For the Republic Day tableau, Madhya Pradesh is all set to showcase Bhagoria as a festival that celebrates love and match-making, but several tribal outfits on Thursday claimed it was a perverse and distorted projection of the occasion.
There are different explanations about the origin of the festival, celebrated ahead of Holi in the tribal-dominated districts like Jhabua and Alirajpur, but the state tourism department describes it as an occasion when young boys and girls choose their partners and elope.
“It is neither a match-making event nor a festival, it’s just a haat (market) where people gather to buy material for pujan ahead of Holi. There is no word Bhagoria in any tribal dialect, it is a distortion of Bhongariya (means material used for Holi pujan). The dance is also not unique to the festival but a common tribal genre,’’ said Gajanand Bramhne as Bhimsinh Masaniya and Mahesh Bhabar echoed his thoughts. The trio represent over a dozen organisations that appealed to the government to correct the distortions.
“The month before and after Holi is considered inauspicious by tribals. Forget marriages not even small celebrations are encouraged,’’ reads an appeal of the outfits. “It’s happening because the tribals’ response is feeble,’’ it reads.
After the organisations’ objection, the state publicity department withdrew an official release that described Bhagoriya “as a festival of love and match making. It gives young boys and girls an opportunity to choose their life mates and elope. Bedecked participants dance and sway under the influence of tadi…their eyes rove for their beloved.’’
However, a state government spokesman said such description was available even in gazettes and books written by well-known authors. “The organisations don’t represent all the tribals,’’ he said, adding it was too late to make any corrections.