, bamboo, leaves, grasses, straw etc. The walls are plastered with mud. The house does not possess any window except a small gate to go in and come out. The gate is closed with mat or Tati during night or whenever there is no one. Inside house they have wooden racks for keeping household articles. Their houses are scattered in the village.
They possess earthen vessels, aluminum utensils, bronze Thali and Lota, iron Karahi, Chholani and knife. They have cots made up of bamboo and woven with grass ropes prepared by them. They store grains and water in earthen pots. They use mats and Ledar prepared from old clothes for the purpose of sleeping.
They have plough, Khamti, khurapi, axes, sickles etc. as agricultural implements in their houses. They prepare varieties of baskets, mats, brooms, winnowing tray etc. for carrying grains and goods from one place to another and also for storing goods and commodities.
They have denki for crushing paddy, janta for crushing rice and marua and Lorahas-Silaut for crushing spices and grains. They have rope made baskets and Sikka to keep goods hanging from the roof or tiles.
They have Bow-arrow, Lathi, Ber, Barchha as hunting and war weapons. They possess Dol, Mandar, Nagara and Flute as musical instruments.
They purchase dresses and ornaments from the local weekly market. The children do not use clothes in early childhood. But in late childhood they use paint, ganji and bush-shirt. Men wear a shirt and Dhoti. Women wear Sari, Saya and blouse.
Women are found of ornaments made up of thread, steal, glass and silver which they purchase from the weekly Haat.
The different social groups which exist among the Gorait as society are family, lineage, clan, tribe village and kins society in patriarchal.
Family is the smallest unit of the Groit society. It is a unit of production and consumption. The family is nuclear in structure. It consists of husband, wife and unmarried children. The boys after marriage live in a separate house and establish their own family. The girls leave the house of parents after marriage to establish a family with their husbands. Residence is patrilocal.
The authority of family lies in the hand of father or a male. But he behaves in democratic way. He does not take decision by his own will. He seeks the opinion of wife and young children at the time of decision-making related to sale and purchase of commodities, dresses, marriage, invitation, worship, social relation, feast, cow, goat, chicks and ducks etc.
The relations between husband and wife are very good. Both have full faith in one another and co-operate each other to run the family smoothly. Both work hard to raise the family income for the maintenance of family members. The husband and the wife get up early in the morning start working in the house. After breakfast they move to different work sites in search of work and wages. They bring food for midday meal. Their small kids accompany them where ever they go. They return in the evening, make arrangement for night meal. They generally go to bed around 9 P.M.
It is also true that the husband and the wife quarrel on many occasions but a compromise are reached and conflict is resolved through kids, neighbours and relatives. The husband Ėwife relation becomes sour on the development of extra-marital relation and showing laziness towards family work. Divorce is also allowed on the permission of the village Panchayat. But the instances of the divorce are rare.
The parent children relation is also very sweet. The parents try to fulfil the wishes of the children within their economic limits. The children too co-operate their parents in work in house, forest and agriculture. The children are scolded when they commit mistakes but beating and physical torture do not exist.
The sibling relation is also very pious and affectionate. In childhood all children of a couple play together, eat together, sleep together and cooperate each other. They also do quarrelling during childhood for food and other things. But this does not change their relationship. During younghood, they establish separate family and maintain relationship through reciprocal exchange of visits, invitation, service etc.
The Gorait live in the villages with other tribes and castes. Being the member of the same village, they maintain good relation with the tribes and castes of the village. The Gorait do not accept food and water of the Lohara, Karmali, Mahali and Asur tribes. But they accept food and water from Oraon tribe and other Hindus of the village. Their relationship with other castes and tribes of the village become sour due to extra marital relations, adultery, theft etc.
The gorait on the basis of their ascendants are divided into several lineage groups. The lineage is local and corporeal kin group. The members of the lineage group in the Gorait society trace their descent from a common known male ancestor. Thus, lineage among the Gorait is patrilineage. It includes all male descendants of a known male ancestor. The families belonging to one lineage live together and co-operate each other during trouble, miseries and the performance of ceremonies.
The Gorait have a number of clans based on totenism. Some important totemic clan found among the Gorait are Tudu, Khalkho, Toppo etc. Marriage within the same clan is strictly prohibited. The clan among the Gorait is patrilineal. It includes all the children born from the father. Before marriage, the girl belongs to the clan of the father. But after marriage, they become the member of the husbandís father clan. Thus, they became related through blood in the family or the husband their children assume the membership of the fatherís clan. The clan is also a corporeal kin group. It is unilateral. The members of the clan observe death together and co-operate each other during troubles and miseries.
