Meaning: Happiness is everywhere. Put up climbers of Champa flower in front of the home at the earliest. As the climber grows the boy will grow along with it. He has number of relatives and lot of cattle. The boy is born in such a prosperous home. We bless both the mother and the child. Let there be such 7 sons. First child will become Naik of the Tanda; second will look after the daily work. Third will graze the cattle. Fourth will be a horse rider. Fifth will graze the goats, sixth will take care of the parents and seventh will enlighten everybody and give justice to all.
Then through the gestures of hands the growth of the child is shown. In this way the birthday (Dhundh) of the child is celebrated. After the Dhundh ceremony the Holi is burnt at the hands of the Naik. Then a show of war skills with swords, belts and sticks is shown there. All members return to their homes. The birthday of children from other clans is celebrated in the afternoon. The Gors from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka sing this Dhund song:
Two big stems are buried in front of the home where the birthday is to be celebrated. The stems are tied together with a rope. The geria has to uproot them with another rope. The Gerani women also guard the stem with sticks in their hand. This game of win and loss goes on for an hour. The team of Geriya attacks on the stems. The women also attack them with sticks. The tribals in Nimad are following this ritual. They bury a stick with a flag attached to it (Cultural History of Nimad, page 38). The tribal women do not allow the men to go near the flag. This time also the women beat the men with sticks. They tease each other through songs and in the end Geriyas become successful to uproot the stem in spite of beating from the women. The show of power, skills and plans are exhibited through this game. All Tanda enjoys this game. The competition between them goes on throughout the night and in the next morning the ancestors are worshipped.
If any outsider enters the Tanda during the celebrations of Holi then he gets a sacking and is fined before he is released. The Gerias pay obeisance to the Holi and apply the ash to each other. Then men start the game of colours. It is called as Phag Ramer. The teams of Geria and Gernis go independently to each house. All of them have drink and collect money for the celebration. At this time Geriya and Gerani perform a type of song called ‘Phag Bhand Lengi’. These songs are highly obscene and teasing in nature. A sort of competition of such songs takes place. First of all the team of Geria goes to the house of the Naik:
Meaning: O, Gerani, deliver a baby at the earliest. We all will celebrate the birthday. If your husband is not able to do any thing then we will send some selected your Geriyas after you, then at least you will become pregnant. If you give birth to a boy we will have a feast of a well-bearded goat.
[Comparative Study of Rajasthani and Gujrathi folksongs, by Dr. Jagmal Singh]
Farewell to Holi
Before giving a farewell to Holi a play song called ‘Damani Bandher’ is performed by Geriyas and Geranis. The notorious Geriyas are tied with ropes like cattle. Then some fodder is kept in front of them. They are beaten with sticks considering that these ‘animals’ are uncontrollable and are wonderers. The Geriyas answer to the Bhand Lengi and in the end free themselves and run away.
Meaning: The Geriyas are defeated in the game and songs and ran away as they are frightened of the Geranis.
The Geriyas pay obeisance to the Holi in the evening. Then Geranis do the same. They go around the Holi and pay obeisance. The Geriyas perform a ‘Payee’ dance by singing a religious song. Geranis also perform a dance in the name of the god. Then they touch each other’s feet and take blessings.
Meaning: Holi had come and now she is going, leaving the Geria alone. But she is handing over the Geriya to the Gerani. She has blessed the Geriya for a child and then she is leaving.
The next day a male goat is bought by collecting money from all. It is killed and the meat is distributed equally among all. With this feast the colours of Holi come to an end. This is known as Ger. Without Ger it is not considered that the Holi is gone (over). The song sung on the occasion of Holi is not performed till Diwali. After the Diwali there is a custom of singing the Lengi song till next Holi.
Gor Rituals and Customs
The rituals, customs and traditions of any tribe depict the history of its civic life. The rituals and traditions of Kshatriya Gorvamshiya tribe are still alive today. It is essential to study the ancient folk literature to understand them. The social and cultural life of this community is expressed in the folk literature. Folk literature is a mystical source. It gives us information about history and social standard of any tribe in a geographical perspective. Jawaharlal Handu in his book ‘Kashmiri and Hindi Folk Songs – A Comparative Study’ supports this fact. He says, “The information about history, customs, rituals, blind faiths, different thoughts and their sources is available from the folk literature.” (Page 15).
The literature of Gor Banjara tribe is a separate subject of study. I have earlier written a research paper on the social and cultural life expressed in this folk literature. I am trying to find out their ancient history from this hitherto unknown Gor literature. I have taken references of those folk songs, which are alive in the context of rituals and traditions and customs. The songs of children and women are important among the folk songs. A human being undergoes number of rituals from his birth till death. Man is somehow connected to these rituals and traditional customs in his life and lives along with them. The beginning of this process takes place from birth. Gor were performing all rituals and marriages without the aid of a Brahmin.
