With the advent of the neolithic revolution and the development of farming and livestock rearing, surpluses began to be accumulated and private property emerged. This made it imperative for men to know who their children were so as to be able to pass on the accumulated private property. Thus, the relatively free sexual relations between men and women of the later paleolithic era gave way to the institution of marriage and the further chattelisation of women. Consequently, marriage institutionalised the control of female sexuality and outlawed female independence. With time the institution of marriage has become more and more claustrophobic as far as women are concerned dooming most of them to giving birth to and rearing children in large numbers to ensure the continuance of the human race.
Tribal societies in India without exception are patriarchal and there is tremendous control of female sexuality in them. Even if there are greater instances of pre and extra marital sex in such societies as compared to the caste societies in India ( Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities in India are all caste ridden and so irrespective of the religion all non-tribal communities can be deemed to be caste societies), this is strictly controlled and severely punished if it becomes known even in tribal societies.
This long preamble has been necessitated in order to critique a tendency among the media in recent times to portray the Bhil tribal society as an exception to this all round male control of female sexuality, not so much to try and eulogise the supposed freedom of its women but to give a yellow and risque colour of free love to their culture. The Bhils of Jhabua, Alirajpur, Dhar, Dewas, Khargone, Khandwa and Barwani districts celebrate many festivals. The most important is Bhagoria, which is celebrated just before the Hindu festival of Holi in spring. This festival is a celebration of the harvest and a thanksgiving to nature as also a supplication to their Gods for more such harvests in the future. Men and women and especially the adolescents and young adults visit the weekly markets on the market days and partake in communitarian dancing and singing as shown in the picture below. So for a week before Holi by turns there are huge colourful turnouts of Bhil men and women in the weekly market villages and towns enjoying themselves in a celebration of song and dance.