The Bhopa people are the priest-singers of the folk deities in the state of Rajasthan, India. They perform in front of a scroll, known as phad (par in the Rajasthani language) that depicts the episodes of the narrative of the folk deity and functions as a portable temple. The Bhopas carry this phad traditionally, and are invited by villagers to perform in their localities during times of sickness and misfortune. Traditionally, the phads are kept rolled in transit. After reaching a village or town, the Bhopas erect the phads between two poles in a suitable public place shortly after nightfall. The performance goes on throughout the night and terminates only in early morning
Bhopa's are belong lots of castes like Gurjar, Rajput and Nayak. The epical narratives of the folk deities are told by the Bhopas during the jagarans (night-wakes). The purpose of these jagarans are to evoke the prakas (presence) of the folk deities. The sequence which a phad vacno (performance) follows can be summarized as follows:
The Bhopa sings various episodes from the narrative of Pabuji and his wife known as Bhopi holds an oil lamp near the visual being described. The Bhopi also sings some parts of the episodes. Mohan Bhopa (who - till his demise in 2011 - performed along with his wife Batasi Bhopi) is a celebrated present-day singer-priest of Pabuji, covered by author and historian William Dalrymple in his famed book Nine Lives. After her husband's death, Batasi now performs with her eldest son Mahavir.
There are three different types of Bhopas of deity Devnarayan namely the temple Bhopas, the Jamat Bhopas and the Par Bhopas.The Jamat bhopas of Deity Devnarayan can only be from Gurjar community as the jamat is related to Devji sect, however par bhopas and temple bhopas belong to different castes including Gurjars, Rajputs, Kumbhars and balais. During the performance, a jantar (a type of fretted veena with two resonators of gourd or wood) is played to accompany the songs. Usually there are two Bhopas who recite the epic, one is the main Bhopa, the Patavi, and the other is his assistant, the Diyala. When the Patavi Bhopa sings a particular episode of the epic, his junior partner, the Diyala Bhopa lights an oil lamp and illuminates the particular part of the phad, where the particular episode which is being sung is depicted. He also sings some parts of the episodes.