There are mainly two types of tribes found in the Sirohi District. Bhils & Grasiya
Bhil is the oldest tribe and beside Sirohi District, it is found in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Southern part of Rajasthan. Grasiya's are found in the Aravali Ranges of Sirohi, Udaipur and spread over Banaskantha and Panchmahal districts of Gujarat. Grasiya's are also found in some places of Dungarpur and Banswara districts of Rajasthan.
Bhil word is derived from the Greek word "BEEL" that means 'String used of BOW' . Thus by being skilled in archery, this caste may be called BHIL.
The primitive nature of bhils is confirmed by the facts that its description can be found in the oldest epics and religious books like Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the puranas. In the Mahabharata, there is a story, according to which 'Vrishabha' the van of Lord Shiva, was stolen and killed by one of his sons. Having got infuriated over this pernicious and heinous act, he dispelled him and drove him away to the scheduled and desolated forests and mountains. The descendants of that son were named as 'Bhils'. Even now-a-days, the Bhils in the Abu region are sometimes found stealing bulls for farming.
According to the Ramayana, Lord Rama eat the prunes defiled and half-eaten by the 'SHABRI'. That Shabri was from Bhil tribe. Valmiki, the first poet, was born at the home of Bhil. In the Mahabharata there is a description about AKlavya who was reputed to be a skilled Archer. Aklavya was the example from Bhil tribe who was described in the Mahabharat epic as the expert in the Archery and who learnt this technique himself in front of the statue of the Guru "Dronacharya", who was also the Guru of "ARJUN" main hero of the Mahabharata epic. Aklavya given his thumb to Guru DRONACHARYA as Guru Dakhsina.
In history, there is also a description about the Jetasi Parmar of Abu was attacked by King Bhimdeva the second of Gujarat. The aides of Jetasi parmar were Bhils. The Supporters of the Brave RANA Pratap was also Bhils. Till today for bestowing regards upon bhils, they are called Bhil Ranas.
Bhils residing in the Abu area consider themselves superior than the other Bhils. These Bhils called themselves as "GAMETI" Bhils and are very close to the other tribe GRASIYA of the same region.
As civilization developed and flourished, the life style of the Bhils also change and they are divided into two categories, one - which resides in the colonies, village, town ad cities and another- which resides in forest and hills.
According to some prominent thinkers the word 'Grasiya' is a possible combination of words 'Giri' ad 'Vasi' means 'Inhabitant'. The word 'Girivasi' had been gradually transformed into word 'Grasiya' still lives in and around the mountains by making small huts which are called 'Oras'.
The castes 'Bhil' and 'Grasiya' have many races, clans and sub-castes that are called 'Gotras' or 'Gotaras'. The Grasiyas abiding the Abu region have several sub-castes such as Parmars, Dugaisas, Taivaras, Bubrias and Madaria, Chauhans etc.
Houses & their Strictures
Generally houses of the Bhils and Grasiya are situated on the slopes of the hillocks having waterfall nearby and some piece of land for cultivation. The houses are having one open veranda and a room covered with earthen tiles baked in fire. Under these tiles they use Dhav wood and Bamboo for retaining those tiles. Grasiyas have two bullocks, one cow and goats. To fetch the water they used to go to the nearest well hand pump etc. with the pond on their heads. But enjoy their life according to norms decided by their society.
Physic, Built and their Nature
There is no difference between the physic of the Bhils and the Grasiya. These people are generally thin and short in height. Bhils are comparatively darker in complexion than Grasiya's. Bhils have long face, short nose and pressed cheeks and dusky eyes. Grasiya have balance body. Grasiya women are generally shorter in height and fair complexed. They generally have bulging face. As far as the their body figure and health are concerned, a Bhil women is similar to that of Grasiya women but the former is more darker in complexion than the latter The beautiful complexions of both the women purified by their hard labour really seems to be charming and attractive.
Nature wise the Grasiya women is generally Shy, honest and laborious. Grasiyas are very positive in attitude and they have full confidence in themselves. They are very co-operative in nature, peace loving people.
Bhils of Abu also have some what same type of nature but they more aggressive in nature and have feeling of revenge in them. Also Bhil have bad nature of stealing. But Bhils are very loyal and famous for their bravery.
