The Bhils are the second largest tribal community in western and central India. Closely connected to the land, their beliefs are manifest in ceremonies, songs, dances, folklore and painting.
Painting is a form of prayer and healing for the Bhils. Every year, they paint their walls with 'pithoras', as offerings to the goddess. Colourful illustrations from everyday life are painted with neem twig-brushes using natural pigments, on a fresh layer of clay and cowdung. They are filled with bright colours, and a characteristic overlay of uniformly dotted patterns. Of the many stories connected to the use of the dot, they believe that each dot in the painting is representative of an ancestor.
In a spring ritual celebrated a few days after Holi, the Gol Gadhedo, tribal men and women choose their partners through a competition. Men vie to climb up a 40 foot-long slippery pole to select the woman of their choice, while women dance around the pole. Those men who do not succeed are hit with a stick by women.