Coating and shirting are meant for either educated people or rich people. These people have of late taken to trousers and paijamas. Generally people make use of fire-wood and dried cow-dung for cooking food. Owing to the restraint put on fire-wood and owing to the policy of the State Government in letting out forest on lease to thikadars (contractors), the people living in villages have to depend on dried cow-dung called goitha and chipari. It is only in town that charcoal is used.
Kerosene oil is used for lighting purposes. Electricity has of late been introduced only in Daltonganj town of the district. Garhwa Road and Garhwa have also got electricity recently, Latehar not yet. Use of electricity for industrial purposes is confined to saw mills, breaking of stones, processing of food grains and oil and lac factories besides at Hutar coal mines.
The middle class people living in rural area use seasonal food. That is to say that when bhadai crop is reaped they take bhat of sawa, ghatta of maize and bread of mahua. After the reaping of agahani crop they take rice for a month or two.
Generally speaking people living in villages prepare their food on chulha made of earth. Higher and middle class people have no doubt a place set apart for cooking purposes in their house. But the poorer people have very small hut of 10 or 12 cubits in length and, 4 cubits in breadth. This hut serves all the purposes of a sleeping room, cooking room, drawing room and guest room simultaneously. The so called Harijan people called Dusadh, Chamar, Dam, Parhaiav and korwas have such abodes. Their condition is more to be imagined than described.
Barber is used both in rural and urban areas for shaving purposes. In Daltonganj saloons have been started but in other towns it has made little .progress. In rural area poorer people hardly shrove in a month. There are hospitals in every police-station of the district but they are not sufficient to cater to the needs of the vast population of the district. Some Ayurvedic institutions have been started. These hospitals and Ayurvedic institutions are not always equipped with medicines.
Smoking and drinking are becoming quite common. Tobacco chewing is also in vogue. Pan (betel) is in common use. Tea has come to stay. Coffee and cigars a.re still rather unc-ommon. Consumption of electricity is common wherever electricity is provided. People do not like to walk long distances if there are passenger buses. Cycles, torches, good shoes, lantern, some rude furniture and tea-shops are becoming common in the country side.
A random sample survey in the rural and urban areas of a few chosen families indicates that as a rule there is no change or craze to enjoy leisure and relaxation. If there is some craze for it, the Adibasis have it.
The pattern of social life is in a crucible owing to the impact of the present day socia-economic changes. Palamau is no longer the unopened district of hill and forests, tigers and diseases. In the past century Palamau did not offer much of attraction to the outsiders. Rather a popular maxim was in vogue that if one wants to court death he has just to settle down in Palamau. The great resources of the district are being tapped and the district has now a fair share of roads and railways. People from other tracts with different culture-complex have started settling down in Daltonganj. The very fact that a second grade college for boys was only opened at Daltonganj less than a decade back and that there is already a growing incidence of co-education in that institution is a clear indicator of the great zeitgeist. The last Great War saw the recruitment of a number of tribals and others from this district in the military. The settlement of large military camps in the interior of the neighboring district of Ranchi led to a number of construction projects including aerodromes. A large labour force had to be recruited on very high wages to complete the projects. Along with the other districts of Chotanagpur, Palamau also sent quite a large number of men and women to work in the aerodromes, etc. The large recruitment in the tea gardens had also contributed to the upgrading of the common man. The coolies who returned fromthe tea gardens or from the military camps with shirts, trousers and shoes or with sans, under-garment and trinkets helped to break the exclusiveness of this, district of forests and tigers. The opening of the mineral resources in the neighboring districts like the cement factories in Shahabad and Singhbhum, steel factory at Jamshedpur, the collieries in Ranchi and Hazaribagh naturally attracted the economically backward common man of the district. This process has continued and in the near future the Hatia, Project and the other projects in Ranchi and other districts including Palamau itself will help the men of this district to earn more money.
