Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) Nov 9: 'Rawat Nach Mahotsav' is a glittering folk dance festival of the Rawats 'cowherds', which commenced on Dev Uthani -- the 11th day after Diwali and continues till a fortnight. It is a symbol of 'Shringar' (make-up) and 'Shourya' (gallantry). However, it is celebrated basically by Rawat community but it is felicitated as a folk festival. It joins people from every community of the society.
It was being celibrated for centuries with traditional fervour and gaiety. But in Bilaspur city it was being held in an organised manner since 1978 when a committee under the leadership of B R Yadav, a former minister in undivided Madhya Pradesh, was set up.It develops the brotherhoodness and healthy competition among the youth.
The musical instruments used in the festival were Dafra, Mihari, Nishan and Timaki. Every music band always accompanies a dancer termed as Pari, who donned ornaments and robes like a woman.
In the middle of the dance the band starts rhyming the verses of poet Surdas, Tulsidas and Kabirdas. Such verses represents the sour and sweet experiences in their lives. Their feelings for the prosperity and welfare of the society were represented in these verses.
The sacred 'Madai' is a significant substance made by a 15 feet long bamboo and decorated by a wild root 'Gondila'. It was designed by Baiga, Gond or Kewat tribals. When the group of Rawat dancers went to take a round of market then a dancer of that group danced by carrying Madai in his hand. Dancers donning colourful headgears and wearing tinkling anklets also wield lathis to exhibit their martial skills and every Rawat youth attempt to excel in the art.
The dancers were basically farmers and arrived from the remote areas to take part in the festival. The festival was completed in various stages -- Akhra, Baja Lagana, Dewala, Khachan, Suhai Sukhdhana, Ashish Vachan, Madai Bajar Bihana and Baja Bida.
Tens of hundreds of Raut dancers from remote areas participated in the festival every year.
Outstanding participants were also rewarded with cash prize.