History and Culture

Gavri: A Unique Face of Rajasthan


Rajasthan is not just about royalty and the Rajput Kings all the time; the state may also stand out because of the several highly aboriginal groups and tribes that are present, which makes it a very diversified state in terms of culture.

Gavri, which is a festival and a dance style celebrated by a community that is thought to be somewhat backwards yet indigenous and quite distinct from the royals, is one of the diverse things that comes to mind when addressing the variety.  The people that celebrate it with such tremendous excitement and fervour are known as the Bheel tribes, who are from the Mewar region.

This festival, which lasts for more than a month, begins on the day after Shravani Purnima, Raksha Bandhan, or Rakhi Purnima, which is regarded as one of the most auspicious festivals for brothers.

Where Did It Originate?

The word “Gavri” comes from the goddess Parvati, also known as “Gauri,” who is believed to be the wife of Lord Shiva. The Bheels believe that if they follow all the rituals, get rid of all their demons, and live a pain-free life now and in the future, Goddess Parvati will be pleased and bless them. The Bheels, who hold this belief, claim that Goddess Parvati enters the human body, announces the significance of the celebration, and blesses them after their purpose is satisfied. This is the belief that truly predominates in this holy festival.

According to another mythological and ancient tale, the demon Bhasmasur worshipped Lord Shiva and asked him for a wish: he wished to kill anyone while maintaining his hand on the victim’s head and burn him to death. He was given the wish, and as a result, he began abusing it, which caused him to kill many innocent people. In order to stop him, Lord Vishnu masked himself as a beautiful woman and tricked the demon into being killed. The demon then begged Lord Shiva for forgiveness and was granted forgiveness, and this sparked the beginning of the Gavri festival, during which the Bheel community honours the demon Bhasmasur and celebrates this grand festival every year.

Rituals Of The Gavri Festival

It is said that during the Gavri festival, participants must adhere to many strict rules, including refraining from eating any non-vegetarian foods, such as meat, and not consuming anything after sunset. They must sleep on the floor during this one-month period and are also prohibited from taking baths. This festival is all about dance and drama, and the Bheel community is noted for its distinctiveness because they stop working as farmers during this month and only resume farming after this festival is over.

The Gavri festival is a celebration of devotion to Lord Shiva, and the wonderful Bheel community participates in all the rituals. They celebrate it because they believe that by following the strict and unusual rituals they perform during this festival, Lord Shiva will be pleased and bring rain during their sowing season. They also believe that this will result in a prosperous year that will bring happiness to their lives and allow them to live a year with plenty of food. The celebration’s motivation is very intriguing, and they regard it as an integral element of their culture and an ancient tradition.

The men participate in this festival by donning makeup and doing a variety of performances based on numerous myths and historical sagas that are pertinent to it, and it is undoubtedly a wonderful event to remember. In addition to acting in various colourful costumes and creating several made-up representations of Gods and Goddesses, they also sing and dance during the festival’s various comical segments. They also portray numerous characters of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, who are regarded as the festival’s central figures, and attempt to promote the message of love, devotion, and faith to the public. This may be one of the most significant messages of humanity spread through “Gavri .”

Different Characters Played In Gavri

Gavri Rituals

People who participate in the Gavri festival, play a variety of roles and dress up in the form of humans, animals, demons, gods, and goddesses. One unique feature of this festival is that only men can play Gavri with absolutely no female actors at all. All the characters are played by male actors only.

Gavri is not a type of folk dance or an artistic expression; instead, it is an ancient ritual carried out by members of the Bheel Community in order to obtain Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s blessings in exchange for a life free from obstacles, misery, and pain, as well as a good crop during the season. Hence, this festival is all about faith and dedication, which is presented in the form of singing and dancing.

