Lifestyle of the Warli Tribe

WARLI“-A tribal group dwelling in the mountainous and coastal region of Maharashtra-Gujrat border are amongst the 645 tribes in India.”Waral” (meaning small piece of tilled land) is from where the tribe gets its name. Warli tribes follow customs and traditions that differ vastly from any typical belief.

Warli Habitation:
The Warlis reside in the West coast of Northern Maharashtra. In specific, they inhabit the Dahanu and Talasari talukas of northern Thane, Nashik and Dhule districts of Maharashtra as well as the Valsad district of Gujrat.

Warli Languages:
Marathi, Gujrati, Sanskrit and an Indo-Aryan dialect (mixture of Khandeshi Bhili and Marathi) are the languages widely used by the Warlis for communication.

Warli Homes:
Spread out in an area of 400-700 sq.ft, the Warli houses are well built with plastered mud walls that are made of ‘Karvi‘ (soft stem of the Strobilantes callosus Nees plant) and supple bamboo. The floors of the house are plastered with cow dung. Use of medicinal plants like the karvi and other natural fibers act as a disinfect making the inhabitants less vulnerable to diseases. The roofs of the houses are thatched with palm leaves and paddy straw that keeps it considerably cool even during hot summers. It is also capable of withstanding heavy monsoons.
Warli homes are not just shelters but a symbol of protective living that conform to the invincible law of nature.

Warli Culture:
The Warli Customs and traditions are weaved around Mother Nature. With Farming as the major activity, Warlis show immense respect towards Nature and Wildlife. During the sowing season, God of rains ‘Narandev’ is worshipped followed by prayers to ‘Himaidevi’ and ‘Hirva’, the domestic Gods. Before harvesting, the Goddess of fields ‘Savari’ is offered prayers and worshipped. The reaping season calls for celebration and glorification of the Tiger-God (Vaghadev) and Corn-Goddess (Kaansaari).
At the time of marriage’ Palaghata’, the Goddess of fertility, is worshipped. Marriages are joyous occasions with the entire village giving a helping hand to the families that are about to bind in this auspicious union.
Dhumsa Dance, Gauri Dance, Kambadu dance, Tarpa and Dhol Dance are some of the vibrant dance forms that flaunt their tradition.

Warli Lifestyle:
Rice is the staple food of the Warlis. Fish, meat, fruits, roots, bulbs and other nutritious pulses also constitute a significant proportion of their diet. Warli clothing is quite comfortable and ethnic. Men wear a thin loin cloth and a turban whereas women gracefully drape a colorful 9- yard sari. On special occasions women adorn eye catching hair decorations reflecting their joyfulness.

Warli Paintings:

The Warli paintings speak of artistic beauty and genuineness dating back to 3000 BC. Warli murals are sketched out using the basics of geometry with circles symbolizing sun and moon, triangle for mountains and squares (also known as “Chauk”) representing an enclosure or closed area. Humans are represented by two triangles one above the other (the upper one being inverted). One can catch a glimpse of their culture through the pictorial illustration of fishing, farming and other household activities.
The red mud walls are used as a canvas for these paintings. Rice paste is used for the color white for drawing. Chewed end of a small bamboo stick acts as a paint brush.
Their paintings exhibit their compassion towards all living beings, big or small, that have become an indispensable part of their life. The Warli paintings are a manifestation of their inborn artistic intelligence. Making good use of space to project their emotions is what makes the Warli paintings stand out. For the Warlis, painting is of spiritual importance than artistic recreation. Their paintings depict their strong inclination towards aesthetic splendor.

The Warlis follow a disciplined lifestyle and live in harmony with nature. The more we get to know them; the greater is our admiration for their rich ethnology.



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