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On the way to Baneshwar Mela

Oil on canvas
9' x 6'8"

‘The first time I visited Baneshwar mela [fair], there were not many outsiders, except the shopkeepers and sadhus, besides the tribals who thronged in thousands. From early morning, one could see the tribals making their way towards the festival sites for conducting different rituals, including a sacrificial bath...Men and women carried around baskets of arrows with different colored feathers adorning them. This arrow has a strange role to play in the courtship that ensues between Bhil boys and girls in Baneshwar. Rows of girls, in groups of six or eight, between the ages of sixteen to eighteen, wearing gorgeous clothes, ornaments and make-up, move around the mela like a colorful caterpillar, tightly holding each other’s waists. Gracefully, they glide around in the dense crowd singing in chorus. They buy arrows and hold them in their right hand proclaiming that they are looking for partners in life.…When a girl finds a suitable boy, she offers the arrow to him and if the boy likes the girl he accepts it and they become a pair...’ – A Ramachandran (Excerpt taken from ‘An enquiry into the Revivalist Tendencies in my Art and Hairstyle’