Bhuiya - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The universe is dominated by numerous deities and spirits, both good and evil, and these possess unequal powers. These supernatural beings are ordered hierarchically and are classified as supreme, nature, and village deities, general tribal gods, and ancestral spirits. Both male and female deities exist. The sun god and his consort, the earth goddess, are supreme deities. They are remembered on each ritual occasion, but there is no specific ceremony for their worship. The Pauri Bhuiya have adopted many Hindu deities.

Religious Practitioners. Priesthood is hereditary and is held by a male who represents the seniormost branch of the original village family. The priest propitiates the deities on behalf of the villagers and is the chief official in all communal worship.

Ceremonies. Most of the festivals are closely associated with different aspects of economic activities. Some festivals are borrowed from the Hindus. Social and religious Ceremonies are occasions when interactions and meetings of people take place. Almost all rituals have sacred and secular aspects, yet they are extremely stereotyped in their details.

Arts. Dancing and singing, especially by the youth, are an integral part of Pauri life. External influences have affected many aspects of the cultural heritage. Yet the vibrant changa (tambourine) dance of the villagers in front of the Community hall is very common after the day's toil and particularly on festive occasions.

Medicine. People, crops, and cattle are believed to be protected from diseases by the village tutelary deity. The propitiation of other deities also is thought to help protect people from diseases. The men have great inclination for folk doctors and their medicine. Most diseases are due to malnutrition and unsanitary conditions. Modern methods of treatment, though mostly beyond their reach, have begun to influence the hill tribe. Many curative rituals are performed by the shaman. The black magic of a sorcerer that afflicts individuals is countered either by the medicine man or by a more powerful sorcerer.

Death and Afterlife. The Pauri Bhuiyas believe that death occurs when gods and goddesses are utterly displeased or when black magic is performed by a sorcerer. They also believe that life does not come to an end with death. The soul is called back into the house to rest in the family's inner tabernacle, which is meant to propitiate ancestral spirits, and is offered food and water during auspicious occasions. The blessings of ancestral spirits are invaluable in the life of the Bhuiyas.

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