Within the muddy hills and vast stretching forests of Rajasthan and Gujarat, lives the third largest tribal community of western India–the Garasias. This community is certainly the most unique not only because of the principles that it adheres to but also because it continues to keep alive the spirit of culture that exists in cognizance of modernity. The Garasias are almost a thousand years old, who are believed to have moved to inhabiting the wilderness because the Rajputs were defeated by Alauddin Khilji in war. Hence, the major chunk of the population of this community belongs to the Rajput Gharana and still brings into practice traditions that their ancestral generations had kept intact. Since they majorly reside in the western lands of the Indian subcontinent, the language they speak is a mix of Bhili, Marwari and Gujarati. This mixture of several dialects is called Dungri.
The Garasias do not believe in existing in isolation. They are the flag bearers of an acknowledgement of the existence of other tribal communities and hence, live intermingled and in unison with other tribes too. Therefore, a Rajput Garasia marrying a Bhil woman is a fairly appreciative thing within the community. Which draws us close to the practice of marriage within the community. Unlike the system of marriage followed in India which dictates a man and a woman to live together only after marriage, the Grasias practice a fairly open and now modern belief of letting the man and the woman to be in a ‘live-in’ relationship and have kids too. The official marriage ceremony only takes place when the couple collects the funds required to get married. And it goes a notch higher because it is the man’s family who gives money to the woman’s family–totally reversing the concept of ‘bride price’. Following such radical principles, the Garasias believe in giving the woman a higher right and share of respect than the man.
The Garasias are colour lovers and that can be witnessed amply in the clothes they wear. The men wear a white dhoti and a kurta, supplementing this with a colourful pagdi. The women, on the other hand, believe in wearing vivid colours in the outfit itself to add that element to their clothes which they love the most. One can always see a Garasia woman in a bright, vivid ghaghra choli characterised also by the heavy silver jewellery they wear. This is also testimony to the free spirit that they live their life with.