Should Rajputs leave Hinduism
Introduction to Rajasthan
Rajasthan, land of maharajas and palaces, is one of the most enchanting regions of India. The people and atmosphere transport you to the world from "1001 Nights". Discover the culture and diversity of this popular region of northern India. It is the land of history and popular festivals; Rajasthan carries the magic of India. Here is everything you need to know to plan your trip.
Rajasthan makes up 10% of the area of India and is the largest state in terms of area. It consists of two regions separated by the Aravelli mountain range, which is almost 700 km long and runs from Gujarat to Delhi. The highest point is 1722 m high (Guru Shikar at Mount Abu). The south-west is green and wooded, while the north shows different bumps. The Aravelli are an important climate barrier as they stop the monsoon rains and consequently give the two regions a different character.
In the north-west of the Aravelli lies the desert region, the aridity of which intensifies with increasing proximity to the Thar Desert in Pakistan. The only river in the region is the Luni. Irrigation is essential for the supply of villages and cities and changes the landscape.
Southeast of the Aravelli is a region that benefits from the influences of the monsoon rains by doing well. Several rivers flow through this area. The most important of these is the Chambal, which forms many dams and canals.
Rajasthan is rich in lakes, most of them artificially created by the former maharajas. The natural lakes are often salty, the largest of which is the Sambhar near Jaipur, which is still used for salt production.
The first Rajput strongholds emerged between the sixth and eighth centuries and led to the dismantling of the Gupta Empire (the Gupta period is known as the golden age of classical India) as a result of the invasion by the Huns and Gurjara.
From there the feudal power rose in northern India, which is why a fragmentation into small rival kingdoms took place. Some Rajput clans further strengthened their power and built great kingdoms: the Gurjara-Prathihara, the Chandella (near Khajuraho), the Chauhan (near Ajmer and Delhi), the Pramar (near Ujjain), Gujarat Solanki, the Rathore (in the valley of the Ganges ).
However, these monarchs fell victim to internal struggles and were unable to form a unified front in the face of the threat posed by the Turkish-Afghan Muslim tribes in the first half of the 12th century. Some of these Rajput clans found refuge in what is now Rajasthan. Small Rajput forts were here off the main routes of the invasions and remained independent, so that the Muslim rule of the Sultanate of Delhi never really gained full control over them.
In the 16th century, the bravery of these Rajputs could not withstand the strategic superiority and weapons of the Mughal Emperor Baber. The Rajputs surrendered and organized the resistance in their own realms. During the period when the Rajputs were the defenders of the Hindu faith, the Rajput saga was born about famous heroes known for their indestructible sense of honor.
In 1556, Akbar took the reins of the Mughal Empire. His ambition was to expand his rule and empire through the Indian sovereign monarchy. For this purpose he pursued a military and diplomatic policy at the same time. In addition to his many wives, he also had the Rajput princesses. This conciliatory policy bore fruit. This was a time of great prosperity for the Rajputs who had pledged allegiance to him. Akbar also knew how to use his military knowledge for new conquests. Only the Mewar Empire resisted Akbar.
The Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan followed the same policy as Akbar towards the Rajput monarchs. On the other hand, Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan's son, who came to the throne in the mid-17th century, caused several Rajput uprisings because of his religious intolerance.
From the 18th century the Mughal Empire largely disintegrated as a result of guerrilla wars, especially the war of the Mahrattes, which stood as a new power in the bloc and caused heavy looting and a division of the country. Rajasthan once again became a land of conflict and impoverishment. To escape the oppression of the Mahrattes and the other Pindari and Pathan bandits, the Maharajas signed agreements with the British to protect their army. From the 17th century onwards, the British had established trade on the Indian coasts through the East India Company. The British put an end to the hegemony of the maharattes at the beginning of the 19th century. By signing agreements with a trading company, the maharajas gave the British sovereignty but retained their powers within their kingdoms.
In 1877 Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India in Delhi. The maharajas were now directly under the crown and thus found their prestige again in these noble vassals. The Maharajas were loyal allies of the Crown, especially during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and during the two world wars when they fought alongside the British.
