Everybody means that the school children had already gone home for the festival. We had to give a long leave as some children had started running home. Well what's wrong with letting children go home for festivals ? We claim to have an educational programme based on the local cultural context. Well nothing, just that they wont come back for another 15 days. A bit too much if you are keen to do schooling too. But we are an alternative school, we said ? Yes but then people insisted on their children taking the board exams. And they crib if the kid doesnt learn English or Hindi or Math. So. So they will stayback when they have board exams. Thats what they are doing. The 8th class and 5th class were here and are still here. Jayashree has taken them to see Bhangoriya as they have a two day gap before the next exam.
Bhangoriya is part of a series of events that make up Holi, a major festival of the Bhil, Bhilala, Barela, Pawara, Naik, Dhanak and other tribes of western India. Haat is basically a market. Each market town has a fixed day on which the market ' fills'. That day is called by the name of the place where the market 'fills' on that day. For eg. Sendhawa'n dahda(day) is Sunday as the market fills in Sendhawa on Sundays. "Haata Karne', in the local language means exchanging. It could have originated from the system of barter. So Haat becomes the place where everybody brings there ware to barter on a fixed day.
Two weeks before Holi is Teevariya Haat where people come to shop for the festival. Clothes for the family, jaggery, eats and lots of titbits. The next week is Bhagoriya. This is like a crowd of people moving on the main market road like a river. As the day progresses most of this river is drunk. Its a mela. Each day in a different market place for one week. Then Holi. The sarkaari Holi - the official one. One day after the sarkaari Holi is the Holi in the village where Holi is burnt at night near the village head's house and the whole village collects there. Each household contributes a log of wood for this huge fire. These days they make do with cowdung cakes. People bring the huge drum and flutes and dance in streets. Groups of young boys in and groups of young girls roam around. Laughing and giggling and teasing each other.
After Holi for the next five days is Gaanda Dahda. The five crazy days. Gangs of children and people put stones, rocks, logs on the roads and stop everyone and anyone and ask for money. You can't go ahead without giving some thing. Some people in villages become boodlas. A group of people dressed in different costumes. Each group has some specific charactors like raavi, kali, etc. Some men are dressed like women. They dance and go around in villages asking for grain or money from all the houses in the villages. Even in towns. These are official. There is a religious angle to this too. At the end of the five days of collection they come back to the village and cook and eat together with the whole village which is called goot.
And I forgot the Melas in villages. Every four five km. there is a mela somewhere. So basically its Holi days till the 7th of Feb.
If I was'nt clear, this is great fun time for the people here. Everything else just stops. Hey, there is'nt anything else. Is there ?
Holi marks the end of the festival season. After this is work. Start preparing the fields. The big drum is kept away and will be taken out next year on the village Diwali day. Really a befitting end to the agriculture season.
An aside. Some arithmatic. Each family spends on an average Two Thousand Rupees. If we take an average of 100 houses to a village it becomes Two lakh per village. Who says tribals are not contributing to the GDP !