Karma festival is celebrated by mostly the tribes of Jharkhand, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and many other states of India. The name of the festival is derived from the name of the tree called “Karam” which is scientifically known as NaucleaParvifolia. This tree is the symbol of Karma Devta who is worshipped on the day of the auspicious festival. The importance of the Karma tree is well established as it is at the centre of all rituals and customs.
Rituals Attached to Karma Tree
The preparation of the celebration begins at least ten to twelve days before the day of the occasion. Young folk of the villages goes out to the jungle to collect the wood of the Karam tree along with fruits and flowers on this day and is generally carried by the young girls.
On the day of Karam festival, the women pound the rice in Dheki, to mark the beginning of the festival. The rice flour obtained is used to make local sweet and salty delicacy and is shared among the neighbours. Then the tribal people mark the festival with a customary dance where a yellow flower is tucked behind the ear of the dancers. The dancers also carry a branch of the Karam tree which is passed from one to the other while singing and dancing.
The branch of the Karam tree is then placed in the centre of the dancing arena and worshipped as a symbol of God and Nature. Before placing the branch at the middle, it is washed with milk, and Handia (rice beer). The branches are garlanded and people offer flowers, curd and rice. To mark the importance of the Karam tree, grains which are filled in the red coloured basket are also offered. People worship the branches and seek the blessings of the Karma Devta/Devi.