Soon after Dussehra, the Bhumji community, an Adivasi community that lives in Odisha, celebrates a harvest ritual where they pray to Karam Raja, a king and god of agriculture and welfare. The main participants of this four-day ritual are four girls from the community, who hold fasts during this period.
The festival begins with the elders of the village congregating to discuss Karma Raja, following which the community partakes in cultural dances that continue over the next three days. On day one, they go into the jungle, returning with a Karam tree, which they worship for three days before immersing in a nearby pond. In Krushnanagar, a village on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, we got to be a part of this celebration.
Anushka Dalal is a digital analyst at IDR.
Know more: Read about how the development discourse in India often excludes Adivasi communities.