Gavri These Days

The Bheels are not very wealthy because they depend on farming and tedious labour, so celebrating Gavri in an elaborate manner is actually out of reach for these people and eventually causes the community to dissolve because there are so few people left who can afford to spend more than 20,000 rupees on costumes and makeup. In fact, there are many Bheel villages in the Mewar region where the celebration has not even begun.


When Mewar’s Gavri Traveled To The National Capital

Rajasthan is a state of culture, heritage and royalty, and primary among the attributes of the state, is the kingdom of Mewar, the place where festivals, tribes, rituals and folk mingle together to form a diverse view of culture and lineage.

An American photographer, Waswo X. Waswo, has done much to promote the regional culture of this land. His latest effort, in collaboration with local photographer and artist Rajesh Soni, has been the book and various exhibitions titled “Gavri Dancers”.

Waswo works in the vintage studio portrait mode, making images with painted backdrops at his studio in the Village of Varda. He then prints black and white photographs that are hand-brushed with colour by his long-time collaborator, Rajesh Soni, a third-generation Udaipur photo hand-colourist.

A recent show has just opened close to New Delhi, presented by Gallery Latitude 28 in the large galleries of Museo Camera, Centre for the Photographic Arts in Gurugram. The exhibition is called “Gauri Dancers: The Opera of Mewar”.

Before diving into the event, let’s reconcile what exactly Gavri is.


  • In the versatile land of Mewar, prevails a tribal dance form known as Gavri, Gavari or Gauri.
  • The folk dance is treated as a festival by the Bheel tribe of Mewar.
  • They perform and celebrate the dance ritual with full joy coupled with spirituality.
  • The festival is significantly celebrated on the next day of Shravani Purnima or Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi Purnima.
  • Young boys and men of the tribe dress as females and perform the dance form, village to village, telling stories through their folklores and tales.


  • The art is being presented by Gallery Latitude 28 in the large galleries of Museo Camera, Centre for the Photographic Arts in Gurugram.
  • The exhibition commenced from September 17, 2021 and will close on October 17, 2021.
  • The display of such extensive documentation of a little-know tradition to the Delhi crowd attracted and drew the attention of New Delhi’s art community and high society.
  • Waswo even brought a group of farmers from the village of Boro Walla Madri to make the traditional Gavri elephant within the gallery, symbolically marking it as a ritual performance.
  • The elephant was made up of grass straws, three cots, bangles, and other village materials.
  • The tradition of Gavri is almost unknown known outside Mewar. The seventy-five photographs in this exhibition and book are beginning to change that.
  • Each of the 75 black and white photographs you’ll find in the gallery have been patiently hand-tinted by Rajesh Soni, a well-known artist from Udaipur.


Rajesh Soni is from Udaipur and is a third-generation photo hand-colourist, primarily known for his abilities to hand paint digital photographs. His grandfather was Prabu Lal Verma, a court photographer to the Maharana Bhupal Singh of Mewar.

Waswo X. Waswo was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the U.S.A., and studied photography in both his hometown and Florence, Italy. He has lived and travelled in India for over twenty years and has made his home in Udaipur from the past thirteen. Waswo is known as an artist who collaborates with local artists and miniaturists. Waswo X. Waswo’s series on Gavri began over ten years ago. His style is to capture portraiture with natural light and an eye for detail. Though he shoots his portraits in a studio, he does his best to capture the naturalistic moment.   

In 2019 the duo of Waswo X. Waswo and Rajesh Soni created the first full-sized hardcover book on Gauri Dancers, published by Mapin, India.

When Mewar’s Gavri travelled to the national capital, it was definitely a proud moment. The collaborators from our city are on a mission to promote and elaborate the art and culture of Mewar throughout India and the world. Amidst the times when we are losing touch with our history and culture, this exhibition has reminded us to stick to our roots and be proud citizens of Mewar.