Costumes and Ornaments
Costumes of Grasiya and Bhil is simple. Grasiya male wears a Dhoti, Shirt (Jhoolki) and Turban nicknamed as PHETA. Grasiya likes to fix a Plant-twig or a flower-kalangi to his turban. On his waist, there is a sword or a dagger. Besides this, he is also fond of keeping mirror and a comb with him all the time. He is also a fond of ornaments A grasiya male likes to have a 'Natali' oh his hand, a 'Pagala' or a Hansali around his neck and 'Zhelas' or brass 'Markis' on his ears. The Grasiya do not have 'Markis' made up of sliver or Roopa. Among them, there is a custom to wear silver 'Beris' or 'Lunger' on their feet.
Glad in red Gihegaras (petticoats) 'Zhulakis' and Odhanis the Grasiya women look attractive. The unmarried Grasiya girls wears red, yellow and dark bangles on their hands. This is a glaring sign of their being unmarried. After having got married they have to put on ivory bangles. The Grasiya women wears 'Bors' or 'Zhabas' made of silver and 'Dornas' or 'Totis' on their ears. Some of them put on their ears 'Peer polis' made of grass. A Grasiya women has a silver Barli around her neck, Damani (Jhalas) on her heir and a Kota (Nath) on her nose. She wears Gujari on her hands which is made of some metal and Kadalas made of silver or zinc on her feet. She also wears a ring made up of silver or brass. Grasiya women used to comb their hair in stylist and distinguished manner and apply to their hair braids silver JHOOMAKAS that are pearl fitted,. They apply collyrium to their eyes and a Sindoor grope on their forehead.
There is a queer custom among both the Bhil and Grasiya women of getting parts of body tattooed. They generally have tattooing on almost all the visible parts of their body. They get bodies tattooed with flowers, leave and birds or with their own names tattooing can be found even own their tender and delicate parts such as eyebrows, necks, chins and hands. Some of the women put artificial moles on their cheeks and chins. Men too are fond tattooed but they are only interested in getting their hands tattooed.
Food & Drinks
The main food of the Bhils and Grasiya are Maize. Wheat is also used on special occasions and hospitality. Beside Maize and Wheat, KURA, KODRA, BATTI, SANGLI, KORANG etc. are used as food. Roti of Maize also called SOGRA with CHATNI, GREEN CHILLI or SALT and Curd Lassi are also used as food. The fruits found in the forest are also the part of their food. Grasiya give special importance to the hospitality. Their sweat dish is LAPSI. GUGHRI (Boiled wheat) and CHURMA (Powder of fry Wheat with Ghee and Sugar) is also occasionally used. Grasiya and Bhils are Non - Vegetarian. They eat meat of Goats, hens, partridges, quails, pigs, larks, hares and antelopes etc. The Bhils eat the flesh of buffaloes and peacocks too. The Grasiayas, on the other hand are prohibited from eating flesh of cow, buffalo and peacocks. Both the tribes are very fond local liquor called "KHATIYA". 90 % population of both the tribes use liquor which they manufacture themselves secretly using fruit of MAHUA tree called MAHUDA. Most of the Grasiya and Bhils use tobacco.
Source Of Income
The main source of the income of the Grasiya and the Bhil is Agriculture and the Animal Husbandry. Poultry farming and labour are also used as source of income. Occasionally they are in indulge in robbery and theft due to poverty. They posses knowledge of manufacturing the agricultural equipments and are also aware of repairing them. They collect GUM, Ayurvedic Medicines and Honey and sale to generate income. The economic condition of the tribes is horrible. As area of agriculture land is small and family members are more in number and divided among these members and therefore each member get a very small piece of land for cultivation. Therefore, each family is under the pressure of debt. Other than "KHARIF" crop there is no other organized business avail bale to raise their income. Therefore their per capita income is very low. BARTER system of market is popular for purchase of the goods. The businessmen make fool of them by taking advantage of their ignorance. There are lot ill practices in the society like throwing out from the Society, Drinking, Feast on the occasion of the death etc. are also responsible for the poverty of these people.
Agriculture & Animal Husbandry
KHARIF Crop is the main crop of the Grasiya tribe but they give more importance to labour. In Kharif they give Maize cultivation the main stress. They use old and traditional method for the cultivation. In hill the land is not furtile therefore they cultivate the on slope using ox. The women actively support the males in the farming. They cut the Khajoor trees to increase the water level. They take Wheat, Channa, and Jo etc as RABI crop.
These people are not aware of the improved and modern methods of the cultivation and these methods are also not affordable for them. Beside farming, Animal husbandry is also there source of income.
