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Rajasthan

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History - Land and Types of Tribes


Tribal Woman, RajasthanRajasthan was inhabited long before 2500 BC and the Indus valley civilization had its foundation here in north Rajasthan. The Bhil and the Mina tribes were the earliest one to stay in this area. The times of Harsha 7(AD) to the founding of the Delhi Sultanate, Rajasthan was fragmented in competing kingdoms. During the era the Rajputs through wealth and power persuaded the Brahmins to link them.

In due course Mughals who gained control of the region through the strategy of Akbar, the Mughal Emperor. Akbar turned the Rajputs from fearsome foes to faithful friends. Akbar gave high offices to many Rajput princes after seeking reconciliation through marriage to a Rajput princess, Jodha Bai, the daughter of the Maharaja of Amber.

The Rajputs as a community thus has outlived the tribal Delhi Sultanate. Yet today the spirit and the heroic exploits of Rajput warrior – kings, like Prithviraj Chauhan, Rana Kumbha and Bhappa Rawal continue to echo in the golden sands of Rajputana in the people’s folklore, music and dance. Rajasthan is in the north-western region of India; the Mauryan empire (321 BC) whose most renowned emperor, Ashoka, converted to Buddhism in 261 BC , had minimal impact in Rajasthan . However, there Buddhist caves and Buddhist shrines at Jhalawar in Southern Rajasthan.

Pilgrimage site of Pushkar is mentioned in both the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Many of the former rulers of Rajasthan continue to use the title of Maharaja for social purposes. The only power this title holds today is as a status symbol. Many decided to convert their palaces into hotels as a means of earning income.  Some of these tourist palace hotels have become prime tourist destinations in India, such as the Lake Palace hotel in Udaipur, the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur and the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur.

Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, comprised of a number of Rajput kingdoms as well as Jat kingdom and a Muslim Kingdom. The people from Mar war who are known as Marwaris and Rajasthan formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage. The Marwaris have also played a crucial role in the economic development of the region.

The main geographic features of Rajasthan are the Thar Desert and Aravali Range. Mount Abu at the southwestern end of the range, separated from the main ranges by the west Banes River. The land of Rajasthan is more varied than any other region. It is a region of lofty rocks, rolling sand dunes, of burning heat and freezing cold. The Arid high plateau of south-western Rajasthan is broken by wild cliffs and hill ranges. Irrigation dams or deep wells are the source of water for the fields in the oases lying within the valleys. South western of Rajasthan is broken by wild cliffs and hill ranges. Politically it is divided into six administrative zones; Mew at (Alwar region), Mar war (Jodhpur region), Me war (Udaipur region), Dhundar (Jaipur region), Hadoti (kota region) and Shekhawati (sikar region).

The cities of Jaipur and Udaipur are in the well –irrigated valley of the Aravallis, with long patches of thick forests and crop laden fields. Rajasthan happens to be the largest state of India with an area of 3.42 lac sq.kms. It also boasts of being the only desert of the sub continent namely the Great Indian Desert in combination with the Aravali mountain range.

Rajasthan tribal constitute around 12% of the total population of the state. The tribes of Rajasthan, constitutes mainly of Bhils and Minas. Each and every tribe has contributed with their unique customs and rituals, making the whole of the culture of Rajasthan quite enriched. Festivals, costumes all bear witness to the cultural daintiness of the tribes of Rajasthan. For their source of revenue, these tribes of Rajasthan carry on cultivation. The tribes of Rajasthan dress up in the traditional dresses wholly influenced by several factors like climate, economy, status and the profession, that they are occupied. Festivals fair, dancing, music, are integral part of these tribes.

 

Types of Tribes


The Bhils

The Bhils compromise 39% of Rajasthan tribal population.  The term Bhil, means strength and this describe their original talent and strength. The Bhils maintained their numbers by mingling with rebellious outcaste Rajputs.

Legendary stories say that the Bhils were fine archers. Bhil bowmen are mentioned in both the Mahabharata and Ramayana. They fighting capacity was taken in high regards. Although originally food gatherers, the Bhils these days have taken up small-scale agriculture, city residence and employment.

The Banes war fair is a Bhil festival held near Dungarpur and large number of Bhils gathers for several days for singing, dancing and worshipping. Holi is another important time for Bhils. Witchcraft magic and superstition are deeply rooted aspects of the Bhil culture.


Minas

The second largest tribe of the state and the widest spread too. They are considered to be the original inhabitants of the Indus Valley civilization. The Vedas and the Mahabharata mention them, and it was the Kachhawah Rajputs who finally dispersed them and forced them into the Aravallis. The Minas have a tall, athletic build with sharp features, large eyes, thick lips and a light brown complexion.

They live in the regions of Shekhawati and eastern Rajasthan. The name Minas is derived from 'men fish'. Originally they were a ruling tribe, but their slow downfall began with the Rajputs, and was completed when the British Government declared them a 'Criminal tribe' in 1924.

Just like the Bhils, the literacy rate among the Minas was very low, but is improving. Marriage, arranged by the parents is generally within the tribe and most marriages take place when the children are quite young.


The Gaduliya Lohars

The Gaduliya Lohars, named after their beautiful bullock carts, were originally a martial Rajput tribe, but nowadays they are nomadic blacksmiths. They are said to have wandered from their homeland of Me war because of their promise to their 'lord' Maharana Pratap who was ousted from Chittaurgarh by Akbar. This clan of warring Rajputs vowed to re-enter the city only after the victory of Maharana Pratap who was, however, unfortunately killed in the battlefield.


Garasias

They are a small Rajput tribe found along the Abu Road area of Southern Rajasthan. The Garasias have an interesting custom of marriage through elopement, which usually takes place at the annual Gaur Fair held during the full moon in March. After the elopement, which can be spontaneous or pre-arranged, a bride price is paid to the bride's father.


Sahariyas

They are thought to be of Bhil origin and are found in the areas of Kota, Dungarpur and Sawai Madhopur in the south- east of the state. The Sahariyas are jungle dwellers, their name possibly deriving from the Persian 'Sehr'. The Sahariyas are regarded as the most backward tribe in Rajasthan and make out a living as shifting cultivators and by hunting and fishing.


Damors

The small tribal community of Damors probably migrated from their original home in Gujarat to settle in Dungarpur and Udaipur districts. They are mainly cultivators and manual laborers.

 

 

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