गवरी (Gavri) – मेवाड़ का पारंपरिक डांस थिएटर फॉर्म

राजस्थान न सिर्फ अपने कल्चर और रजवाड़ो के लिए बल्कि फोक म्यूजिक और फोक डांस के लिए भी जाना जाता है। इन्ही में से एक है मेवाड़ का ‘गवरी’ नृत्य। हालाँकि इस पर हुई रिसर्च के बाद ये साफ़ हुआ है कि ये सिर्फ नृत्य में नहीं है दरअसल गवरी एक म्यूजिकल ड्रामा है जो मेवाड़ में भील कम्युनिटी कई सौ सालों से इस परंपरा को निभाती आ रही है।

photo credit : Traditional Indian Music

गवरी शब्द माँ गौरी से निकला है। गौरी माँ यानी माँ पार्वती जिसे भील जनजाति देवी गौरजा नाम से पुकारते है, उनके अनुसार श्रवण मास की पूर्णिमा के एक दिन बाद देवी गौरजा धरती पर आती है और धरती पुत्रों को आशीर्वाद देकर जाती है। इसी ख़ुशी में ये लोग गवरी खेलते है।

भीलों में एक कहानी बड़ी चर्चित है। कहानी के अनुसार भगवान् शिव से सृष्टि निर्माण हुआ है। पृथ्वी पर पहला पेड़ बरगद का था जो कि पातळ से लाया गया था। इस बरगद के पेड़ को देवी अम्बाव और उसकी सहेलियां लेकर आई थी और इन्होने उदयपुर के हल्दीघाटी के पास स्थित गाँव ‘ऊनवास’ में स्थापित किया जो आज भी मौजूद है।

राजस्थानी भाषा में ऐसे नुक्कड़ पर गानों के साथ किए जाने वाले नाटक को ख्याल कहा जाता है। ख्याल एक तरह की नाटक शैली है जैसे जयपुर में तमाशा है। गवरी भी ख्याल ही है।

photo credit : Pramod Soni

कैसे शुरू होती है गवरी

भील लोग गौरजा माता के देवरे जाकर पाती(पत्ते) मंगाते है। ‘पाती मांगना’ मतलब गवरी खेलने की इजाज़त मांगना होता है। पाती मांगना एक परंपरा है जिसमे देवी की पूजा की जाती है उसके बाद उनसे गवरी खेलन के लिए पूछा जाता है। देवरे में मौजूद भोपा में जब माताजी प्रकट होती है तो उनसे गवरी खेलने की इजाज़त मांगी जाती तब जाकर गवरी खेलना शुरू होता है।

ये खेल नहीं आसां बस इतना समझ लीजे –

ये भील लोग 40 दिनों तक अपने-अपने घरो से दूर रहते। इस दौरान ये लोग नहाते नहीं है, एक टाइम का खाना खाते है और हरी सब्जी, मांस-मदिरा से परहेज रखते। यहाँ तक की ये चप्पलों-जूतों को त्याग देते और नंगे पैर घूमते है। इनका ग्रुप हर उस गाँव में जाकर नाचता है जहाँ इन लोगो की बहन-बेटी ब्याही गयी होती है। इन 40 दिनों तक ये दुसरे लोगो के घर ही भोजन करते है। गवरी के बाद उसे न्योतने वाली बहन-बेटी उन्हें कपडे भेंट करती है जिसे ‘पहरावनी’ कहते है। एक ग्रुप में बच्चो से लेकर बड़ो तक कम से कम 40-50 कलाकार तक होते है। ये सभी कलाकार पुरुष होते है और इन्हें ‘खेल्ये’ कहा जाता है। एक गाँव हर तीसरे साल गवरी लेता है।

