“Go Slow” Communication

Happy New Year! As London looks set to grind to a halt (snow again!) I am gradually picking up pace as my previously daunting e-mail inbox reduces in size.

Among the e-mails about stationery offers and places in running events I recieved this fascinating piece about the Santali tribe (Jharkhand, North India) and “Darwak” communication from the staff at our India office.

As we head beyond the noughties and ever deeper into the technological speed of the 21st century I think it is a nice trigger for reflection on ‘go slow’ style communication. In fact a friend of mine is writing a book on exactly that – practical ways to ‘simplify’ things like that e-mail inbox!

Tribal Women, Jharkhand

There is always something to learn and unlearn during periodic visits to project areas. One such learning is about ‘Darwak’ which is about ancient method of Santal communication system. It was though to explore more about Darwak to reveal the richness of Santal tribal culture.

The term “Darwak” refers to communicate or to broadcast the information. The Santal tribe uses this traditional mode of communication even today in some of their occasions. The person using this mode would tie Saal leaves to his stick and wander in the local haat . The person would silently fly each leaf and people around would ask “what is the message”. Only upon asking the person would pass the message.

Types of Darwak –

1. Mode- Manjhi Darwak – This kind is used when five Heads of the village sit together to resolve any arguments. The messenger ties five leaves on his stick and wanders from one market to the other. Only when asked he would speak out the message.

2. Disom Manjhi Darwak – Disom refers to ten. This kind is used when ten Heads are called to resolve an argument. The messenger carries ten leaves on his stick and looking at the seriousness of the matter more Heads could be called to solve the problem. In this case the messenger would carry as many leaves matching the number of the Heads. This makes the Heads clear that the problem is really a serious one.

3. Sandera Bir Darwak (collective hunting)- This method of communication is used to inform the date and place for collective hunting in which only men participate. It has been observed that more than twenty five thousand men have participated in collective hunting using this mode of communication.

4. Darwak for Missing People – This kind is used when someone family member or cattle goes missing or gets stolen. In this method the number of leaves on the messenger’s stick is indefinite and at the same time currency notes are tied with the leaves. Currency notes are given away to the person as gift who gives information about the missing person or the animal.

5. Darwak for celebration/fair and sports event- This kind of communication is used to spread the information regarding any fair, any sports event or any kind of celebration.


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