Living in the Khaksitola village under Bero block, just 40 km away from Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, the Tana Bhagat community, named after Jatra Tana Bhagat who was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi to lead freedom movement in different parts of Jharkhand, has recorded no positive case of corona virus throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, the high standard of cleanliness and hygiene is cited as the reason for Tana
Bhagat’s immunity. The community has emerged as a model for Covid-appropriate behaviour even as Jharkhand like rest of India was overwhelmed by the second wave of the pandemic. As on Monday, Jharkhand had reported 3,43,609 cases of Covid-19 including 5,085 deaths. Jharkhand’s active Covid-19 caseload stood at 3,062 but none of the 3,481 families and 21,783 members belonging to Tana Bhagat community (a community among the Oraon tribe of Jharkhand) has been infected by SARS-COV-2 till date.
The Tana Bhagat community members are ardent followers of the Gandhian philosophy. They are guided by a motto of simple living and strong sense of commitment to India. They worship the tricolour (the Indian national flag) in a community gathering. They are seen clothed in two-piece white unstitched khadi clothes which they wash every day. They are strict vegetarians and teetotallers. Tana Bhagats eat food cooked by themselves. If they go outside, they either do not eat or carry their own dry food to sustain. They always ask for uncooked ration when they go out. They arrange for firesticks and stove for cooking their food. They eat and feed themselves only if these conditions are met. They have their own vision of society and keep at an arm’s distance from the mainstream of society.
Meanwhile, clad in white turban, Sukha Bhagat, 80, showed how they survived the first and the second waves of Covid-19 pandemic. He and his colleagues cleaned the place around the tricolour square with cow dung. All of them washed their hands with clean water and then they offered prayer by singing hymn in traditional way. After prayers, they said that their model was to stay contactless from the mainstream of society by doing the things on their own.
Sukha Bhagat Singh said that he had not gone to Ranchi in the past three-four months. He said he was an absolute teetotaller. Other members of the community including women who had flocked for prayer echoed the same.
Even though they live in the lap of nature they don’t need air-conditioners or refrigerators. They live in a properly ventilated house and follow pure vegetarian diet. Green culture and green vegetables build strong immunity among Tana Bhagats. They said, they pay respect to Mahatma Gandhi in their prayers and worship the tricolor, which they said disseminated a message of harmony in their society.
The Tana Bhagat Community members laid their lives while fighting the British colonial rule during the freedom movement. The village has a plaque with names written of all those who laid their lives as a reminder of their sacrifice, valor and vim. But within their settlements, the Tana Bhagats display simple living. It shows their composure and strong liking for peace. In addition, Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta and Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) former National Vice
President Dr Ajay, however, were not surprised that none among Tana Bhagats tested positive for Covid-19. They attributed it to the tribal way of living in balance with the nature. While appreciating the Tana Bhagat community for its commitment to nature and the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Banna Gupta said this tribal community was on verge of extinction and needed to be protected. The Jharkhand government has announced a special drive to vaccinate the members of the Tana Bhagat community to give them an extra protection.