गवरी के अलग-अलग पात्र

‘बूढ़िया’ और ‘राईमाता’ – ये दो मुख्य पात्र होते है । बूढ़िया भगवान् शिव को कहते है और राईमाता माँ पार्वती। इसलिए दर्शक भी इन दोनों की पूजा करते है। गवरी का नायक बूढ़िया होता है जो भगवान् शिव और भस्मासुर का प्रतीक होता है जो हाथ में लकड़ी का बना खांडा, कमर में मोटे-मोटे घुंघरू की बनी पट्टी, जांघिया और चेहरे पर मुकौटा लिए होता है। ये बाकी पात्रो के विपरीत दिशा में घूम कर नृत्य करता है। राईमाता नाटक की नायिका होती है। चूँकि सभी कलाकार पुरुष होते है इसलिए राईमाता का किरदार भी एक पुरुष कलाकार ही निभाता है।

अन्य प्रमुख किरदारों में झामटिया और कुटकड़िया होते है ।

photo credit : Fouzia Mirza


photo credit : Fouzia Mirza


गवरी में खेले जाने वाले मुख्य खेल इस प्रकार है –

  • मीणा–बंजारा
  • हठिया
  • कालका
  • कान्हा-गूजरी
  • शंकरिया
  • दाणी जी
  • बाणीया
  • चप्ल्याचोर
  • देवी अम्बाव
  • कंजर
  • खेतुड़ी और
  • बादशाह की सवारी
  • एक ऐतेहासिक खेल भी होता है जिसे बीबी,बादशाह और महाराणा प्रताप नाम दिया गया ।



गवरी का समापन ‘गड़ावण-वळावण’ से होता है। ‘गड़ावण’ के दिन पार्वती माँ की मूर्ति बनाई जाती है और जिस दिन इसे विसर्जित करते है उस दिन को ‘वळावण’ कहते है। गड़ावण के दिन शाम में गवरी के कलाकार गाँव के कुम्हार के पास जाते है और उनसे मिट्टी के घोड़े पर बिराजी गौरजा माता की प्रतिमा बनवाते है। इस मूर्ति को फिर घाजे-बाजे के साथ देवरे ले जाया जाता है जहाँ रात भर गवरी खेली जाती है। अगले दिन गाँव के सभी जाति के लोग मिलकर गौरजा माता की यात्रा निकालते है। प्रतिमा को पानी का स्त्रोत देख कर वहाँ विसर्जित कर दिया जाता है। इसके बाद इन कलाकारों के लिए उनके रिश्तेदार कपड़े लाते है जिसे ‘पहरावनी’ कहा जाता है। विसर्जन के बाद लोगो को पेड़ो की रखवाली का सन्देश देने के लिए नाटक ‘बडलिया हिंदवा’ खेला जाता है इसके आलावा ‘भियावाड’ नाटक भी होता है।

और इस तरह लगातार 40 दिनों तक की जाने वाली गवरी का समापन होता है। इन 40 दिनों तक कलाकार पूरी तरह से अपने पात्र को समर्पित रहता है और उसके साथ न्याय करता है।

गवरी  के बारे में कुछ जानकारियों के लिए राजस्थान स्टडी ब्लॉग का शुक्रिया।


Gavari – A Dance Drama of Bhils

Gavari Performance
Photo Credit:

Vibrant, vigorous and graceful! Folk dances of Rajasthan performed gracefully by the colorful crowd punctuate Rajasthan’s barrenness, turning even the deserts into fertile basin of limitless colors and variations of the amazing folks living here. One of these rich festivals is GAVARI, which is a distinct art form found in the cultural heritage of the Bhils who express the devotion and faith to Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati through Folk Dance, Music and Folklores. It also symbolizes human love for forests, animals and people. Quite unique and impressive, isn’t it?

Rajasthan encompasses numerous tribes having distinct identities in term of costumes, dialects, beliefs and arts. People have nurtured a splendid tradition of folk songs and folk dances of which Gavari is unique in itself which is celebrated by Bhils. The Bhils are the original inhabitants and tribal of Mewar- Vagad area of southern Rajasthan which was gradually conquered and inhabited by Rajput kings and other northern settlers around 3rd to 4th century BC.

