Field Work among The Bhil Tribe by Pratanu Banerjee SignUp
Field Work among The Bhil Tribe
Prof. Pratanu Banerjee Bookmark and Share

Mr. Arup Bhowmick works in a private company in Kolkata. He had studied anthropology and did field work on Bhils or Bheels. He had met another friend who had studied at Bangabasi College in Kolkata. His friend, Sushanta Mullick also studied anthropology and now working at Writers Building in the Minority Affairs Department in Kolkata. Sushanta had come to Arup’s house on Monday evening. They were talking about their field work on Bhils.

Arup said, “Do you remember about our field work on Bhils?”

Sushanta said, “Yes! The Bhils are an ethnic group from Western India. They communicate using Bhil language and it comes under Indo-Aryan languages.

Arup asked, “ Do you know which the largest tribal group in our country?”

Sushanta said, “ As per 2013 report, the Bhils.”

Arup asked, “ Do you remember the places where Bhil tribe is found?”

Sushanta said, “ They are found in Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. They are found in Tripura also along with Bangladesh.”

Arup asked, “ You are right! What languages are they speaking right now?”

Sushanta said, “ They can speak regional languages like Maratho, Hindusthani dialect and Gujarati also.”

Arup said, “ Perfect! Have you heard about their rebellion at Gujarat?”

Sushanta said, “ Yes! They had rebelled at the time of British rule in 1846, 1857-58 and 1868.”

Arup asked, “Where do we find Bhils in Madhya Pradesh?”

Sushanta said, “ They are found in Dhar, Jhabua, Khargone and Ratlam districts. In terms of size, what is their rank?”

Arup said, “ The Bhils are third largest on the basis of population and it is followed by Gonds and then the Santhals.”

Sushanta asked, “ You are right! What are the endogamous territorial divisions of Bhils?”

Arup said, “ They are found in Rajasthan in the form of Meena, Bhil Garasia, Dholi Bhil, Dungri Garasia Mewasi Bhil, etc”

Sushanta said, “Perfect! What is their language known as per geographic distribution?”

Arup replied, “It is Bhilli and it is important to remember that there are 36 dialects of Bhili. They have different pronunciation. There is a Gujarati affinity of Bhili.”

Sushanta asked, “What kind of painting is prevalent among the Bhils?”

Arup said, “It is pithora painting. Do you know their folk dance?”

Sushanta said, “It is Ghoomar. It symbolizes womanhood where the young girls are the participants.”

Arup asked, “What kind of art is found among the Bhils?”

Sushanta said, “They apply dots of different colors in the form of in-filling. Who is the popular artist among the Bhils?”

Arup replied, “Bhuri Bai first started painting using paper and colors. What are the names of reputed artists among Bhils?”

Sushanta replied, “They are Dubu Bariya, Ram Singh, Sher Singh, and Lado Bhai.”

Arup asked, “What kind of foods are cultivated by Bhils?”

Sushanta said, “They are onion, maize, chilli, garlic etc. Rice and wheat are utilized during festivals. Do you have any idea about their weapons?”

Arup replied, “They use self-made bows and arrows, swords, knives, axes. They are associated with hunting. Did they produce alcohol?”

Sushanta said, “ Yes! They produce it from Mahua flower. What kind of dresses does the men and women wear?”

Arup replied, “ The men wear Angarkha, Gamcha, and Dhoti. The women wear Ghagra Choli and Sari.”

Sushanta said, “What kind of ornaments are used by women and men?”

Arup said, “The men use Bajuband, Kada, ear rings, Chain, Kardhani. The ornaments of women are ring, hansli, earring, zele-zumke, narniyan which is actually bangle, nathni is nose-jewel, etc.”

Sushanta asked, “ What is their religious belief?”

Arup said, “ They have gramdev or local diety. They also have kuldev and kuldevi. They utilize stones for their kuldev. They have serpent god and they are Bhilat dev and Bhati dev. Village god is represented by Baba dev. Crop god is identified as karkulia dev. Pastoral god is Gopal dev. Lion god is represented by Bag dev. Dog god is represented by Bhairav dev. They have other gods like Indel dev, Bada dev, Mahadevel, Tejaji, Lotha mai, Techma, Orka Chichma and Kajal dev.

Sushanta said, “That is really interesting! What are the festivals of Bhil?”

Arup said, “They are Navratri , Rakhi, Diwali, Holi etc. They have certain traditional festivals like Akhatij, Navmi, Howan Mata ki Chalavani, Sawan Mata ki jatar, Diwasa, Nawai, Bhagoria, Gal, Gar, Dhobi, Sanja, Indel, Doha and others.”

Sushanta said, “Let me arrange some tea and snacks.”

Arup replied, “Okay.”

Then they played chess for 1 hour and then Arup went home.

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