Bhil people

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Bhil or Bheel
Children in Raisen district, MP, India.jpg
Bhil children in Madhya Pradesh
Total population
16,908,907 (2011 census)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Madhya Pradesh 5,993,921[2]
Gujarat 4,215,603[2]
Rajasthan 4,100,264[2]
Maharastra 2,588,659[2]
Karnataka 6,204[2]
Tripura 3,105[2]
Andhra Pradesh 604[2]
Chhattisgarh 547[2]
Bhil languages • Marathi • Gujarati • Sindhi • other regional languages
Hinduism • Islam • Christianity • Indigenous religions[3]

Bhils or Bheel are primarily an Adivasi people of North West India. Bhils are also settled in the Tharparkar District of Sindh, Pakistan. They speak the Bhil languages, a subgroup of the Western Zone of the Indo-Aryan languages. According to the 2011 census, Bhils were the largest tribal group in India.[4]

Bhils are listed as Adivasi residents of the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan - all in the western Deccan regions and central India - as well as in Tripura in North-eastern India, on the border with Bangladesh. Bhils are divided into a number of endogamous territorial divisions, which in turn have a number of clans and lineages. Most Bhils now speak the language of the region they reside in, such as Marathi, Gujarati or a Hindustani dialect.

Bhil settlements[edit]

A universal aspect of Bhil villages is the dispersed pattern of settlement wherein there is no proper "village site" and homes are located far from but within hailing distance from the nearest neighbor.[5] Traditionally headmen of Bhil villages are known by various titles, depending on region, such as Tadvi, Patel, Naik, Gameti, Rawat, Vasavo, and Mukhi.[5]

Present circumstances[edit]

In Azamgarh and Jaunpur,the Bhil are now mainly a community of settled farmers, with a significant minority who are landless agricultural labourers. A significant subsidiary occupation remains hunting and gathering. The Bhil are now largely Hindu, with Nirdhi following Islam, and few sub-groups in the Dangs following Christianity. They continue to worship tribal deities such as Mogra Deo and Sitla Matta and nakshtra and garv and Kanchan [6][3]

The Bhil are classified as a Scheduled Tribe in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tripura under the Indian government's reservation program of positive discrimination.[1]


The Bhil are divided into a number of endogamous territorial divisions, which in turn have a number of clans and lineages. The main divisions in Gujarat are the Barda, Dungri Garasia, and Vasava, while in Maharashtra, the Bhil Mavchi and Kotwal are their main sub-groups.[6]

In Rajasthan, they exist as Bhil Garasia, Dholi Bhil, Dungri Bhil, Dungri Garasia, Mewasi Bhil, Rawal Bhil, Tadvi Bhil, Bhagalia, Bhilala, Pawra, Vasava and Vasave.[7][a]


The Bhilala sub-division is known for its Pithora painting.[8]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ The Vasava and Vasave in Rajasthan may be alternate transliterations of the name for a single community. The sources are unclear regarding this.


  1. ^ a b "List of notified Scheduled Tribes" (PDF). Census India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "A-11 Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix". Census of India 2011. Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2017-03-24. 
  3. ^ a b People of India Maharashtra Volume XXX Part One edited by B.V Bhanu, B.R Bhatnagar, D.K Bose, V.S Kulkarni and J Sreenath pages 280–286
  4. ^ Demographic Status of Scheduled Tribe Population of India, Minitry of Tribal Affairs, India [1]
  5. ^ a b Deliege, Robert (1985). The Bhils of Western India (Some Empirical and Theoretical Issues in Anthropology in India). New Delhi: National Publishing House. 
  6. ^ a b People of India Gujarat Volume XXII Part One edited by R.B Lal, S.V Padmanabham & A Mohideen page 214 to 221 Popular Prakashan
  7. ^ "List of Scheduled Tribes". Census of India: Government of India. 7 March 2007. Archived from the original on 5 June 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Pachauri, Swasti (26 June 2014). "Pithora art depicts different hues of tribal life". Indian Express. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 

External links[edit]