This Holi, Celebrate It 'Bohada' style!


As the festival of Holi approaches, tribes in Mokhada region of Thane district are busy colouring and giving last minute touch-ups to huge masks. Masks made up of paper mache and having mythological significance are one of the most important aspects of tribal Holi celebrations. 

The folk performance wearing these masks is called Bohada and the festival that ensues, for a period of seven days continuous days, is called the Bohada Festival. 

This week-long celebration, begins on the second day of Holi. After the holy bonfire is lit, the tribes in this region celebrate
the festival of colours according to their traditions and customs, by dancing through the night, performing the traditional Tarpa. The day starts with the celebration of Goddess Jagdamba and it is in her worship, that the Bohada is performed for all seven nights. 

Late every evening, dancers wearing the huge masks dance until dawn, followed by rituals performed in front of the deity 

in the mornings. Dedicating the first day to Lord Ganesha, a dancer wearing the Elephant God's mask performs the entire night. The dancers dance to the beats of Sambal and Dhol (percussion instruments) all night long, signifying the various mythological aspects of Lord Ganesh. The other nights of celebration are followed by different masked dances known as 'Song'. In these, dancers wear masks of Raavan, Khandoba, Tratika, Hanuman, Bhima, Hidimba, Kaloba, Bhairoba, Satvai, Saraswati among other mythological characters, and perform overnight. Apart from this, there are also masks of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. 

On the last night of revered feasting, the dancer wears a mask of Goddess Durga and the festivities end with the dance of the Mahishasurvardhini, wherein, according to Hindu mythology, Durga kills demon Mahishasur, signifying celebrations of the victory of good over evil. 

Explaining this folk art on the yonder times and the significance attached to the Bohada festival, Rajan Vaidya who heads the Bohada troupe in Mokhada said, "We start performing Bohada on the second day of Holi. As we enter the first month of the year, Chaitra (Hindu Calender month), we enjoy the beginning of year by performing this dance. Every family has their family mask and the respective masks can be worn only by a member of that family and dance. This tradition is still followed during the festive season."

"Now because of its vibrance and colorful masks, it is known as a form of performing folk-art and is being performed at various platforms, Vaidya said, adding, "While performing on stage however, we don't follow the tradition and the best dancer performs on-stage." 

The making of the masks is also interesting as it is made from paper mache. The regional tribes themselves make and colour them, thus giving way to their creativity as well. 

The style of dancing is passed on from generation to generation naturally. "There is no formal training as such, but children watch and learn. They copy their elders movements, follow their footsteps and gradually start performing on their own," Vaidya informs, "Nowadays, youngsters also use their own creativity and mould dance steps accordingly."

One day before the festivity ends, the tribals celebrate Dhakta Bohada (small Bohada) and correspondingly, the last day's festive mood is called as Motha Bohada (Big Bohada). Along with the performances of mask dancers and percussion instruments, there are other experimental events like the fire dance. This Bohada folk art performed during the Holi celebration is no doubt an occasion wherein the tribals in and around Mokhada region come together and enjoy the beginning of a brand new year, in a style of their own.




  • No comments found

Leave your comments

Use 'Ctrl+G' to toggle commenting language from Marathi to English and vice versa.