Ritugeet (Song of the Seasons)

“वादळन पाणीं ये, पाणीं आयो आंदाधुंद बाई….. नदी नरमदा ये, नदी आई भरपूर बाई नदीयारो पाणी. ये, गोडीयान आवरोछ बाई नदी नरमदा ये…. वादळन पाणीं ये, पार्णी आयो आंधा धुंद बाई…. नदीयारो पाणीं ये, छतीयान आवरोछ, बाई नदी नरमदा ये नदीयारो पाणीं ये, गळेण आवरोछ, बाई नदी नरमना ये कु लंगीया ये, नदीया आयी भरपूर” [Courtesy: Recording – Wali Yadi]

Meaning: This song describes a day of rainy season. A huge storm is in progress. Very heavy rains are lashing on the earth. How can I cross the Narmada river? The water is fast rising and now has reached up to the neck level. The Narmada is in spates. It seems difficult that she will recede (early).


झर मरीयार बरसो ये, नानी मोठी बुंद पडे, यारे मातेरी लोवडी भिज पडी। रंगा रंगाडा रंगीये ये, लोवडीरे भाते पड झरमरीया सनारडा घडरो ये आसळी से भात पड आज मारी अठंटवीरी नंद उडी। पळींयान गयती ये किचड÷ बोत हुओ, झरमरीया, किचड बोत हुआ पगला रपड पडो, बेडलो फुट पडों [Courtesy: Mrs. Vimal Rathod, Pusad]

Meaning: It is raining with intermittent sunshine. The rain is playing hide and seek. There are only some drops, big and small. The earth is covered with green layer. Who is the painter? He has coloured the earth same like my head cloth. Another concept is that there is an alternate play of rain and sunshine. This has given birth to a rainbow in the sky. Who is the painter that has painted the sky? I thought now there are no clouds, it will not rain; hence I went to fetch water. I reached the water source. Filled my pot with water and suddenly it started raining. I am totally drenched. There is mud everywhere on the road. I took the pot filled with water (Bedalo), slipped and the pot fell to the ground and is now broken; now what I should do?

Both of these Ritugeet are dance songs. The women perform group dance on the day of Teej festival. It is called as ‘Nacher.’ The festival of Nagpanchami (Sravan Shukla Panchami) also occurs during the Teej festival. Most of the married girls from the Tanda come back to their parental homes. They meet everybody once in a year on this occasion. This is a song called Hindola on the occasion:

“सांतळो हरीय पिळोनेरी वेल ये…. सातळों पाळीयान जाजो मोती बोलजो। ये सातळो सातळो धोयन जावजो मोती बोलजो। ये सांतळो एक लुंगेन दोई खाया ये….. ये सातळो हरीय पिळोनेरी वेल ये……”
Meaning: Oh, Dear friend! Our friendship is like the climber called ‘Pilol.’ It grows in a single place. Even though its branches go up to far away distance their origin is only one. Such is our friendship. We will be together for 4 days. Give me call when you go to fetch water and washing the clothes. We will go together. Even we will eat a clove by distributing it to all.

“असी धांदेप कु हिचु रे वीरा साकळ लगा। असे झाडेप कु हिचु रे वीरा नाटा लाग।”

Meaning: Dear brother, you have fixed up the swing for me. How should I take swings on such (weak) strings? Please attach strong big ropes. How can I swing on such a tree? Bring a strong log of teak from the forest.

“वीरेणा सागुणारी झाडी मत तोडो रे वीरेणा चांदी सोनेर खांब गाडो रे, सोना साकळ लगा ये मैं तो हिचति”

Meaning: Dear brother, do not cut the Teak tree for the swing. Instead use pillars of Gold and Silver for my swing. Also attach chains of gold to it and then I will swing on it.

“सांथळो मैं तों अंगणा थी खडी गणयारी नजर लागी मैं तो गिर पडी वीरा नाको मतरो मैं तो उठ खडी बापु लगायो सिडी मैं तो माडी चली काका लायो डमणी मैं तो र चली…”

Meaning: I was standing in the courtyard. A youth named Ganya was eyeing me. I became unconscious. My brother recited some mantras and I got up. Bapu put up a ladder and I went to the roof (of the house). Bapukaka brought a Damani (bullock cart) and I am off to the city.


