KATHI HOLI Maharashtra

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2020

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1. This Holi is an all-night affair, dance and music. Very colourful and clean way of celebrating. Adivasis from Maharashtra, Gujarat, MP, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh come to celebrate. Locals dressed to kill with their musical instruments. Great fun, shall always remember. Pic by Pritam.

2. Pictures 1 to 18 show the festival in a snap-shot, thereafter pics in some detail. We went in a group organised by Santosh Nimbalkar (group members contributed pics to 18). Left Mumbai about 7 am in a Matador bus. Till Nandurbar it is plains. Then we drove up hills, road is what you see. Pic by Palashranjan, very senior photographer.

3. Drive up hill. It was around sunset. Pic by Palashranjan. Stopped enroute for breakfast and lunch. Reached village around 8 pm, pitch dark. Checked into a guest house (six to a room) and had dinner.

4. Next morning post breakfast drove to the banks of the river Narmada. Enroute Palashranjan stopped for this pic. “The Adivasis of Kathi in Satpuda range, a small village Kathi in Akkalkuwa of Nandurbar District, having a 750 year old unique tradition of playing ‘Rajwadi’ Holi (Holika Dahan).”

5. “The preparations of this festival starts 15 days before the actual festive day. During the period of preparation people who have taken the oath to perform as a devotee follow celibacy n walk 350 to 400 km deep in the forest to collect 70 to 80 feet bamboo for Holi fire. After finding the appropriate bamboos, they do not cut it down first they worship it with traditional Prayer and then they dug it up from the Ground.”

6. Tempo went up the hill and came down into a valley, end was river. Met villagers dressed up like you see. They wear ghungroos round their waist, others whom u do not see in pic had dried up lauki. This village got electricity poles in 2019, for the first time. Pic by Pritam.

7. A close up of some of the boys. Pic by Sanket. “Adivasis worship Weapons of the King preserved by the family for centuries.” We missed seeing this.

8. Face covered with dots (think it is paste made of rice). Head gear-Mukut has bamboos. Necklace round his neck. Pic by Sanket. “The Kathi village holi got its name as ‘Rajwadi Holi’ has a historic backdrop. There was tribal king named as ‘Raja Umedsingh Padavi’ who started this Holi festival in 1246 AD. Since then the descendants of the king continued the tradition with same method.”

9. Enroute drive from village where we spent the night to Kathi (main event) large group of villagers dancing.

10. Reached Kathi by about 5 pm. In a fixed place locals dig about 5 feet below where bamboo was placed. Program starts about 10 pm and goes on all night. We relaxed at a villager’s home. Close to Holika Dahan place is where the bamboo is worshipped. Dance there. Pic by Pritam.

11. Dance in village. Note the musical instruments used. Pic by Pritam. “Musical instruments like Daf, Pawa and Tutari keep the atmosphere charged with energy.” “The village is named after the 70ft tall bamboo that is called `kathi` in the local language. The tribals from Gujarat travel about 350 kms with this 70 feet bamboo ie grown deep inside their forests.

12. Some wear masks as you see. They are going to the area where the bamboo is first worshipped. See ankles, wearing ghungroos. White round thing they tied round their waist is called DUDHIBHOPALA (Bottlegourd or Lauki in Hindi). Pic by Pritam.

13. “The devotees dress up in a traditional outfit like men dress up as women and as wild animals. Wearing waist chain consisting bells, colorful headgear made out of paper and Peacock feather, Weapons in hand n traditional dance with glee in hordes of hundreds to the tunes of folk instruments. The people dress up in this attire called as ‘Mhorakhya’ to appease the goddess Holika.” Pic by Pritam.

14. This pic is around 3 am when celebrations were in full swing. Lots of people, very colourful, bursting with energy.

15. Holik Dahan. Dancing mainly takes place around and close to the fire. Pic by Palashranjan. “Tribals mark their foreheads with the Holy ash of the Holi after Holik Dahan.”

16. . Palasranjan with a mask wearing local. Took this pic about 5 pm when we were waiting for the program to start. They chant and sing tribal tunes all night. To see a video of 2018 festival https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqXeev6wVfI

17. Santosh, me and an Adivasi at about 7 am the next morning after staying awake all night. Santosh organises lovely tours. His numbers are 91 922 353 8236, 91 93201 77731. Awesome experience, highly recommended.

18. Tea stall in village. Pic by Palashranjan. Summary of festival pics ends here. From here on we present pictures in some detail.

19. Morning enroute to Narmada, we stopped by at village dressed up and playing music. Love the colours. Pic by Pritam.

20. Villagers dressed up with their musical instruments. Pic by Pritam.

21. Ma Narmada. Never knew the Narmada flowed close by. Few boats on river banks.

22. Enroute drive from village where we spent the night to Kathi (main event) large group of villagers dancing. Observe what they wear carefully.

23. Close up. Whistle plays an important part in festival celebration. It rhymes with the music that was played – awesome, very hummable.

24. Close up of mukut-head gear. “The Adivasis of Kathi in Satpuda range, a small village Kathi in Akkalkuwa of Nandurbar District, having a 750 year old unique tradition of playing ‘Rajwadi’ Holi (Holika Dahan).”

25. Group of villagers before dance was to begin. Around their waist all have tied DUDHIBHOPALA (Bottlegourd or Lauki in Hindi). It looks like a dried up lauki. In Bastar, met a man who made lampshades from lauki.

