Bhil Tribe


Tribes in Madhya Pradesh

Bheel or Bhil community have more population concentration on north-west region i.e. Malwa-nimar region. In over all India, they have major concentration on western part of India which includes mainly districts of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan states. They are also found in some parts of Chattisgarh state. They have there own Bhil language in which they usually communicate. They are counted among tribal groups of India considered as followers of Hindu religion. There name Bhil is seems to be derived from word Billa or Bhilna which is indicative of sharp edge weapon. Bhils are often seen with bow and arrow thus this derivation seems to be in right direction. In Madhya Pradesh, Bhil community have major concentration in districts like Dhar, Jhabua, Khargone, Barwani etc. Here we can find main 3 tribes i.e. Bhil, Pateliya and Bhilala.


Reference of Bhil tribe comes in many Hindu epic literatures like Mahabharat etc. In past they had control over vast area of western India which includes areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. With the passage of time, they kingdom size reduced to hilly terrains, forested regions. Still they survived in the form of small groups who started ruling on alliance with powerful Rajpoot rulers and provide them man-power and soldiers during war situation. Thus during all major wars, they played important role like the famous war between Maharana Pratap and Mughal emperor Akbar. Here Bhil community supported Maharana Pratap. Even during British India rule, they contributed in freedom struggle in western Madhya Pradesh. One famous freedom fighter emerged during this period was Tantya Bhil who was also referred as Robinhood that that period. He was active in period of 1878 to 1889 and his news was published at The Newyork Time in November 1889 with title as Robinhood of India. He was tribal leader and active in western Madhya Pradesh and arrested from same region. Later prosecuted in Jabalpur (Jubbulpore) court and hanged till death in same Jabalpur city. His shrine exist at Patalpani region of Madhya Pradesh.

Bhagoria Festival

If you want well exposure about Bhil community dressing style, ornaments, facial makeups then must attend Bhagoria or Bhagoriya festival in Madhya Pradesh Here we will notice that they give more weightage to heavy silver ornaments and rarely find any ornament in gold. These ornaments enhances the beauty of Bhil women. Bhagoia festival is best to observe many dressing sense, ornamentation, social gathering, pairing of young couples, dressing style, striking colors of clothing and meal preferences. It is basically a harvest festival, celebrated in Malwa region. In Madhya Pradesh, we can observe such fairs in Dhar, Barwani, Alirajpur, Jhabua, Khargone districts. It is celebrated for 7 days, slightly before holi festival which means in the beginning of March month. There we will find people are coming well colorfully dressed, in the form of small groups from nearby villages and towns. It is a symbol of enjoyment in which it was observed that after gaining money, through harvesting, its time to do expenditure on necessary things at such fairs, meet your friend, relatives and also try to develop your social connection in the form of making new friends, finding soulmates, doing shopping and selling own products. 

Culture & Rituals

In order to understand the ideological richness of any community, try to observe there cultural ceremonies and rituals followed during such social programs. Bhils of Madhya Pradesh also very rich in there culture and ritulas. During social ceremonies, we can notice there dressing pattern, tattoo art, deities and myths. During child birth, it is social gathering time. Here baby child was laid on heap of maize. Food grains are symbol of richness and prosperity thus baby hand was touched with food grains and treated as auspicious act.  During marriage ceremony in Bhil community, we will notice there broad minded social rules in which girls and boys were given freedom to choose there life partner. In these tribes, they also have freedom to change there life partner easily which is uncommon in upper Hindu castes. They have separate set of ritual songs for child-birth and wedding periods. They also have there own dance pattern which is reffered as Garba dance and can be seen during marriage period.

Pithora Painting

Pithora painting is very popular in Madhya Pradesh and highlight of its cultural diversity. It can be well observed at Jhabua district in Central India. This painting is mainly based on surrounding nature and includes trees, wild animals, sun, moon etc. This shows how deeply they are connected with raw nature. These painting are made to worship there gods, derived from our nature. These paintings are also the pictorial narration of old dieties and stories. Thus these paintings carries multiple messages for vieweres.