Religious Songs

Gors are basically worshippers of nature. They traditionally worship the Sun and the Earth. In the course of time they started worshipping some Hindu gods and goddesses. The tribe had a custom of sacrificing an animal to keep the Nature calm. Maryamma Yadi came to rise during the period of Sewabhaya. Gor people worship him with devotion. Maryamma Yadi is the mother of all Gor people. She looks after upbringing of all. A goat is offered to her in sacrifice. The religious prayer on this occasion is:

“साई वेस मारी योडी मराम्मा बरकत देस, जीव जनगानीन साई वेस बाल बच्चान साई वेस आयो झकड कोटकन दुर करेस”

Meaning: Oh, mother please bless us, we should not feel scarcity of anything. Bless our cattle and look after our children. Remove the calamity befallen on the Tanda. Save us from any kind of storms and the like situations is our prayer at your feet.

Gor Banjaras sing thousands of bhajans based on the life of Sewabhaya. The bhajans are accompanied with instruments like Nagada, Thaali and Zaanj. The bhajans in praise of Sewabhaya and Maryamma Yadi are still sung in traditional style. They start with chanting of their names as ‘Sewalal Maharaj Ki Jai.’ There is a Bhajan Mandali (Group) in every Tanda in the city. The bhajans are sung in poetic language Ladi and Zamarka. Atmaram Rathod has written a biography of Sewabhaya.


One Ladi

ांगरुळ माताधुणी बळीये, रामजी नायक वत तांडो ढाळीये भुरी पठार ओरी धोळ हार फरेर, आणंदी आणंद वत करीये

Sewabhaya’s family lineage and birth story are given here:

“मराम्मा योडी जन्म कथा आप मराम्मा कला फेलाई छोई भेनेन सात लाई… चितूर गडेमा, वाया लगाई भिमान पंजो देगीय मारी माया”

In the Ladi and Zamaka style number of true-life instances are sung in the form of religious songs. The Gors later on started worshipping the Hindu gods like Krishna, Ram and others. And songs praising these gods follow this. Following is one of the form of Bhajan now being performed: “आंग आंग कृष्ण छ कन्हैया, लार लार बळीराम भैया रे… शोभ मोर पाक माथेन, घुंगराळी वासळी हातेम जंगलेम लेजारोचेर गैया…” [Premdas Maharaj, Wanolikar]

Meaning: The Lord Krishna is leading and brother Balram is following him. Krishna has adorned peacock feathers on his forehead. He is having a flute decorated with bells in his hand. Both the brothers are taking the cattle for grazing in the jungle.

Gor Banjara community is undergoing changes since last some years. The Gor Bhajan groups now sing religious bhajans. Competitions among these groups are held. Different types of Bhajans are composed on subjects like education, blind faith, prohibition, family, pleasure, agriculture etc. in order to uplift the community. The Bhajan programme starts with religious songs and then songs on social subjects are performed to make all aware about the issues.

Gor Dances
Men dance and sing only on the occasion of Holi. The girls and women dance on all occasions and festivals. Unmarried girls do not dance in Holi festival. They also do not celebrate Holi. The girls and women dance and sing throughout the night on the occasion of Teej, marriage ceremony, Sadi Taaner and on the arrival of Taangadi in the Tanda. There are 32 other dances, which the girls perform on the drumbeats. They bend their bodies in standing position and close their fists. Sometimes they open the fist and on the beats of the drum come near the drummer. When the beats change they change their body position. This dance may go on for whole night. The drummer and the dancers compete with each other.

