People, Culture, Festivals of Dadra & Nagar Haveli



The people, culture, festivals of Dadra & Nagar Haveli together present a colorful kaleidoscope. The union territory has a population of 2, 20,451, according to the census of 2001 among which 23 % of the population are urbanites. 62 % of the people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli belong to various tribal groups.

The major tribes include Kokana, Varlies, Koli, Dhodia, Kathodi, Naika and Dublas. The tribals have their distinct culture and sets of rituals that vary from community to community. Folklores flow in he air as they strongly influence and control the expected behavioral patterns within the society. Songs and dance are an inevitable part of these tribal groups and practically each occasion, be it harvest, marriage or death, is accompanied by various forms of music.

Apart from the tribes of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the population comprises of people belonging to various religious sects and they maintain communal harmony among themselves. They have their own sets of festival with distinct rituals. However, the majority of the population are Hindus, which counts to be over 95 %.The tribes have their individual languages though Bhili and Bhilodi are mostly common. English is used for official purposes and the languages of Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati are widely popular, especially among the urbanites due to the proximity to the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The people are hardworking and simple in their way of life and live within closely knit bonds of family. Along with the people, culture, festivals of Dadra & Nagar Haveli, the color of the denizens of Dadra and Nagar Haveli spreads in their distinct food patterns, crafts, and even sports and other forms of entertainment.

Tribes in Dadra & Nagar Haveli



This Union Territory of the country of India was initially ruled by the small tribal community called Kolis. Stretching over an area of 491 sq. kms, the land is home to a number of tribal communities. The area has got a tribal population of more than 62 % of the total population. With a majority of tribal population, this territory is regarded as one of the tribal areas in India.

Major tribal communities in India

The major tribal groups residing in this territory since time immemorial are as follows:
  • Dhodia

  • The Dhodia of Dadra and Nagar Haveli belongs to a tribal group and have their own sets of customs, songs and dances, rituals, myths and folklores that are interesting in their own way. The people belonging to this ethnic group are related to the Bhils and speak Dhodia, which is a Bhil language. The Dhodia consider them as being of a higher class than the Bhil groups. They do not use the characteristic bows and arrows like the other Bhil groups. The Dhodia of Dadra and Nagar Haveli restrict their association with other Bhils.

    Usually the Dhodia of Dadra and Nagar Haveli would be polygamous and they literally 'buy' their wives even before the girls are mature enough for marriage. On the death of a women's husband, she is liable to be married to the next brother of her deceased husband and continue to live in the same house and family. The Dhodia follow many of the festivals of the Hindus. The Dadra and Nagar Haveli Dhodia tribe celebrates Raksha Bandhan just like the Hindus. Communal feasts and fishing together are, however, very common.

    Over the years the Dhodia in Dadra and Nagar Haveli have become more advanced and has come out of the practice of nomadic lifestyle. They have settled much in farming and other professions. Many of them, now, live an urban life. Mainly an agrarian tribe, the Dhodia of Dadra and Nagar Haveli practice fishing and hunting as alternative professions.

    The Dhodia of Dadra and Nagar Haveli dress in bright clothes and ornaments made of beads, silver and colored stones. They live in small huts made of thatched mud or with bamboo and tiles on roof. They are still very superstitious and believe in deities made of painted wood or stone. Many of them are also addicted to country spirits. They are members of the scheduled tribes of India.

  • Dubla

  • The Dublas of Dadra and Nagar Haveli belong to a tribal community group and are originally related to the Bhils. The Dublas are settled mainly in the northern part of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and speak the language of the same name Dublas which is a Bhil language originating from the Indo-Aryan linguistic group. The Dublas are usually short in physical stature and dark in complexion.

    Basically, an agrarian community the modern day Dublas work as landless agricultural laborers, casual laborers, servants and such other menial jobs. This ethnic group comprises a total of 2.29 % of the entire scheduled tribe population in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. They can be divided into as many as twenty sub - groups, of which the Talavias socially rank the highest.

    The bonds and community feeling runs high among the Dublas in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and they prefer to stay in clusters near to each other. They build small thatched huts, made of mud. The Dublas men would traditionally dress in shirts and dhotis and the women drape knee - length sari colored brightly. The Dublas women would cover their head with the palloo or end of their sari. They beautify themselves with chunky jewelry pieces adorning various parts of the body from head to toe. Most of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Dublas tribe follow Hinduism and like a Hindu would follow a Bhagat who would double as a priest and medicine man. The Dublas of Dadra and Nagar Haveli loves to sing and dance. The Tur dance or Thali dance are widely performed among this tribal group mainly during marriage and other auspicious occasions.

