Traditional Liquor-making Rituals of the Warlis

in Module
Published on: 20 February 2020

Namrata Toraskar

Namrata Toraskar is an architect and independent researcher currently based in Mumbai. She recently completed her Masters in Interior Architecture & Design with a specialisation in Crafts and Technology from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. Through an interdisciplinary use of photography, illustrations and writing, she strives to evolve creative approaches to intervene in the built environment of the rural communities and the position of their empirically evolved livelihood practices in the society. Her articles, illustrations and research papers have been published in national magazines and international journals.

The Warlis are a settled tribe living in the tribal tracts of Palghar and Nashik districts of north-western Maharashtra. Besides their traditional agricultural practices, the Warlis depend on the surrounding forests for their daily livelihood demands of firewood, karvi sticks for wattle and daub construction, etc. Considering that Warli domestic art and culture have been recognised in scholarship, one finds surprisingly little mention on their one very major non-timber forest produce, i.e. the locally brewed spirits. Even when such documentation exists, the complex and the contradictory roles that such indigenous spirits play in the lives of the Warlis is missing or is purposely muted in discussion. This module collates a visual archive of the domestic liquor-making traditions in Palghar, along with a documentation of its production. There is an attempt to not just exhibit the different varieties of spirits brewed by the Warlis, but also locate these spirits within the context of their everyday life and domesticity by providing a nuanced and multi-layered account of the relationships between the Warlis, their spirits and the traditional rituals.