“डफडा वजाये वाळो कोर छी गोर रे… डफडा सुदो वजारे वीर, तारे डफडाफ जोडु दोहेरी फुंदा रे…”

If the drummer is not performing well then,

गोळ छ ये गिलो, वजाय वाळो ढिलो…

Another dance is performed on the beats of Nagada. It is called as ‘Dodo Nangara.’ The women hold their hands in standing position above their head and move their waists in different formations in this dance. One or two women keep a utensil on head or take big plate underneath their feet while dancing. The dance goes on through the night accompanied with the sound of drum, sounds of the Wanadi ornament and bells put on their feet.

There is not much difference in the folk songs of Banjaras of different regions. The concepts of the songs are also almost identical. The only variation may be in the pitch of the voice (while singing). It is called as ‘Dhal Kadher.’ A difference in the singing style of folk songs is seen in Khandesh, Varhad and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. This difference must have originated due to change in the accent and sounds. The Gor Banjara folk literature includes Saki, Legends, folk tales and folklores.

Saki (Story) is of two types. One is called ‘Samler Saki’ means a story that is told and circulated. Another is ‘Olakher Saki.’ Banjara Boli is interspersed with numerous proverbs and phrases. I have mentioned some of them as follows:

1. “काळो घोडो हरियाली पुच, तोन न आव तो तार बोपेन जोन पुछ (उख)”

2. “झाडीम झटींगर बोल, ऊपर बोल काहु, आकलेरो पतो छोनी लडेन घणों भाहू”

Especially in Khandesh and Madhya Pradesh the story is presented through song in a specific style. It is called as ‘Airalu.’ E.g. ‘Aalha-Udal, Ejya-Sorath, Hiro-Diwani, Saleka etc. These stories are sung in a special raga. The singer presents it in poetic style. After sometime he explains the meaning to the listeners. It is called as ‘Aarthawani.’ In order to support the story-singer, other group singers engage in a dialogue with him. E.g. while describing a war or tragic love story, he stops the story mid-way and says:

“देक अन पच आंग धुंवाधार लढाई कस वच… कसो धर्मी राजा, सुरमा हातीया सेन सवारच,”

Such religious story-songs are performed after the installation of mud pot (Ghatsthapana) on Dussehra. They are called as ‘Ghat Jagayar.’


Lori Songs
The Lori and Children songs are very much important among the folk songs. There are similarities in Lori Songs irrespective of the caste, creed and culture. There is a specific rhythm in Loris. The words may not have meaning but its rhythmic sound itself is meaningful. The mother expresses her tender feeling towards her child while singing the Lori.

A Lori Song in Gor Banjara dialect:

“हालर गूलर खेतवाडी, बाळा सुतो झुजवाडी। हालर गुलर कुण करीय, राजारी याडी काम करीय। हालो किदी हालोडी, किडी काटी बालोडी। हातेम दंडीया सोनेरो, झगला सिडायो मसरूरो। निंदी आयी आकीन, कुण मारो मारे राजान।…..हालर गुलर”

Meaning: This Lori has a rhythm sound ‘halar-gular.’ Son, please go to sleep early. I have to complete the works and then go to the field. My dear, sleep in the swing like a king. If you sleep early then I will complete the daily chores. Today you are crying a lot. Did a Balodi (red ant) bite you? Dear son, you have a golden toy in your hand. I have put on velvet cloth on you. Now your eyes are closing. Did anyone beat you? Tell me, I will also beat him.

Zula Song (Gujrathi)

हाळोरे…..हाळोरे…..भाईन हाळोरे बहु वालोडा …गोरी गायना दुध भाई उथ भाई उमगते सुह हॉ हॉ हॉ टो

Zula Song (Rajasthani)

हुलरे नान्दा हुलरे बावा पीरे, थारो सोना रो पालनिया रेम गज की डोर

Lori Song

The beginning of the Lori song i.e. ‘haahore haaler gular’ is observed in Malawi dialect. The word ‘halo’ is used in Malawi-Nimadi for swinging [Malawi Folk literature by Dr. Shyam Parmar, page 117]. Along with the Lori the children are made to sit and taught the play song. This song is same in the Gor Banjara, Nimadi and Malawi language. This also denotes that this region is the original place of Gor Banjaras.

“आपडी तापडी सुवा मटोळी। हळदी माळदी गाठ गठोळी। आवे नार जावे नार दिवो वजाळ। हळदी माळदी गाठ गठोळी। दिवो गो राजा कण। माणिक मोती फुलो वघाड।”


’आटली माटली चटका जन्न, आवे नार जावे नार अगळा जले बगळा फुले।’


’इरींग मिरिंग लंगा तिरिंग,, लंवगा तिरका डूग डूग बाजा’


इरींग मिरिंग लंगा तिरिंग, लवंगा तिरिंग डूब डूब बाजा


चाऊ माऊ गाडर खाऊ, कान पकड घर मे लेजाऊ।

The acts like catching the ears while saying ‘aapadi-thapadi’ and ‘chau-myaun’ and then release them, or making a fist of one palm and catching the fist of another hand are taught in this song. All the participants are asked to sit in circular fashion and put their hands behind their back and then they are asked:

“तार हात कंत छ, उंदंर लेगो। उंदर कतछ, डलडाम। डलडा कर छ, पाणी भरागो। पाणी कत छ ढोर पीगे। ढोर कतछ, आपळ्या पिपल्या झाडी चडगे, झाड कत छ, बळगे, कोलिया कत छ, गडगे, राख कत छ, वडगी, दका तार हात, मिठाई मिठाईÇ”

Meaning: Where is your hand? The rat took away. Where are the rats? Hiding in the holes. Where is the hiding place? It is filled with water. Where is the water? Cattle drank it. Where are the cattle? They went up the trees and mountain. Where are the trees? They are burnt. Where is the ash? Dispersed by wind. Let me see, your hand, there are sweets in them.

Participants sit in circular fashion and hold a head cloth. In the game of ‘Chor Pakader’ a person sits in the middle to allot the turns. Another interesting and favourite game is handing over of the bangle. In the same manner, by sitting in a circle and identifying what is kept behind oneself without looking at it is also a favorite game.

“लार फरन देखीये, ओर वाकडीम बेसीय”

There are some of the many children song common in Malawi, Nimadi and Gor tribes. The game of ‘Sur Maarer’ is played as like the ‘Atya Patya’. Apart from this ‘Dapaka Khel’, ‘Charwaha Dhorkya Lathi Khel’ etc. are famous.

“आचा काचा परबत पाचा, पाची भाईरो लेनो देनो, मरीय कुणं बचीय कुंण, नानक्या भाईन आवदी रिस, मारो बुका पुरे वीस”देखो गिनोä शब्द बीस”

This way 20 strokes are given to a tree to count the number 20. The events like marriage are same like Nimadi-Malawi region. They include Jalawa Pujer, Pagalya, Sakya, Swastik Roop, Sakya Chauka, Wakeldi Dhoker, Joda Gokher, Doskya Foder, Maand Ramer, Doral Bandher Chhoder, Vadu Chhorin, Vaat Lagayer etc.

One more play song:

तार नाम कांई छ, तनकतारा। बाटी कतरी खायची, वीस न बार। पाणीं कतरा पीयची, तलावडी भर। कत सोयची, चुले कन। कांई ओढेची, ढांकळी। सासुबोढी पादळीं।


“घडी एक घोडलो थाम्बजारे सायरा बनडा”


“घडी एक छुट जोरे मारे बापुरो डोळीया”


“बनडी लतारा काकाजी बाग लगाये,”


“तारी विरारी बाग बनडी”


“वडलासु वधेस धुरलासु फळेस मारे बापुररी नंगरी”


“लाख गुणों वियो तो पेटम घालन समन्दर करल”


“लोक म्हारी कर करिया बेटी” ओ आसु दुःखडली मत दिजो हो।”

There is almost 90% similarity found in women songs, rituals etc. in Malawi and Nimadi folk literature and Gor folk literature. This similarity is also evident in Folk Tales, proverbs and phrases.

