Part -11- ANCIENT HISTORY OF GOR BANJARAS

Worship and Devotion

The Tanda of Gors followed some definite principles of life. The references to their faith in life and work are seen in the prayer of the goddess. Gors are worshippers of Goddess. The goddesses viz. Tulaja, Mathara, Sitala, Hingala, Kankali, Durga, Maryamma are called as Banjaran goddesses in Nimad region. The goddess of Rammya Khola clan is called as Wagai. In every clan the God is worshipped as the god of the family. Legend says that the Maramma goddess was once after the life of Gors.

The devotees worship her to keep her calm, making her pleased is considered difficult. She puts her devotees in more trouble. Worship of this goddess is prevalent in Gors since ancient times. Sewabhaya was supposed to be her last devotee. Gor call her a Maramma (Yadi). The goddess is shown riding a tiger, having spear and sword in her hand and with golden hair. The prayer that is sung to praise the goddess contains principles of life. It is as follows:

मरयामा याडी की आरती…
जे जे मरयामा याडी बोल…जै जै… खडीयारी आसवारी रेणों,
पडेती खडी करणों समर ओत आड आणों,
याडी मरयामा… खेप वटावे वत रुपा,
रेल चलाणों याडी… दी पहर साही वेळो,
चार पहर जागत रेणों… राक अटाव ओत पाक करले याडी…
बाग बगीच्या फुलवाडी हरीभरी रखाड,
खुटा मंगुरीन साई वेस, कीड़ी मुंगीन साई वेस,
बाल बच्चार साई वेस, सावकारेर समनक रकाड,
कचेरीरे पाचन काढ, काळे माथेर मनक्या छा,
पगे पगेमा चुकाचा, भुली चुकी माफ कर,
कबुलो कबुल कर याडी मरयामा...

Meaning: First the goddess has been described in detail. May you be pleased with all of living tribes, all children and may you protect us always. Our fields and plantations should always remain green. Our travel during the goods transport should be complete without pain. Even though we load ash for trade, turn it into silver. Let the goods double. The bags loaded on oxen are safe.

The instrument used for cattle should also be protected. We can’t survive without cattle. Hence save them. The death should not lift us before clearing all the debt of the money lender. Keep us away from the clutches of the courts. Man is to err, please forgive us. And accept the sacrifice of goat.


 

Dhabukar

Even though the Gors are worshippers of goddess they have a custom of offering Dhabukar in the name of ancestors. In Maharashtra there is a custom of offering food and worshipping the ancestors in Marathi month of Bhadrapad. In the same manner the ancestors are remembered in every household of the Tanda on the occasion of Diwali and Holi. Favourite food items of the ancestors are prepared and its five portions are put into holy fire. The court yard of the house is cleaned and water is sprinkled there. Water is also sprinkled at the place where the cattle are rested to purify the area. This ritual is known as Dhabukar. For the ancestor who is known to have had habit of drinking some liquor is sprinkled for him. This is known as ‘Dhar Deyar.’


 Bhog

The goddess is worshipped with a sacrifice. This offering is prepared in a vegetarian way. In some of the clans there is a tradition of offering in the memory of sages, saints and great men. In Harawel clan the special offering is made to Balaji. A pit is prepared in the courtyard so as to accommodate an elongated cooking ware. Male members then cook a recipe called as ‘Kadhav’ made from wheat. When the food is ready all the Tanda members are called to give the offering (Bhog). They stand in a circle and pray. Then the person in whose courtyard the food is prepared, asks permission of all and offers the ‘Kadhav’ and other sweet items to the fire.

All members bow in front of the fire and then the food (prasadam) is distributed to all. Now there is also a tradition of making the offering in the name of Sewabhaya. For it chanting of the name is followed by the same procedure as above. There was no other method of worship in this tribe. A custom of community lunch (Bhandara) is also in vogue now. All the members of the Tanda contribute money and then the food is presented. Activities like religious discourses (Bhajan, Pravachan) are arranged on this occasion.


 

Bhog (Dhabukar)

The Nagaswami Baba of Udaipur was perhaps a Jogi. Gor Banjara had faith in him. He was not worshipped except on the occasion of marriages. The offering of 1 rupee seems to be connected with his name. There was a religious figure named Bhajan Baba in 16th Century in Malawa area. He belonged to Ramanna Khola linage. He propounded the principles of non-violence, truth and justice along with devotion. There was a great sage named Lala Fatta from the same clan and Bhajan Baba was his worshipper. In the end Lala Fatta went to Kashi. Facts about his further life are not known. Still, since my clan is ‘Ramanna Khola’ I enquired about it from my parents. He was basically from Khairagarh. He traveled to all tribesmen living in the mountain region and propagated the feeling of devotion among them.

The people belonging to Ramanna Khola clan offer food in his name on the occasion of Diwali and Holi. The women of this clan take bath and go to fetch water. They worship the place of the water as the Ganga River. The cows are also worshipped and the cow dung is applied on the forehead. This clan has the honour to celebrate Diwali and Holi first in the Tanda. By saying ‘Lal patar pujer’ an item made up of wheat and jaggery is offered to the fire lit in a small square. The girls are not given portion of this offering.

