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Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas

This is an intriguing collection of folklore from the Santal Parganas, a district in India located about 150 miles from Calcutta. As its Preface implies, this collection is intended to give an unadulterated view of a culture through its folklore. It contains a variety of stories about different aspects of life, including family and marriage, religion, and work. In this first volume, taken from Part I, each story is centered around a particular human character. These range from the charmingly clever (as in the character, The Oilman, in the story, “The Oilman and His Sons”) to the tragically comical (as in the character, Jhore, in the story “Bajun and Jhore”). In later parts, the stories will focus on other subjects, including spirits, animals, and legends from this culture.

First Page:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Translated by Cecil Henry Bompas of the Indian Civil Service



The Santals are a Munda tribe, a branch of that aboriginal element which probably entered India from the North East. At the present day they inhabit the Eastern outskirts of the Chutia Nagpore plateau.

Originally hunters and dwellers in the jungle they are still but indifferent agriculturists. Like the Mundas and Hos and other representatives of the race, they are jovial in character, fond of their rice beer, and ready to take a joke.

Their social organization is very complete; each village has its headman or manjhi, with his assistant the paranik; the jogmanghi is charged with the supervision of the morals of the young men and women; the naeke is the village priest, the godet is the village constable. Over a group of villages is the pargana or tribal chief. The Santals are divided into exogamous septs originally twelve in number, and their social observances are complex, e... Continue reading book >>

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