Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Bard is No More

Mahipal Bhuria passed away on 12th November, at the age of 65, bringing to an end a life dedicated to the documentation, preservation and propagation of the Bhili oral folklore. He also wrote original stories, plays and songs in the Bhili language. He was a catholic priest but gave all his free time to promoting the Bhili language. At a time when no one else in Madhya Pradesh was giving any importance to the Bhili language including the elected Bhil tribal lawmakers, Mahipal single handedly embarked on a mission to document the folklore of the Bhils and analyse their anthropological and cultural roots from the early 1970s onwards when he was in his twenties. He initially started by transcribing the Bhili songs and folklore and then translating them in the Hindi language. Later he wrote in the English language, the more important of his voluminous works being "Religious Songs of the Bhils" and "The Nature of Bhili Folk Songs".
He became an acknowledged expert on Bhili culture and was closely associated with the broadcast of Bhili songs, stories and plays on Akashvani Radio Service from Indore. Later he developed primers in the Bhili language for the education of children in their mother tongue in Jhabua district from where he hailed, being born in the village of Bhagor. A  photo of his is shown below.
He was an affable person and went out of his way to make friendships with people, especially those who were of a similar bent of mind. That is how we came to know him as he sought us out once he read of the struggles of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath in the 1980s. He was especially thrilled that the KMCS used the format and tunes of the traditional songs of the Bhils and wrote new lyrics for them based on the struggles of the Bhils that were going on, to provide a new cultural front to the mass movement. What was begun by Mahipal as a solo mission, got a mass following from the 1980s onwards, as many other Bhil mass organisations also adapted the tradional Bhili folklore to produce new songs, plays and stories. Today, this trend has spread to the commercial sphere also with many popular Bhili bands having sprung up and there is a vigorous production of Bhili music and plays which has been boosted by the spread of mobiles. Thus, even though we do not have Mahipal among us any more, his legacy remains vibrantly alive and his pioneering work will always be remembered. These are our last respects to a great son of the Bhil tribe. 

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