THE TOLD AND UNTOLD STORIES OF DANG

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Colors of Culture and Heritage, The NamoLeague Times
Tags: , , , , ,
A SHORT ACCOUNT ON DANGS DARBAR: A FEATHER IN THE CAP OF THE DAZZLING DANG

It is always interesting to peep into the age old traditions and rejuvenate yourself. Gujarat offers innumerable such opportunities and is indeed vibrant. One such tradition dates back to almost 155 years, celebrated in one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat, the Dangs. The Dangs is home to the biggest tribal festival, the Dangs Darbar. Just like other festivals and fairs of Gujarat, this one too, has stories and beliefs attached to itself.

WHERE, WHEN, WHO?

Dang is located in the Saputara Hills of Gujarat. While, the exact venue for the extravaganza named Dangs Darbar is Ahwa, a small town and the district headquarters of Dang.

Dangs Darbar coincides with the festival of Holi in March-April. The celebration goes on for 3-4 days when thousands of tribal people from over 300 villages in Dang district descend on Ahwa to eat, drink and make merry. The actual fun starts a week in advance where the tribals purchase sweets, farsan, utensils, toys, cutlery, radio, tape, TV cassette recorders, clothes, articles of bamboo, household goods, ornaments, etc.

Most of the partakers of the festival are tribals, making it the biggest and most awaited time in Gujarat. Dang is the home of adivasis who have lived in the forests and highlands of the region from time immemorial. The tribal natives constitute nearly three-fourth of the population. Visitors, along with the tribal communities like the Bhils, the Kunbis, the Warlis and the Gamits throng the place.

UNMATCHED SHOWCASE

The spirit of festivity and pomp reverberates in the Dangs Darbar. The tribals appear in their best traditional attires. The atmosphere is marked by the sound of the drum and shehnai (a wood-wind instrument). All men wear lion clothes which are complimented with a waistcoat and colored turban. Women are robed in saree and blouse. They team it with numerous silver ornaments, of which they are very fond.

Apart from the rich display of the traditional arts and crafts of the tribal people, tribal dances of the region are also spectacular to watch. People move in concentric circles holding each other by the waist, dancing to the beat of drums and wind instruments. Many musical instruments are typical of this district. It also serves as a platform to search for brides and grooms for the local people.

THE BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL START

The most interesting part of the Dangs Darbar is the way it started. A bold and beautiful story unfolds as we peep into this traditional celebration that began years before independence.

The Dangs Darbar has drawn its name from the Ahwa Darbar, a one-time assembly (Darbar) venue for English ministers and mandarins during the British era. According to legacy of history, it is said that 5 Bhil kings ruled the Dang District, which was in ancient times known as Danda-Karanya, till the British arrived in the remotest part of Gujarat. However, they could never conquer the hilly regions of the Dang. So, they entered into an agreement with the Dangi Kings. In 1842, they executed a forest lease with these 5 Kings and Naiks in lieu of annual sum to be paid to the Rajas. This amount was paid by organizing Darbars.

It was considered a great honor to receive payment from the hands of European political agents. Thus began the Dangs Darbar more than 150 years ago, out of a payment to be made because of forest lease. The annual fair continued even after independence, though in 1954, the privileges of the Kings and Naiks were cancelled and instead hereditary political pension was granted to them.

CHANGED NATURE OF DANGS DARBAR

Today it is also called the Jamabandi Darbar, and the District Collector officiates it. The merchants and traders from different parts of the district arrive at the fair, displaying and exhibiting their products. It provides a great opportunity for the local merchants to mint money. People from Nasik, Surat and West Khandesh also visit the place in aspiration of good business.

An exhibition of local culture, tribal development schemes and forest environment is inaugurated during the Dangs Darbar. However, the customs instituted earlier, continues – to provide pensions to the Tribals (Daher, Gadhvi, Linga, Pimpri and Vasurna were awarded pensions in 2009). Various other schemes are implemented like the ‘Malki Plantation’ scheme in which tribals grow teakwood and other forest products in their land, for which they are paid by the Government under the scheme. Another such scheme is, ‘Mafi Kaat’ – about 225 tribals were provided with teakwood worth Rs 22.5 million free of cost to build and repair their own houses.

2011

Ahwa is all set for the festive look of the Dangs Darbar, starting March 16, 2011. A unique exhibition depicting the tribal arts and culture of Dang will be on display and a special program has been organized at the Saputara hill station on March 17. The tribal people of Dang and the visitors will have a chance to witness the traditional dance by the west zone cultural group from Udaipur. Also, a national photography competition has been organized wherein photographers submitted their work on the natural beauty of the Dangs, its wildlife, culture and tradition. The winners will be announced on the first day of Dangs Darbar.

We cannot afford to miss such a colorful festival. Worth an excursion this week-end!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=The%20Told%20And%20Untold%20Stories%20Of%20Dang_550

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