  • Kathodi

  • Kathodi is one of the tribes living in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The Kathodi tribe is less in number compared to other tribes in the area. As per 2001 census, the total population of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is 2,20,451. The population has increased 60 % over the last census held in the year 1991. It is a land of tribals comprising of 62 % of the total population. The density of population is 449 persons per square kilometer and the literacy rate is 60.03 %.

    The majority of the population in Dadra and Nagar Haveli follow Hinduism, which is nearly 95% of the population. The main tribes of the region are Kokna, Varlis and Dhodia. Apart from these three tribes, there are other tribes namely Kathodis, Kolghas, Dublas and Nayakas. Kolghas and Nayakas form nearly 3 % of the total tribal population in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The principal occupation of the people living here is agriculture, but since there is a dearth of land holdings, many of them are employed as farm laborers in the lands of others. They even or try to find service in other areas.

    Dance and music form an inseparable part of the culture of Kathodi tribe. They are shy and peace loving tribal people living a very simple life by following their culture and traditions. The Kathodi tribe lives in the forests and depends on the forests for their livelihood. Most of the people are involved in profession of making catechew or katha.

  • Kokna

  • The Kokana of Dadra and Nagar Haveli constitute 16.85 % of the total tribal population in the union territory. Settled mainly along the foothills of the Western Ghats, they are mainly an agrarian community and mostly cultivate paddy. The Kokana have their own set of rituals, custom and culture that differentiate them from the other tribes in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The Dadra and Nagar Haveli Kokana mainly follow Hinduism and as such resemble in many Hindu festivities. The festivals celebrated by the Kokana include Diwali or Barash, Kaali puja, Akhatrij and Graam Devi or the presiding deity of the individual villages.

    The Kokana men of Dadra and Nagar Haveli dress traditionally in dhotis that continue till the knees, accompanied by a small waist coat or a shirt and a turban to cover the head. The Kokana women wear full length saris and love to adorn themselves with ornaments. Use of permanent tattoos or body art to adorn the forehead and other parts of the body are common among the Kokana in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

    The Kokana of Dadra & Nagar Haveli thrive on singing and dancing. They perform various musical forms centered around almost every walk of life. The Bohada dance is performed with masks resembling Indian mythological characters. They are sculpted out of a single piece of wood and adorned with bright paper cuttings and bamboo strips. The Kahali, Sur and Sambal instruments accompany with the Kokana Bohada Dance. The harvest dance of Tarpa is also commonly performed, especially during the months of September till Diwali.

  • Naika or Nayakas

  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli is a tribal area, where the major portion of the population comprises of tribal people. The major tribes of the region are Dhodia, Kokna and Varli. Some of the other tribes living in the area are Koli, Nayakas, Kolghas, Kathod, Naika and Dublas tribes can be found all over the territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Naika is one of the tribes that live in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. This tribal population is less compared to other tribes in the union territory.

    According to 2001 census, the total population of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is 2,20,451. The population of the region has risen by 60 % after the census that was held in the year 1991. The tribal population constitutes of 62 % of the total population. The density of population is 449 persons per square kilometer and the literacy rate is 60.03 %. Most of the people in Dadra and Nagar Haveli are Hindus, which is nearly 95% of the total population.

    The principal occupation of the people in the region is agriculture, but since there is scarcity of land holdings some people are employed as farm laborers in the lands of others. They even or try to find service in other areas. Dance, music, handicrafts, and folklore form an inseparable part of Naika tribe. The tribals are innocent, shy and peace loving people living a simplistic life. The Naika tribe in Dadra and Nagar Haveli depends on the forests for their livelihood.

  • Varli

  • The Varlies of Dadra and Nagar Haveli belong to the scheduled tribes and are highly populated constituting 62.94 % of the total tribal population in the union territory. These peace loving tribal groups attract people with their interesting ways of life. The Dadra and Nagar Haveli Varlies have a non - Aryan origin and are found to be settled all over the place. The Varlies are usually Hindus and follow many of the Hindu rites, rituals and festivals. Like them they celebrate Diwali as Barash, Kaali puja, Bhawada and also worship Graam Devi or the presiding deity of the village following Hindu rituals.