From the early twentieth century and until today, the word Maharajah evokes luxury, opulence and refinement: palace walls with precious stones, parades of elephants adorned with fabric and semi-precious stones, festivals lasting several weeks, the tiger hunt, Rolls Royce.
The time of independence came in 1947 when the Maharajas surrendered their kingdoms to the republic. In return, the Indian government gave them a list of privileges that were abolished a few years later. The maharajas turned into businessmen and opened the gates of their forts and palaces to visitors and turned some of them into hotels because one of their greatest qualities, also very specific to India, is their great sense of hospitality.
The maharajas, who now represent 10% of the population of Rajasthan, are still highly regarded.
The Rajputs appear on the historical scene of the Raj.
Like all United Nations, Rajasthan has an independently organized model of government under the central state:
- A governor assigned by the President of the Republic
- A prime minister and his main party cabinet
- A legislative constellation that is elected with universal suffrage
The state of Rajasthan is divided into 32 districts. It is headed by an officer with a college of local representatives. In general, every village has an elected college, the Panchayat.
Rajasthan has a caste system that was officially abolished by the 1947 constitution. Nevertheless, it is difficult to change a centuries-old system with one law. This hierarchy is based on a religious background and has no connection with the wealth of the individual, but relates to its purity. The caste into which one is born depends on the deeds in the previous life. There are 4 varmas (the word "caste" comes from the Portuguese colonies):
- The Brahmins
- The nobles and warriors
- Traders, artists and farmers
Finally, there are the casteless and untouchables, who are used for trade or unclean tasks (contact with human waste and animal bodies).
Belonging to a caste is difficult for a tourist to recognize because there are no obvious indications. The last name is an identifier for the caste to which the person belongs.
Some special features in Rajasthan:
- The Rajputs ("son of the king"): They represent 10% of the population today and their historical importance was paramount. They gave the state its name, which means "The Land of Kings". The Rajputs were organized in a federal society. Klans were the military aristocracy who ran all of the strongholds and kingdoms of Rajasthan. Their cultural heritage is also very significant: forts, palaces, temples. Your impression conveys great courage and demands a code of honor.
- The Marwari: They represent the wealthy merchants of Jodhpur, who are best known for their astute caravan trade. They left a legacy that can mainly be found in Shekavati. After caravans increasingly declined in the 18th and 19th centuries, they moved to Mumbai and Calcutta, where they shone in trade, industry and finance. The most famous of these are Birla and Bajaj.
- The Jati (lower caste) farmers: they exist in great numbers; Rajasthan was a very rural state. They are best known as the Jats, the Rebaris, and the Bishnois.
- The tribal people (or Adivasi) are the indigenous people. They represent 12% of the population. The largest ethnic group are the Minas, the Bhils (famous archers), the Garasias, the Gaduliya Lohar (nomad blacksmiths) and the Kalbeliya (nomadic snake charmers, also known for their talent as singers and dancers).
- Precious and semi-precious stones and silver jewelry from Jaipur
- Fabrics from Jaipur and Sanganer (10 km from Jaipur): beautifully printed cotton fabrics decorated with traditional patterns using the "block printing" method (carved stamps) or batik (fabric with waffle effect and dots)
- Sanganer pottery and paper mache
- Pokaran mats
- Miniatures from Bundi, Kota, Udaipur and Kishangarh: the life of the Rajput rulers is an inexhaustible subject for painters
- Camel leather items (shoes)
- Dolls all over Rajasthan
- Religious Holidays: by Hindus, Muslims and Jains are often accompanied by a market (called "Mela")
- Cultural festivals
- The elephant festival in Jaipur during the religious festival Holi (March): elephant parade, flanked by impressive racing elephants
- The Rajasthan International Folk Fest in Jodhpur in October (October 12-16, 2011): more than 250 artists (musicians, dancers and others) come together to share the cultural heritage
- The Desert Festival and the Bikaner Camels (January): Camel Parade, a camel show
- The Jaipur Literature Festival: The most important literature festival in Asia
- The Wonder World Workshop in Jaipur (January): Discover and participate in workshops on miniature painting, silver jewelry, design, Rajasthani food
- The summer festival of Mount Abu (May 15-17, 2011): Rajasthani dances
9% of the population of Rajasthan are Hindus. The Rajput princes have always been trustworthy and passionate defenders of Hinduism and its traditions, although Muslims predominate in northern India. They accepted the rule of the Mughals on condition that they could keep their faith. Hinduism is omnipresent in everyday life: in thinking, behavior, art, cooking, etc.
