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The Heavenly Cow Rupan and the Festival of Ceremonial Torture Gai-Goheri: Myth, Rituals and Sacrifice among the People of the Bhil Tribe of Western India

Keywords: Bhil , blood sacrifice , cow-worship , festival , myth , ritual , torture , trance

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Abstract:

Gai-Goheri, the festival of ceremonial torture, is a popular ritualamong the people of the Bhil tribe of Western India. Beliefs and myths of this festival play an important role in forming a series of rituals, which include not only the buttock-burning of the cattle but also their decorations and worshipping. The ritual, in which the villagers, while in religious mood, prostrate before hundreds of running cattle and get seriously hurt, is the climax of the festival.Villagers then inhale the smoke of burning dhup (perfumed sawdust), dance and drink liquor in a state of trance.This article makes a serious attempt to analyse the festival of ceremonial torture, as well as the associated rituals, along with the related mythological story of the cow named Rupan, which has presented a pragmatic charter of the primitive faith, vouching for the efficacies of the festival. The socio-economic system of the tribe has also helped in making the entire celebration amply adaptable even today.

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