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Bohada Mask Dance Of Maharashtra

Bohada is a mask dance that is prevalent in the adivasi (tribal community of Koknas) in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The ritual is  performed during the months of April and May. Traditionally, in several families of a village, masks symbolizing some deities are worshipped. Every village fixes a specific day for Bohada well in advance, for they share the musicians.

On the particular day, prayers are offered to the masks at home and the dancer wears the appropriate costume, for a male or female deity’s mask. The dancer starts from one end of the road and goes down to the other end in a dance gait, and the musical accompanists, who hail from the Varli community, walk behind him. The dance ends when the dancer returns to the starting point.

The characters in the dance are some of the major deities of Hinduism, such as Shiva, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Sri Krishna, Parashurama, Goddess Kali, Goddess Chamundeshwari and so on. Also some of the characters from the epics are worshiped – the Pandavas, Ravana and so on. Then there is Surya and Chandra as well. Each Bohada ritual is like the procession of a deity from a temple in a chariot. There are about thirty to forty masks paraded during the whole night.

At daybreak, after worshipping at the village shrine, the entire village has a feast. The masks are then put away in the family’s place of worship.