The Karam festival is a festival of agriculture and is very sacred to the tribal people of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam. Tribal groups like Baiga, Oraon, Binjhwari, Munda, Majhwar, Ho, Khortha, Korba and many more tribal communities celebrate this festival in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. It is held on the 11th day of Purnima of Bhado that generally falls in the month of September-October.
On this auspicious day, KaramDevta is worshipped. KaramDevta is considered to be the God of youth and power. The festival also marks the celebration of nature and fertility. The tribes or adivasis celebrate this festival by offering their prayers to the Karma tree. The entire festival revolves around the Karma tree which is the symbol of Karma Devta. There are many rituals which are performed on the day. History of Karma(Karam) festival is very interesting and also signifies the love and dedication to Nature.
There are many legends behind the initiation of Karam Puja although the real history of Karma festival is hardly known.
The first legend of Karma festival is about seven brothers who were farmers and worked very hard in the field. They were so busy that they hardly had time for lunch. So their wives used to carry their lunches. They used to have lunch by the field to save time. One day, so happened, that their wives did not arrive to the field with the lunch. This made the brothers very angry as they remained hungry throughout the day. When they returned home in the evening, they got very furious to see their wives singing and dancing around the Karam tree. In their fury, they uprooted the tree and threw it into the water. Moreover the younger brother left the house.
Soon after that, they had to suffer a lot as they lost everything: their house and crops and were starving virtually. The younger brother came across a priest who told him the power of KaramDevta. The youngest brother found a Karam tree floating which he worshipped. He then came back home and told everyone about the power of Karam and from the day they worshipped KaramDevta and thus restored all their lost wealth.
This legend of Karma festival is about a merchant who returned from a voyage with many valuable things. He waited for his wife and other relatives to welcome his vessel as a part of the tradition. He was surprised as well as angry to see no one turning up as everyone was busy celebrating the Karama festival. He in fury uprooted the Karma tree and this triggered the wrath of KaramDevta. His ship with all the valuable things sank in the sea.
He understood his mistake and launched another ship to propitiate Karma Devta as per the advice of an astrologer. He found the deity floating and the propitiated him with his devotion. This is how he got all his wealth back and from that day, the Karma Devta is worshipped every year.