Kol - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The Kol mainly profess Hinduism. The 1961 census recorded 100 percent of them as followers of Hinduism. In the 1971 census 99.67 percent of the Kols were listed as Hindus and 0.32 percent as of "indefinite belief" (another name for the traditional tribal religion); 0.01 percent did not state their religion. The 1981 census recorded 99.7 percent of the Kols as followers of Hinduism, 0.28 percent as professing "other religions" (the tribal religion), and the remaining 0.01 percent as Christians, Muslims, or Jains. Thus there has been no significant change during the period 1961-1981.

Religious Practitioners. The Kols' own priest ( panda ) is an important functionary in Kol society. He officiates at the rituals centering on the worship of Desai Dur in April and Sorokhi Devi at any appropriate time, for the welfare of the Kol villages and Kol households. The panda also serves as the exorcist ( ojha ) who drives away evil spirits that cause Sickness. Both offices are often held by one and the same person.

Ceremonies. The Kols continue to worship their family deities, Babadeo Baba and Marhi, and village deities such as Shankarji, Kherdai, Hardola Baba, Hanuman, and Bhainsaur, which are generally considered benevolent. Kols visit the sacred centers at Allahabad, Bandakpur, and Maihar Mata. For acculturated Kols living in multicaste villages the Brahman priest worships the deities belonging to the Hindu pantheon for the Kols and officiates at rituals connected with life-cycle ceremonies. The Kols celebrate festivals like Ramanavmi, Dassara, Rakhi, Holi, Diwali, Janmashtami, and Shabari Jayanti.

Arts. The Kols have no performing or graphic arts; However, they have a rich repertory of tribal legends.

Death and Afterlife. The Kols usually cremate the dead; burial is for persons who have died of snakebite. In the first case the period of pollution ends on the thirteenth day, while in the second case it lasts three days.

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