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The Santhal people love music and dance. It forms an important part of the Santhal fairs and festivals.
• Santhals relax themselves with the light music and dance after the long day hard work.
• Santhal women dress up themselves in the red bordered white sari and dance in the line sequence.
• To mark the festive occasions, the entire community performs different kinds of dances which turn out to be enchanting, accompanied by the mellifluous songs.
• The songs and the dances are performed with some supporting musical instruments like dhamsa (a percussion instrument),and madal (a hand drum which made of wood or clay. Both heads are played, holding the drum horizontally), singa (curved animal horn for blowing).
• The Santhal traditionally accompany many of their dances with two drums: the Tamak’ and the Tumdak’. The flute was considered the most important Santhal traditional instrument and still evokes feelings of nostalgia for many Santhal.
Santhali Dance

santhal dance

The Santhals are an integral part of the folklore of Bengal. The Santhals are born dancers. Dance is an integral part of all festivities of the Santhal community.
• Musical accompaniment is provided by instruments like the Madol, Flute, Dhamsa, Jhanj, Kartal .

• The songs are typically based on Taal Madol Chhanda.

• Dances are usually performed on a full moon night and are connected with the celebration of certain rituals.

• A notable feature of the Santhal dances is the unison in movement. The dancers stand in a line holding hands and move to the rhythm of the madol.

• Usually the women take part in the dance and the men provide the musical accompaniment. This is reflected in the words of a song, which accompany the Dang Dance, a dance performed as a part of marriage rituals. The boys carry two types of drums, the Madal and the Lagra.
They sing to the girls telling them: “Though the drums are heavy, we carry them around dancing all the time”. The girls reply, “As we hear the beat of drums, we cannot stand still. We lift our feet and begin to dance”.
• Simplicity of theme and language is what makes the Santhal dances so endearing.
• Nowadays, Santhali men also take part in the dances, most of which are seasonal and reflect the ritualistic life of the Santhal community.
• Each dance form has its own distinctive rhythm and dance style.
• Some of the popular dances include the Sohrai, which is a harvest dance, inviting all the village folk to come out of their homes and join in the festivities.
• The Dasai, a dance performed just before the Durga Puja, when the Santhali men go out to the neighbouring villages, where they sing and dance to collect donations of rice and alms.

Musical Instruments

santhal instruments
Traditionally the Santhal used a variety of musical instruments, but the following are now the most prominent ones in use.
The Santhal have two primary membranophones: the Tamak’ and the Tumdak’. These instruments are critical for most traditional Santhal music because they provide the metric foundation for the music. The Tumdak’ is a hand-struck two-headed drum.
Idiophones include the ankle bells of dancers are called Junko and like other such Indian instruments they sound as the dancers dance.
Aerophones are well represented. The flute or Tiriwaw held a special place of importance. The Tirio is made from bamboo and has seven holes. The Santal flute, like the widespread Bansuri, has open holes which permit the player to bend the pitch. The Santal flute is associated with love.
The Dhodro banam is a one-stringed bowed lute. The Dhodro banam often has anthropomorphic carved heads. The Phet banam is also a bowed lute but has three or four strings. Both are similar to the more widely known Indian Sarangi.

Image Courtesy: The Hindu
A unique feature of the Santhal music is that the sound can’t be produced by Harmonium, Synthesiser and Tabla.
Q1. The Santhals musical traditions include
i) Dances like Dang and Sohrai.
ii) musical instruments like madal,banam and shehnai.
iii) men wear the instruments and it is historically the women who dance.
iv) Santhals dance only at the time of death and destruction.
Choose among the following:
a) only (i) is correct.
b) only(ii) and (iii) are correct.
c) (i),(ii) and (iii) are correct.
d) None of the above is correct.
Ans (c)
Q2. Which of the following statements about Santhal Musical instruments are correct?
i) Tumdak and Tamak are chordophones similar to shehnai.
ii) Santhals don’t play Harmonium at all.
iii)Madak is similar to Dholak and mridangam.
a)only (iii) is correct.
b) (i) and (ii) are correct.
c) All are correct.
d) None are correct.
Ans (a)



Explain about the Musical traditions of Santhals .Is it different from the Indian Classical music tradition.If yes, throw light on the main differences?

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