No ritual is performed on a pregnant woman. The words used for her are ‘Dee Jawer, Pateti or Aashati.’ If a drum is beaten on the birth of a child then everybody comes to know that it is a boy. Other women gather in front of the house of the mother. She is called as ‘Shawadi.’ Shawadi’ is a Nimadi word. A ritual called as ‘Wekalap’ is performed on this occasion. This word might have originated from the Marathi word ‘Olakh’ meaning introduction. The latest meaning being ‘to introduce the child to the world around.’ On this auspicious occasion a recipe called ‘Lapasi’ is offered first to the fire god. Jaggery is added to wheat flour to make this item. Then the women perform a folksong called ‘Natero.’ This word might have been constructed from Marathi word ‘Naate’ meaning relationship. The women also sing a song to bless the child.
Meaning: Let us all celebrate; the son of the earth is born. It is good that a brave boy, Kshatriya is born in our Tanda. A Kshatriya who has put on orange coloured clothes and is riding a horse.
On the 5th or 7th day after the birth a ritual called ‘Jalawa Dhoker’ is performed for worshipping the goddess of water (Jaladevi). Saawadi i.e. the mother does not tie her hair till this ritual is performed. Both the mother and the child are brought out in the evening. A pit is made in the courtyard for the fireplace. A small pot is kept on the head of the mother. Grains of wheat and Jowar are given to her and in the process she is brought near the fireplace. She puts water in the fireplace and also the grains of wheat and Jowar. Seven small sticks of Bamboo are burnt and extinguished in the fireplace. Then Suawadi rinses the thumb of her feet in water for 7 times and bows in front of the goddess of water (Jaldevi). Then returns to the house with a pot full of water. Small children are offered a dish made up of wheat on this occasion. Prior to that Suawadi washes the feet of the children with water. Then she gives a portion of the item to the woman who is yet to be blessed with a child. The women sing this song on the occasion:
Meaning: According to the tradition of Gurus, first recall the name of Guru, then Meghraja, third name of the earth (Dharati). It is a blessing we have got by recalling the names of these Gurus and a warrior like Arjun is born in the Tanda to further the traditional of Raimal Kingdom. He will take care of our welfare.
The items prepared from wheat are especially preferred for offering in the worship of fire or even water. This fact also indicates that Gor Banjaras were residents of Malawa province, which has abundant wheat production. The wheat of Malawa is famous and it is considered as an auspicious food grain.
The ‘Paglya’ ritual
The child starts walking around one year of age. When it is able to stand on its feet and walk then the ‘Paglya’ ritual is performed. Grandpas of the child present him with new clothes like Zagala, Kalda, Sankal, Phundi cap etc. The child is made to stand on a small colourful piece of cloth called ‘gudadi.’ Then evil spirits, if any, are warded off. The small children of the Tanda area given special dishes to eat. This custom has been taken from Rajasthani people.
The ritual of ‘Vadai’ is performed before going for marriage. Vadai means reaching the age of marriage. The marriage is not performed without this ritual. This ritual is performed at once on 2-3 brothers and not on a single brother. If the boy is alone then a piece of cloth used in daily worship for the gods is kept on a small seat. And on the other seat the boy is seated. A hot needle is used to make a mark on his forehand. This is called as ‘Agnidaag.’ The earlobes are also pierced on this occasion. The name of the Guru is recalled during the Agnidaag ritual. It is called as Gurumantra.
Meaning: The life of man is like bubbles. Many a great warriors were born and died here. The Guru has blessed you; your life will be a happy one. Go and ride on white horse. If anybody attacks you, nothing will happen to you. Arm yourself with sword, waist belt, Zubkadi, small sword and a shield and ride the horse. Guru Baba has blessed you. They are always with you. Even though you do not understand the meaning of this advice of the Guru, you ride the horse, take the shield and sword with you and go to the battlefield, follow your Kshatriya Dharma and be victorious. The Nagaswami who gave this advice might be from Udaipur Mountains. References about it are found in legends. No ritual is thought to be complete without chanting the name of Nagaswami Guru. One legend says that this Guru had arranged for marriage of a Kshatriya Gorvamshiya Prince and made his life. Guru Govind is not related with the Gurumantra in any way.
The original word is ‘Kaan Samalai.’ It means to tell everybody about an event i.e. engagement. Gor Banjara does not arrange marriage within the same clan. Different clans are matched. Marriage proposals in nearest relations are preferred. The chief of the Tanda on behalf of the boy goes to the Tanda of the girl. All members gather in front of the house of the girl with the permission of the Naik. They introduce each other. The Panchayati (Jury meeting) is arranged for the engagement. The experienced aged persons at this time tell these couplets to all:
Meaning: This is Raja Bhoj’s meeting. Almost 1 to 1.25 lakh representatives have arrived here. We were away (from each other) while living in mountains now we are known to each other. The relatives have met each other and a good decision is going to be taken. It is as if a diamond is found in a mine.
In the end a representative from the boy’s side stands up and introduces the fathers of both the boy and the girl. As per rules 125 rupees and 5 oxen are given to the father of the girl as dowry. And lastly all are given sweets and tea etc. and the engagement is finalized. (Continued...)