Introduction / History
The Karmali of India are a Scheduled Tribe in the state of Jharkhand. They are mostly in Bokaro, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Santhal Parganas and Singhbhum.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Karmali build their homes with mud walls and with tiles and bamboo. Their houses are rectangular in shape and they themselves make the wooden doors. They breed and eat pigs and, as a result, other tribes regard them as untouchable and do not accept food and water from them. The Karmali weave baskets and the women wear ornaments. The Karmali are monogamous. When the women cannot have children through barrenness, bigamy and trigamy is permitted and is also allowed for men and women whose marriage partner has died. They are endogamous and have clan exogamy. This means they marry within the group but not within their same clan. Marriage between tribes is not permitted.
What Are Their Beliefs?
In marriage there is a bride price paid in cash or with goods by the father of the groom. The fathers or guardians arrange the marriage. The boy's father contacts the girl's father at marriage time. The village priest helps to arrange the date of the marriage. A soil digging ritual is performed by the females in both houses. The couple has bathing and food regulations. Oil is put on the couple and they are blessed by the families. They have a feast. The bride stays for a week and the father of the bride takes her home where she stays for a year.
The Karmali make, sharpen and repair tools and they sell to tribes who are involved in agricultural tribes and castes. They make house and agriculture tools such as axes and sickles. Now they are having difficulty in getting raw materials and daily wage earning has become a way of making money.
The Karmali have a community Panchayat and all family leaders are members. The leader is called Mahato and is also the village chief. Cases such as divorce, adultery, rape and unfaithfulness in marriage are listened to and then a decision is given.
The Karmali kinship goes according to parentage and marriage. The lineage is through the fathers. Kin are classed by how near and distant they are.
The Karmali are Hindus. The main god they worship is Singbonga. Their religious priest is Pahan. They worship other gods too. They believe that spirits of the ancestors live in the house and along with the priest they give sacrifices to the gods and spirits. They believe in witchcraft. They celebrate festivals.