Kawant fair: A fair of Rathwa tribe of Chhota Udepur
March 13, 2023

Today is the day when the Kawant fair will mark an end to our residency with colours everywhere. You can find colours in the ice cream that the children hold in their hands in the mid-noon at the fair. You can find colours in the balloon which are tied together in a bamboo stick waiting for their buyers. And you can find colours in the sarees of women. Where women wore heavy jewellery with a series of coin hanging of King George dating back to British times.

As we were about to reach the fair, we saw groups of men and women in their traditional dresses marching towards the fair. Autorickshaws are overcrowded with people speeding on the highway which leads to the fair. As we pass villages we can see people walking towards the fair and some men standing by the roadside waiting for the local transport with orange and red turbans on their heads.

We walked into the fair, and in front of us, three girls were walking in the red dress. They almost looked identical. One of the girl’s earrings had fallen down as she bends to pick we crossed them. Gazing the distant crowd as it pours into the fair.

We were welcomed by the tribal dance and drums playing. The dancers wore peacock feathers on their heads and their faces and bodies were painted in dots with the rice paste and they were wearing brass metal bells at their waists as well as on their feet too.

It was mesmerising to see and hear the brass metal sounds as they moved in rhythms.

Soon we found ourselves on a long alleyway road where both sides were covered in houses and shops while the procession took place on the road. Each group of men and women came and displayed their performances as the women on the sidewalk watched in awe.

Name any colour and you can find it here.

Women were buying jewellery for them and men in turban bought colourful bows and arrows. While children hold colourful balloons and ice creams in their hands.

It was a fair of a lifetime to be experienced. The people of tribals came from various cultures and backgrounds from remote villages to enjoy the fair.

Almost all the women and girls were wearing silver anklets on their feet which was adding a tune on its own in the orchestra of chaos.

Kawant Ger Mela is a fair of the Rathwa Tribe of Chhota Udepur. This mela is held annually, immediately after the 3rd day of holi festival. The festival is mainly a social gathering of people belonging to the Rathwa tribe to extemporaneously recreate the joy of the existence and life.

Youths can be seen dancing with drums and other musical instruments. Tribal men and women wear a bouquet of peacock feathers on their heads to express their love for birds and nature.

The level of coordination and unity in what seems to be a sea of people is immense; whether it be the musical performances or dances to their traditional wear and elaborate festival wear. It is amazing to see how the arts are an integral part of the fair and even central to the socialisation and celebration of the community.

Writings by, Masood Sarwer and Artcore.