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Bahurupi

Bahurupi is a tribe that excel in the art of disguise to entertain the masses and earn their livelihood. They are part of the groups of outsiders who throng the villages during the harvesting season. Some of them, who are not part of the regular nomadic professionals who have a right to collect their dues during the harvesting season, are called Upalani-s. Bahurupi-s are part of the Upalani community.


Bahurupi is a tribe that excel in the art of disguise to entertain the masses and earn their livelihood. They are part  of the groups of outsiders who throng the villages during the harvesting season. Some of them, who are not part of the regular nomadic professionals who have a right to collect their dues during the harvesting season, are called Upalani-s. Bahurupi-s are part of the Upalani community. They are also known as Bhorapi-s as well as Raynands. In Shripatibhatta’s Jyotish Mala, a Marathi book from the earliest period, they are referred to as Boharpi. Bahurupi is the most important and primary ingredient of the breed of artists from the rural theatre. 
They are basically experts in the art of disguise and entertain people by means of their skills. In return, they earn the appreciation of the people in the form of cash or kind. They sustain themselves on whatever they earn during the harvesting period. Their skills are so perfect that at times it becomes difficult to differentiate between the original and the copy. Sometimes their acts are accompanied by entertaining songs in order to enhance the performances. The dignitaries from rural life such as the Mamledar, the Patil, and mythological figures are the subjects of their acts besides the imitation of bird-calls, animal calls, the voice of a crying baby etc.
Bahurupi-s used to be found all over Maharashtra. Because of their nomadic lifestyle, the literacy rate in this tribe is near to none. They follow the traditions of the Maratha Kunbi caste. Bahiroba, Jakhaai, Jokhaai, Janaai, Khandoba are the deities that they usually worship. The tribe of Bahurupi-s is also found in some parts of India. The Bahurupi-s in Punjab are Sikhs by faith. The Bahurupi-s from Gujarat, known as Bhawaiyye, have developed excellent skills in imitating bird calls. The Bahurupi-s is traditionally a patriarchal art that is handed down to generations. It is a gloomy scenario in modern times that this folk-art form is on the decline due to no public support and inferior social standing.

Districts/Region

Maharashtra, India.

Cultural Significance

Bahurupi is a tribe who excel in the art of disguise to entertain the masses and earn their livelihood.


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