The three-day Dangs Darbar in Ahwa town started this year with the tribal kings expressing bitterness at the apathy shown by the authorities. The issue was raised in front of Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal who was present to mark the start of the festival along with additional Chief Secretary Home S K Nanda.
The chief of the five kings, Dhanarajsinh Chandrasinh Suryavanshi of Vasuna state, while addressing the tribal audience, said, “The tribals in the Dangs are losing their livelihood and are reduced to poor labourers working in forests. The condition of the Kings is worse who have neither money nor land. It is a matter of shame for this government that we royals who gave acres of forest land to government are living on pensions today”.
Contrary to the last few years, the Dangs darbar, that has seen huge crowds of tribals coming from various districts of Gujarat and neighbouring Maharashtra, saw only a few hundred participants this time.
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In his request to the Governor, Dhanrajsinh said, “The tribals from the state are making up to the posts of Collectors, police officers, etc but the tribals living in Dangs are still surviving on traditional means of livelihood neglected. The district needs the intervention of the government.”
The five tribal kings who together form a ‘darbar’ of the five erstwhile states – Godhvi, Daher, Amalaa, Pimpri and Vasuna – in Dangs were present at the event and seconded Suryavanshi . Governor Beniwal while addressing the people said, “The district has a history of tribal kings who fought against the Britishers to protect the forest land.
This place bears testimony to the legend of the victory of tribal kings who are honoured every year during the darbar for their courage and efforts to protect their heritage. It’s a matter of pride that in today’s age of modernism, Dangs still holds a darbar that takes us back to the old heritage days.” She further said that “The districts that attracts tourism may develop further with more schools, roads and amenities for the betterment of the tribals”.
Those present were happy with Dhanrajsinh’s representation to the authorities and stated that the district has better roads but schools, college and other means of livelihood besides traditional agriculture and animal husbandry is missing. The youngsters want avenues to work where they can get technical education and work for better incomes.
Champa Chaudhary, a tribal woman who set up a store selling traditional beads outside the darbar, said, “The children have now started going to school but the lack of employment avenues leads our sons to either leave the ancestral land or work in forests as labourers. The traditional businesses of selling forest wood and farming give us decent money but we cannot match the level of other rural families”.
For some tribals who come each year from distant villages of the district, the Dangs darbar is a festival to enjoy dances, music and traditional food. The old villagers gather to celebrate the spirit of the heritage of old king darbar that is a thing of the past now. The tribals come together each year before Holi to greet the five kings of their district and celebrate the old culture. Each year, the darbar attracts lakhs of tribals who participate in the event.