The people of Ramanna Khola clan do not eat poori, chapatti made up of gram and jaggery (puranpoli) and meat of Teetar bird and deer. When the worship of Lala Fatta is over then only the other members of the Tanda offer the ‘Dhabukar.’


 Custom of Samat Sati

People belonging to Palathya Chavan clan worship Samat Dada and Sati Mata. There is a temple at Vandegahi village in the Nasik district of Maharashtra. It is their place of worship. Legend has it that the son of a Samat named Dhanawat denounced the worldly life and became a sage. His disciple named Sati Mata was of Brahmin caste. The Sati Mata is first worshipped in the morning. Some sweet items are offered to her. It is said that she was unmarried. Her flag is white in colour. After her worship is over the Samat Dada is offered the sacrifice of goat. The girls of this clan are not given share of this offering. If any girl eats the offering by mistake it is believed that the Samat follows her after her marriage. The colour of the Samat’s flag is Red. A red flag is shown in front the house where Samat is worshipped.


 The Bhog of Sewabhaya

A great saint named Sewabhaya was born in this caste. His Samadhi is situated at Pohara Umari in Akola district of Maharashtra State. It is a pilgrimage center of the Gor Banjaras in the country. A huge fair is organized here on the occasion of Ram Navami every year. A sweet item made up of wheat is prepared on this occasion and distributed to all as a portion of the offering. First the offering to Sewabhaya is given in a fireplace (Dhuni) in front of the Samadhi. At a short distance from this place is the temple of Maryamma Yadi. She is offered goats in sacrifice. The practice is still on today in which thousands of goats are sacrificed. Both the Sewabhaya and Maryamma Yadi are worshipped on the occasion. The temples of these two have also been constructed in number of Tandas. Sewabhaya was a devotee of Maryamma Devi. The people from Sewabhya’s lineage are still alive. They are the chiefs of this temple.


 

The Prayer-Song of Sewabhaya

जय जय भरतारा सेवालाल, तारो जय जयकार महाराज कुलधारी बाल ब्रह्मचारी बापू सेवालाल तोळाराम घोडे रो स्वार रेणों ।। नरेरी नारी बनाये वाळो बापु सेवा मुये मरदान, जीवतो करे वाळो, गोरु कोरु रो बापू सेवालाल सुरा खंडेरी भुमिरो, मातो ताडे वाळो सेवाभाया चितेकाम फत्ते करे, पडी मुंडी खडी कर…बापु सेवालाल धरतीन धनेती धपाडेस, जत समळ कर ओत आड आयेस काळे मातेरे मनक्या छा, पगे पगेमा चुकाचा…बापू महाराज भुला चुका पेटम घाल, तारो नामेरो कढाव..धोळे देवळेम कबुल कर महाराज

Meaning: There was the great saint Sewalal Maharaja in the Banjara community. All the Banjaras in the country worship him with complete devotion. The offering made up of wheat and ghee is distributed to all in his name. The devotional song on this occasion is as follows:

अगल बगल परकोट छ रे, मांई भाया बेठोच मांई भाया बेठोच, वत देवळ बंधोंच अगल बगल..भाया बेठोच, सळो टिको लगोच डावी वडी कुवा वावडी रे, जळ नीळ भरोच, कुवा वावडीरो पाणी रे, सेवा भाया रो तीरथ छ जमनी वडी हरीयो बाग छ रे, जाई मोगरा फुलच जाई मोगरा रो फुल रे, सेवाभाया न चढच पुठे लार आमलीरो झाड छ रे, घोरी छाया देरोछ घेरी छाया देरोच, वत सेवाभाया बेठोच सामु समनक तोळाराम छ रे, सोना वरळी झुलच…


 Mithu Bhukiya

Another saint named Mithu Bhukiya was also born in this caste. Gors worship him devotedly. Legend has it that Mithu Bhukiya was going for his own marriage when he met with some people on the way and told him the tragic news of his bride’s death. This news transformed Mithu Bhukiya and he decided to renounce the material life and became a sage. It is said that Bhukiya blesses the pilgrims. He is offered both kind of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food items as promised by the devotee prior to his worship. The worship is not done unless a person has benefited in some form or the other. Women are not allowed inside the temple of Mithu Bhukiya. They even do not pronounce his name. Mithu Bhukiya is said to have remained a bachelor till his death. Gor people also worship both the gods i.e. inside and outside the house. The place of the gods is called as Thano (Samadhi). The worship of Badi Mata is performed by Gor Banjaras in the Southern part of Madhya Pradesh. There are around 100 Tandas. Among them the Lokadya Tanda organizes the fair of Badi Mata. Lakhs of Gor attend this fair. The goddess is offered sweets. The ‘Guna Dev’ is offered sacrifice of goat. The people of Jadhav Clan worship the goddess ‘Bijasan’ as their reining deity. While in Nimad region Banjara goddess is worshipped.


