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Chasing, Coloring and Celebrating Love ~A Tribal Affair To Remember!

There she was, loaded with chunky silver jewelry, listening to the tribal music being played, watching the dances being performed and just strolling at the village fair, when their eyes met. He started walking towards her, with red colored powder in his hands. Proposing her by putting the gulaal on her face, in the presence of the entire village community, he waited for her consent. Acceptance was signified by reciprocation of the girl, and if she were to refuse she would wipe off the gulaal from her face. As she accepted him as her husband, they ran away into the forest. But, since when did love come easy? If caught by the respective parents, the couple would not be allowed to get married or so to say they had to play hide and seek, and win for their love!

This is the scenery of Bhagoria, a tribal festival of Nimad and Jhabua regions, celebrated by the famous Bhil Tribe of Madhya Pradesh, annually in the month of March, before the Holi festival. In this unique festival, young people choose their partners; elope with them and eventually, are accepted as man and wife, as per the convention dictates.


After the gulaal tradition or the exchange of paanwhich also signifies a declaration of love, the duo immediately flee into the forest or hide at a friend’s place and inform their parents after spending some time together. When they return, the boy presents an arrow, which indicates enmity, and a blouse (signifying marriage) to the girl’s family. If the blouse is returned, bride price terms can be discussed.The couple is then welcomed from their romantic adventure to a life of blessed matrimony!


The sight of this festival is surrounded by young boysin vivid clothes and turbans, and girls in spirited, colorfullehengaswith odhinis and decked up with silver jewelry. It is a privilege to see them sway on the rhythmic tribal music.Standing there, you could sense the timidity of the girls blushing behind their odhnisand the overflowing delight of the Bhil boys as they wooed the girls by playing the flute. The festival of Bhagoria, having a major role in this tribal heartland is also celebrated to mark the completion of harvesting. Involving giant magnificent wheels and tiny stalls, offering everything from toys to food, it is a hectic country fair which builds up an atmosphere shouting love!

Vibhushi Patwa For mptravelogue.com