Places they inhabit :
Bhils are popularly known as the bow men of Rajasthan. They are the most
widely distributed tribal groups in India. They forms the largest tribe of
the whole South Asia. Bhils are mainly divided into two main groups the
central or pure bills and eastern or Rajput Bhils. The central Bhils are
found in the mountain regions in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh,
Maharashtra, Gujrat and Rajasthan. Bhils are also found in the north eastern
parts of Tripura
Bhils belong to the race of the pre-Aryans. The name 'Bhil' is derived from
the word villu or billu, which according to the Dravidian language is known
as Bow. The name Bhil is also finds mentioned in the great epic called
Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Bhil women offered ber to Lord Rama, when he
was wandering through the jungles of Dhandaka, searching Sita. The popular
legend represents them as being descended from Nishada, son of Mahadev by
the human female. Nishad was brutal and ugly, who killed his fathers bull
and as the consequence he was banished to mountains and forests. During the
ancient era they were considered as the great warriors who fought against
the Mughals, Marathas and the Britishers.
Language and Costumes :
Apart from other states, Bhils comprise 39% of Rajasthan's total
population. speak Bhili, which is an Indo Aryan language. Bhil women wear
traditional saris and the Bhil men wear loose long frock along with pyjama.
The peasants wear turbans. Bhils also wear brass ornaments. Bhils are tall,
well built with the handsome features. They are known for their truthfulness
and simplicity. They love independence. They are brave and their National
weapon is bow made of bamboo. Earlier they were the great haunters. They now
practice agriculture as the source of livelihood.
Culture and Religion :
Religion practice among the Bhils differ from place to place. Most of them
worship local deities like Khandoba, Kanhoba, Bahiroba, and Sitalmata. Some
of the worship Tiger God called 'vaghdev'. They have no temples of their
own. They consult Badvas -the hereditary sorcerers on all the occasions.
Bhils are highly superstitious tribal people. They have Bhagat or Gurus who
perform the religious rites. They have village headsmen, who deals with
their disputes. Bhils strictly follow rules and regulations. They marry only
in their own classes. Their close relationships are tightly based on mutual
love and respect. They have rich cultural history and gives much importance
to dance and music. Ghoomar is the most famous dance among the Bhils. Than
Gair is the religious dance drama performed by the men in the month of
Sharavana (July and August). The Bhils are talented in the sculptured work.
They make beautiful horses, elephants, tigers, deities out of clay.
Fair and Festivals :
The Baneshwar fair is the main festival celebrated among the Bhils. This
fair is held during the period of Shivatri (in the month of January or
February) and is dedicated to Baneshwar Mahadev also known as Lord Shiva. On
this occasion Bhils gather all together set up camps on the banks of the Som
and Mahi river. They perform dance around the fire and sing traditional
songs. At night they all of them enjoy raslila at the Lakshmi Narayan
temple. Cultural shows, magic shows, animal shows acrobatic feast are the
main attraction of the fair. This fair is actually the combination of two
fairs, which are held in reverence of Lord Shiva and the other one that
commenced after the setting up of Vishnu temple by Jankunwari. Holy and
Dusshera are the other major festivals celebrated among the Bhils in India.