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.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Bhagoriya Fair is not a Love Festival

Balu Bhuria and Benedict Damor write about the Bhagoriya Fair celebrated by the Bhils in the week before Holi -

Summer is just setting in with its incipient heat, the Rabi crop has been harvested from the fields, the orange Palash flowers are making the forests fiery bright, the toddy on the palm trees is still trickling down and the flowers of the Mahua have begun to drop with their heady scent when the Bhagoriya Fair comes amidst this magic of nature. The fair reflects the nature loving enthusiasm of the Bhil Adivasis. This fair comes with a double festivity as it is the occasion for the veneration of Baba Gal Dev and the celebration of Holi.
The Bhagoriya Fair begins one week before the advent of Holi and it is celebrated in each of the market villages or towns by turn on their weekly market days. The Bhagoriya fair day is a special market day on which the Adivasis buy materials for celebrating the coming Holi festival and enjoy themselves decked out in new clothes by singing and dancing in groups with their traditional musical instruments like drums, flutes and indigenous violins. Their are many ferris wheels, snack and sweet shops and jewellery shops which add to the merriment and enjoyment. The sight of the Adivasis dancing and singing in their colourful clothes is so enticing that people from far and wide come to watch this festival.
The name Bhagoriya comes from the village Bhagor in Jhabua district. Legend has it that there was a powerful kingdom with its seat in Bhagor in the thirteenth century. Bhagga Nayak Bhil was the king of Bhagor. Even though some historians say that the appellation Nayak refers to a king from the Labhana caste, actually in the Bhili language this appellation refers to a king from among the Bhils. Bhagga Nayak used to arrange a great festival after the harvest of the Rabi crop each year in which he used to give a big feast to all the people of his kingdom. The people would come with their musical instruments and sing and dance in celebration. Gradually other kings in nearby areas too began celebrating the Rabi harvest in the same manner and these festivals came to be called as Bhagoriya Haat or Bhagoriya Fair and it became part of the culture of the nature loving Bhils.

Presently some mainstream journalists have popularised the Bhagoriya Fair as a festival of love which is totally wrong. These journalists say that Bhil youth elope during these festivals in large numbers and that is their sole aim. Actually, there is a custom of asking for gifts called 'goth' in cash and kind from elders by the youth during the festival and girls and boys form rings around the elders and sing songs demanding these gifts. Often young boys who are accompanying the elders also are caught in the ring and to avoid giving the goth they try to break the ring and run. Then the girls run after them. While this causes a lot of merriment to the Bhils, those non-Adivasis who do not know about this custom think that young boys and girls are eloping together. In reality the Bhagoriya fair is a celebration of the bounty of nature and is not a religious or love festival but an expression of the Bhil Adivasis' traditional respect for nature.

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