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Rajasthan People

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People of Rajasthan

People in RajasthanThe Rajasthanis are a sturdy, cheerful lot, despite their ecological adversities and their long feudal history which, while it made Rajasthan a fascinating land of palaces and forts, left it with very low agricultural productivity and a near-total absence of modern industry till a few decades ago. Nevertheless no visitor to Rajasthan will fail to notice the extremely good physique of the average Rajasthani male and the (often veiled) beauty and colorful dress of the women, who seem to counter the dullness of the round-the-clock drudgery of their daily routine not only by the brightness of their garments but also in their music and dance and in the murals they paint on their walls. It is not uncommon for large tracts of Rajasthan to face water, food and fodder scarcity for several consecutive years; even in years of normal rainfall, in many villages, women daily trudge several miles to fetch a head-load of water; yet the people have managed to evolve lifestyles which vibrate with hope, faith and cheerfulness.
 
Warrior-Caste:
Turning from the macro-structural to the micro-structural dimensions of the social system of Rajasthan, one cannot but begin by noting that the Rajputs constitute the social fulcrum of community life in Rajasthan. Some observers of the Indian social scene might be inclined to use the past tense in the previous sentence, but many a social scientist would agree with the thesis that a past stretching over nearly a thousand years cannot be expected to just vanish without traceable remnants and residues, short of a violent revolutionary upheaval of a type which India's power-elite have been consciously trying to avoid, let alone advocating or advancing the cause of sudden and total social change. Although the Rajputs never constituted more than a tenth of the total population, they have commanded the heights of the polity and the society in Rajasthan for nearly a thousand years.
 
Rajputs
Wear Turban Rajasthan MenThe available historical records do not appear to be sufficient to pierce the veil of romantic mythology which ascribes their origins to the Agni-kula ceremony performed by Brahmin priests at Mount Abu, which is the highest point along the Aravali range of mountains in Rajasthan. Be that as it may, it appears safe to conclude that the consecration story only epitomizes the actual political role of the Rajputs in this part of India, namely, consolidating autonomous princely states amidst the emergence of chaotic conditions in the wake of the decline of empires like that of Harsha in the sixth century and, later, fiercely resisting invasions and encroachments over their territories, by the Muslim (and Mughal) armies from within and without present-day India. The political role of the Raput rulers of the princely states of Rajasthan is borne out by the fact that, amongst the 22 princely states and chiefdoms which were merged into Rajasthan in a multi-phase consolidation between 1947 and 1950, as many as 19 had Rajput rulers. The more prominent among these were Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota and Udaipur. The Rajputs of Rajasthan, constituted a warrior aristocracy divided into a number of prominent clans, each of which regarded a princely state as its traditional patrimony, whose ruler was the social head of clan besides being the political ruler. The princely state of Jaipur was thus ruled by the Kachachawa Rajputs, the Rathors ruled in Jodhpur and Bikaner, the Hadas in Kota, and the Sisodia in Mewar (Udaipur).

Gadia-Lohar(The Blacksmith)
The colourful Gadia Lohars are perhaps, the only nomads who have their origins shrouded in legend. It is said that their ancestors who were blacksmiths to the army of the Rajasthani chieftain Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar, moved from place to place with him, manufacturing weapons for the army. When Rana Pratap’s army was defeated at the battle of Haldighati in 1576, the Gadia remained loyal to him, following him into the forests to which he fled, skirmishing with the Mughal army in a long drawn out struggle that continued even after his death. After the fortress of Chittor, the capital of the Mewar kingdom, fell to the Mughals, the Gadia Lohars took a vow never to return to their homeland, and never to settle anywhere else until the Rana’s hegemony was restored. Yet for all their wandering, the Gadia are unmistakably Rajasthani,. Small Lohar groups can be seen on the outskirts of any large city in the north where they live in small settlements centered around their beautiful carts. Low mud walls enclose each cart, demarcating a place of residence but now ownership. Even their name – Gadia – originates from the bullock carts which are their homes. Gadia Lohar, literally meaning metal workers of the bullock carts. Notice a Gadia settlement and you will see lithe laughing women in swirling skirts, often with mirror studded garments and silver jewellery glittering as they go gracefully about their business, bending to kindle a small fire in the most casual fashion or working a pair of bellows with practised ease. Their men, tough and sturdy, lounge beside the makeshift smithies, occasionally getting to their feet to work alongside their wives. The children play in the dust beside the clutter that surrounds them. It is a hard life yet despite the vagaries of weather and the uncertainties of their trade they are a handsome and cheerful lot, and remain buoyantly dignified, unmindful of their hard life. They breed cattle, sharing and selling the milk, and in their tiny smithy they forge various soft iron wares needed in our daily life. When the weather turns hostile, they spread sheets of plastic or tarpaulin over their mobile homes, taking shelter within. During winter, thick patchwork quilts protect them from the chill of the nights. A tribe of happy and upright people, the Gadia remain children of the desert committed to braving the hazards of nature and environment.

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