Normally the people of Khola lineage worship their ancestors a day prior to Diwali i.e. in the morning of new moon (Amavasya). It is called as ‘Lal Pater Pujer.’ After it, the goddess is offered goat in sacrifice in the ritual of ‘Sabali Pooja.’ The Gors believe that the cursing goddess Maramma Yadi had killed the cattle with a curse and she gives them back to the Tanda by making them alive once again. A King belonging to Gor lineage once ruled in Bengal, therefore it is likely that Gors might have adopted this custom from the king.
The Naik orders to light lamps in the evening. The unmarried girls in the Tanda carry a lamp (Dhakani) with them and small amount of jaggery and go to the Naik’s house. They take blessings from the Naik and sing this folk song:
Meaning: The Deepawali comes only once in a year. Naik Bapu please bless us on this auspicious occasion.
In Nimad region the girls take the lamps on their palms and then take the blessings. The Naik gives them some oil for lamp, jaggery and one rupee coin as gift. The same custom is followed in Malawa province. It is called as Hid. Hid means light. (Malawi Loksahitya by Jashyam Parmar, page 38).
After this the girls go to the place where the cattle are rested (Damani) in front of the Naik’s home and take the blessings from cows and oxen.
Meaning: The Diwali comes once in a year. Oh, my dear Kajari cow, I bow in front of you. Please bless our Tanda and us.
Then the girls visit each household and take the blessings. On the next day the cow dung fallen in the courtyard is not removed. The ancestors are worshipped in the morning. Dhabukar is offered. The gods are offered the food items. The food mainly includes items prepared of Bengal gram and jaggery (Puranpoli). The girls go to the jungle in the afternoon and pluck flowers. Small platforms of cow dung are prepared in front of each house. The girls then start worshipping the cows from the Naik’s home. This song is sung by the girls in praise of the cows (Dhor Dhando):
Meaning: Come, let us worship the cows. The cattle shed has all types of oxen big and small. The horses are lined up separately. This wealth of cattle has added to the prosperity of the house. Among them is a cow with round head and huge ears. O cow, when you give us milk we get a tinful of butter and lots of buttermilk. We will attach rings in your feet, let our cattle shed grow forever. You are our Yadi (honourable lady), Diwali, everything. We salute you….
The tribe, which enjoys dancing and singing a lot, devours the occasion of Holi for this purpose. For Gor Banjaras the most important festival is the Holi. It adds vigour to one and all, young and old alike. Holi rejuvenates the whole body and mind. The wine made up of Mahua flower makes one forget all sorrows in life. It is as if the festival of Holi belongs to Gor Banjaras only. It gives an occasion to the Tanda to express their happiness in every possible way. At least 2 months prior to the Holi the sound of drums starts reverberating in the Tanda.
A legend says that a demon named Dhundya would eat up small children. Therefore all the Tanda members used to guard the Tanda with sticks and other weapons in their hand in the full moon night of Holi. In order to remain awake the Gors used to drink, sing and dance throughout the night. Still a demoness entered the Naik’s house. Naik kept her in the home hence all the Tanda members gathered in front of the Naik’s home. In the end people brought the demoness out of the house and killed her. Later they rejoiced her death by singing and dancing the whole night. In the morning they took her outside the Tanda and burned her and celebrated again. The Naik was fined for one Rupee for keeping the demoness inside his house. Even today there is custom of charging one Rupee as fine from the Naik. Another important feature is that since the children who were born in the middle period have survived, their birthday is celebrated on the Holi day. Gors still follow this tradition. The birthday of the children who were born between the periods of two Diwalis is celebrated on Holi. The spirit of Holi spreads in the Tanda. Nobody remains aloof from dancing and singing in the night. The enthusiastic girls and boys along with the Daisane (Jurists) go to the Naik in the evening of the full moon day and ask permission to the Naik to celebrate the Holi. This ritual is called as ‘Wajana.’:
Meaning: The word ‘Ger’ originally belongs to Nimadi language and it means a team of men. In Gor dialect the word transformed to ‘Geria.’ The song says: The tired geriya have come to the Tanda and boarded in the Darbar (Court) of the Naik. Naik has given a coin of one Rupee to the gerias. We will accept it as equal to 50 rupees. Naik has also given a new goat as gift to the Gori. Let us hail the Naik. At this juncture the Tanda gathers in front of the Naik’s home. Then the place for the Holi is selected. A folk song is sung on the occasion:
Meaning: Earlier we used to live in mountains, now live in Tandas. The Naga Swami from Nagapur mountain (near Udaipur) has come today to celebrate Holi in our Tanda. They are fully enjoying and now it will be a great fun to play Holi.
