Not so long ago, while crossing over from Nuapada district of Odisha into Gariaband district of Chhattisgarh, I drove through Deobhog, the block headquarters of Gariaband. There, I saw an unusual group of young men and children on bicycles.

They were dressed in lush, almost royal-looking attire. They wore garlands, shiny waistcoats, anklets with ghunguroos (bells), and different kinds of headdress. One even had on a groom’s turban. I thought to myself: they must be part of a theatre group.

I stopped, they did too, and soon I was taking photos of them. When I asked them where they were going, Sombaru Yadav, around 25 years old,  said, “We are going to Deobhog to dance before the deity.”

Gulshan Yadav, Kirtan Yadav, Sombaru, Devendra, Dhanraj and Gobindra were from Nuaguda village, some 7-8 kilomteres from where I met them, in Kosamkani gram panchayat of Deobhog block. Back in their village, they  are farmers, agricultural labourers or in school.

PHOTO • Purusottam Thakur

Purusottam Thakur is a 2015 PARI Fellow, and a freelance journalist, photographer and documentary filmmaker who reports from Chhattisgarh and Odisha. He also works for the Azim Premji Foundation.

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