By Dr. Bhupendra Chaudhary
Jesawada (Dahod) Gujarat, March 30 : The Swayamvar ceremony of yore that allowed girls to choose their life partners from a host of willing suitors by garlanding, is still in vogue among tribals of Gujarat's Dahod District.
Known as Gud- Gadheda fair, the annual event is held during March, a week after Holi, the festival of colours at a small village of Jesawada in Dahod. It attracts a good number of prospective bridegrooms.
Unlike the Swayamvar of yore in which the girl chooses her mate, the one at Gud-Gadheda, it is the other way round with the girl being chosen by the victorious boy.
During the fair, a 40-feet wooden pole is planted upright in the ground around which unmarried girls while holding sticks dance to the rhythm of the drums. Later, the boys gather around the wooden pole and try to climb it, avoiding the possible beating with the sticks by girls.
The boy succeeding to reach the top of the pole and eat as well as distribute jaggery hanging there, is viewed as powerful, and thus, he chooses the woman of his choice to get married.
"It is a traditional and an old fair which has been in fashion since ages for village tribals and the neighbouring areas. People visit this place in search for suitable life partner. Though the fair has changed a lot since the time it started due to changing times, it still holds relevance for the tribals. Even when I was young I came to this fair, climbed the wooden pole and won my lady. Later, I got married and now I am a happy man," said Nagar Singh Kasnabhai, a local tribal.
"It is a traditional fair of the tribal communities living in this area. It is a marriage mart in which girls and boys choose partners of their choice. We have been following it incessantly since the times of Ramayana," said Rameshbhai Katara, the Village Head of Jesawada.
Prospective brides and bridegrooms converge here from far off areas to win perfect partner at the Swayamvar.
"We all come here to choose the partner of our choice. If we are unable to find one, we come here next time and then search for the one again. I have not found anyone suitable this time," said Urmila, one of prospective brides.
Besides, tribes from the adjoining regions, who participate in dancing, competitive sports, recreational events and various forms of entertainment, make the annual fair a charm for a huge number of people from neighbouring villages.
A huge number stalls are set up, where one can relish authentic traditional food or buy embroidered and handicrafts items.
A cattle show also coincides with Gud-Gadheda fair.