The festivity of Sarhul is visible on roadsides, each displaying Sarna flags across Ranchi and its adjoining areas in Jharkhand.
Sarhul, celebrated during the spring season when Saal (Shorea Robusta-Sakhua, a species of tree in the family Dipterocarpaceae, native to tribal inhabited forest areas of Eastern India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, and across the Himalayan regions, get new flowers in their branches.
Traditionally, Sarhul is a worship of the village deity who is considered to be linked with Sal and other trees, plants, and water bodies who are considered to be the protector of the tribes.
This festival is known differently among tribal languages. For instance, in Mundari, it is known as Baa Parob, in Khorta as Gaddi Parab, and in Kharia, as Jangkir.
In other words, belief on the Sarhul festival centers around two words - Sarai( Sal) and Phool( flowers).In practice, it begins with the Pahan( priest) who decides when the three-day rituals will begin.
This morning the Priest took bath. Subsequently, the Gorait( messenger or drummer or informer) informed the villagers and urbanites. Many of them go for catching crabs to consume on the festival day.
Prior to this, none of the tribals touched or consumed seasonal vegetables and fruits such as drumsticks, jack fruits, and monkey fruit(badhar).
Though non-tribals eat these seasonal vegetables, tribals who perform or celebrate Sarhul eat them only after performing rituals before the deity. This means that they wait for these plants and trees to nourish them and grow flowers and fruits to consume them.
On the first day, that is on Thursday today, the tribals do spring cleaning and decorate the Sarna Sthal-venue where tribals gather for worship.
The pahan begins fasting on this day. He takes a bath early in the morning and dons a ‘kuccha dhaga’ (virgin cotton) dhoti. Three earthen pots are filled with water and he begins the puja at the Sarna Sthal.