Long-established customs, rituals, and ceremonies play a pivotal role in the lives of Santhal People. These events not only keep us attached to our roots but also keep the bonding within our community strong.
One of the such customs is the ceremonial cleansing or purification of the village after childbirth. It is known as Chatiar or Neem Da Mandi.
So, a purification ritual is held and before this no ceremony can be held in that household. If this ritual is not done by the family then the child cannot get married and cannot be buried after death.
The ritual is generally performed five days after the birth of a boy and three days after the birth of a girl. On the day of the main Chatiar event, the relatives and villagers gather in the courtyard of the new-born baby’s house and the purification ritual is held for the house and the village.
After the purification ritual, the child is given a name. Giving a name implies that the child is formally accepted to the father’s clan and is provided protection by the spirits of the father’s ancestors.
In other societies, a child is known by his or her parent’s name. But in the Santhal culture a child is introduced by their grandparent’s names. There is a unique rule to carry the family name in Santhali family. A Santhali child has two names, ‘Gorom nutum’ (inner-name) and ‘Chetan nutum’ (outer-name).
The Gorom Nutum of a child in Santhali tribe is the ancestral name of his family. Only his villagers sometimes call the boy by his inner name. They do not use this name for general purposes.
The boys take on the name of the male grandparent or male relatives according to the naming rules whereas the girls take on the name of the female grandparent or female relatives.
Then, it’s time to introduce the child to everyone in their tribe. Godet (or Dahin in Odia regions) calls every family of the village by going to their house one by one saying it’s time for Neem-Da mandi.
Everyone gathers around the courtyard. The mid-wife while sprinkling the rice flour-water mixture, she utters the child’s name and tells everybody to call him by “this name” while hunting’ in case of a boy and to call her by “this name” while chasing for a girl.
Then they all eat Neem da mandi– a porridge made of boiled rice with Neem leaves together.
Thus, the ceremonial ritual of Chatiar or Neem Da Mandi comes to its conclusion.