 Festivals of Gors

The lifestyle of any tribe can best be understood by studying the festivals and celebrations of that tribe. Religious as well as principles of life are closely related with these festivals. Man is emotional and enthusiastic right from his birth. In order to express these feelings the festivities are one of the media. Man is equally attracted towards knowing his future and past as well. The festivities have not undergone any major change during the course of time. Now the tendency to celebrate the festivals on a large scale is increasing day by day. The Gor Banjaras were living in a natural habitat with their cattle for many years. Hence they celebrate Hindu festivals as per their customs.


 Gudhi Padawa (Chaitra Shukla Pratipada)

Since Gors belong to Kshatriya class non-vegetarian food and drinks are their favourites. Whatever may be the occasion they enjoy it with eating and drinking. The first day of the New Year is celebrated as Gudhi Padwa i.e. Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. Many an auspicious works are initiated on this occasion. Gor Banjaras go for hunting together on this occasion. They believe that they must hunt an animal on this day otherwise the year will not pass peacefully. Hindus prepare special sweet items on this day while Gors celebrate with the dish of the hunted animal called as ‘Boti-Bati.’ The Banjaras celebrate the birth of a child or death of a person with meat and drinks with equal passion. The four major festivals celebrated by these people are Teej, Dussehra, Diwali and Holi with traditional fervour.


Another saint named Mithu Bhukiya was also born in this caste. Gors worship him devotedly. Legend has it that Mithu Bhukiya was going for his own marriage when he met with some people on the way and told him the tragic news of his bride’s death. This news transformed Mithu Bhukiya and he decided to renounce the material life and became a sage. It is said that Bhukiya blesses the pilgrims. He is offered both kind of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food items as promised by the devotee prior to his worship. The worship is not done unless a person has benefited in some form or the other.

Women are not allowed inside the temple of Mithu Bhukiya. They even do not pronounce his name. Mithu Bhukiya is said to have remained a bachelor till his death. Gor people also worship both the gods i.e. inside and outside the house. The place of the gods is called as Thano (Samadhi). The worship of Badi Mata is performed by Gor Banjaras in the Southern part of Madhya Pradesh. There are around 100 Tandas. Among them the Lokadya Tanda organizes the fair of Badi Mata. Lakhs of Gor attend this fair. The goddess is offered sweets. The ‘Guna Dev’ is offered sacrifice of goat. The people of Jadhav Clan worship the goddess ‘Bijasan’ as their reining deity. While in Nimad region Banjara goddess is worshipped.


 Festivals of Gors

The lifestyle of any tribe can best be understood by studying the festivals and celebrations of that tribe. Religious as well as principles of life are closely related with these festivals. Man is emotional and enthusiastic right from his birth. In order to express these feelings the festivities are one of the media. Man is equally attracted towards knowing his future and past as well. The festivities have not undergone any major change during the course of time. Now the tendency to celebrate the festivals on a large scale is increasing day by day. The Gor Banjaras were living in a natural habitat with their cattle for many years. Hence they celebrate Hindu festivals as per their customs.


 Festival of Teej

Singing and dancing along with special foods is special characteristic of this tribe. Singing and dancing have become a part of their joyous attitude; it is their essence of life. The trade of goods transport was not carried out in the rainy season. Hence all the male and female members of the Tanda were present at that time. teej-festivalEarlier marriages were also held during this period. The girls married during the season would return to their parental home after the rainy season was over. The festival of Teej is celebrated on this occasion. The tradition of this festival among the Rajasthani Gor Banjaras is different. In Nimad and Malawa regions this festival is celebrated in a unique style. This festival mainly belongs to girls and boys from the Tanda. Women also participate in the dance and singing more compared to men.

Teej Perer: The permission of Naik is essential to start any social function. The newly married girls and other women of the Tanda go to the Naik’s home and ask him the permission to celebrate Teej by singing a song:

“हमारे नायक आछो ये लाडा कुर कुइ कन्हैया लाल
जाववा बेटीर आसीरवाद लियेरे लाडा हमनेन तीज पेरायो
हमारो लाडा नायका “

Meaning: The Naik of our Tanda is a good person. The Naik has given permission to sow Teej to take blessings of the young girls.

Kal Dhud Layer: The girls go together to get the black soil from their own fields, dancing and singing. The groups of girls and boys compete with each other in dance and songs. The boys pose difficult quizzes in front of the girls. The girl who is to be married next year is highly respected. The young girls are going to leave the Tanda for sowing the Teej this year. Only unmarried girls sow the seeds for the Teej. The boys try to stop the girls from taking the black soil from the fields.

Barere Phera Pherer: The girls in turn pester the boys with such words as Dada, Bhaiyya (big brother), and Veera etc. Then the girls take 7 circles around a tree of wild berry. The boys tease the girls by comparing the tree as their first husband. This song is sung at that time:

 “बोरडीर बोर खाटे मिटे बोर खाऊ क कनिया चरमटडी आवगे पालत्या तोड लेगे बोर”

Meaning: The berries are not ripe yet, how can I eat the half raw and sour berries. The boys are staring at us with wide-open eyes. Meanwhile the boys from Palthya clan came and ate all the berries.

