Gavri- The Bhil Tribals Celebrate!

The Bhil community of Southern Rajasthan celebrates an annual festival called Gavri which to them symbolises a celebration of life. Our IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Shambhulal Khatik from Delwara, Rajasthan gives you a glimpse of this colorful festival. Gavri, is a dance-drama which begins on the next day after Rakshabandhan. The men of a village present plays in the villages where their sisters and daughters live getting married. It continues for over a month and about forty to one hundred people participate in the dance. 

"Women cannot participate in this folk dance-drama as the performance is representative of visiting the sisters. Gavri had not been performed in Delwara from the past 10 years. Last time it was performed in 2001. Because a lot of money is spent on costumes, make-up, food & stay a minimum Rs 25,000 is spent on each participant. Due to the high costs involved, this festival is slowly-slowly getting wiped out from the memory of the Bhil community" says one Gavri dance performer.

 For 30 days, the participants live an austere life and follow strict rules. They are not supposed to wear shoes, eat meat, not eat at night, must sleep on the floor and not take bath during this period. The Bhil community is engaged in this dance-drama throughout the day for a month, leaving aside their farming work. Only when the festival is over, does the community start using the new crop.

This is how the Bhils have kept alive the fascinating tradition of this unique folk dance-drama all these years. For Bhils, Gavri is not just an entertainment but there is a strong religious purpose behind this. It is an art to express the devotion to Shiva, to thank god for the good rains & a hope of having a prosperous year each year. It is a celebration of life and of connections to their roots.

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