Saturday, May 28, 2022
Madhya Pradesh

The People

Customs and Traditions

The Socio-Religious system of any region usually brings the members of different castes and creeds closer to having interdependent relationships.

Common experiences are shared by them, permitting each other to regulate their ritual practices. The fundamental structure of the social organisation in Madhya Pradesh is particularly caste-based. Despite the cultural diversity, the state presents an interesting account of Adivasi and non-Adivasi customs and traditions.

The Ghotul

The unique institution of the Ghotul is for the unmarried boys and girls of the Muria tribe. As a village dormitory, the Ghotul is traditionally sanctioned by the tribal customs. The Ghotul is a large hut or a group of huts with a compound around where the Muria youngsters assemble after sunset. It is a centre of  social and emotional activities which also helps the Muria boys and girls of Baster to group up in a sort of group discipline. The institution of Ghotul plays an important part in shaping the life of the Muria Adivasis. It deepens the sense of social democracy and leads the members above jealousy and possessiveness. Individualism has no place in Ghotul. The institution serves as a most preventive measures of crime, for the boys and girls learn in the Ghotul to share everything and scorn acquisitiveness.

In the Ghotul, the boy members are known as Chelik and the girl members as Motiari. The relation between Chelik and Motiari are governed by the type of the Ghotul to which they belong. In the older classical type of Ghotul, boys and girls pair off in a more or less permanent relationship which lasts till marriage. In the modern form of Ghotul, such exclusive associations are forbidden and partners must constantly be changed.

 In the Ghotul, friendliness, sympathy, and unity are of prime importance. Love finds the right place as it unifies the members of the tribe and keeps them in good mood without the slightest tinge of possessiveness.

The Ghotul evening begins with chats and laughter of the boys and girls. One of the important routines of the Ghotul is saluting one another in a monotonous rhythmic way known as johar, in which each person greets the other by the name, individually. Another interesting custom practiced by the Muria Ghotul is the form of conventional enquiries made by the leading boy. But this is a routine affair.

Any time after sunset the male members begin to arrive at the Ghotul with their belongings such as sleeping mats, tobacco-pouches or other such things they might need at night. Few of the boys gather round the fire or scatter about the compound or else lie down under the thatched roof of the open huts and puff their chongis, the country cigarettes. A couple of them get busy with their musical instruments. Soon the girls follow and the atmosphere of the Ghotul brightens up. Girls seem more enthusiastic to have the music and dance. A dance song called Rela gets the favour of the gathering.

 After an hour or two the boys and girls like to squat round the fire and it seems story-telling becomes a favourite pastime. At this hour the boys and girls join together freely. At fairly late night, Belosa, the leader of the girls and Sirdar, the leader of the boys decide how the couples shall be paired. The decision comes as a romance mixed with duty and charm, get equal  chances in this democracy of romance.


The peasant population of the state wears the dhoti. A white or a black jacket called bandi or mirzai is  still in vogue in Bundelkhand and Malwa. Safa is worn on the head in the eastern parts of the state and pagri or paga (turban) is preferred in the western regions.  Among the new generations trousers, socks and shirts have become very common. Women wear coloured lehnga and choli. A piece of  cloth known as orni or lugra is used to cover the head and the shoulders. In the central region they prefer red and black colours, while yellow, blue and green are admired by the Chhathsgarhi women. Kanchali is stitched out of coloured pieces of cloth.  It is a sort of bodice used for covering the breasts only by tysing it at the back with strings, called Kasana in the Malwi dialect.