After the monsoons, in the months of September and October the forty-days-festival “GAVARI” is celebrated by Bhil tribe in Udaipur, Rajsamand and Chittor districts of Rajasthan. Whole male folk, even children participate in this dance-drama symbolizing a healthy environment and it intends to ensure the well-being to the community and the village. While only Bhils perform them, other castes attends the performances and offer donations. During this period, people do not eat any green vegetables, stay away from alcohol and avoid being non-vegetarian. They sleep on grounds and avoid taking bath (except on Dev-Jhulani Ekadasi).

gavari mewarGavri Mewar – via:

There is no definite origin of gavari. Some beliefs say the story of demon Bhasmasur who worshiped Lord Shiva, who pleased with bhashmasur’s devotion, granted him a strange wish that whenever he keeps his hand on anyone’s heads that person will die burning in fire. Thereafter, Bhasmasur started misusing the grant by killing innocent people on earth. Lord Vishnu to resolve the problem transformed himself into a beautiful woman named Mohini – the dancer and went to Bhasmasur. Bhasmasur fascinated by her beauty started imitating her dance and kept his hand on his head to copy mohini, thereby departed his life.

Bhasmasur’s soul asked forgiveness from lord Shiva and appealed Lord to keep him alive in minds of people in return of his great devotion. Lord Shiva thereafter declared that, for paying homage to a great devotee like Bhasmasur, Gavri will be celebrated every year. Since then this fest is organized in the region of Mewar by the Bhil Community.

According to another belief, Lord Shiva had been ruler of Mewar ever since times unknown.  Eklingji, a place about 17 km. away from Udaipur, was believed to be his holy abode. Once, Goddess Parvati, his spouse, had gone to visit her father’s home for a long period of a month and a quarter. Deeply in love with his wife, the long separation ran Shiva into deep melancholic mood. To amuse him, the devotees Ganas (who were Bhils) devised an entertainment program made up of dancing, singing and theatrical activities. The event eventually became ritualistic and took form of Gavari, which is now an integral part of socio-cultural and religious life of the Bhils.

In this folk play there are four kinds of characters – dev, humans, demons and animals. The RAI and BURIYA are the two main mythological characters to form the GAVARI, Bhil ritual performance. In GAVARI dance-drama group, there are two RAIs in form of PARVATI (GORJA) and MOHINI goddesses in female costumes who always stays or sits in the centre of the performing circle. The BHURIYA as Bhashmasur – keeps a wooden mask of black surrounding bull tail hair on his face and carrying a wooden stick or “Chhari“, always walks in opposite direction to other performers. The other priests as Bhairon and goddess Mata, stays with RAI as a guard to her.

Mostly in the day time they perform GAVARI in the village where they enact different mythological and social episodes with MADAL and THALI as their main musical instruments. People go from village to village, especially to the villages where their daughters and sisters reside after getting married.

gawri udaipur
Photo by: Pramod Soni

Any open space can serve as a stage. For five to six hours each day; the troupe performs a series of episodes. On two occasions the festivity lasts all night. Like many Indian rituals, these scenes blend secular, folk, and Hindu epic characters with references to local daily life. Despite some comic scenes, the Gavari ritual is generally solemn, ending with the appearance of gods and goddess, and often including trance among both performers and audience.

In Gavari, the last day of performance, rituals the Bhil Gavari players also dance and perform in the night as night awakening rituals. With other legends, they also perform the “Hiraniya Bhoot” or ghost performance in which two artists plays the role of ghost in which they covered the body with the grass.

Gavari is played so skillfully by these tribal people that it produces the impact of an eye catching scene, the magical effect of which makes the viewers stop and stay on to watch it and get engaged until the episode reaches its end. Gavari, not only holds its audience spellbound for whole day long, but also refreshes and energizes performers as well. Gavari is thus a valuable cultural inheritance bestowed by the tribal from one generation to the other and from one century to the following one.

Featured Photo Credit: