is a popular folk theatre form of Gujarat
. Jasma Odan
based on Gujarati folk tale, wriiten and directed by Shanta Gandhi
Shanta Gandhi was an Indian theatre director, dancer and playwright. She was a founder-member of the central ballet troupe of the Indian People's Theatre Association , and toured the country widely through the 1950s...
and Mena Gujari
produced by Deena Gandhi are some of most popular Bhavai musicals..
Veshas or Bhavai plays are also known as swang
. Bhavai originated in the 14th Century. It is said that Hemala Patel's daughter Ganga was kidnapped by a Muslim Subedar
Subedar is a historical rank in the Indian Army, ranking below British commissioned officers and above non-commissioned officers. The rank was otherwise equivalent to a British lieutenant and was introduced in the East India Company's presidency armies, to make it easier for British officers to...
from their home village of Unza. Their family priest Asait Thakar, a resident of Siddhapur, rushed to the subedar claiming Ganga to be his own daughter. Subedar asked Asait Thakar to eat from the same dish to prove that she is really his daughter. Asait obeyed, but incurred the ire of his own caste and was excommunicated as he had taken food with Ganga, who was of a lower caste. He started earning his living by performing plays which later came to be known as Bhavai.
The caste of the performers of Bhavai came to be known as tragala
. In one of his long poems Asaita has given the date of the composition as AD 1360. Asait wrote about 360 plays, out of which some 60 have survived. Some of these veshas bear his name. It is clear from the bhavai performance that this form must have evolved from earlier forms of folk entertainment. The word Bhavai in the sense of show or spectacle occurs in the 13th century Apabhramsa Jain religious verse. It says: "In a tree-less tract even a bunch of eranda (caster oil plant) makes a good show (Bhavai)." Abul Fazal
Shaikh Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak also known as Abu'l-Fazl, Abu'l Fadl and Abu'l-Fadl 'Allami was the vizier of the great Mughal emperor Akbar, and author of the Akbarnama, the official history of Akbar's reign in three volumes, and a Persian translation of the Bible...
’s Ain-e-Akbari also mentions Bhavai while mentioning some communities.
Bhavai is partly entertainment and partly a ritual offering made to Goddess Amba. In the courtyard of the Ambaji
Ambaji is a census town in Banaskantha district in the state of Gujarat, India. Ambaji is an important temple town with millions of devotees visiting the Ambaji temple every year. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas....
temple near Mount Abu the Navratri festival is celebrated with Bhavai performances. Amba is the presiding deity of Bhavai. Bhavai according
to some scholars is made up of two words - Bhava and Aai. Bhava means universe and aai is mother, together it means mother of the universe, Amba.
Subtle social criticism laced with pungent humour is the speciality of Bhavai. The pompous and incongrous behaviour of high caste people is scoffed at in Bhavai. Probably the anger over injustice suffered by the originator of Bhavai, Asaita Thakar, permeated the art of Bhavai. Some of the Bhavai plays present a scathing review of the caste-ridden social structure. People belonging to different levels of social strata ranging from king to knave are portrayed in Bhavai.
Bhavai Veshas portray people from all classes of society. The barbers, knife-sharpeners, robbers, bangle sellers and social and economic thieves, banjaras, odas, fakirsand sadhus, darjis. There is a Vesha depicting the story of ansuccesful love affair of a Bania woman and a
Muslim Thanedar. At the end of the play Jasma Odan, a Muslim fakir appears to whom people request to revive Jasma.
Humor plays a vital part in any Bhavai performance and comes into play even while dealing with mythological personages. This predominance makes Bhavai unique among the traditional arts of India.
The chief of the Bhavai troupe is called Nayak
Nayak, Nayaka, Nayakar, Nayakkar, Naik, Naiker, Naicker, Naickan, Naiken, Nayakkan, Naidu, Nayudu or Naidoo is a common title used by various caste and ethnic groups across India. They are all derivatives of the original Sanskrit Nayaka, meaning a leader...
. He first marks the performing arena, then offers kumkum to the oil-torch which is a symbol of goddess Amba and sings prayer songs in her praise. Then enters an actor covering his face with a plate, he is Lord Ganesha, the remover
of obstacles. Goddess Kali is the next to enter and after she departs comes the Brahmana. After these preliminary appearances the Vesha actually starts.
The Nayak and the jester always remain on the stage directing the course of action with their commentary and intervention. Through songs, dialogues, speeches in prose and verse the story unfolds. There is lot of dancing and singing in Bhavai. Female characters are acted by men.
The language of Bhavai is a blend of Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, and Marwari. Veshas were published for the first time in the nineteenth century. Past performances were linked to their predecessors through practice and the oral tradition.
The bhungal is a four feet long copper pipe that provides a strong note and is unique to Bhavai. The bhungals are played during dance sequences and otherwise to indicate important characters. Other musical instruments that form part of Bhavai are the pakhawaj (drums), jhanjha
Jhanjha was Shilahara ruler of north Konkan branch from 910 CE – 930 CE.Vappuvanna was followed by Jhanjha . He is mentioned by Al-Masudi as ruling over Samur in 916 CE. He was a very devout Shaiva. He is said to have built twelve temples of Shiva and named them after himself...
(cymbals), the sarangi
The Sārangī is a bowed, short-necked string instrument of India which is originated from Rajasthani folk instruments. It plays an important role in India's Hindustani classical music tradition...
(a stringed instrument), and the harmonium. The style of music is always Hindustani interspersed with local tunes.
Bhavai is also prevalent in Rajasthan as a spectacular folk dance. The Dance form consists of veiled women dancers balancing up to seven or nine brass pitchers as they dance nimbly, pirouetting and then swaying with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass or on the edge of the sword. There is a sense of cutting edge suspense and nail biting acts in the dance.In short Bhavai is reflection of our own society
- Bhavai dance
Bhavai is a genre of folk dance popular in Rajasthan state in western India. The male or female performers balance a number of earthen pots or brass pitchers as they dance nimbly, pirouetting and then swaying with the soles of their feet perched on the top of a glass, on the edge of the sword or on...
Ghoomar is a traditional women's folk dance of Rajasthan, India which was developed by the Bhil tribe and was adopted by other Rajasthani communities...
: Ghoomar is a traditional women's folk dance of Rajasthan, India.
- Rajasthani people
Rajasthani people are the native inhabitants of Rajasthan region of India. They form an ethnic group which is a result of assimilation of Scytho-Dravidian, Aryo-Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Indo-Scythian, Indo-Greeks, Indo-Iranians and Austro-Asiatic ancestries...
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...
- Pushkar Lake
Pushkar Lake or Pushkar Sarovar is located in the town of Pushkar in Ajmer district of the Rajasthan state of western India. Pushkar Lake is a sacred lake of the Hindus. The Hindu scriptures describe as it as "Tirtha-Raj" – the king of pilgrimage sites related to a water-body and relate it to the...
:is located in the town of Pushkar in Ajmer district of the Rajasthan state of western India. Pushkar Lake is a sacred lake of the Hindus.