    The traditional Varlies in Dadra and Nagar Haveli wear colorful clothes typical to the group itself. The Varli men traditionally use turbans, a cloth to cover the loin and a small waist coat. The Varli women dress beautifully in Padar and a knee length Lugden, which is basically a sari almost a yard long and tied along the waist. They adorn themselves in silver jewelry and chunky white metal ornaments.

    The tribes in Dadra & Nagar Haveli love singing and dancing and the Varlies are no exception. The Varlies practice various musical forms some of which are unique to the tribe itself. The Tarpa Dance is the predominant dance form of the Varlies of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Basically, a dance of harvest, the Varli Tarpa Dance is performed mainly during the month of September till Diwali in the months of October - November. The group leader makes rhythmic beats on the ground with a stick called 'gol kathi' and the dancers perform holding each other round the waist. The mesmerizing tune of Tarpa, a musical instrument made from gourd and sticks of bamboo, accompanies the dance. Dhol dance, a harvest dance, is also popularly practiced among the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Varlies.

  • Koli
Is Dadra and Nagar Haveli a tribal area?

This Union Territory of the country of India was initially ruled by the small tribal community called Kolis. Stretching over an area of 491 sq. kms, the land is home to a number of tribal communities. The area has got a tribal population of more than 62 % of the total population. With a majority of tribal population, this territory is regarded as one of the tribal areas in India.

Do these tribes reside in any particular area within territory?

The tribal community of Dubla and Dhodia are found mainly towards the northern side of the union territory whereas the other tribal groups are scattered in different parts of the area in between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats' foothills.

Total population of tribes in Dadra and Nagar Haveli

As per the report published post Census 2001, the different tribal communities form around 62.24 % of the total population. Let us have a quick look at the percentage of population of the distinct tribal communities residing in the union territory:
  • Varlis: 62.94 %
  • Dhodias: 16.90 %
  • Koknas: 16.85 %
  • Dublas: 2.29 %
  • Kolghas: 0.84 %
  • Kathodis: 0.08 %
  • Nayakas or Naika: 0.08 %
Languages spoken by tribes of Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Different tribal groups have their distinct tribal dialect. However, the most famous among them are Bhili and Bhilodi. Apart from that some of them even speak Hindi, Marathi and Gujrati.

Constitutes religious belief of tribes of western India

Most members of the varied tribal communities of this union territory of western India being followers of Hinduism, gives much importance to the different religious rituals. They, mainly the Varlis, believe moon and sun to be God's two eyes. Images of the deities are mostly made of stone and are placed amidst the tree groves. Maximum numbers of tribal villages are featured with a temple housing the local deity as well as the traditional God.

Different festivals of tribes of Dadra and Nagar Haveli

The tribes in Dadra and Nagar Haveli have their own traditional festivals, which are distinct from other festivals. Unique in their own way and reflecting rich cultural heritage of the community, these festivities forms a part of the social as well as cultural life of the different tribal groups of the union territory. Some of the famous vibrant festivals of these tribes, which even indicate season change, are:

  • Akha Tij: This is a small festival of the women community of the Kokhna tribe.

  • Barash: The tribes of Kokna and Varli celebrate this festival of Barash during Diwali. They celebrate this as a festival similar to Diwali.

  • Raksha Bandhan and Divaso: With a belief that Goddess Kali's good spirit is invoked in the villages during crop harvesting, this is a popular festival of the Dhodias.

Folk Dances of Dadra & Nagar Haveli



Folkdances of Dadra & Nagar Haveli form an integral part of the life and culture of the tribal people in the union territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli in India. The folk dances are characteristic features of every tribal life and the tribes in the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are not different from the rest.

The aboriginal people of Dadra & Nagar Haveli carry on with their traditional customs and habitual rituals. Their festivals are very colorful and a large part of the festivities comprise of their very own folk dances. In every occasion like Marriage, childbirth, religious festival or harvest, the rural people perform their folk dances.