The Gorait observe endogamous, exogamous, prohibitive and preferred rules at the time of selection of marriage mates. They marry within the same tribe but in different clans. In this way, they follow the tribe endogamy and clan exogamy rule. The Gorait observe prohibitive rule in case of cousins and relatives up to three generations from the fathers and the motherís side. They follow preferential rule in case of levirate and sororate in case of certain situation widow remarriage is also prevalent in the Gorait Society.
The common way of acquiring marriage mates are by bride price. Besides cash, the father of the groom has to pay clothes for the bride, brideís parents and brides brothers and sister. At least 40 Kg of rice and a goat are given to feed the members of the Barat party and kins of the bride. The other ways of acquiring marriage mates are elopement, Rajikhushi, service and sister exchange (Golat). It is the father of the groom who approaches the father of the bride for the negotiation of the marriage. At the time of negotiation, the bride price in cash and kind is determined when the negotiation is finalized; the date of marriage is decided with the help of the Baiga priest or the Brahman priest.
The Baiga generally follow monogamy, but bigamy and tri-gamy also exist in case of barrenness, death of marriage partner, divorce etc.
Divorce is allowed in case of extra marital relation and oppressive behaviour like physical torture. The divorce is grant by the village Panchayat. When the wife seeks divorce, she has to return bride price. But when husband approaches for the divorce, bride price is not returned. The children born from the union goes in the share of the husband.
On the day of marriage the groom and his all kins form Barat Party and reach in the village of the bride. The kins of the bride extend hearty welcome to them. They are brought nearby the house of the bride for stay. They are offered garlands of leaves and flowers. They are asked to set on the mat and served gram, handia etc. for quenching thirst. The groom is brought in the courtyard. The female kins sing Geet and welcome the groom. The groom offers sindur in the forehead of the bride in presence of female kin, Baiga priest and father and other kins of the bride. Now, the bride and groom are asked to move the fire Kunda as a witness of the marriage ritual.
After the performance of marriage, the Barat party and kins of the bride have marriage feast together meat, rice and handia are served to all members present on the occasion. In the morning Vidai of the bride, groom and Barat party is done by the father and the kins of the bride.
The bride is brought on Palaki or rickshaw. She is welcomed by the female kins of the groom. The bride and the groom are asked to seek blessings of the elders and kul devi and Devata. A goat is sacrificed in the name of ancestors and family deity to bless the couple. A feast is given to the community members and the kins. For the first time, the bride stays for few days and returns mayake. But after six months or a year, she is brought for permanent stay with husband. She establishes a new house and begins to lead a family life. The marriage is considered successful after the couple is blessed with a child. It proves that the couple is fertile.
In the society of Gorait, the kinship system exists as a model of relationship based on marriage and parentage. An individual is born due to sexual union between the couple. Thus, he or she becomes related to the father and mother through the blood. All children born from a couple are related through blood. The extension of blood relation is in the line of father and the mother. All ascendants and descendants of a couple are related through blood. In the society of the Gorait, cousins are treated as blood relatives. The blood relation is counted up to three generation from both fathers and mothers side. This system of blood relation continues generation after generation. Because in each generation, the formation of married couple takes place and offspring are delivered by their sexual union.
The marriage not only binds the bride and the groom as husband and wife, but all kins of the bride and the groom are also tied together and are designated by kinship terms,
The Gorait use classificatory as well as descriptive kinship terminology to call their relatives. The categorization of the kin is made on the basis of nearness and the distance.
The different kins behave following the rules of kinship usages. The ruled related to kinship usages are avoidance, joking and takeronymy usages are bound exceptionally. Sas-Putoh, Sas-Damad, Sasur-Putoh, Sasur-Damad, Bhawah-Bhainsur, jethani-Bahnoi, Jija-Jethata etc., behave following the rules of avoidance. Jija-Sala, Jija-Sali, Devar-Bhabhi, Nanad-Bhabhi, Husbandís brother and wifeís brotherís sisters. Husbandís sister and wifeís brothers and sisters, Nanadís husband and Salaís wife etc., behave following the rules of joking whenever they meet together.
The inheritance is patrilineal. The succession is also patrilineal. The property of the father is inherited by the sons equally. The daughters get only maintenance and bride price. After marriage, they have to leave the house and property for the brothers. The rule of primogeniture and ultimogeniture is not found in the Gorait society. The property of barren couple is inherited by Husbandís brotherís sons. But they have to maintain the couple during oldhood property. The property of the widow is also inherited by husbandís brotherís sons.
All kindred are invited to participate in marriage and death. Exchange of goods and services takes place on this occasion.
Birth is treated as very happy occasion for the couple, family and community. After birth of children, the couple is counted as fertile, not barren. The family becomes pleased because family name is continued generation after generation through the children. The community becomes pleased to see the addition of members.
The birth brings pollution for the mother and the child. The period of pollution continues for 5 days. On 6th day, the mother and the child perform purificatory bath. After this purificatory bath ritual the pollution period gets end.
