|Holi Festival with Difference In The Fourth World India|
Bhill tribe's Holi Festival goes for five days from the full Moon day. There are fairs at various villages near rivers and lakes. The atmosphere is charge with dances and singing.
Holi and Tree worship are originally the tribal - aborigine - traditions, says Coomaraswamy. Later Aryans and Buddhist adopted them.
In the Vindhya and Satpura ranges run the Narmada River and its subsidiaries. The rivers and forest here are the lifeline of the tribal. For thousands of years they live in harmony with nature. As the civilized societies invaded the land the tribal retreated in the forests. Now the civilized societies have destroyed the forests there and assaulted their very sustenance.
Bhill culture is so rich that it should be understood as World Heritage and should be preserved. For more than ten thousand years, or perhaps from unknown time, they have been living in tune with nature. But now in the hurricane of development on western model it is doubtful how long the will last!
From the time the Aryans came to India the exploitation that started continues. Aryans assimilated the tribal but as a "service class" or Shudra caste, that received a stigma of untouchable people, of course, by superior caste of Brahmans. Now the ruling class of India wants to bring the tribal in the dragnet of market economy.
Bhill communities are cohesive collectives. They don't have division of labour like so-called cultured civilized societies. Every a member of the community represents the community.
A tribal is complete person in Work - Leisure - Learning - Health -Propagation, who has no split personality like civilized man. There is no parallel to quality of their way of life in modern advance societies.
On the night of Holi, the young-old, women and men from various hamlets gather at the place of lighting the Holi fire. They bring toddy pots, maze rotis and eggs of chickens along.
When the Full Moon is over the head, they fire the Holi. All the people in a row dance and sing around the Holi fire. Drinking toddy goes on in between. The night gets over in dancing and singing and drinking toddy.
As the Sun comes up, everyone gathers around the Holi fire; the leader collects all the rotis, breaks them in pieces, breaks and pours the raw eggs in a large bamboo basket, and mixes them together. This offering to Holi is then distributed to all; thus by eating the mixture they end the fast observed till then.
The glass bead ornaments which the Bhill youths are wearing in the picture above, are prepared by the Bhill women of the families, for themselves. The youth have painted their bodies with patterns of panther. Their flutes have only five tones.
Girls / women tattoo peacocks on their hands or legs. Bhills too have 'tiger-god' like Warli and other tribes.
During the five-day festival young men and women, who are usually 16 to 18 age, choose their spouses, and run away from the fair usually on the fifth day. Later the man's parents go to the girl's family requests for her in marriage. The boy's parents pay the dowry; for this occasion a day is fixed.
There is also a day fixed for fishing during this festival.
During the five days there are fairs at various places Bhills meet their relatives and friends from several villages. Their close ties and kinship are thus maintained.
Bhill House and Habitat
In the background is natural forest preserved
by the Bhills
On the hill in the background is monoculture plantation
initiated by the government
There are two kinds of poverty:
One is the way of life to live sustainably withou exploitation of resorces;
Other is inflicted by the powerful section of society on others.
In this region there are Flurospar mines. It gives quality of 75% Flurospar of mineral content. When I visited (in the late 1960s), mostly Bhill girls were working at the mines as laborers. They received daily wages, while the ruling minority monopolized the resources: land and minerals, both. The exploitation of tribal continues even now. The world is certainly watching the growing Maoist or Naxalite movement in parts of India, mostly the tribal areas.
The story Bhills is not complete here. There is no need to romanticize Bhills. During lean periods when food-stocks (maze is their stapple food) vanish, many live on toddy, which is known to kill hunger.
When my classmates, schoolmates and colleagues were leaving India for Europe and America, and most, or some of them opted to settle abroad, I was wandering in the hills and valleys and deserts, particularly among the tribal - aborigines - communities. I was never a tourist nor I wrote any travelogues. I was looking for the people who have been existing before "civilized societies" came, that they are still here; I was hoping that my roots certainly have reached there.
And my whole way of living totally changed, transformed: Say, without any rites and rituals or ceremonies I was converted. A religious conversion? No. Religion, like soul, love, work, fxxk is a much abused, and decadent. My wanderings fulfilled my life.
I publish these pictures for the first time. I have an uneasy feeling. I have a dreary feeling, if am I making a mistake? Because even though I believe in humans, but my belief in the so-called cultured civilized societies is dwindling.
My papers 1: "Tribal housing: Buddha and the art and science of Karavi hut", and 2: "Tribal housing and Habitat-2", though they refer in particular to Warli Tribe, are applicable in general to other tribes, of course, with variations.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.