Kurukh people

ওঁরাও/ कुड़ुख
Kurukh woman dancers in Bangladesh on Indigenous People's Day, 2014
Total population
3,776,688 (2011)
Regions with significant populations
 India 3,684,888[1]
Jharkhand 1,716,618
Chhattisgarh 748,739
West Bengal 643,510
Odisha 358,112
Bihar 144,472
Assam 73,437[2]
 Bangladesh 50,000[3]
   Nepal 41,800[4]
Hindi  Kurukh  Konkani  Tamil

Hinduism (57%)  Christianity (30%)  Sarnaism (18%)  Other (5%)


The Oraon or Kurukh tribe (Kurukh: Oṛāōn and Kuṛuḵẖ), also spelled Uraon, Oran, or Oram, are an Adivasi group inhabiting various states across central and eastern India, Rakhine State in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.[6] Traditionally, Oraons depended on the forest and farms for their ritual and economic livelihood, but in recent times, a few of them have become mainly settled agriculturalists. Small numbers of Oraons have migrated to the northeastern part of India, where they are mainly employed in tea estates. Population estimates are unreliable, but the total population is estimated to be around 3.5 to 4.5 million people.[7]


"Oraon" is an exonym assigned by neighboring Munda peoples, meaning "to roam."[8]


According to the Indian Anthropological Society, Konkan is said to be the original home of the Kurukh tribes, Kurukh Brahmins and Kshatriyas, from where they migrated to Northern India.[9] A Kurukh substratum is very prominent in the Konkani language.[10]

Geographic Distribution

Kurukhar are divided into many totemistic clans. They live all throughout the Chota Nagpur Plateau in east-central India: in Raigarh, Surguja, and Jashpur districts of Chhattisgarh; Ranchi district of Jharkhand; Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal; Sundergarh district of Odisha, Bihar; Rakhine State in Myanmar, and Bangladesh. A sizable number of Oraon have migrated to the northeastern part of India, where they are mainly employed in tea estates of West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura.[11]


Gotra or Totem system plays very important role in the social structure of the Kurukh. Among the Oraons, the Gotra system is believed to directly relate to their god Lord Dharmesh’s desire to keep the social structure of the tribe pious. Gotra means that every single family in the Oraon tribe trace their roots to their ancestors’ respective families, each of these families further traced their roots to their unique Gotra. It is also believed that these auspicious living beings helped their ancestors’ families to come out of the difficult times and as a result the entire generations of the families of a certain Gotra are indebted to them.

Since time immemorial The Oraon people have a rich range of folk songs, dances and tales,[12] as well as traditional musical instruments. Both men and women participate in dances, which are performed at social events and festivals. The Mandar, Nagara and Kartal are the main musical instruments. During festivals or any occasions of celebration they consume an alcoholic drink called handiya, a rice wine made from fermented rice, which distributed among all villagers in a Dona, a bowl of leaves.

Kurukh Brahmins and Kshatriya follow Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. But, they are not related to Kurukh Tribes.

Tribal Administration & Justice

A unit of 5 villages represented a sector like today's Gram Panchayat. The unit of 33 villages was called RajiParha and it was headed by the king himself. With the help of this federal structured Parha the king was able to implement various schemes for the development of the subjects. The citizens were provided due justice through these Parha units. The law and order were perfectly maintained by the employed heads of each Parha unit. These administrative units of the Parha were, however, paralysed in the course of the Muslim invasions. The Orams establish concrete link of the history of Parha with that of the Indian independence movement.

Mahatma Gandhi, according to them, came to know about the merits of the Parha organization when he visited Chotanagpur. Imbibing the functioning pattern of this old Parha organization, Mahatma Gandhi discovered a system of 'Panchayat Raj'. Due to PESA Padaha system of is still the best and cheapest justice system of Oraon tribe. They resolve their differences, set priority areas and take decisions for the welfare of the community.


Sarna-Dharam (Sarnaism)

The Oraon follow the Sarna Dharam (Sarnaism), which is based on nature worship. Some of the groups started following Sarnaism in a Hindu style, as the sects of the Bishnu Bhagats, Bacchinda Bhagats, Karmu Bhagats and Tana Bhagats. The Oraons have established several Sarna sects. Oraons worship Sun biri (a name given for Dharmesh). Kurukhar also believe in Animism.

Most of population is Sarna, which is a religion that is indigenous to Adivasis in Central India. Sarna perform religious rituals under the shade of a sacred grove. They worship the sun as Biri and the moon as Chando, and call the earth Dharti Aayo (Earth as mother). Chando Biri are the words which are used in Sarna pujas. Dharmesh is their supreme almighty god.[13]


Kamru Bhagats (Oaron or Munda devotees) originated when Oarons acquired special powers after making a pilgrimage to Kamakhya in Assam to pay respect to Durga.[14]

The Kurukh Brahmin and Kshatriya are a caste of Hinduism. They believed in Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga.

The Tana Bhagat was formed by Oaron saints Jatra Bhagat and Turia Bhagat. Tana Bhagats opposed the taxes imposed on them by the British and staged a Satyagraha movement even before Mahatma Gandhi. All Tana Bhagats were followers of Gandhi during the Independence movement. Tana Bhagats still wear a khadi kurta, dhoti and Gandhi topi (cap) with tricoloured flag in their topi. All Tana Bhagats perform puja to the Mahadeo and the tricolour with a chakra symbol on it, which is fixed at their courtyard.


Among Christian Oraons, there are Roman Catholics and Protestants, the latter of which having several denominations.

In 1957, film-maker Ritwik Ghatak shot a preparatory test film named Oraon on the life of the Adivasis of the Ranchi region in Jharkhand and on the Oraons of Rani Khatanga Village in Jharkhand.[15]

Notable people

  • Veer Budhu Bhagat, freedom fighter
  • Jual Oram, Minister of Tribal Affairs, India
  • Dilip Tirkey, MP of Rajya Sabha for Odisha
  • Renee Kujur, model

See also


  1. "A-11 Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  2. "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011". www.censusindia.gov.in. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  3. "Kurux". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  4. "Kurux, Nepali". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  5. "Census of India Website : Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  6. Project, Joshua. "Oraon, Kurux in Bhutan". Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  7. "Oraons - Dictionary definition of Oraons". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2017-10-14.
  8. Dalton E T, The Oraons, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, 1872. Section 1, page 215.
  9. Indian Anthropological Society (1986). Journal of the Indian Anthropological Society, Volumes 21-22. Indian Anthropological Society. pp. See page 75.
  10. India. Office of the Registrar General (1961). Census of India, 1961, Volume 1, Issue 1 Census of India, 1961, India. Office of the Registrar General. 67: Manager of Publications. pp. see page.
  11. "Kurukh". Tribalzone.net.
  12. Ferdinand Hahn (1906). Blicke in die Geisteswelt der heidnischen Kols: Sammlung von Sagen, Märchen und Liedern der Oraon in Chota Nagpur. C. Bertelsmann. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  13. Ghosh, Abhik (2003). History and Culture of the Oraon Tribe : Some Aspects of Their Social Life. Mohit. p. 237. ISBN 81-7445-196-X.
  14. Jha, P. 41 India and Nepal
  15. Cinema & I pg.116 Archived November 25, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.

This article includes material from the 1995 public domain Library of Congress Country Study on India.

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