The tribal dances in Dadra and Nagar Haveli are of many types, each of which is unique in their styles. The tribal dances in the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are as follows:
  • Bhavada Dance
  • Tarpa Dance
  • Bohada Dance
  • Tur and Thali Dance
  • Dhol Dance
  • Gherria Dance
The dances are accompanied by different kinds of musical instruments that are created by the tribal people themselves. The materials of which the musical instruments are made are all locally found. These are usually materials like
  • Bamboo
  • Gourd
  • Leather
  • Wood
The dancers wear colorful dresses while performing these folk dances. The sight of these simple tribal people dancing with their full vigor is simply divine. A view of the tribal people performing their very own folk dance is invigorating. It is a lifetime time experience to get the opportunity to get a glimpse of the folk dances of Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli Crafts



Similar to other tribal dominated areas, Dadra and Nagar Haveli is also rich with wonderful art and handicraft tradition. The Dadra and Nagar Haveli Crafts are exemplary with their different types and genres. The artisans of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are famous for their wonderful weaving and carving works.

The most popular forms of crafts in Dadra and Nagar Haveli are:
  • Leather crafts
  • Mat weaving
  • Basketry

One of the major crafts of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli region is the wonderful leather craft. The artistically created slippers made of leather are very popular with the local people as well as the visitors. The leather slippers are not only beautiful but also strong enough to wear it for rough uses.

Another important handicraft type of the Union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is mat weaving. Experts weave the magnificently designed mats with bamboo fibers.

Bamboo is also used in the wonderful basketry works of the area of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The green and gold torpe grass made items are the most desired ones. These craft articles are easily available at local shops and retail stores at affordable prices.

Mat Weaving

Dadra & Nagar Haveli Mat Weaving is an integral part of the rural life in the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli in India. The tribal people in the area are experts in weaving mats. It forms an important part of their folk culture. The villagers often earn their livelihood by making mats and other items made up of bamboo canes. The mat weaving is one of the most popular handicrafts in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

The rural people give in a lot of effort and blend their artistry and mastery into making the bamboo articles. The most popular and widely made handicraft in the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is the bamboo mat. These mats made of bamboo twigs are woven with traditional designs and patterns. These mats carry the essence of the tribal culture and rural life of the area. The bamboo mats with traditional motifs are very famous not only in the local area but also in other regions of India.

Dadra & Nagar Haveli Crafts are becoming more and more popular among the items manufactured in the Indian cottage industries. As the rural people are so good at making the bamboo mats and other hand made items, the development of cottage industries in the region in and around the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli have gained impetus.

The bamboo mats and other items made of bamboo are available in the retail stores and local shops. These items are very attractive looking and are obtainable at a very affordable price. Tourists should make it a point to catch a glimpse of the handicraft items in the Dadra & Nagar Haveli, especially the Dadra & Nagar Haveli Mat Weaving.

Leather Crafts

Dadra & Nagar Haveli Leather Crafts form a vital part of the handicrafts and artifacts of the region of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. The union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli in India is well known for the works of art that include the items like weaving of bamboo mats and making of baskets other than leather crafts.

The union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli in India is very popular for the leather crafts made by the local people. The tribal people in the region of Dadra and Nagar Haveli put in all their artistry and creativity for making the leather crafts.

The tribal people in the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are famous for their production of leather crafts, especially the leather slippers. The slippers made of leather are very durable and long lasting. The designs are also extremely attractive. For daily use, the leather slippers made by the tribal people are a perfect choice.

Many villagers in the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli earn their livelihood by making different kinds of leather items. These craft items made by the local tribal people are available in the local shops and retail stores in the union territory and outside the place. These are available at affordable price.Dadra & Nagar Haveli Leather Crafts are becoming very popular among the tourists with every passing day.

Basketry

Basketry of Dadra & Nagar Haveli is a very popular form of the local handicraft in the country of India. The rural people in the union territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli engage themselves to prepare some wonderful works of art made of bamboo canes. Making the beautiful bamboo baskets is an integral part of the life of the people in the villages of the Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

The people in the union territory are experts in making the baskets. The baskets in Dadra & Nagar Haveli, which are hand made by the villagers come in different shapes and sizes. One has the option to choose from the various sizes and designs to suit one's purpose. The tribal people in the area of Dadra & Nagar Haveli produce the baskets made of bamboo in large numbers. The tribal people have been doing this for many years and they have proved their expertise and mastery over this form of handicraft.

Basketry in Dadra and Nagar Haveli is one of the main sources of earning livelihood for the tribal people in the villages of the area. Making bamboo baskets is also a major occupation of the people in the rural areas of the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The basket making in Dadra and Nagar Haveli is one of the major Dadra & Nagar Haveli Crafts.

