Nilgai, The Santhals and the 15th President of India

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On the creation of humans, the Santhal myth goes that God created two heavenly birds – HAS and HASIL out of his hair. They flew below the sun and above the earth thus making contact between both the worlds.

After flying for several days, they built a nest on the earth and eventually laid eggs. These were cosmic eggs out of which a human male,  Pilchu Haram and a human female, Pilchu Burhi were born. Thus the Santhal concept of life as human beings begins with animals.

After the creation of the earth, Pilchu Haram and Pilchu Burhi gave birth to seven sons and daughters. They later married among themselves, forming  12 clans. 

Each clan derived its name from plants or animals.  They associated themselves with animals that had a spiritual significance and adopted them as their totem. These totems are believed to have had some connection with the deeds or birth of the ancestors of the clans.

Murmu are represented by the Nilgai or the antelope. It is believed that ancestors of this clan hunted the first animals which happened to be an antelope or, in other words, they are the first animals sacrificed by the Santhals. Thus it is of great importance to their culture and beliefs.

Droupadi Murmu, the 15th President as well as the first Tribal woman to hold this post belongs to this clan.


Sources : 

Ethnographic Atlas of Indian Tribes edited by Prakash Chandra Mehta

Ecology and Rituals in Tribal Areas

By Debashis Debnath

The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Volume 4

By Robert Vane Russell