A brief study of the sacred groves of Jharkhand and their non-brahmin priests
Utterance of the term ‘temple’ evokes in our mental canvas a precise structure of a building belonging to the Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist or the Sikh etc faith. But prior to the emergence of classical religions that had prompted humanity to building imposing structures of worship and pray, humankind worshipped in caves, rivers, waterholes, stones, megaliths, trees and sacred groves which were and still are their temples since hoary antiquity. Groves, which are being worshipped since times immemorial are a cluster of trees where gods, goddesses, spirits are believed to reside. No one really knows for sure when and how humanity embarked in the veneration of trees and groves. We may trace the worship of trees possibly both to the fecundity cult of hoary times when trees were held as deities of fertility (as much later in India we find the concept of salabhanjika) and to the trepidation of forests owing to the prevailing belief in spirits; both malevolent and benevolent who are believed to dwell in jungles and trees, who rescued mankind in times of disease and trouble, if men were able to win the spirits’ favours. This paper is a study of the various grove temples of the state of Jharkhand; created or worshipped by different communities and tribes. The paper also discusses the priests or shamans who in non Sanskritic and non Brahmanical manner conduct the rituals for votary in these grove temples.