The Bhil Community of India: Archery and Agriculture

Hema Nohwal (Ambedkar University Delhi)

The Bhils are an ethnic group in Western and Central India. They reside in the hilly and secluded regions of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. They are listed as “tribals” by these states. The community predominantly practices agriculture. They prefer to live in isolation from the “mainstream” city life. Archery is central to the community and the Bhils are considered excellent archers. Eklavya, an extremely important and lesser-known character of the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata comes to mind when Bhils are mentioned. Ghoomar dance form belongs to this community which was very much glorified in one of the Indian cinema movies. I aim to learn more about the Bhil community by conducting ethnographic interviews in Banswara region of Rajasthan. Banswara is inhabited by Bhils in large numbers and I believe I can learn more about the community by participant observation and ethnographic interviews conducted in this region. I aim to explore the everyday lives of the Bhil community in an attempt to understand their choice of living in seclusion from the outside world. I further aim to understand how they remain isolated and what are the different means that help them survive.

Part of V4-02 Expressive Culture on the Indian Subcontinent, Thursday, October 12, 8:00 am–10:00 am