Folk Tales:

The Gor Banjaras originally hailing from Malawi and Nimadi are still living in Khandesh. When they return to Tanda in the rainy season they sing folk tales. They are of two types viz. Veralu or Ter and Kanhai. Under the Veralu type stories like Vinjua-Saurath, Hiro-Diwani, Salenka, Jaima-Paatmat are sung and in Manhai the story Alha-Udal is performed. In some Tandas a type of folk song from Maharashtra called Powada is presented. Shri Mishrilal Jadhav from Jamali, Dist. Aurangabad, sings the folk tales in a very sweet voice. I have listened the folk tales from him. It is a separate subject of research. The folk tales are lengthy in nature like the epics. I have given their references in order to introduce them.

Veralu: The singers sit in front of each other in semi-circle. They are in two groups. Leader of one group first sings a song then second group takes cue from the song. The songs are presented without using any musical instrument through Varai Raagas. People enjoy the songs very much. The main singer explains the gist of the song-story.



“छोरी सी हे ती बे, चरका कातय, मेरी, हिरो दिवानी सुत जो कातय, लडकी नित मेहुले मांईरे जे, जी।”

Salenka: This is also a wonderful love story. Here are some lines from this story, which is based on miracles and re-birth.

“बांत्रदले हारा, रा, बांदरा, तु नाचता क्यों रे नी तोसु पर तो, तुट ताण्डों रे, झड अंगार जी….” “कागद व तो गोरी वाचलु ये, करम न वाचे जाय। तार करम गोरी राज, लको, मार करम बनवास जी।”

Vijay Sorath-

“वळ को तो वळको वळख लीदो* ये सोरठ, वळ कोतो झुरलेरे मांई-सोरठ ये, वळक लीदो दावा यार ये।”

Kanhai: This folk tale is performed in the Tanda on the occasion of Teej festival. It is sung in the form of play-song as Alha-Udal’s story of bravery. It is also called as Dandiya Naach. Sometimes the Kanhai tale is presented in the form of dance-song with the wardrobe of Alha-Udal. Nagada is played in circular dances.,/p>

Alha-Udal: First prayer of the goddess:

“देवी धोकन कु हुरे, सब वाटर चले। पुरोहित बामन बनिया, सब वट चले। लुणी आलान लिजो बलान। मांद मांद घोड लावोरे, बुढीयारे बेटे-भांद भांद…… बेठे मेलुरे मांथ, गंडीया जो राजा वो, ओर राजेन गांडु गदीम खेल सकार।”

Folk Tale: A story is called as Saki in Gor Boli. It is further divided in 2 types viz. Samler Saki and Olakher Saki i.e. a listening story and identifying story. In Hindi it is called as Paheli Pehachanana.

Samaler Saki: Samaler Saki is related with King-Queen, Birds and Animals, Demon and Fairy etc. are abundant in Gor literature. Their main objective is entertainment and preaching.

Olakher Saki (Paheli-Quiz)

गावडी चाल, दुध पड (Grinding Stone)

इ गी उ आई, नगर (Air)

झारी आई झक-मक, तीन मुंडी दस पग (Water Mill – Spinning Wheel)

एक छोरा फर पगडी बांध (Bundle of Grass)

नानकीसी डबी म डब डब कर (Eyes)

कचोळीम पिसा मोजतु आयेनी (Stars in the sky)

नानकीसी डबीम तोताबाई नाचरी (Tongue)


The proverbs are called as Kewat in Malawi, Kayerwat in Nimadi, and Kelanwat in Gor Boli. There is similarity between Malawi and Gor Boli as regards proverbs and phrases. They express true-life experiences. In a way they depict life. Also they need similar amount of words for this purpose. The experiences we come across during life are expressed as Kenawat. Kenawat also gives sermon along with entertainment. Here are some examples.

