History :
The word Bhil is derived from the Bil or Vil which mean Bow. They are the largest tribe of South Asia and constitute 39% of the total population of Rajasthan. Bhils are known as bow men of Rajasthan or the tribals of Mewar or the Archers. Bhil tribe is divided into two groups, the Central or Pure Bhils found in the mountains ranges of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Eastern Rajput Bhils are found in eastern parts of Tripura. These tribes have been mentioned in epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Indian Mythology says that Bhil women offered ber or jujube fruits to Lord Rama, when he was in the jungles of Dhandaka, searching Sita. In the history of independent India these tribes of India were regarded as the fighters who were in a war against the Mughals, Marathas and the Britishers. Bhils furnished the needs of Princes of Mewar with bowmen, supplies or by guarding their families. Some names of Bhils are Bhim, Bhim Singh Maharana, Bhimisi and Bhindar who were very famous. They were employed by the Rajputs as Shikaris and as Warriors in colonial times. Mewar Bhil Corps today is the acclaimed Corps of Mewar. They are the best archers and also excellent in geographical knowledge and third largest tribe in India after the Gonds and Santhals.

Bhils religious practice differs from place to place. They worship local deities like Khandoba, Kanhoba, Bahiroba, and Sitalmata. They worship Tiger God called 'vaghdev'. Bhils don't have temples of their own and consult Badvas -the hereditary sorcerers on all the occasions as they are highly superstitious tribal people.

Bhagat or Gurus perform the religious rites for Bhil Tribe. Bhils village headsmen deals with their disputes. Bhils strictly follow rules and regulations and marry only in their own classes. Bhils close relationships are tightly based on mutual love and respect.

Dance and music are given importance by Bhils due to their rich cultural history. The famous dance among the Bhils is Ghoomar and Gair which is the religious dance drama performed by the men in the month of Sharavana (July and August). The Bhil Tribes are talented in sculpture work and make beautiful horses, elephants, tigers, deities out of clay.

Place /Location (then and now)
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat
Languages spoken
Tiger God Called "vaghdev"a
Maize, Wheat and Fruits

Women of Bhil Tribes wear traditional saris and men wear loose long frock along with pyjama. The peasants wear turbans. Bhils also wear brass ornaments. Bhils are tall, well built with handsome features. They are known for their truthfulness and simplicity. They love independence. They are brave and their National weapon is bow made of bamboo. Earlier they were great hunters. They now practice agriculture as the source of livelihood.

The main food of the Bhils is Maize. Wheat is used on special occassions and hospitality. KURA, KODRA, BATTI, SANGLI, KORANG etc. are used as food. Roti of Maize also called SOGRA with CHATNI, GREEN CHILLI or Stitle and Curd Lassi is the famous food. Fruits also are the part of their diet.

The Indo Aryan language called Bhili is the prime language spoken by Bhils tribes of India.

The source of the income for Bhil is Agriculture and the Animal Husbandry. Poultry farming and labour also form the source of income. Bhils posses knowledge of manufacturing agricultural equipments and are also aware of repairing them.

Society Pattern
Bhils usually are occupied with agricultural activity, they sell products at weekly Haats or markets. Social customs of Bhil tribe demand large expenditures on weddings and rituals call for liquor, so debt persists. Communal life includes folklore and folk song parties with men and women dancing. While women have a secure position, enjoy economic and social equality from childhood. Bhils produce Jowar, Bajra, Ragi and cattle fodder while poultry is used for economic and dietary purposes.

They follow Polygamy. A Bhil woman is open to marry a man of her choice even after her marriage. They follow Paternal Family System' system in which the family considers the joint family as the major force of life. The women, sons and daughters are free to lead their own lives and there is a tradition of adapting children in this society.

The Baneshwar fair is the main festival celebrated among the Bhils. This fair is held during the period of Shivaratri (in the month of January or February) and is dedicated to Baneshwar Mahadev also known as Lord Shiva. On this occasion Bhils gather together and set up camps on the banks of the Som and Mahi River. They perform dance around the fire and sing traditional songs.

At night all of them enjoy Raslila at the Lakshmi Narayan temple. Cultural shows, magic shows, animal shows, acrobatic feats are the main attraction of the fair. This fair is actually the combination of two fairs, which are held in reverence of Lord Shiva and the other one that commenced after the setting up of Vishnu temple by Jankunwari. Holy and Dusshera are the other major festivals celebrated among the Bhils in India.