After this the girls go back to the Tanda. Boys stop them in the way. All the women and men of the Tanda gather there. At this time songs with mystical quizzes are sung. The girls solve the puzzles.

 

Boy:

“वाट बांधु घाटु बांधु, बांधु चारी देसा पगे पगेमा दामळी बांधु जाईस कुळंसे देसा?”

Meaning: I closed your way, closed all the four directions. Also I have tied your legs, now in such situation where you will go?

Girl replies:

“घाट छोडु, वाट छोडु, छोडु चारी देसा झारी सदा बेडलो छोडु, जाऊ बापुर देसा”

Meaning: I will remove the obstacles you have put in my way and the directions. I also leave the containers of water etc. and go to my father’s place.

After this all the girls in the Tanda go to the Naik’s home. The unmarried girls bring small baskets with them. Depending on the clan of the girls black soil is put in the basket and the seeds of wheat are sowed in it. Naik and his wife sprinkle water over it. Also wheat is sowed in two separate bowls made up of leaves. Then dancing and singing follows in front of the Naik’s house.

e.g.

राजा भोज पेरायो तीज आईरो पालणों रायमल बोरायो तीज आईरो पालणों पालळें माई सोनेरी डोर आईरो पालणों दंडी याडी बोराई तीज आईरो पालणों गोरुरी कीती आयों कन्नया जल्दी गहु गळायो आईरो पालणों…

Meaning: The Naik belonging to the lineage of Raja Bhoj and Raja Raimal is sowing the Teej. The Queen Dandi Mata is sitting in a swing and having pleasure. The Naik who has come from the sacred land of Goru (mountain region named Kashi) i.e. Bhuri Pathar (Malwa) is giving blessings to the Teej. References to this fact have been given earlier. It is clear that King Bhoj and Raimal were Gor Banjaras and this folk song supports the fact that Gor Banjaras are original habitants of Malwa and mountain region of Kashi.

The next day girls bring in water and pour over the soil bed. In the next ten days the wheat grows gradually. Singing and dancing continues during this time. When the girls go to fetch water on the 1st day the boys stop them in the way. Again the ritual of questions and answers is performed. All the Tanda members enjoy the competition.

Boy says:

काळो कुंडो कचन भरो हेल्दा रुंदी वाट कुंवारी चोरी कुकर पकडु तारो हाथ

Meaning: The river is overflowing with black water. The way to the water spot is wide enough. O girl, you are not married even, how should I grab your hand?

Girl says:
हास घालू हासली, खेचन बांधु आटी भरे सभाम लाथ मारु म जातेरी बेटी

Meaning: How you will grab my hand? I have this Hasali (a necklace) around my neck. Also fixed an Anti (an ornament) on my head. I will kick you in front of all. I am a high-status girl.

Boy says:

“डग मग डग डागळो गोरी राके खेत मुठी भर हुल्डा द ये तारो घळोंच पाकीये खेत।”

Meaning: Your beauty has reached the harvesting stage now. How long you will be able to handle it? If you give me a handful of grains (hola – green grains baked on fire) your harvest will bloom more.

Girl retorts:

काचो सरा कच कच लागो, नख लागे जीव जाय घर धणीं कोणी खादो परदी कु कांई खाय

Meaning: The grains are not ripe yet. They are very tender, they will die if (you) touch them with nails. The owner of the field himself has not tasted them yet, how a foreigner can have them?

The wheat is sown in the form of the holy Teej.

Boy:

“पाने सरकी पातळी, लुंगेरी कळीदार तेरे सरकी बांदी पाणी भरे दो चार”

Girl:

“पाने सरकी पातळी लुंगे सरीकी कळीदार (मै हुँ ही) बना मुछेरा छोरा, तार घर कसेरी नार”

The words viz. Hasali, Anti, Hulda, Shalonch, Kacho occurring in the folk songs come from Nimadi-Malawi dialect. The same words are used in Gor dialect. It again proves that Gor Banjara people are basically habitant of Nimad Malawa region. Same type of Teej is celebrated in Nimad region.
The Teej festival is celebrated for 9 to 11 days. Every evening song and dance programmes and masking are performed for entertainment. A programme called Gangeer is arranged before breaking the Teej. Men and women prepare two idols of clay. Women dress up the idol of Lord Shankara while men do the same for idol of Parwati. This is called Gangar. Gangar is offered coconut and jaggery. Then dancing and singing follows throughout the night in front of the Gangar. Naik selects a chief from among the boys at this time. The girls and boys who are engaged for marriage can’t sow the wheat for Teej. Naik selects such boys and girls and they are called as Garkala and Garkali. One of the folk songs on this occasion is as follows:

“वादळ न पाणीं यें पाणीं आयो आंदाधुंद बाई वादळन पाळीं नदी नरमदा ये नदीया आयी भरपुर बाई”

Meaning: There is a storm and heavy rains. Now the Narmada River will be in spate.

The reference to Narmada River in this song gives a proof of the fact that Gor Banjaras were originally living in this region.


