Dhar/Jhabua: Booze, traditional dance, shopping and loads of fun. This is what defines the Bhagoria, commonly known as tribals’ Valentine’s Day festival where young hearts meet and at times, decide to lead their lives together forever.
However, this time, with Lok Sabha polls just around the corner, the festivities in the Malwa-Nimar region of MP’s tribal heartland have yet another hue — politics.
The traditional fairs are held at several villages of Alirajpur, Dhar, Khargone and Jhabua on different days.
Revellers engage in dance and music and drink local liquor.
Bhagoria being the most important cultural and ancient event in the tribal turf, politicians are reaching out to the ethnic people and trying to be a part of their enchanting culture.
Recently, state minister Umang Singhar attended the event in Dhar and also danced to the tribal tunes on the occasion. Following suit, his party colleague and MLA Surendra Singh Baghel also reached the fair at Barvanya village in Dhar, while former Union minister and MP Kantilal Bhuria attended a Bhagoria procession in Jhabua.
Congress district head Mahesh Patel and MLA Mukesh Patel were also in attendance at the fair in Chhaktala village in Alirajpur on Sunday.
Members of Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti, who have announced their decision to fight the Lok Sabha polls alone after being snubbed by the Congress, were also seen taking part in the festivities along with locals.
The outfit, which primarily comprises progressive and educated youths of the ethnic community, has come up with the slogan ‘Ek Teer, Ek Kaman – Har Adivasi Ek Saman’.
The organisation has decided to field candidates from the tribal-dominated seats of Dhar, Ratlam, Khargone and Betul in the upcoming polls.
Meanwhile, with the Model Code of Conduct being in force, the administration is also keeping an eye on the proceedings during the Bhagoria fests.
To maintain law and order, the district administration has ordered that the festivities be held till 4pm only.
Along with banning weapons in the fairs, it has also been made clear that if any political party is found taking part in Bhagoria processions with party flags, expenses of the said event would be added into the election expenses of the candidate concerned.
However, the administration is also utilising this opportunity to raise awareness on voting and selfie points have been installed at fair sites to encourage people to exercise their franchise.
The annual Bhagoria festival is observed here ahead of Holi.
During the festivities, the star attraction is the running away of young boys and girls with their partners who are later accepted as husband and wife by society.
Usually, a boy puts red or pink powder on the face of the girl to whom he wants to get married. If the girl too wishes the same, she has to put the same red powder on the boy's face after which both of them run away from that place.
However, if the girl does not agree in the first chance, the boy can try to persuade her and win her heart.
However, progressive tribal organisations now disown the custom of eloping during the festival, saying that it’s a festival akin to Lohri in Punjab and follows the completion of the harvest period.
The fest that started on March 14 this year would culminate on March 20. The tribal festival is attracting a large numbers of tourists from various parts of India and abroad who are reaching the region to enjoy the gathering.