As we continue our meanderings in Central India, our first stop is Bastar.
A good night’s sleep in Bastar Jungle resort had got us prepared for next day’s excitement. Richard, our resort manager was a good bloke. An Anglo Indian from Jagdalpur – very few families still live here – the guy was always smiling and helpful.
The day was packed. Tribals, waterfalls, caves, tribal weekly haat and Lal cheenti ki chutney!!! He had arranged us a guide – Chetan – and we were to pick him up on our way to Nainanar, the tribal settlement, our first stop for the day for a tete-a-tete with tribals. We were visiting “Bison Horn Maria” tribal settlement and see their famed “Bison Horn Dance”. This tribe is dispersed in and around Jagdalpur. They are not as remote as “Muria” tribes and seemed to have adapted well.
The name of the tribe is dervied from the head gear worn by the men when they dance. Made out of Bison horn and ornately hand crafted with beads, it is very colourful.
Men and women perform the dance together. While men wear their colourful head gear, women wear colourful dress with silver jewelry. Men beat drums as they dance. Women sing and join them in dancing. The dance is rhythmic in circles with easy steps. The women carry iron rod like structure – not sure what it is called – and they hit the ground with it along with their steps! The dance is performed in festivals or during social occasions. We also join them and try to keep the steps with them.
We end the dance session. The local toddy seller arrives in the village with freshly brewed toddy. It is a mobile toddy shop on the wheels. The toddy is tapped fresh and has to be consumed same day. We get toddy to all the performers. I ask Chetan if it is fine to taste the toddy. He gives go ahead and we also have a taste of it. It is light, tastes tangy and nice.
We bid good bye to the colourful maria tribe, we head to explore Kanger valley park and Tiratgarh Falls.
The easy steps to rhythmic drum beats…..notice the rods with women