 Teej Toder

The structure of Teej is broken on the 10th day and the contents are immersed in flowing water. A big feast is arranged on this occasion. It is called as Dhamboli. The Dhamboli is made up of wheat and rice. First of all Garkali and Garkala play a game of Dona Pidiya. Also they sing a dialogue song. In the end all the Tanda members gather in front of the Naik’s house. The sprouts of wheat (Teej) are cut and given to all as gifts. People tie these sprouts on their hands and around the next. Naik puts it in his turban. It is called as Chhungala. Then the whole Tanda proceeds to immerse the Teej in the water. The girls weep as if their beloved (friend) is being seen off. The Teej is immersed in water amidst a gloomy atmosphere. The girls sing for this last moment:

“किमती आयोरे वेरी खाळीया; मारे सांतणे न लेगो वेरी खाळीया”

(Rajasthani Evam Gujrathi Lokgeetonka Tulanatmak Abhyas, by Dr. Ragamal Singh, page 33)

“कोनी हुईये गवरी मनेरी हुँस, जीवड़ारी हुँस”

Meaning: Oh deer Teej, our aspirations are still not fulfilled. How you can leave us then? Do come early next year.
In Rajasthan the festival of Gangaur and Teej are celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm. They have a following song akin to Gor Banjara song and dialect:

“खेलन दो, गणगौर, भवर म्हाने पुजन हे गणगौर ओ माटी नणद रा वीर रमणे दे गणगौर म्हारा लाल नणद रा वीर म्हाणे कुण खेळावे गणगौर गरजन लागी बादली हिवड़ा अमुडियों मेह बरसन लागी तीजणी फडकन लागी देह …….रमणे दे गणगौर”


 Dussehra

This is second most important festival of the Tanda. The equipments and arms in the house like ‘Khuti Mungari’ are worshipped on the occasion. The impact of Hindu people’s style of celebrating this festival is seen on the Gor Banjara style. Still, Gor Banjara does it a bit differently by giving a bath to the reigning deity or making new idol of a goddess. According to them Dussehra means to sacrifice a goat and eat its meat. The tradition of worshipping the goddess is age-old in this lineage. Every 2-4 Tandas will have a Bhagat (the priest) and the temple of the reigning deity (Kuladevata). During the nine days of Dussehra an earthen pot is established in the house. The priest observes fast during this period. The idols in the temple are kept open for the devotees to take blessings. Incense sticks and oil lamps are lighted and coconut is offered to the deity. Religious discourses (bhajans) are performed during the nine nights. It is not that all the members of the Tanda establish the earthen pot (ghat). A goat is sacrificed to the goddess on the 9th day. Other members also offer sacrifice as a fulfillment of their wishes by the goddess. The goddess is offered the blood, head and toes of the goat and rest of the body is buried. The meat is prepared by applying turmeric and salt and given to all as a gift from the goddess. It is called as Naroja. The whole Tanda is treated with feast in the night. Then the earthen pot is worshipped through the whole night. In the morning a prayer of the goddess is performed, accompanied by some music on Nagara and Thaali:

“ये गोळे तारा, देवीम देवी कुळंसी मोठी वियेरे गोळे तारा… देवीम देवी मराम्मा मोठी वियेरे गोळे तारा… भगत में भगत कुळंसों मोठो वियेरे गोळे तारा… झापा मोठो वियेरे गोळे तारा… साती भेनेरी आरती उतरी गोळे तारा…” माहूर गडेती झगमग जोत लगाई येत धोळे देवळेती आरत आई माँ… धजा, नारळ तोन भंट चढाई ये रात… भवानी तारी आरत सदा सदा… काचकेरो दिवलो कपुर केरी वात माता तारी आरत सदा…

Meaning: The word Gole Tara might be used as chorus or meant as if the stars in sky are watching this prayer. Who is the greatest goddess of all? Goddess Maramma is the greatest of all. Who is the greatest devotee? Zapa is the greatest devotee of all. We are praying to the seven-goddess sisters (Saptadevi).

This way the prayer goes on for almost an hour mentioning the names of gods, goddess, brother, mother, oxen, horses etc. Then prasadam is distributed to all. The Bhajani mandal performs the Bhajans. The priest is traditionally half clad below the waist with his hair set free. He adorns a necklace in the name of the goddess, a whip in his hand; dust is applied on his body and especially forehead. His body starts moving and dancing on the beat of the drum (Nagara). This act is known as Khelana.


 Ghat Verayer

After the prayer the earthen pot is immersed in the water. All the devotees in the Tanda come together, sing bhajans, one person collects the material for worship including coconut, lemon etc. And the immersion procession is started. People who wish to fulfill a desire from the goddess, patients and people affected by witchcraft stand by the roadside. The priest hits them with the whip and the devotees accept lemon and ash (Bhasma) from him. The Ghat is immersed in a waterway situated in the East of Tanda. Pouring water on his body pacifies the priest. Also the material offered in worship is immersed at this time. The devotees return singing bhajans. All men and women take blessings of the priest and the ritual ends. The people belonging to Dhagawat clan worship the goddess Kankali during this period. Earlier human sacrifice was offered to this goddess. The worship of goddess Kankali is still in vogue in Bundi, Kota and Western Bundelkhand. People who regard the goddess Kankali as their reigning deity celebrate Dussehra every year. People belonging to Khamandar lineage still offer a male buffalo as sacrifice.