Then the geriyas go to the house of one in whose house a tragedy has struck during the year. There they play games. The person is consoled and a song is sung here:
Meaning: No body is immortal on this earth; all are going to die one day. Only the Sun and Moon are immortal. Forget the sorrow, let us play Holi. The women form a team called Gerani while men form Geria team and the dancing and singing starts. The games are played in the open space in front of a person’s house that is blessed with a sibling. The songs sung while play, dance for Holi and folksong is a separate subject of research. A separate book can be written on it. Here I have given 2 examples of Holi songs. One of them is called as ‘Lengi.’ It is of 3 types. One is Besan Boler, second is Ubheti Boler and third as Bhand Lengi. The Lengi song is sung in competitive mood. e.g.
Meaning: Dear friend! Beat the drum slowly! Your beating of the drum is disturbing the Geriyas. Listening to its sound the girl who was gone to fetch water has thrown away the water pot and started dancing. Your drumming is like magic. A girl who was making chapattis has left the kitchen work and now listening to your drum. Perhaps she is saying, Oh, young drummer beat the drum slowly. Otherwise I will curse you that all your youthfulness and valour will wean away:
Meaning: Friends, now stop this Lengi and sing another song. The sound of the Drum is magical. Whoever listens to it will lose all its senses.
The drummers are known as Ghorayo. By watching his hairstyle (Zalpa) the Gerani is engulfed by a feeling of sex. She is feeling – What I should do?’ The silver ring in his hand has added to the attraction. The Gerani is blushing by looking at his beauty and manliness.
Payee Song – Ubheti Lengi
The dance song Payee Joder attracts all the Geranis. When the Geranis (Girls) watch the dance the thoughts of Geriya are expressed in his dance and song. Geriyas stand in a circle by clutching each other’s hands and the drummer stands in the middle. He uses a stick (Chataki) to beat the drum. The steps are rhythmic in style, first behind, then in the middle and again in the front. The dancers attach handkerchief or sometimes have stick in their hand. The dancers perform sit-ups on the beats of drum and make various noises. Following is an example of a Payee song (Lovers’ Song):
Meaning: Two lovers from the Tanda used to meet each other on the pretext of taking the cattle for grazing. One day when the cattle were being released in the morning a dog named ‘Kadalya’ fluttered his ears. The girl thought is as a bad omen and was not ready to go to the jungle. Then she came with a water container on her head and an ornament of silver (Phulaya) in her hand. Her skirt was so big in size that it was difficult to understand whether she is going forward or backwards. Such was her elephant style walk. A couple in Malawi dialect expresses this style:
The lover boy is delighted to see her. These are summer days, the Sun is shining brightly. Both of them meet under a tree named ‘Khechadi’ in its cool shade. Both engage in a dialogue.
Girl: O, Shobhiya, you are tying your turban in a different style daily. The Tanda is watching you that you look changed suddenly. Hence they have become suspicious and their confusion is increased.
Boy: Don’t be afraid Shobhani! Both of us agree to each other then what the people can do?
Girl: I have 5-7 brothers, Shobhiya! If they come to know about our love they will kill you. I am afraid.
Boy: Don’t worry! I am enough alone to take care of your brothers because I am skilled in ‘Gheri’ war techniques. I can defend myself.
But all of a sudden the people gheraoed them with sticks, swords in their hands. The girl says that she was not willing to come due to the bad omen given by the dog in the morning. But you did not listen to me. Now all these people are surrounding us.
The love song is quite long. In the end Shobhiya and the brothers of Shobhani clash with each other fiercely. He defeats all of them with his war skills. The girl becomes unconscious by seeing the struggle. The boy sprinkles water from the pot on her face and awakens her and takes her in his arms. Later on both of them flee inside the jungle. They are caught in the end and ultimately they embrace death together. Such is the immortal love story depicted in the song.
Meaning: I have given a beautifully embroidered handkerchief to my beloved. He is in great mood. My mind overflows with joy because of his enthusiasm and happiness. I have kept the window of my home open and waiting for his arrival. He is enjoying with the hanky.
In this way the dancing and singing goes on throughout the night. The geriyas and geranis eat and drink in the home of the person in front of which the Holi is prepared. The chief of the celebration selects 2 youth as Geria and Gerani. Nobody knows how the time passes and next day breaks. At the break of dawn the Naik orders to put the Holi on fire, which is the symbol of a demon. After it, still in the early morning the birthday of the child who is born that year in Ramanna Khola clan is celebrated.
The whole Tanda gathers in front of the house of the child with sticks in their hand. The child and the mother are seated in the courtyard. Four food items are kept in the 4 sides around them. A long stick is kept on the head of the mother and soft strokes are given on it with another stick. This custom is prevalent in Rajasthan also (Rajasthan Vaibhav by Triloknath Chaturvedi, page 232). He says: “Some people beat the sticks over the head of the child”. The song sung by Gor Banjaras on this occasion is like this:
About the custom of singing flirt song at the time of Holi it is said that those who will use obscene words to protect him from Dhudha demoness and sing songs related to Yoni & Linga (reproductive organs) will be pardoned. The custom of Dhundh is similar to Gors in Jodhpur, Pali, Nagauhar, Shergarh and Phalandi areas (Cultural Heritage of Malwa, Dr. Mahendrasingh Nayar, page 157). (Continued...)