Social Life and Tradition
The life of the tribal people are full of traditions and social customs from birth to death.The information of the birth of the child is communicated by beating plate. The child of the mother is given liquor in those days. The birth of the male child is given more importance than the female child. Then the name of the child is provided by the eldest of the family. On the occasion of the birth the males indulge in drinking a locally made liquor called KHATIYA. Tribes are very lenient towards marriage and most of the marriages are love marriages. Polygamy is the common practice among Bhils and Grasiyas.
DAPA is the tradition of marriage practiced in both the tribes in which in laws of the girls give money to the in laws of the boys. There are many types of marriages practices in the bhils community. The Bhils who cannot afford to give money, forcefully kidnap the girl and make marriage with her with all the tradition and customs of the society and the parents of the girls are informed.
Death funeral is done according to hindu traditions. Only male takes part in the funeral. The ashes of the dead body is thrown in the river. The shock of the condolence is continued till the first festival arrives. In this period of condolence the male wears white safa. The end of the condolence is done by the son in law or the brother in law. On this occasion males drink liquor and talk about the dead person.
The tribes of the Abu region can't help rejoicing by drinking, singing and dancing on the eve of the festivals such as Deepawali, Holi, Dushera (Vijay Dashmi), Raksha bandhan and Gangaur etc. On the eve of the festivals, the tribal's assemble at a place and then go to the home of the chief a the village locally called Mukhiya or the Patel. The chief gets a goat cut, has the maize mash prepared and arranges a feast on the occasion. On the Aksaya Tritiya they forebode about the happenings of the whole of the year. On the occasion of the Navaratri, they worship the Goddess for nine days and then on the day of the Vijay Dashmi or Dushera, they sacrifice a bison. On the eve of the Dipawali, all the people of the village go to each and every house of the tribal's and wander about pronouncing the words 'MERAYO MERAYO'. The person whom they approach throws some oil into the Deepak or the Mashal. The group of people who wander about in such a manner is called 'Deepawali'. When the night falls, this group of people or 'Diwali' rests at the very house of their waiting's. The master of the house feeds all the persons with the bread prepared from the corn measuring three Manas. Three Manas of corn weigh about fifteen kilos of corn. On the eve of the Gangaur, they worship the Goddess Parvati and make the Gavari dance. The Holi is the main and the long lasting festival of the tribal's. From the Basant Panchamy they start dancing, singing and besting drums in groups. The Gair dance in these days is very attractive.
Songs & Music
The songs of the tribes are mainly the Folk Songs. The Folk Songs are the best media to communicate the pains and joy of the people. We find the feelings of Joy, happiness, pains in the folk music and as well as the culture of the people. It is rich heritage which are diminishing as the civilization is developed from time to time. The love is the basis of their lives to forget the pain and harness of thee lives. Therefore their songs are full of love, joy & happiness, by which they are inspired to live in these difficult conditions. The courage and braveness of their caste is expressed in the songs.
To celebrate different festivals, these tribal's have different lyrics and songs to sing. The tribal's of the Abu region do not depend upon the musical instruments for their songs and lyrics.
Art & Culture
The tribal's of the Abu region are the carriers of the fine arts and culture. They are skilled in making idols of Gods and Goddesses from the earth and buttery stones. They are well acquainted with the merits and demerits of different herbs. To keep their corn safe, they make 'Kotalas' out of earth. There are carving and painting on them.
Their language is MARU which seems to be the mountain form of Gurjar. The Maru language is spoken by turning the beginning ' Akar' into 'Ekar'. For example the word 'Jamai' is spoken as 'Jamai'. Their art, culture and language need to be deeply studied because they are likely to disappear because of the fast approaching urban culture.
The Rebaris are mostly shepherd, and some of them possess flocks and herds of their own; many are farmers. Animal Husbandry is main source of income. They are mostly vegetarian and allow widow remarriage. They are no medic, and spend most of their time wandering with their herds.
Inter caste Relations - The breaking down of caste barriers is not yet a noticeable phenomenon in the area.
Superstitious beliefs - People are highly superstitious. The main Superstitions center around the interpretation of dreams, acts like sneezing and appearance of certain animals of classes of persons under given circumstances.
Others include the followings-
- Rebairs have common belief in the quivering of the different parts of the body and their various interpretations.
- Certain days are auspicious while others are forbidden to start any new work.
- An evil eye, they believe, affects adversely the food, beautiful garments and health of children. To avoid it, they mark the forehead and cheeks of the children with black spots or tikkis and put a charcoal in the dish in which food is served.
- uttering the names of certain villages, example, Mandar, Anadara, Motagam etc., bring hardship during the day.
- Oaths of their near relatives or deities are binding.