Cultural Symbols || Rituals || Social Culture || Personal Culture

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One can look through a colorful kaleidoscope when we get to know about the people, culture, festivals of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli according to the census record of 2001 constitutes about 2, 20,451 of which 23 % belong to the urbanites group and 62 % of the population belongs to various tribal groups. Among the tribal population there are different communities where each one of them has a varying culture with different customs and rituals. Folklores play a major influence in the tribal population as it is believed to govern their behavioral patterns within the society. Kokana, Varlies, Koli, Dhodia, Kathodi, Naika and Dublas are some of the major tribal community belonging to Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Every happy or sad occasion, like marriage or death or any harvest of crops of these tribal communities are associated with songs and dance for it is a inevitable part of these tribal groups. There are also people belonging to other religious sects like Hinduism, Christianity and Islam living in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, apart from the local tribes of this area. The culture of Dadra and Nagar Haveli can be best expressed as comprising the following:

Though there is a difference in community and religions, the people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli maintain a communal harmony in them. Hindus occupy the majority of the population of at least 95% in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Bhili and Bhilodi are the most commonly spoken language by the tribes in this area, though each tribal group living here have their own language. Each set of community have their own sets of festival with unique customs and rituals. Due to the proximity to the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat to Dadra and Nagar Haveli the people living in urban areas are very much influenced by their culture and they either speak Hindi, Marathi or Gujarati.Generally the people are very hardworking and closely attached to their family. Thus the inhabitants of Dadra and Nagar Haveli with their varying culture spread a distinct food pattern, crafts, and even sports and other forms of entertainment.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli has a varying culture for it is inhabited by a number of tribal communities, but however Hinduism is the major religion practiced here with considerable amount of followers for Christianity and Islam. Each community has its own distinct rituals and customs with different culture and tradition strictly adhered by the group. 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 the rich cultural heritage of the community, these festivities form a part of the social as well as cultural life of the different tribal groups of the union territory.

The Kokhna tribe celebrates a festival called Akha Tij which is specific to the ladies of that community. Barash is another tribal festival celebrated by the Kokna and Varli community at the time of Diwali.The Dhodias as a custom of invoking Goddess Kali's good spirit at the time of crop harvesting celebrate the Divaso festival. Folk dances of the tribal community forms an integral part of the culture and tradition of the people. Folk dances play such an essential part in the life of the tribal people for any function in the community is associated with folklores accompanied by dance and songs. The people strictly follow their traditional customs and rituals during the festivals along with their tribal folk dances.

The tribal community being dominated by Hindus, give lot of importance to traditional rituals and customs and infact they play a major role in the life of people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.Maximum numbers of tribal villages are featured with a temple housing the local deity as well as the traditional God.The people of the Varli community are nature worshippers and mainly consider and worship sun and moon with high regards for they believe it to be gods's two eyes.The shrine of these people are found among the tree groves and the diety is usually a stone.Some of their main dieties are dev, Hirwa, Himai and Waghio.As a part of the Varlis custom on any traditional occassion, either religious or wedding they wear a loin cloth with a small waist coat and a turban and the women wear a knee-length, one-yard saree – lugde – and adorn themselves with silver and white metal ornaments.

All rituals and customs are performed by a person called Bhagat.The bhagat performs the rituals by playing a Ghangal which is a musical instrument made from gourd,bamboo and iron strings.The people of the Koknas tribal community both men and women, as a part of their traditional custom tattoo their bodies, especially their foreheads and they are always in their traditional costume. The man attires himself with a dhoti up to the knees and a waist coat or shirt and a turban. The women folk wear traditional colorful saris that are either knee length or full length. Almost every village has a temple of traditional God and a local deity with customs and rituals pertaining to their community.

The artisans of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are famous for their wonderful weaving and carving works. The people of Dadar and Nagar Haveli are known for their exemplary art and handicraft tradition which talks about their culture. They are noted for their unique style and variety in patterns. Leather crafts, Mat weaving and Basketry are some of the popular traditional craft work practiced in this area. The leather slippers from Dadra and Nagar Haveli are very famous throughout the country and are durable and long lasting. Because of the abundance of forest area in this region there are lot of craft and art work done with the locally available bamboos. Bamboo fibers are used by the experts to weave beautiful mats which are an essential part of their cultural life. Bamboo is also used in the wonderful basketry works of the area of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.The people follow lot of traditional designs and pattern with native motifs in their art and craft weaving which is famous worldwide. The green and gold torpe grass made items are the most desired ones. Making bamboo baskets is also a major occupation of the people in the rural areas of the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Filled with ethnic culture of tribes the costumes of the people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is very unique. The attire of the Varli community men is a loin-cloth along with a waist-long coat and a turban. The women of this community dress themselves with lot of ornaments made of silver and black metal and they also wear a one yard sari, known as Lugden which goes upto the knee and another piece of cloth called Padar.The Dhodia men are inclined towards wearing ornaments, such as earrings and silver chains, encircling the waist. The women of the Dhodia community wear a dark blue saree, stretching upto the knees, and with the aanchal.These ladies deck themselves with vibrant ornaments like metal bangles on wrists and dainty metal Kadas round the ankles. The costume of the Kokna's is much similar to the rest of the communities. Apart from this the Kokna men and women adorn themselves with tattoo-painting, on the forehead and on other parts of the body.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli food
Gujarat being the neighboring state, the food of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is highly influenced by the Gujarati cuisine. Mostly the cuisine of the people here is vegetarian which is a blend of both soft and sweet in a very harmonius way. The thali is generally referred to a large silver platter consisting of innumerable bowls. These bowls mainly consists of lentil based gravies, vegetable curries, breads, crispy and spicy farsans, pickles, chutneys and a number of sweet dishes. Some of the well known delicacies are Paunk, kadi, khamam dhokla, doodh pak and shrikhand.Tadi is a favourite liquor drink of the people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli which is made of 'Mahua' flowers. No celebration is complete without Tadi and is very common among the tribals.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli agriculture
The major occupation of the people of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is agriculture though they have very small holdings of farm lands. Fishing and hunting also forms a part of their occupation.

The main crops grown here are paddy, ragi, small millets, pulses including vegetables like brinjal, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.