When in Jhabua during Holi, don't mind your language

  • Ritesh Mishra, Hindustan Times, Indore/Jhabua
  • Updated: Feb 26, 2015 21:09 IST

At a time when Mumbai-based edgy comedy collective AIB’s recent show is drawing flaks for being abusive and derogatory from many, few miles east in the Jhabua-Alirajpur tribal belt of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, hurling abuses at each other has been a centuries-old custom during this time of the year.

A month before Holi, young men and women in many parts of Jhabua and Alirajpur sit in front of their huts and hurl abuses at everyone.

"These days are known as 'ganda din' meaning the days to pull each others legs. Everyone is abused and mostly by the young men and women. There are many songs which are very offensive and are sung by the women of the area. This customs is going on for centuries," said Shankar Talvade, a tribal leader who is working for tribal rights.

Interestingly, in these areas which are dominated by the Bhil and Bhilala tribals, a man who does not get offended by abuses is considered to be the most tolerant person in the village.

While one who gets irritated is avoided by villagers as worthless.

"People laugh at the person who gets offended and consider him as short-tempered and ill-tolerant. Most of youth participate in the custom and usually politicians and Patels are targeted," said Shankar.

Though this custom is exclusive only to the tribals of the area, people of other communities too are targeted if they happen to enter the villages during this time of the month.

"If a collector or policeman enters the villages during this month he too gets abused in the name of his vehicle or beacon. Usually no one gets offended because many of these 'outsiders' do not understand the tribals' dialects,” said Arpit Chabbra, a businessman of Khawasa, Jhabua while talking to Hindustan Times.

"We never get offended. And if anyone does get offended by the abuses he is treated as a fool. This is the beauty of our culture," said Dhan Singh, a resident of Nakodi village under Khawasa tehsil.

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