The delivery generally takes place in house with the help of experienced senior member of the community. She assists the mother and the child during the pollution period. On 6th day, the entire house is washed with cowdung, mud and water to make it pollution free. Now days, delivery also takes place at health sub-centre or health centre. After purificatory bath ritual, community feast is also organized.
Every care is taken to protect the mother and child after delivery. It is believed that Bhuta-Preta and witches may cause fatal damage to the mother and child. In order to neutralise their effect, a thorny plant, a knife, a burning lamp and fire are kept in the house. Black thread is tied in hand, feet, neck, waist etc. of mother and child. This continues till entire period of lactation.
The name giving is done by the senior member of the community of Baiga priest or the Brahman priest as soon as child attains one month age. Food serving ritual is held soon after the eruption of first tooth. Mundan and ear boring rituals are held after two and three years of age respectively. Marriage ritual is held between the ages of 15 to 25 years.
The Gorait are well aware of the death reality. They believe that natural death during oldhood occurs for the transformation of old body into new life and body. But unnatural and premature deaths are caused by evil spirits. The persons meeting natural deaths attain the status of ancestors, but persons meeting death become Bhut-Preta and causes harm in a number of ways to community members.
The Gorait bury as well cremate the dead body depending upon the availability of the fuel wood. The dead body of children are generally buried. The dead body of persons suffering from non-curable diseases are also buried.
The death brings pollution in the family, lineage and clan for 9 days. On 10th day, hairs are shaved with the help of barbers. Purificatory feast is organized. After this feast, pollution period ends.
The gorait believe in rebirth. They have faith that the dead of this life determines the type of life in next birth.
The Gorait religion presents a mixture of animism, animalism, Bongaism, naturalism, witchcraft and Sharananism. They believe in different Gods, Goddesses and spirits. They also believe in ancestral spirits. In the habitat of Gorait, one finds a number of sacred spots in the name of Gods, Goddesses and spirits. Their ancestral spirits reside in Sarna grove. Their important gods and goddesses are Vana Deo, Vana dei, Burha Deo, Burha Dei, Thakur Deo, Gram Deo, Dihawar Deo, Nag Deo, Bagh Deo, Kali Mai etc Their sacred specialist is Baiga priest. All these Gods and Goddesses are worshipped together for peace and prosperity in the community. The worship is held annually. Sacrifice of goat and chick is done to please the Gods and Goddesses. They celebrate festivals like Karma, Sarhul, Jitia, Sohrai, Nawakhani, Maghi and Phagu.
The Gorait believe in a number of evil spirits, like jalal bonga, Dubal Bonga, Katal Bonga, maral Bonga. Spirits of diseased persons, spirit of pregnant woman, etc. These are the spirits of persons who had met unnatural death. They attack on woman and children and cause harm. The gorait also believe in witchcraft (dain). The evil spirits are driven away by the Baiga priest.
The Gorait have their traditional village Panchayat. The head of the village Panchayat is known as Pradhan. The post of Pradhan is not hereditary. He is elected by the mutual consent of the community members. The Pradhan is assisted by the council of elders in which every heads of the households are member. In the village Panchayat cases related to premarital relations, extra marital relations, adultery, theft, division of property, inheritance of property, divorce, inter family dispute, etc. are decided. The community members are involved in the decision of cases and they are also involved in observance of the decision. If any body dares not to obey, he is ousted from the community. The members of community do not have food, water relation, marital relation and discussion with him. He is left alone. When he accepts his fault and wants to come back in the community, he has to obey the decision as pay a feast to the community members.
The Gorait economy presents a mixture of collection of forest produce, agriculture and causal labour. They also work as drum players, village messengers and watchman. They do the collections of forest produce in local forests. They consume forest produce as well as sell forest produce to get money by selling them in the market.
The Gorait know well what type of forest produce will be available in the forest and in which season. They recognize well the edible roof, shoot, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, mushrooms etc. since childhood.
Each Gorait family has homestead land over which they erect house. Adhered to the homestead land is Bari land in which vegetables are grown in rainy season. In other seasons, they remain barren.
Almost all families possess agricultural land. Few families are also landless. They earn by working of causal labour, village messengers and watchman. Those who own agricultural land, do cultivation only in rainy season because in other seasons they do not have means of irrigation. The land owned by the gorait is of two types (i) Tanr (Up land) and (ii) don (low land). In upland maize, marua, Arhar, til, Kurathi and some variety of paddy are cultivated. In Don land jarahan paddy is cultivated which is harvested in the month of Agahan. They cultivate paddy by transplantation method.
The Gorait earn wages as causal labour in the forest, field building construction, road construction, as Reja and Collie. They get daily wages but they do not get work regularly.