Basketry of Dadra & Nagar Haveli has made the handicrafts of the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli popular among the local people as well as the tourists.

Fairs & Festivals of Dadra and Nagar Haveli



The people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are peace loving but at the same time like to indulge in joyous revelry. The Dadra and Nagar Haveli population comprises of various tribes. The tribal people constitute the major chunk of the total population. They take pride in their own traditional culture and colorful festivals. In fact the picturesque natural beauty of the region and their colorful customs are reflected in the vibrant Fairs & Festivals of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Some of the major Fairs & Festivals of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are:
  • Akhatrij
  • Divasol
  • Nariyal Poornima
  • Tarpa Festival & Craft Mela
  • Monsoon Magic Festival
  • Children's Film Festival
Folk dances and songs are integral parts of the various festivals of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli region. Some of the mostly practiced dance forms of the area are:
  • Dhol

  • Dhol is one of the most popular folk dances in the tribal areas of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. It is a union territory in India and a large part of its population consists of tribal people. Dhol is a kind of folk dance that is performed during the harvest season. This dance form is an inseparable part of the tribal life in the area of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

    The tribal groups like Kokna and Varli mainly perform this folk dance Dhol. The dance form of Dhol is performed from the month of September to the next spring upto the occasion of Holi. The tribal people perform the Dhol Dance in order to appease the presiding deities in the village. It is generally performed at night and it is believed by the simple villagers that performing Dhol Dance would please the Gods and Goddesses they worship.

    In the folk dance form of Dhol, the dancers dance to the rhythmic beats of musical instruments like dhols and timkis. Solo songs that are sung by men also accompany the rhythmic dance of Dhol.

    This form of folk dance is very remarkable as it includes tough and complicated formations like human pyramids and many acrobatics. It is thrilling to watch the Dhol dancers perform the extremely difficult moves, which are characteristics of this dance form. It is a very popular form of dance among the many folkdances of Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

  • Tarpa

  • Tarpa is an authentic form of folk dance that the tribal people of Dadra & Nagar Haveli practice and perform in their daily lives. It is one of the many kinds of folk dances that form an inseparable part the tribal life in the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. It is one of the many folkdances of Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

    The tribal groups like Kokna, Varli and Kolis perform this form of dance the most. The dance form of Tarpa is the most popular among the people of these clans.

    The Tarpa Dance is generally performed during their festival of harvest. It is a joyous occasion for them and they celebrate the event by performing their favorite dance form of Tarpa. The event takes place during the month of September and it continues upto the auspicious festival of Diwali.

    There is a lead dancer in the group who leads the dance. The leader of the dance group taps the ground in a rhythmic beat with a decorative stick. They call the ornate stick, ghol kanthi.

    The other dancers holding one another around their waists move around the musician. The musician plays on a wind instrument, which is known as Tarpa. The musical instrument is made of bamboo sticks and gourd. The tribal people themselves locally make this musical instrument.

    The steps and the tempo of the folk dance Tarpa, change according to the music played on the Tarpa. Tarpa makes a sound that resembles that of the hypnotic tune of a snake charmer.

  • Gherria

  • Gherria is a kind of folk dance that the tribal people of the Dadra & Nagar Haveli in India perform. It is an inseparable part of their culture and life. This type of tribal dance form is specially a characteristic feature of the tribesmen of the clan known as Dubla. It is a popular form of dance among the various folkdances of Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

    The folk dance Gherria is a group dance and the dance is guided by a leader. The leader is called Kavio. The leader, Kavio, is dressed elaborately. He wears an ornate headdress and holds a bunch of peacock feathers in the right hand. The norm is that Kavio, the leader, leads the song and the others follow him in chorus.

    The men dancers in the dance form of Gherria hold two small sticks in hands. They strike the sticks against each other to make a rhythmic beat. One person known as Bagaliwala holds a long stick and it is also a part of the Gherria Dance.

    The Gherria is usually performed in the months of October and November during the Diwali festival. The lyrics of the song that is sung during the dance are about the glorious history. The songs are usually descriptive in their nature.

    The dancers in the dance form of Gherria are all dressed in very colorful clothes. The sight of a group of tribal people dressed in bright and vibrant clothes, performing the dance in perfect synchronization is truly a heavenly one. The harmony in which the dancers perform the Gherria dance rightly deserves appreciation.

  • Bhavada

Last Updated on 7/5/2013

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