Pohra Devi is 110 KM from Akola City. Every year on pious occasion of Ram Navami this fair open and Banjara men with their wives and children get together to obtain blessing of their Mother Goddess and to have Prasad from their Guru Sevadas Maharaj. On every Ram Navami day this fair starts with its peculiarity.
Every year in Pohra Devi village on the occasion of Ram Navami Banjara Fair is held. Pohra Devi is a very small village situated maharashtra State. In this tiny village there is one old temple of Goddess Amba. Around this temple Banjara people, who come here to attend the fair, erect their temporary tent.
Banjara ladies with their colorfull dressing make a magnificent show. Banjara ladieshave very liking for their artistic embroidery work done on their Kanchli or Choli. For this artistic work they use round or square pieces of mirror and they stitch on their Choli or Kanchli. This embroidery work naturally attract eyes of onlookers. Red, brown and green coloured Ghagra and Odhani of the same colour. This is their common daily dress.
Banjara ladies hang silver Topla in their hair. It seems very strange that each banjara lady knot several silver ornaments in their hair generally one kilo weight and even this weight does not disturb its hair style while moving here and there. Men wear Dhoti and shirt as their usual dress and you will find them smoking Bidies.
On Mumbai Ahmedabad highway most people have seen Banjara families working. Observing their dress and hearing their dialect one can easily come to this conclusion that Rajasthan or Gujarat may be their own motherland. In Maharashtra avery small village like Pohra devi who has built their Ancestry Mother Goddess Amba's Temple and on what purpose? Nobody has found the proper answer to this question. Since so many centuries these people to carry out their small or big trade have to travel from one place to another alongwith their whole families. This wandering community did not even cared to store their history.
Some people put this reference from history that when Maharana Pratap, after surrender of Chittod to Mughal was taken shelter in thick Jungle of Mewad to protect his family, at that critical state Bhil people gave every support to Maharana Pratap to survive. THE SAID BHIL COMMUNITY IS ORIGINAL ANCESTRAL OF BANJARAS (GOAARS). Before some time one Hindi Movie was released. In that movie, Director has shown the very intimate relation between Maharana Pratap Bhil Tribe. Now you will see this Banjara community in every state in big or small quantity.
Their original Gor (Goaar) language has changed in some extent, even so their mind's and souls dedication towards their ancestral Goddess Mother Amba is so strong that every member of Banjara community work very hard and from thier earning they store every Rupee facing hardship to purchase a goat to sacrifice before mother Amba. Pohra Devi village is situated on border of Yavatmal District. Every year on Ram Navami day Banjara men and women come here to have darshan of Amba Goddess and Sant Sevadas Ji Maharaj, Guru of Banjara (Goaar) Community. On Ram Navami about one lac Banjara men, women and children gather here. Pohra devi Village always feel shortof drinking water, having population of three to four thousand. This tiny village can not afford to keep and feed one lac people more than a day.
This fair last for one day only.There you will not find any extra-ordinary aspect or wonder in this fair. The gathering of one lac people is itself count as a fair.
Banjara people from every corner of this land mainly come to worship Amba Goddess and Sant Sevadas Ji Maharaj. Moreover they visit this holy place to get the Prasad of Sant Sevadas ji Maharaj Temple. About Three-Three and half centuries before Sant Sevadas Ji Maharaj had taken Samadhi here. Sant sevadas Ji Maharaj was Guru of Banjara (Goaar) Community. On Ram Navami Day Bhog of Haluwa is offered to Sant Sevadas Ji Maharaj. After this worship, there is a religious act to sacrifice the goat before Goddess Amba, to please her. Shree Ram rao ji maharaj is Pujari of this Temple and he is against sacrifice of Goat before Goddess. Still Banjaras give their high respect to Goat's Sacrifice. Every year two thousand goats are slayed here.
Most Banjara people are illiterate and so they have to live in poverty. But yhey have their deep and blind belief on this fair that on Ram Navami day to sacrifice a goat they try to save rupee by rupee from their daily errning to purchase goat for five hundreds to seven hundred rupees for whole year they toil very hard and save this amount. Since some time Government has included Banjara community in Scheduled Caste and in Scheduled Tribe List. This inclusion has brought Government facilities and concession to them. Due to this Government help some Banjara families left their wandering life style and stayed permanently in cities. Banjaras who are staying in cities, they have increased their educational standard. Dowry has made very deep effect on this community. Therefore father of a girl has to pay more money for educated and rich candidate.
Late Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vasant Rao Naik was a Banjara. His nephew Late Shri Sudhakar Rao Naik was seated on Chief Minister's Chair. He did welfare activities for Banjara Community. He came here to attend the religious fair of Ram Navami by Helicopter.
Banjara (Goaar) Community had protected their culture and past tradition along with poverty and illiteracy. All Goaars visit to Pohra Devi to get blessing of their Goddess Amba.
In this vast progressive age, Banjara (Goaar) culture will survive upto what time. Nobody can tell. New generation has already left their traditional dress of Ghaghra-Kachli and Dhoti-Kurta. They have completely surrendered to city life and its clothing. Banjara (Goaar) Community has been changing its upper outlook and taken to Pant-Shirt culture. Before this at least you should attend Ram Navami fair to observe the uncommon culture and tradition of Goaars of India.
Address of POHRA DEVI ASTHAN: Village Pohragadh, Taluka: Manora, District: Washim, Maharashtra.
Written by: Rohini Mandvikar (Bharat Banjara, Mumbai) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------