Marriage Warli

A Suvasini, or a married woman paints the marriage chowk or a square on the wall. There are two types of marriage chowk: Dev Chowk and Lagan Chowk. The warli marriage lasts for four to five days and there are different rituals associated with it. The process of the painting is one of the most important ceremony done one day prior to marriage. These chowks are prepared to protect the bride and the groom from the evil spirit, to ensure their fertility, and to enhance their procreative abilities.

The lagna chowk is more or less a rectangle with the figure of Palghat devi. She is the goddess of fertility, and is invoked to bring good fortune in the lives of the bride and groom. The border is made of diverse geometrical patterns. There are different forms of Palghat Devi which vary from area to area. It is done in the houses of both the bride and the groom. The typical chowk has five to eight rows of designs such as the pophala, the sakhali, the dhak, the pasondi and the basinda pattern. People of the warli tribe believe that the lagan chowk is the jewellery of the goddess. This is why the lagan chowk is painted with intricate designs and geometrical patterns.

The Dev Chowk is drawn during the time of wedding. It is generally painted beside the Lagan Chowk. A Panchsiriya, or the five-headed god and the headless warrior. It is drawn either standing or riding a horse. It is done to protect the bride and groom from diseases, illnesses, misfortune and bad luck, etc.

Lagna  Chowk Warli

Lagna chowk (Source : Alamy)
dev Chowk Warli
Dev Chowk Warli


Kanna is the only Warli image drawn on the ground by the Suvasinis. It is a symbol of virginity, drawn on the third day of the wedding at the bride’s house. Kanna is drawn around the pounding hole in their houses, otherwise used to separate seeds from the husk. Kanna is drawn using different colours: white from rice powder; yellow from turmeric; red from Kumkum and orange from sindoor. The symbol of kanna represents the vulva of a virgin warli bride.

Kanna Warli

Kanna Warli


Muthi or the fist is imprinted on the walls of the huts when new rice is brought home from the field.  This can be seen on almost every hut of the tribe. These imprints are also done on granaries, inner walls of the kitchen, ploughs, and also on baskets used to store the grain. The repetition of the imprints symbolise the abundance of food.

Muthi Warli

Muthi Warli

Tarpa Dance

Tarpa is one of the most famous folk dance of the Warli tribe. It is performed by both men and women at night after dinner. Tarpa is a large phallic shaped instrument, prepared by the tribe themselves. The Tarpa player stands in the centre and is surrounded by the dancers in a circle. The men form an inner circle while women form the outer circle. The Tarpa dance moves in an anti-clockwise manner. It is quick, sharp and full of expression.

Tarpa Dance Warli

Tarpa Dance Warli

Wedding Ceremony                  

There are many different versions of the marriage ceremony Warli painting. After the painting of the wedding ceremony Warli, the groom takes his bride to his house on a horse, followed by dancing guests and musicians. In the tribal wedding, the bride always sits in front of the groom on a horse, while in the Hindu culture the bride sits behind the groom.

Wedding Warli

Wedding Warli

Further reads:

  • The painted world of the warlis: Art and ritual of the warli tribes of Maharashtra by Yashodahra Dalmia
  • Indian folk and tribal painting by charu smita gupta
  • Warli art: Diversification of traditional painting creating future, hope and happiness by Kavita paul

~Written by Misha Jaswal


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