 Diwali

The Naik of the Tanda arranges a meeting of the main representative prior to Deepawali. They discuss about the situation in the Tanda, diseases, epidemics and the auspiciousness of the year and then the Naik gives permission to celebrate the Diwali festival.

“रात अंधेरी ए; दिवलो बाळ लीजो… दवाळीरो दन ए; दिवलो बाळलीजो… तेलेरो तोटो ए। तेल भर लीजो। रूएरी कमीए; वाते कर लीजो। घर सकडाईए; मकडाईए; मकडाई कर लीजो।”

The New Moon ritual (Kali Amawas Pooja)

Normally the people of Khola lineage worship their ancestors a day prior to Diwali i.e. in the morning of new moon (Amavasya). It is called as ‘Lal Pater Pujer.’ After it, the goddess is offered goat in sacrifice in the ritual of ‘Sabali Pooja.’ The Gors believe that the cursing goddess Maramma Yadi had killed the cattle with a curse and she gives them back to the Tanda by making them alive once again. A King belonging to Gor lineage once ruled in Bengal, therefore it is likely that Gors might have adopted this custom from the king.

Mera Manger

The Naik orders to light lamps in the evening. The unmarried girls in the Tanda carry a lamp (Dhakani) with them and small amount of jaggery and go to the Naik’s house. They take blessings from the Naik and sing this folk song:

“वरसे दनेरी कोट दवाळी बापु तोन मेरा,
वरसे दनेरी कोट दवाळी याडी तोन मेरा”

Meaning: The Deepawali comes only once in a year. Naik Bapu please bless us on this auspicious occasion.

In Nimad region the girls take the lamps on their palms and then take the blessings. The Naik gives them some oil for lamp, jaggery and one rupee coin as gift. The same custom is followed in Malawa province. It is called as Hid. Hid means light. (Malawi Loksahitya by Jashyam Parmar, page 38).

After this the girls go to the place where the cattle are rested (Damani) in front of the Naik’s home and take the blessings from cows and oxen.

“वरसे दनेरी कोट दवाळी काजळी तोन मेरा।
वरसे दनेरी कोट दवाळी गराया तोन मेरा।।”

Meaning: The Diwali comes once in a year. Oh, my dear Kajari cow, I bow in front of you. Please bless our Tanda and us.

Then the girls visit each household and take the blessings. On the next day the cow dung fallen in the courtyard is not removed. The ancestors are worshipped in the morning. Dhabukar is offered. The gods are offered the food items. The food mainly includes items prepared of Bengal gram and jaggery (Puranpoli). The girls go to the jungle in the afternoon and pluck flowers. Small platforms of cow dung are prepared in front of each house. The girls then start worshipping the cows from the Naik’s home. This song is sung by the girls in praise of the cows (Dhor Dhando):

“अरे ऊफ उई गाई गोदन पुज… खेवडा मेवडा बांडा बुच्या अंबॉ अंबॉ घोडेरी कठारे लांबी हारे धोळी हार कोटा भरी गावडी तलाव भरो घी,धोळो धन गाइरो थाट तलावटी भरो घी, धोळो धन गाईरो थाट लांबी लांबी लिगंरी टोकळीस माथेरी छादळास कानेर, पुडा भरो घी, तलावटी भरो सास पगला पैंजन आन धन दुध पूत देस दवाळी याडी…”

Meaning: Come, let us worship the cows. The cattle shed has all types of oxen big and small. The horses are lined up separately. This wealth of cattle has added to the prosperity of the house. Among them is a cow with round head and huge ears. O cow, when you give us milk we get a tinful of butter and lots of buttermilk. We will attach rings in your feet, let our cattle shed grow forever. You are our Yadi (honourable lady), Diwali, everything. We salute you….


 Holi

The tribe, which enjoys dancing and singing a lot, devours the occasion of Holi for this purpose. For Gor Banjaras the most important festival is the Holi. It adds vigour to one and all, young and old alike. Holi rejuvenates the whole body and mind. The wine made up of Mahua flower makes one forget all sorrows in life. It is as if the festival of Holi belongs to Gor Banjaras only. It gives an occasion to the Tanda to express their happiness in every possible way. At least 2 months prior to the Holi the sound of drums starts reverberating in the Tanda.