26. Music. On your right are active dancers and whistlers. They are men but dressed up like woman. “Musical instruments like Daf, Pawa and Tutari keep the atmosphere charged with energy.”

27. Centre of pic is holika dahan. There is a small hill. Most visitors sat on the hill slope. There were too strong lights all around. “Adivasis worship Weapons of the King preserved by the family for centuries.” We missed seeing this.

28. View of crowds from below slope. Plastic sheets spread on which people sat and slept. It was not very cold in March, but a slight nipp in the air. “The Kathi village holi got its name as ‘Rajwadi Holi’ has a historic backdrop. There was tribal king named as ‘Raja Umedsingh Padavi’ who started this Holi festival at 1246 AD. Since then the descendants of the king continued the tradition with same method.”

29. Close up of boys. “The devotees dress up in a traditional outfit like men dress up as women and as wild animals. Wearing waist chain consisting bells, colorful headgear made out of paper and Peacock feather, Weapons in hand n traditional dance with glee in hordes of hundreds to the tunes of folk instruments. The people dress up in this attire called as ‘Mhorakhya’ to appease the goddess Holika.”

30. “The preparations of this festival starts 15 days before actual festive day. During period of preparation people who have taken the oath to perform as a devotee follow celibacy n walk 350 to 400 km deep in the forest to collect 70 to 80 feet bamboo for Holi fire. After finding appropriate bamboos, they do not cut it down first they worship it with traditional Prayer and then they dug it up from the Ground.”

31. Close to place where holi fire was lit, bamboo kept n locals danced there. Post ceremony bamboo taken. “At the end of 15th day residents of Kathi erects 40 to 50 ft bamboo in tcenter of village. There is an ancient pit of at least 5ft in the ground where the devotees fix the bamboo. The fixing is done with the help of hand without using any equipment. It’s their ancient style they strictly follow till today. The bamboo should go 5 ft down in the ground. We can see they follow the tradition without harming the nature. They consider nature as a god.”

32. Locals proceeding to area, some wore masks, the hand invariably had a musical instrument.

33. Local, note mukut-headgear.

34. This boy has a necklace and half a coconut round his neck. In hand is a sickle.

35. Crows around 1 am. Centre is where the holi fire would be burnt.

36. Group pic of locals. Some in turban, others in colourful headgear. Common is virtually all is lauki and ghungroos tied round their waist. It was either lauki or ghungroo round their waist.

37. In the rush managed to click these ladies, looked so serene and calm.

38. There was a fair going on close to the venue, gambling going on. All looked to be enjoying.

39. Loved this pic with a dark backdrop.

40. This man like most has a cur-chief and what looked like silver coins tied around his neck.

41. Group activity around 3 am. There was a temporary shamiana, I sat on the first floor in some comfort and took pics.

42. Close up. Most co-operated when we requested for pics. Lime round his neck.

43. Below the flowers and white paper was headgear and a man.

44. Next morning 7 am me with a local. Notice mukut-headgear – top peacock feathers, flowers, bamboo bit for them to hold, cur-chief round his neck, ghungroos round his waist.

45. People of every age took part. This man too.

46. Bamboo placed in holi fire spot. Back visitors sitting on hill slope. “On the Festive Day the men’s perform various traditional dance forms. The wood for the Holika Dahan was contributed by all tribals present there with the Bamboo positioned in the centre of the dahan. When the bamboo for holi is erected at Kathi village, it is believed that if it is tilted towards east then it will bring good rain and crop to the community.”

47. Holy fire lit. Back can see cell phones – looks like their torch was on.

48. Another view.

49. Locals run around the fire – parikrama as you see. “Tribals mark their foreheads with the Holy ash of the Holi after Holik Dahan.”

50. Pic early morning. Adivasis dancing with agni in the background.

51. Side view. Most men have towels tied round their waist.

52. Pics shows 3 men dressed up in ladies clothes. One blowing the whistle was very active so also person on extreme left.

53. Exhausted after dancing all night.

54. Close up.

55. This seemed like an important man through the ceremony. Wish knew what his role was. Children took part too as you can see.

56. All men, notice their clothing.

57. Another view of running round the holy fire. They had to balance their headgear whilst running.

58. Clean-up time and dancing too, about 6 am. Person in red petticoat is a man.

59. Group view about 6.30 am.

60. Side dance going on early morning.

61. Clear view of headgear (similar to others) but clothing below waist different.

62. Another close-up. Cap colour is colourful. By virtue of its design possible person come from Rajasthan.

63. Dancing early morning. Some had plates in their hand. It is not a plate, please help with exact word.

64. Another close-up.

65. Design on lower part of foot.

66. Vertical full view. Peacock feathers, flowers, mukut / head gear, cur-chief and silver colour coins round the neck, ghungroos and towel round their waist.

67. Note number of laukis tied round each waist and colors.

68. Seemed like a short skit being enacted (right of pic, see boy with trishul in hand sitting on the ground). In front men with masks, bows and arrow ready to attack.

69. Dance early morning.

70. Close up. Notice coins round his neck. Awesome experience, highly recommended.

71. Music group just before leaving – saw many wear sunglasses.

72. Another group – man on right of pic playing flute. For a very good travelogue https://kalpeshnukte.wordpress.com/2020/04/21/rajwaadi-holi-of-kathi/

73. Many came with dhols as u see.

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