During our descent from the topmost point at Kuntala Falls, we heard a few distinct drumbeats. At the bottom of the waterfalls, towards the ponds on the left, we noticed a small group of people – men and women sitting separately. It was amazing that they had found another way down this rocky terrain nestled in the forests. Perhaps, they know the forests like the back of their hand and are far more agile and sure-footed.
The people assembled here belong to the Gond tribe and have gathered to celebrate a festival they call “Bhimalpen”. The Gond tribes are of Dravidian origin from Central India, spread across the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra (Vidarbha), Chattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. In the Telangana state, they are mostly seen in the Adilabad district.
While a few men were playing the drums, a few others were cooking rice as offerings. They are said to use “ghatka” made of jowar(shorgum), on most religious occasions. At times, animal sacrifice is involved and chicken is usually preferred.
The Gonds worship many tribal deities like Pedda Devudu(Bada dev), Jangubai, Lingo and Bhimal, mostly for protection from theft and calamity as well as to appease the Gods for bountiful crop. Praying to Bhimal is usually in hope for a good rainfall. In the photograph above, the black pole that rests against the rock and smeared with orange(sindoor) is the deity that is worshipped.
This is my first encounter with these tribes and their festive ritual. I would have spent more time if I could. And hopefully some day I can spend more time and find out more about these tribes and their ways.