The play explores the ancestral beliefs of the Bhil tribe and its varying visual culture. As a universal phenomenon, the beliefs related with ancestors and fulfilment of their wishes after death forms an integral part of ancestral beliefs. The realisation of the wishes of the dead ancestors forms the core of a rich repository of intangible heritage which is realised in tangible structure by tribes throughout the geographical domains of the world. The documentation of the beliefs associated with ancestors and the approach adopted by the Bhil tribe in Madhya Pradesh, for its realisation in tangible aspects, forms the focus here.
The journey of the departed soul is believed to travel in unknown domains. To ensure their peaceful journey and to garner their blessings for succeeding generations, they are acknowledged through dedicated rituals. These ritual practices have woven a rich fabric of intangible practices, furthermore representing it in its tangible presence, spanning across generations.
After Death’ is based on the Indian Bhil tribe’s traditional rituals, faith in spiritual powers and folk stories inspired by their ancestral rituals. After travelling to Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, I have dealt with a concept based on these rituals, developed into a folk story inspired by the Bhil tribe rituals related to death. In my story one Bhil man meets with an accident, after which his mother, wife and friends pay their homage to Dungerdeo and perform rituals to save his life. But, after his death, his wife gets engaged with another man. Due to this, the soul of the first husband was disturbed which led to disturbances in the villagers’ lives too. For his peaceful journey, rituals of gatla (ancestor stele) erection were performed which is a traditional practice prevalent among the Bhil tribe of India.