Bucking the trend, members of the primitive Asur tribe from Jharkhand will showcase their expertise in iron smelting to the public here during the five-day Durga Puja festival, organisers said on Thursday. The Asur tribe claim their descent from the buffalo-headed demon Mahishashur and mourn the slaying of their ancestor by Goddess Durga as the rest of the world celebrates the occasion.
“There are seven Asur tribe members who arrived here to demonstrate their ancient practices. They have brought with them their own equipment,” P. Roy of the FE Block Residents’ Association told IANS, adding that the documented footage will be played during the celebrations.
“We had gone to their village Sakhuapani in Netarhat to interact with them and recorded a video on the community. They will hold live demonstrations and talk about their trials and tribulations as well,” Roy said.
The iron made by the tribe has anti-rust property and the processes are much safer, cheaper and eco-friendly.
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“The craft is on the verge of extinction and the idea is to generate awareness about their rich history and debunk myths,” the organisers said.
The people from the tribe are now mostly found in Gumla, Latehar, Lohardaga and Palamu district of Jharkand and in Alipurduar in North Bengal. The tribe holds that Durga had tricked their ancestor and killed him.
“For them, Durga puja is inauspicious and they mark its conclusion as Mahishashur Martyrdom Day. Despite their beliefs, they agreed to come to a Durga Puja pandal, which for them is taking a different route from tradition,” Roy said.
Anthropologists say they were among the Proto-Australoid groups inhabiting Jharkhand and western regions of West Bengal. The Asuras name figures in the Rigveda, Brahamanas, Aranyakas, Upanishadas and epics which comprise the sacred literature of the Hindus.