festival throughout the night. Their instruments are flute, drum (huge and small), mandal, chang, thah, etc.
'Gauri' or Gavri-
There are 4 types of characters in 'Gavri', viz., gods, human beings, demons and animals.
(b) Human Beings-
(a) The gods-
The gods are the symbols of ideals. Lord Shiva and Parvati enter into human beings and help them, and console the grief-stricken and try to diminish their sorrows. With supernatural power they grant boons to help them accomplish their task.
We see any number of human characters in Gauri (Gavri) :
- Buria (बूडिया)
- Kutkadiya कुटकड़िया
- Kanjar-Kanjari कंजर-कंजरी
- Mina मीणा
- Nut नट
- Khetudi खेतुड़ी
- Phatta-Phatti फत्ता-फत्ती
There are others also.
The demon characters are cruel, sadistic and troublesome. On their heads are horns and their appearance is horrible and inauspicious. They are Khadilya Bhut (खड़लिया भूत), Bhiyanwad or Hatya (भिंयावड या हटिया) Danav etc.
(d) The animals-
The animals of Gauri (Gavri) are not violent and ferocious. The pig, the bear and the lion are the chief ones.
The purpose behind celebrating 'Gauri (Gavri)' is not only entertainment, but mainly the performance of religious duty. And by pleasing 'Baba Bhairav-Nath (Shiva), they pray for security for the village and the villagers and safety from disease, sorrow, grief, poverty, famine, etc. Those who take part in the play find themselves so identified with the characters that their acting is superb. During- the period of the performance of Gauri (Gavri), all the actors refrain from women, wine and meat. The Bhil men and women have equal rights. But though the number of women characters in the play is quite large, it is interesting to note that no woman can take part in the play. All female roles are played by men.
Art and drama in 'Gauri (Gavri)' are inseparable. The artistic skill of the Bhils exhibits itself through dances, postures, histrionics, moulding and adorning an image, presentation, music and dialogue. The daily activities of these people are manifested here. The masks used in this play with their wonderful craftsmanship are an exceedingly artistic specimen of folk art.
Rai Buria, who is the main character of this play is recognized by his mask, which is quite huge and grand. As soon as he wears this mask, the heavenly spirit enters into 'Buria or Budiya' and the moment it is removed, he returns to his ordinary human state. These masks are decorated by sticking silver foliage and with colours. Each character has a different decorative embellishment to attract the attention of the audience.
The main colours used arc black, blue, yellow and red. Various types of traditional masks are made for the Gauri (Gavri) festival. They are quite artistic. One more artistic creation produced on this occasion is the auspicious elephant of Gauri (Gavri) in clay. This beautifully decorated clay elephant is brought in on the last day of the festival at the time of the departure of Gauri. It is a beautiful ritual. This elephant is a symbol of Lord Shankar. It is said that while Bhasma-sur was running, the 'kada' fell from his hand and remained suspended in the air. Lord Shiva took it and wore it, and assuming the form of an elephant, plunged into a nearby pond. There is a grand celebration of this event. The elephant is decorated with silver ornaments, foliage, red, green, yellow and blue leaves and attractive glass pieces. And on it Shiva and
Parvati are seated very artistically. Thus the dance-drama, 'Gauri (Gavri)' has a prestigious place in Bhil life. Of all the folk dramas found in folk literature, 'Gauri' is the only one which has all the qualities of an ideal folk drama. It is a unique and harmonious coordination of art, sculpture, dance, music, drama and culture.
Reference- Lok Natya Gauri -- Udbhav and Vlkas by Dr. Mahendra Bhanavat, (Bharatiya Lok-Kala Mandal), p.2