Saturday, May 28, 2022
Madhya Pradesh

Fairs and Festivals

Gordhan (Gobardhan)

Gordhan festival is celebrated on the sixteenth day in the month of Kartika i.e. just on the day following Diwali.  Gobardhan means 'prosperity for cows' and seems to have its origin in the Krishna cult.

On this day they decorate their cows and cattle and rub oil on their bodies and horns. The cattle are fed first of all in the morning and they are given green fodder, oil and sugar.  Cows are worshipped with the respect due to a goddess. 

The Bhils of Malwa sing to the cattle some anecdotal songs, known as Heeda. Figures of Gordhan are made by cow-dung on the ground and a series of earthen lamps are placed near them. Three figures are usually made, two of which are named Gordhan and the third one is called Chugalkhor Jamai (back-biter son-in-law).  It is interesting that these figures are made to be crushed by the hoofs of the cattle. Women treat the day as Suhag Padwa (blessed day).  While worshipping the Gordhan, women of Malwa sing the Chandrawali song, associated with Krishna's romance. The theme-structure in this song is about Chandrawali's husband, Gordhan.

The tribes like Gonds and the Bhumias play a passive part in this post-Diwali celebration. For the Ahirs, who  were the cowherd community it is the day for dancing and rejoicing. They offer coconut and rice to Kher Dev, the god of grazing ground.  They also paint their cattle, trim their horns  with  tassels and put garlands of flowers and cowries around their necks.

In some villages of Gondwana the ritual grazing of cattle is done on this day. The men who have vowed to do so for twelve consecutive years are called 'Mauniar'. During the day they must fast. They use a flute instead of a stick when  driving the cattle to the grazing ground.  They dress like men but wear feminine ornaments. The whole day they remain in  the jungle, grazing the cattle and may return to the village before dusk. Then they hang their flutes up in the house, take off their ornaments, wash their hands and take their first meal of the day.

It is believed that a man who has done this grazing on Diwali for thirteen years will be reborn as a cow, if after his death all the ceremonies and funeral feasts are properly performed.


Bhagoriah is celebrated just after Holi, in the month of Phalguna. Bhagoriah is held for the selection of spouses. Besides fun and frolic, the festival provides opportunity for taking revenge on the enemies.

Bhagoriah starts a week before the Holi festival. Normally, it is made to coincide with the market day of a particular place. It continues for the whole week and the assemblage shifts from one place to another, adjusting with the market days of the other villages of the region.

From early morning the enthusiastic villagers will come to the market place where the Bhagoriah festival is held. Each family coming down to participate in the festival may camp at a few places from the spot where the market is to be held. They carry with them a big drum which is a major attraction in the festivities. Old men and women stay in the camp itself, allowing the unmarried boys and girls to participate in the festival.

These young people go in separate groups to and fro in the market carrying with them gulal, a red powder. While moving about, the boys smear gulal on the forehead of the girls of their choice. The girls too return their love by applying gulal on the boy's fore-heads. If a girl does not reciprocate, it indicates her disapproval to become that boy's 'ladi' (dignified woman). The willingness is confirmed by making the girl eat 'majoom' (mixture of molasses, bhang and green colour). If the girl swallows majoom, she automatically becomes his property. Now they fix up a rendezvous. Here the girl conveys her verbal consent and both go to the boy's home. News of the girl's arrival is informed to her parents and if they agree, further steps to regularise the union are taken and they become husband and wife.

The day is also considered to be a day for taking revenge. Challenge to one's enemies is made when one dances in groups at the festival.