Karam Utsav: Ashwin has arrived, yet the radiant autumn sun remains obscured by a cloudy sky. Karam Utsav Celebrating Life and Cultivation Amidst the Clouds. Consequently, the spirit of Sharad Utsav seems distant during this time. However, can we truly say that Uma’s arrival is equally remote? The scenes in Jangalmahal suggest otherwise.
Today marks Monday Karam Puja, a day dedicated to Aranyaka, a celebration of the farmers’ land and the essence of life itself. The survival of the tribal community hinges on their ability to cultivate the land. As a result, Karam Utsav is enthusiastically observed in the Chhotanagpur plateau region, home to numerous tribal communities spanning Purulia in Greater Bengal, as well as neighboring areas in Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh. The Karam and Vadu festivals signify Uma’s arrival in Bengal, infusing the atmosphere with the essence of the autumnal festivities. This year, the state government has once again declared Karam Parbe a public holiday, sparking immense joy among the Kurmi and tribal populations.
The forest land, once solely inhabited by ancient forest dwellers, has been transformed into arable land. Whether for sustenance or sheer passion for farming, these individuals reshaped the forest landscape. Amid their creative pursuits, they proclaimed, “We cultivate with pleasure.” Today, these farmers call the forest their home, viewing it as their mother. Karam Utsav stands as a jubilant festival, a day of merriment, and a prayer for bountiful harvests. Karam puja is observed on Tithima, Parsva Ekadashi.
Preparations for this puja commence a week in advance. Women gather soil from the banks of the Kangsavati River, where they sow various grains and nurture them until they sprout. On the day of Karam Puja, these germinated grains are revered and danced around. Notably, the Karam festival sees participation from not only the Kurmi community but also members of the tribal communities. This year, the Kurmi community has initiated a movement, advocating for their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. This sentiment also resonates in this year’s Karam Puja, as they use the festival to highlight their demands. In essence, celebrations and movements coexist side by side in this vibrant occasion.