A legend says that a demon named Dhundya would eat up small children. Therefore all the Tanda members used to guard the Tanda with sticks and other weapons in their hand in the full moon night of Holi. In order to remain awake the Gors used to drink, sing and dance throughout the night. Still a demoness entered the Naik’s house. Naik kept her in the home hence all the Tanda members gathered in front of the Naik’s home. In the end people brought the demoness out of the house and killed her. Later they rejoiced her death by singing and dancing the whole night. In the morning they took her outside the Tanda and burned her and celebrated again. The Naik was fined for one Rupee for keeping the demoness inside his house. Even today there is custom of charging one Rupee as fine from the Naik. Another important feature is that since the children who were born in the middle period have survived, their birthday is celebrated on the Holi day. Gors still follow this tradition. The birthday of the children who were born between the periods of two Diwalis is celebrated on Holi. The spirit of Holi spreads in the Tanda. Nobody remains aloof from dancing and singing in the night. The enthusiastic girls and boys along with the Daisane (Jurists) go to the Naik in the evening of the full moon day and ask permission to the Naik to celebrate the Holi. This ritual is called as ‘Wajana.’:

 “अनभाई, हारे थाके एक गेरीया उतरे अनभाई, नायकन दिनों एक रपीया पाचजो।
पाचन माणे एक पचीस तम जाणणो ओरी गोरीन दिनी छळहाल बोकडो पडी तुकारी बो बो….”

Meaning: The word ‘Ger’ originally belongs to Nimadi language and it means a team of men. In Gor dialect the word transformed to ‘Geria.’ The song says: The tired geriya have come to the Tanda and boarded in the Darbar (Court) of the Naik. Naik has given a coin of one Rupee to the gerias. We will accept it as equal to 50 rupees. Naik has also given a new goat as gift to the Gori. Let us hail the Naik. At this juncture the Tanda gathers in front of the Naik’s home. Then the place for the Holi is selected. A folk song is sung on the occasion:

“चालो रे डायसांळे होळी रे कुथा चालो रे डायसांळे आपण होळी खेला।”

Meaning: Let us all go together with the Naik and decide the place for Holi. Then we all will play the Holi.

Naik decides the place. A small pit is dug at the place and a coin in buried in it. Again a folk song is sung here:

“पेन्हा रेतेते डुंगरखोळो अब आयों तांडा तांडे मा बे नागा पुररो नागा स्वामी, स्वामी छ आब धुत बे”

Meaning: Earlier we used to live in mountains, now live in Tandas. The Naga Swami from Nagapur mountain (near Udaipur) has come today to celebrate Holi in our Tanda. They are fully enjoying and now it will be a great fun to play Holi.

Then the geriyas go to the house of one in whose house a tragedy has struck during the year. There they play games. The person is consoled and a song is sung here:

धरती तोपर अमर नहीरे कोई धरती तोपर अमर वेगे एक चांदान सुर्या ओरे नवलाख तारा।”

 

Meaning: No body is immortal on this earth; all are going to die one day. Only the Sun and Moon are immortal. Forget the sorrow, let us play Holi. The women form a team called Gerani while men form Geria team and the dancing and singing starts. The games are played in the open space in front of a person’s house that is blessed with a sibling. The songs sung while play, dance for Holi and folksong is a separate subject of research. A separate book can be written on it. Here I have given 2 examples of Holi songs. One of them is called as ‘Lengi.’ It is of 3 types. One is Besan Boler, second is Ubheti Boler and third as Bhand Lengi. The Lengi song is sung in competitive mood. e.g.

“डप धीरो वजार तारी जानी ढळजा, डप धीरो वजार डपडा रो धोर सळींल पाणी भरतु वु तो फेक दीनी बेलो नाचेणं लगीर डप… डप डारो घोर सणींर पोळी पोवतु वु तो फेक दिनी लोया देखन लगीर डफ धीरो वजार… तारी जानी ढळजा डप…..”

Meaning: Dear friend! Beat the drum slowly! Your beating of the drum is disturbing the Geriyas. Listening to its sound the girl who was gone to fetch water has thrown away the water pot and started dancing. Your drumming is like magic. A girl who was making chapattis has left the kitchen work and now listening to your drum. Perhaps she is saying, Oh, young drummer beat the drum slowly. Otherwise I will curse you that all your youthfulness and valour will wean away:

ऐन जायदो दूसरी आ दो रसिया येन जायदोर”

Meaning: Now stop this Lengi and sing another song.

“असे डफ वाळेर लंबे लंबे झलपा तारे झलपान देखन वर भाईर भाईर,
भाईर डफ चाले दर, असे डफे वाळेर हाथे माई कल्डा वा भाई डफ
भाईर तारे कलडान देखन झुररी रसिया डफ चालेदार असे डफे वाळेर लांबे लांबे जांगीया….”

Meaning: Friends, now stop this Lengi and sing another song. The sound of the Drum is magical. Whoever listens to it will lose all its senses.

The drummers are known as Ghorayo. By watching his hairstyle (Zalpa) the Gerani is engulfed by a feeling of sex. She is feeling – What I should do?’ The silver ring in his hand has added to the attraction. The Gerani is blushing by looking at his beauty and manliness.