कतरा मुतेर वेळा, ससीया उठेर वेळा एकच वेगी

कौआ बैठवी और टहनी टूटना यई गमाई वोई गमाई, दलडा माईर गोई गमाई। तेल भी गया, घी भी गया जांगडेती सत तो, बेटा सारु कसेन झुर ढाकडार तीन पान


Annexure I

Legends about the origin of Gor Banjara
Once upon a time a Kshatriya Rathod Lakhansingh from Khairgad (Marwad), a minister of Dhargad, prince of Pawar Lohansingh Pawar, Prince of Turigad Ranvirsingh Chavan, went to king Kanwarpal of Delhi for a function. At that time they spotted a lonely tribal girl in the jungle. The three princes abused her physically. The girl narrated the incident to her father who in turn went to the king and requested him to punish the three princes. The king thought that if the princes themselves indulged in such crimes then the people will no more believe the king hence he ordered all the three princes to leave the country (region). The princes obeyed the order and took along a chef; a Brahmin named Pandav Prasad, his wife and their son Bhauprasad with them and proceeded towards unknown destination. The three princes traveled on a horse while Pandav Prasad and his family on another and started living nomadic life. They wondered from jungle to jungle and reached Aravali Mountain. One evening they saw smoke billowing from the jungle. Since there is smoke there must have been a locality, they thought and started in the direction.

Meeting with Natha Labhan

They reached Khodapalli village in the mountain. A Tanda of famous trader Natha Labhan had settled on a plateau named Rakiban. It was rainy season. The Kshatriya princes reached the Tanda in the night. All the Tanda members gathered around them thinking that they might have lost their destination and reached the Tanda. Natha Labhan offered them shelter in Tanda. In the next morning the princes narrated their tale to Natha Naik. His Tanda had thousands of oxen and many hundreds of families. He was a just and kindhearted Naik. He was also in need of some people. He gave refuge to the princes in his Tanda. Since he was a trader (of Geru) there was no work on during the rainy season. The princes became one with the Tanda in these 4 months. They gathered all information about the trading and goods loading during these days. They used to spin yarn and take the oxen to the jungle for grazing and lived like Labhans in the Tanda. They won the heart of Natha Naik. They worked with Natha Labhan for the next whole year and learned everything related to the trade. In this way they became Khoradya Labhan with the blessings and cooperation of Natha Labhan. Natha Naik developed a separate Tanda from these people. Lakhansingh Rathod was nominated as the Naik of the Tanda.

Meeting with Nagaswami Baba

Geru was found in abundance in the mountain of Rajasthan and Nagaswami Baba living in these mountains claimed complete right over the Geru. Nagaswami Baba was a famous saint. He was well known among all the Tanda people. Many of these Tandas were engaged in the trade of Geru. One day Natha Labhan took these princes to Nagaswami Baba and introduced them to him. Princes started separate trade. Natha Naik himself took the responsibility and gave them Geru on credit for a year. In this way Lakhansingh started his new trade. Pandav Prasad looked after all the administration of the trade. Lakhanshingh repaid the debt to Baba within a year. Baba was pleased with them. Baba inquired more about them. All the 3 princes were of marriageable age. Baba also got to know about the lineage of Pandav Prasad. A Brahmin widow was living in a village at the foot of the mountain. She had 3 daughters and they had faith in Baba. Baba sent Pandav Prasad to the widow and called her to the Tanda. Hansadevi came along with her 3 daughters. It was a big responsibility for Hansa to marry off her daughters. Baba explained to her about the 3 princes. And she readily agreed to the proposal. Baba sent a message for Natha Labhan. Labhan was very happy when he listened to the proposal and the marriage of the princes with the 3 girls was fixed. Pandav Prasad decided on an auspicious time for the marriages. The marriages were performed in the Labhan Tanda itself. Naga Baba blessed the couples. Pandav Prasad performed the marriages according to Labhan tradition. Labhan’s Tanda now became independent. The number of his oxen grew gradually and so also the trade. Thus the princes became Labhans. Lohansingh’s wife delivered a baby girl after 1 year. Rathod and Chavan were also blessed with children after 2-3 years. The daughter of Lohansingh Pawar grew to be a young girl. The son of Pandav Prasad fell in love with the daughter of Bhanuprasad Pawar. A meeting of juries was organized to decide on this issue. (Continued…)