/beel/, n., pl. Bhils, (esp. collectively) Bhil.
a people inhabiting the hills of west central India.

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      ethnic group of nearly 2.5 million people of western India. Many are tribal, and they have been known for rugged independence, sometimes associated with banditry.

      The Bhīl are distributed widely in upland areas from Ajmer in Rājasthān on the north to Thāna in Mahārāshtra on the south, and eastward as far as Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Nearly all of them engage in agriculture, some of them using the primitive slash-and-burn (jhum) method, but most employing the plow. The highland Bhīl generally live in scattered houses made of wattle and thatch.

      The relationship between the Bhīl and neighbouring peoples is not clear. The Bhīl follow Rajasthani kinship usages in Rājasthān and Maharashtrian usages in Mahārāshtra, but with easier marriage and divorce procedures. Most Bhīl worship local deities in varied pantheons only slightly touching the practices of higher Hinduism; a few aristocratic segments such as the Bhīlāla and some plains groups employ Brahman priests; others are converts to Islām. Their dialects are akin to Gujarati or to other Indo-Aryan languages rather than to the Munda or Dravidian tongues of most tribal peoples.

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Universalium. 2010.

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