 

Payee Song – Ubheti Lengi

The dance song Payee Joder attracts all the Geranis. When the Geranis (Girls) watch the dance the thoughts of Geriya are expressed in his dance and song. Geriyas stand in a circle by clutching each other’s hands and the drummer stands in the middle. He uses a stick (Chataki) to beat the drum. The steps are rhythmic in style, first behind, then in the middle and again in the front. The dancers attach handkerchief or sometimes have stick in their hand. The dancers perform sit-ups on the beats of drum and make various noises. Following is an example of a Payee song (Lovers’ Song):

“उठ परभातीन केकडा ये छोडी; कादळ्या मारोये कान। मान मनावतु लागी घळीं वेळा; केकडी गे बगदान। रळक तलावडी न रायमल गुदळा; केकडा गे धापन। माथे पर झारीन हाते मांई फुलीया, वलटो परती चाल। दन ऊंधाळो तावडो तपछ; छाया देखन बेस। काळो वावर छ खेचडी रो; झाड छेंडी देखन बेस। तेडी तेडी पगडी मत बांधो ााॊ भीया;भरमा भरचरे लोग। तारो मारो मतरो एक छ ये ााॊ भीन; माको लियेरे तोड। पाच सात भाई मारो काही करीये नी काही करीये लोग;घेरी दिऊ ये छोड आठसे कराडी नवसे विजली सोभिये आन पडे समनक।” वाटेरी हारकी मान कोणी ााॊ भीया। आन पडे…..

Meaning: Two lovers from the Tanda used to meet each other on the pretext of taking the cattle for grazing. One day when the cattle were being released in the morning a dog named ‘Kadalya’ fluttered his ears. The girl thought is as a bad omen and was not ready to go to the jungle. Then she came with a water container on her head and an ornament of silver (Phulaya) in her hand. Her skirt was so big in size that it was difficult to understand whether she is going forward or backwards. Such was her elephant style walk. A couple in Malawi dialect expresses this style:

“येडी मारी चिकनी जैसे सतवा सुठ, ऐसी चाल झुमती, रंडवा छाती कुठ”

 

The lover boy is delighted to see her. These are summer days, the Sun is shining brightly. Both of them meet under a tree named ‘Khechadi’ in its cool shade. Both engage in a dialogue.

Girl: O, Shobhiya, you are tying your turban in a different style daily. The Tanda is watching you that you look changed suddenly. Hence they have become suspicious and their confusion is increased.

Boy: Don’t be afraid Shobhani! Both of us agree to each other then what the people can do?

Girl: I have 5-7 brothers, Shobhiya! If they come to know about our love they will kill you. I am afraid.

Boy: Don’t worry! I am enough alone to take care of your brothers because I am skilled in ‘Gheri’ war techniques. I can defend myself.

But all of a sudden the people gheraoed them with sticks, swords in their hands. The girl says that she was not willing to come due to the bad omen given by the dog in the morning. But you did not listen to me. Now all these people are surrounding us.

The love song is quite long. In the end Shobhiya and the brothers of Shobhani clash with each other fiercely. He defeats all of them with his war skills. The girl becomes unconscious by seeing the struggle. The boy sprinkles water from the pot on her face and awakens her and takes her in his arms. Later on both of them flee inside the jungle. They are caught in the end and ultimately they embrace death together. Such is the immortal love story depicted in the song.

The team of women also sings a song. e.g.

“म तो मारे दोसत्यान दस्ती दराई ये… ओढ ओढ दस्ती करच मस्ती म तो……हसतीय।
मैं तो हसती कवाड खोलती म तो… हसती.. म तो मारे….”

Meaning: I have given a beautifully embroidered handkerchief to my beloved. He is in great mood. My mind overflows with joy because of his enthusiasm and happiness. I have kept the window of my home open and waiting for his arrival. He is enjoying with the hanky.

In this way the dancing and singing goes on throughout the night. The geriyas and geranis eat and drink in the home of the person in front of which the Holi is prepared. The chief of the celebration selects 2 youth as Geria and Gerani. Nobody knows how the time passes and next day breaks. At the break of dawn the Naik orders to put the Holi on fire, which is the symbol of a demon. After it, still in the early morning the birthday of the child who is born that year in Ramanna Khola clan is celebrated.

The whole Tanda gathers in front of the house of the child with sticks in their hand. The child and the mother are seated in the courtyard. Four food items are kept in the 4 sides around them. A long stick is kept on the head of the mother and soft strokes are given on it with another stick. This custom is prevalent in Rajasthan also (Rajasthan Vaibhav by Triloknath Chaturvedi, page 232). He says: “Some people beat the sticks over the head of the child”. The song sung by Gor Banjaras on this occasion is like this:


 

Marwari Dhundh song:

हरी हरी रे हरीया डाव डावै कवले बाव खूदाय। जीवैं कंवणैं चंदो लगायै। ज्यू… ज्यू चम्पा लहरा खाय। त्यू त्यू पूत खेलन नै जाय। सात चौकडी बडो विचार । गेरीयारी पूरी हार हैलो…हैलो…हैलो….

About the custom of singing flirt song at the time of Holi it is said that those who will use obscene words to protect him from Dhudha demoness and sing songs related to Yoni & Linga (reproductive organs) will be pardoned. The custom of Dhundh is similar to Gors in Jodhpur, Pali, Nagauhar, Shergarh and Phalandi areas (Cultural Heritage of Malwa, Dr. Mahendrasingh Nayar, page 157).

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