The impact bas been marked on home life. The types of dwellings are changing. The mud-huts in the urban areas are slowly giving way and people who worked and lived outside would not be satisfied unless there is probably a chair or stool and a table. Use of trinkets and soaps is an index of the present trend. The old loin cloth of the Adibasis is hardly to be seen. Gone are the days when the coy Adibasi girl would be happy to move about with a small piece of rolled coloured mat in her ear-lobes. Instead she would wear cheap trinkets of coloured plastic. Similar changes are also observed in dress and ornaments of middle class family and the families in the higher income-groups. Their dress, on the whole, is now simpler more with an eye to durability and cheapness. The present day dwellings that are going up in Daltonganj are not being controlled and hence different types of houses with variegated pattern are to be seen. The furniture pattern in the dwellings of the family of middle class and high.er income- groups is also changing. The present day youths are allergic to squat on the ground and have their meals. There is more of furniture in the living rooms. The change in the pattern is definitely underlining a more comfortable mode of living. Along with the other changes in home life, the pattern of food is also showing a change. More people are turning non-vegetarian and drinking of tea is replacing consumption of milk. Restaurants and hotels are springing up in the towns and villages. There are more people now that have taken to smoking and drinking. There is a perceptible shift of the upper and middle class people to the urban areas. The changes are more to be seen in the urban areas. But as the district headquarters largely determines the social trends one may expect that without the economic resources these more expensive habits will go to the villages. This is unfortunate but looks almost inevitable. The long distance buses like those to Bhandaria or Mahuadanr are upgrading the villages on the routes. The Block headquarters in the interior have the same effect.
There are also changes in amusement sources. The melas and hats used to have some rustic sources of amusements. The communal dances of the Adibasis were great in the past. The melas and hats are now visited by roving small movies, nawtanki dances and demonstrative cinema shows. Jatras and kirtans are, however, still there to keep up the older tradition of instructive amusements. The natural beauty spots are hardly resorted to.
In urban areas cinema shows are becoming more popular. The loudspeaker broadcasting cinema hits as an advertisement has almost become a nuisance. Songs and dance demonstrations by school girls are getting common. The puia festivities at Daltonganj are attended by thousands of villagers every night.
Another change is the shift of the social life to a more individualistic, pattern. The average villager and particularly the average Adibasi had much more of a communal life earlier. While the Adibasis still retain this approach of life and to some extent the Christians too, the others are clearly becoming more materialistic and have developed an individualistic approach. This is strange because it was in Palamau district that still a couple of decades back, it was usual for the entire village folk to plough up another man's land and this process went on rotation. It as this approach that might have led to a real national revolution in Palamau in 1857, as mentioned elsewhere this is the only district in Bihar where almost every section of people joined the movement of 1857.The approach to an individualistic life is more perceptible in the urban areas.
The recent abolition of zamindari system has had a tremendous influence on social life, the effects of which are too early to be felt. The traditional leadership in society, rural or urban, came from either the men of the higher caste or the zamindars. The present day stem of education and the socio-economic changes previously indicated had already started sapping the leadership of the castemen when came the abolition of zamindari in 1957. The numerous zamindar families had been nursed with the tradition of keeping a number of kamias and launris, (maid-servants). In presence of the zamindar, his tenants would not dare to sit one the same platform where the zamindar sat. The average zamindar riding on a horse would have a couple of kamics run after him to hold the horse if he got tired and wanted to get down. The inaccessibility, of a number of thanas helped to keep up this trailition of zamindars. The economic status of the zamindar was hardly a factor. Even a small zamindar would be a satrap ill a small way.
By one stroke of the statute this leisured and pampered class was pulled down from the high pedestal. He has now the problem to earn his livelihood. Excepting a few, the economic condition of others is not enviable. The kamiauti system had been abolished some time back and now it is a problem for them to have a domestic servant and agricultural labourers. Some of them are turning to business. Some zamindars are now taking lease from the Government to work the very mineral resources of their previous estates which they had neglected. Some are turning forest-contractors, timber merchants or licensees of public vehicles. There is a distinct shift of this class to come and live in towns of this district and beyond. Exploitation of the industrial resources, in big or small scales, will open new employment chances.
The impact of the abolition of zamindari is being felt in the changes of social values. Dignity of labour is more appreciated. The professional classes previously taken to be socially degraded because of their avocations have their position now. The adult franchise, the statutory removal of untouchability and change of the character of the Police State into Welfare State since Independence had been won, has highlighted the importance of the common man. The political and social changes are leading to a certain imbalance and confusion. In this great change the educated professional groups like the lawyers, doctors, educationists, businessmen, etc., have a great role to play. It is the educated middle class that gave the leadership in the 19th and early 20th century almost everywhere before high casteism or long purse came to be overvalued. It is felt that with the liquidation of zamindari and high casteism the educated professional groups should again come into their own after a little while. There is bound to be a certain amount of frustration and economic instability in this class for sometime owing to the abolition of zamindari and other changes and the aftermath of the upheaval of the common man. There has got to be an adjustment to maintain the social equilibrium and in that process the middle class men will have to play their great role again by acting as the cushion to absorb the shock and by giving the lead.