is a folk-drama of Gujarat.
It is one of the branches of folk-art whose subject matter and the
dramatic pattern projects the basic features of folk-art.
Performed in village and temple grounds by professional communities of north Gujarat, the Taragalas, Bhojakas etc. The word 'Bhavai' is derived from the Sanskrit word "Bhava" meaning 'expression of emotion'.
The Bhavai drama is a continuous performance lasting the whole night in which many "veshas" are performed in the open without any stage equipment. These 'Veshas' depict episodes from the social life of the community in the countryside, focusing on the characteristics of certain sections in satirical or farcical way. The dance drama subtly brings out the peculiarities of various classes such as the Banias, Bohras, wandering tribes, etc.
Continuous playing on the 'Bhungal', a very long wind brass instrument, before and during the performance calls the rural patrons to the scene of the Bhavai. Women are strictly tabooed from taking part in the Bhavai. Their role is performed by the male artists, which makes the entire drama more fun filled. The repertoire of the Bhavai is limited to about three dozen 'veshas', the authorship of which is attributed to Asait, the pioneer of Bhavai.
In Bhavai, the artists of Nayak community present songs and drama and use them for the satire on the prevalent situation, customs, blind-faiths and taboos of the society so as to make people laugh on them. At the end of the play, they deliver an effective message for the society. The basic idea behind the performance is social-reform besides entertainment.