The Muslims make up the second largest religious community in Rajasthan: 8.5% of the population. They are mainly located in the northeast of the state, where the influence of the Delhi Sultans and the Mughals was significant. Their major religious center is Ajmer, where the tomb of St. Muin-Ud-Din Chisti is, the founder of the Sufi order.
Jains represent 1% of the population. Rajasthan is home to a fifth of the Jains of India's total population. You can marvel at beautiful Jain temples in Ranakpur - the temple of Adinath, one of the 24 saints of the Jain movement - and in Mount Abu.
Sikhs, recognizable by their well-fitting turbans, make up up to 1.5% of the population in Rajasthan. They are mainly found in large cities and in the north of the state, due to the proximity to Punjab. There are approximately 30,000 Christians in Rajasthan.
The best season is from October to March. The sky is always clear and the temperatures remain very mild, like spring in Europe. During the day the thermometer climbs to 22-25 ° C; the nights are relatively cool (minimum 3 - 4 ° C in December). Monsoon rains irrigate northern India from June to September. This is not the easiest season to travel, but it is not the worst either, between 2 downpours the light is very nice over the wet landscapes and there is a pleasant atmosphere. In addition, it rains a maximum of 3 - 4 hours per day during the monsoon season. After the first monsoon rain, nature becomes even more beautiful.
The cuisine of Rajasthan is commonly referred to as North Indian.
The food, vegetarian or not, is served as a thali. Rice, lentils (there are over 100 types), vegetables (fenugreek, spinach, pumpkin, potatoes, peas, carrots, green beans, etc. ..) and meat (chicken and mutton) are served in small cups called thali katori , arranged in no particular order. In a thali you have all 5 flavors: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and astringent. You will also find the following breads in your thali: chapati, puri, paratha, papad or naan. Of course, all these dishes are prepared with spices: cumin, ginger, black mustard, turmeric, pepper, ajwain, etc. and the most difficult thing for our palates and stomachs: chili!
You close your meal with something sweet: halwa (semolina flour or lentils), kulfi (ice cream), kheer (rice pudding seasoned with cardamom and decorated with dried fruit), gulab jamun, jalebi, or any other pastry to set the fire on your palate appease.
Drinks: don't forget to drink chai; Tea boiled with spices and sweetened milk, lassi (whipped yoghurt), sweet, salty or flavored with banana, mango, etc. .., nimbu pani or lemonade.
It is difficult to avoid the temptation to shop in Rajasthan.
The handicraft is an essential part of Indian culture, especially in Rajasthan. The only problem will be the space in your luggage when you leave India!
You can find a wide variety of wonders in India:
- Bracelets (bangles) from Jaipur and Kuchaman (lacquer bracelets)
In Rajasthan, the calendar is full of numerous festivals:
Religious Holidays: The most important Hindu religious festivals in India are Diwali, Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, and the special days of the respective local saints. Celebrate at mythical or real events like the Sati Festival, as well as those of other religious communities, Muslims and Jains. The cities and villages are flooded in a few hours by thousands of people who come from all over Rajasthan, on foot, by camel carts, tractors, buses, etc ... and they are dressed in their most beautiful colorful clothes and accessories. Some of these festivals are also an opportunity to sell their cattle (such as the Pushkar Camel Fair or Nagaur White Cattle Market). These religious holidays are a feast for the senses.
Cultural festivals are mostly organized by the Tourism Department in Rajasthan and provide an opportunity to explore the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan. We particularly recommend:
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