Dungar Dev Puja – A Tribal Festival with Unique Customs

Dungar Dev Puja – A Tribal Festival with Unique Customs

The Belief and Uniqueness of Dungar Dev Puja

I had always been fascinated by tribal festival and their unique customs. So, when I heard about the Dungar Dev Puja, I knew I had to witness it firsthand. As I made my way through the winding roads of the Dang district in Gujarat, I was struck by the beauty of the place. The lush green forests and the towering hills made for a breathtaking view.

The festival takes place every five years, and it involves an entire village or a family lineage coming together to pray to their Hill God. The locals believe that the Hill God protects their crops and their families from droughts and diseases and ensures overall good health. As a result, they hold the tribal festival to show their gratitude and seek blessings for the years to come.

When I arrived at the Nawagaon hilltop, I was greeted by the sound of slow meandering notes of an instrument and eerie singing voices. The spectacle before me was unlike anything I had ever seen. There were writhing bodies dancing around a fire, high shrieking laughter, sombre women holding plates of offerings and lamps, and people playing strange instruments and singing. It was a sight to behold.

Bhaskar Bhai, my guide, explained to me the entire setting. He told me that it was a special night for the people, as the spirits of the hill would enter their bodies. It was then that the ancient rituals began, and the possessed men demonstrated their infallibility. I watched in amazement as they broke stones with their foreheads, walked on burning coals, and lied on prickly thorn branches without any harm.

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The Significance of Music in Dungar Dev Puja

But what really drew my attention was the music. The Pavri and the Thadi were the two instruments used in the festival. The Pavri, made out of the shell of a bottle gourd and horn of an Ox, decorated with peacock flowers, created a throaty concoction of variable pitches. Meanwhile, the Thadi, played by slowly running fingers over the hollow stem of a ‘Sir’ plant that is placed on a metal plate with a small sheath of a beehive connecting them, set the eerie undertone for the night. The surreal resonance of the two unusually talented singers from Maharashtra and their Thadi playing will remain with me for some time to come.

As I watched the young men revel in their possessed state and the women offering prayers to the Hill God, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the opportunity to witness such a unique and beautiful tribal festival. The Dungar Dev Puja was a reminder of the importance of traditions and the need to preserve them for future generations to come.

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Overall, Dungar Dev Puja is a unique tribal festival that showcases the rich culture and traditions of the tribal population of Dang district. It's a celebration of their faith and belief in the Hill God, their customs, and the music that brings it all together.

By Soaham Datta