Major BR Enclave, Pochanpur
Dwarka, New Delhi-110023
Chik Baraik: An Introduction
Chik Baraik, a tribal community originally from the Chhotanapur Plateau (Present Jharkhand) and neighbouring states is popularly called as Baraik. They are traditionally the tribal weavers of coarse cloths ranging from saree, lahanga, dhoti, pechhouri, aaji ledri, barki, tolong, gamchha, etc. They have also been cultivators. Their population is hardly found in large number settled at the same place due to their traditional occupation and also due to landlessness as they were mostly concerned with their job ignoring the land occupancy during early stage. To serve the population with weaving clothes for local needs, they got settled with other tribal communities in different villages and therefore are not found in large number of households. In ethnographic records, it is found to have various groups and further divided into totemic clans like Maluwa, Boukra/Bakli, Kauwa, Khukhri, Induar, Besra, Nourangi, Barha, Harin, Gara, Parwar, and many others.
Sadri/Nagpuria/Sadani has been their primary mother tongue. However, they have also taken up the other tribal languages of their locality as secondary languages for communication like Kharia, Mundari, Kurukh, etc. They have also well embraced the languages like Hindi in Jharkhand, Bengali in West Bengal, Assamese in Assam and Oriya in Odisha as language of communication with others and sometimes within intra community interactions. They have been traditionally animists/ancestral worshiping and nature worshipers. However, they are found to profess Hinduism in part or in some form and Christianity also in parallel fashion with their traditional culture. Some have left the practices due to migration to other places, especially urban areas and faraway places, where their religious and cultural practices cannot be performed.
Still the rich cultural practices during of entire life cycle are seen in the villages and small towns. It is of very much interest to see the name picking of a child well known as chhathi by chasing and meeting a floating sesame seed by raw rice on the shallow water of bronze thali. Maitkoran (worshiping gram deity) by village Pahan (priest), madwa and dalhardi, amba biha, painkotan, pairghani, lawa, harin marek, chuman, etc. are still the most vibrant form of step by step activities during marriage ceremony with earth shattering beats of dhank and nagara full of bass and treble and melodious tune of shahnaii played by the musicians of Ghasi community. Every stage can be witnessed with full of joy and dance open to all males and females of the society. It is really challenge to resist oneself to these beats, which are different during different time and activity with different tune of shahnai. Pahgun, nawakhani, Sohrai, Karam and Jitiya are the major festivals with sarhul. It is so fascinating to listen to different songs and ragas for different season occasion, time and place like damkach, karam, phaguwa, mardana jhumair, tharhiya, lahasua, sanjhi, kalwa, adhratiya, bhinsariya, with sweet beat of popular instruments like mandar, dholak, bansuri, thechka, etc. Even the songs are for those who migrated or had seasonal (chaw masia or six monthly) migration to Assam, Bhotang (Bhutan), and Tapu (Andman and Nicobar Islands). One really needs to revisit and reinvent all the rich cultural heritage of Chik Baraik some of which will be in peril.
At present they are at the verge of extinct in the form of weaver due to the decline of spinning, herbal dying and weaving in the tribal villages on account of the availability of cheap and fine clothes and also due to shift to better opportunities in terms of remuneration and progress. However, significant number of families is sufferer of this decline and facing acute hardship for livelihood as they are landless also. They are facing many hardships, especially in getting their caste certificates for education, scholarships, government schemes, and employment, which needs serious attention by the government, otherwise one thread of the vibrant cultural mosaic of tribal community will remain left out of the inclusive development in the country.
As per 2011 Census, the total Chik Baraik population is 77,674 in Jharkhand (54,163), West Bengal (21,376) and Bihar (2,135), where the community is recognized as Scheduled Tribes. A sizeable population is also in the states of Assam recognized as tea tribe, Odisha classified as SCs and unclassified, Andman and Nicobar Islands and Delhi.