Visit to the Bhil Carnival is a charming book created by Subhash Amaliyar, a Bhil artist from Jhabua in central India. Using the Bhil style of painting, it depicts the traditional carnival, Bhagoria, held each year around Holi. In the Bhil dialect, ‘bhagoria’ means ‘run’ and it is a celebration after the harvest season. According to the Madhya Pradesh Tourism website the word bhag or run is associated with the selection of partners and elopement, but local Bhils do not accept this interpretation. Politics aside, the painting is about fun, celebration and is alive with movement.
A large and intricate painting forms the centrepiece of this delightful book. The opening lines are: ‘Neela and his sister Peela are off to the fair’ and with that the viewer follows them as they walk along a red road, meet the balloon seller and enter the carnival as the whole panorama of the fairground unfolds. There are people, birds, animals, stalls, an action packed scene. The red road takes the viewer along with Neela (who is blue black) and Peela (who is yellow) to the ferris wheel, a group of dancers, the toy shop, ice cream seller, a sinister snake tree, the outdoor photo studio, the big fight and back home.