Barwani, MP, Nov 6 (UNI) Deepawali -- festival of lights -- is celebrated in tribal-dominated Barwani, Dhar, Khargone and Jhabua districts of Madhya Pradesh in a unique way at a time convenient to them.
Former Sociology Professor M L Verma 'Nikunj', who has penned several books on tribal lifestyle, said tribals believe that the festival should not be celebrated if someone had died in the village in that particular month.
As such, Deepawali is generally celebrated in proceeding months.
However, it was not necessary that every villager celebrated Deepawali at the same time. The festival could be celebrated at suitable intervals as per their convenience.
Barela tribe observe the festival for three days. On the first day, the house is painted with cow dung. Later, 'diyas (earthen lamps)' are made out of cow dung.
Prior to the festival, an invitation is sent to other family members residing in other villages.
On this day, one member from every family goes to the house of the community head to make an offering of a casket containing one egg, jawar seeds and teakwood nails for prayer.
In case, egg is not available, a hen or a chicken is left at the community head's house and its nails are chopped. The chicken is then brought home and offered to 'Ayekheda Mata' -- deity believed for Deepawali.
On the first day, the teakwood nails are buried by the community head in a ditch to prevent the entry of evil spirits into the village. Later, prayers are offered at the deity's temple outside the village and a torch for prosperity is lit before the Goddess.
While returning, the torch is taken through the whole village and slogans such as 'Beria Beria Kurav (Let our torch remain burning)' are raised.
At the end, everybody gathers outside the community head's house and torch is put off.
On the second day, guests are fed rice and 'dal', while 'halua (sweet dish)' is included if the financial condition is good. After dinner, drum is beaten and crackers exploded, while dance and drinks continue till night.
Barela tribals stop using drums after Holi but pick it up again during Deepawali after offering one bottle of alcohol and sacrificing one hen.
A cow-dung 'diya' having four wicks is lighted signifying protection from all kinds of problems from every direction.
Meanwhile, tribal women remember their recently-deceased family members and weep for them.
The third day of the festival is reserved for cattle. Early morning, family head washes horns of bulls and colour them red using milk and 'geru'.
Later, family head and three other members offer bajra chaff in a 'tagari (iron container)' to the cattle with silver coins and jewellery and touch cattle feet.
No work is taken from bulls, who are decorated and made to run in a race in the village.
In the afternoon, a clay tumbler and a clay-horse is offered to deity 'Guha Baba' in a belief that he would protect cattle.
Barwani Government College's Assistant Professor (History) Sumer Singh, who has a wide knowledge on tribal ritual, said Barela tribals celebrated Deepawali within three months of 'Hindu' Deepawali.
Chiefs of about 10-15 villages sit together to decide a date for Deepawali because the festival is celebrated at a convenient time.