Within the Forested Regions, Among the Tribes – A Folk Saga

Of hopping into the urban scapes and dancing to the rhythm of the City life, I’d definitely tuned in my mind to choose yet another location this time to feel a slow life and the simplicity in the smallest everyday pleasures! My niche quite happens to contravene the 2 precedents- One being: The Cities & the other being the Rustic Streets, I somewhere quite love being in between the tuning of the fast-paced city life and the feels of the slow yet steady life experiences by the countrysides!

I’ve always wanted to explore the forests; even more, the people living in those forests. To no astonishment; this time I took off to the forested streets of Jawhar and stepped into the tribal habitats of the Warli Community!

***Essential Information –

  • Nearest Railway Station to Jawhar – Igatpuri (The places I covered were extremely remote and can be accessed only by roads) – The Village where the Church is located – CHISDA’

  • Mumbai to Jawhar – 121 km.
  • The Warli Community is an indigenous tribal community which had originated and is still found in the areas of Jawhar, Dahanu, Palghar, Talasari and in some villages of Gujarat. Lying in the bordering regions of Maharashtra, Gujarat & Dadra & Nagar Haveli, their language can be best described as a blend of Marathi & Gujarati. History prevails that the Warlis were involved in shifting cultivation & hunting which brought them to ‘present day’ settling down at the foothills of the Sahyadri range. ย The Warlis were originally hunters but today they are farmers and work according to the monsoon. Out of this primitive tribal community, what comes into the limelight is the ‘Warli Painting’ which is notable worldwide.
  • Their paintings date back to the 3000 BCE and are influenced by the seasonal cycle as their life around them is directly reflected in the paintings. Their paintings most widely use only these 3 shapes – Circle, Triangle & Square. Traditionally, only women practiced this art form on the interior walls of their mud houses. Since at that time rice was most easily accessible, they used the color white in their paintings, which was made from ground rice flour. They use a bamboo stick chewed at the end to make it as supple as a paintbrush. As time passed by, the men also began painting. To understand and enjoy the paintings of Warlis, one should know their religion, their rituals and see life from their perspective. The life of the Warlis is closely related to nature, they worship the nature in different forms โ€“ Sun and the moon, God of thunder, lightning, wind, rain, and several others. Gods are worshiped according to the seasons. For the Warlis, life is cyclic repeating it eternally. Circles best represent the art of Warli, which has neither an end nor a beginning. At all occasions โ€“ birth, marriage, and death they draw circles, a symbol of Mother goddess. Death is not the end for them; rather it is a new beginning. Similar to their religious beliefs the Warli paintings carry this circular and spiral movement that brings a sense of hope in their lively beliefs! The triangle in the Warli art is derived from the Mountains and the hills whereas there is a lack of information on the Squares being used in their paintings! The Warli Paintings are now regarded as the Cultural Intellectual Property of the Warli Tribe.

Also, Read – Tropical Maharashtra in Shades of Orchre

Landing into the gorgeous mustard mountainsides of Jawhar to inhaling the fresh air, I could sense serendipity everywhere. As I walked past the huts, I happened to locate a missionary church amidst the region, on getting curious; as I neared the entrance, a humble old lady called upon to me and warmly invited me to visit the church. Out of a mind full of questions, I entered the church and asked her about the culture they tend to follow! To which she replied that she belongs from the Warli Community (historically, which is supposed to follow Hinduism) but follows Christianity. She further explained that since the society didn’t quite accept their cultures and norms they happened to be neglected, but among the fortunate few, the Christians praised their social integrity and moderated them to follow Christianity. However, they quite obediently follow it and also preserve and secure their (tribal) cultural integrity! Hearing to which I appreciated her perspective of open-mindedness. While bidding her goodbye, when I asked her for a photo – she was reluctant as she wasn’t dressed well (she said)..however, later she agreed and gave a cheerful smile! Which, of course, made my day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Isn’t it amusing how people belonging from the mountains are so simple-hearted and delighted with whatever they have and pass their days with trifle definitions of everyday life?

I caught eye upon 3 school boys – (Ashish, Ankur & Pankaj) who were thrilled at the time when I asked them for a picture, Initially, were a bit shy but gradually opened up and taught me 2 words in their language: Warli.

  • ‘Aabhari’ – Thank You!
  • ‘Namastey’ – Hello!

Ankur, Ashish, Pankaj (left to right)

When I wished to know more about them..they said that they study in a Government school which is a Marathi medium institution and were very much eager to learn to speak English!

After all, everyone on this planet has the right to dream, and have access to its motivation..isn’t it..?? Traveling indeed leaves me speechless in the deepest of ways!

*Next time I visit, I intend to teach tribal kids some conversational English! Let’s together turn their dreams into a reality! Let’s bring out the heroism out of such heroes in our society. Let’s continue this saga for the sake of goodness and free-will.

While Ashish clicked the pic!

With fleeting conversations but a heart full of respect and honor, I headed towards the road, towards the mountains, in the direction of the flowing streams and stealing my steps to the warm climes of the flowing water, embarking yet in another journey..probably! somewhere to find yet another life lesson..another generous smile ..another innocence in the eyes!

Bidding them adieu!..I walked in seeking another soul searching chapter!

You there! Have you found a life lesson in your travels too?

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