Villages in Rajasthan - Rajasthan Villages

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Villages in Rajasthan

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Rajasthan Desert, Rajasthan Villages

The deserts in Rajasthan are very populated. Inspite of the challenges that these deserts offers, people have seted all over the Thar Desert and have innovated in their own small ways to make the arid sands habitable. The landscape of Rajasthan is scattered with a number of villages and hamlets, telltale signs of tree grove and cattle. The most colorful villages are found in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. The typical village has always been difficult to spot till one is actually upon it.

The hamlets, the most basic form of civilization, consist of a collection of huts that are circular and have thatched roofs. The walls are covered with a plaster of clay, cow dung, and hay, making a termite free (antiseptic) facade that blends with the sand of the countryside around it. The boundaries for houses and land holdings, also known as Baraas are made of the dry branches of a nettle-like shrub. These boundaries are made outside the house to protect the house from the stray cattle and enemies. The resources which are used for building these homes, are the most eco-friendly living unit and easily available in the western desert regions of Rajasthan.

Each village is a multi-community settlement and here the various castes create a structure of dependence based on the nature of their work. The Rajputs resides at the head of the village settlement. The village life revolved around the Rajputs. The Rajputs served their kings, joined their armies, and raised their cavalries. Often, they employed labour to work on their extensive fields, and kept cattle for dairy produce. The Rajputs also employed bards and ministers who sang their praises in verse and song; the tradesmen who supplied them, and the others in the community, with the goods required for their daily lives and there were potters, carpenters, ornament makers, cloth dyers and printers as well.

Rajasthan Villages, Houses in Rajasthan

The priests of the Brahmin families cast horoscopes, performed the elaborate rituals of their festive ceremonies, and served at the temples. The Pathwari looked after those setting out on journeys and pilgrimages. And there were various folk heroes and gods who provide immunity from everything from snake bites to cattle diseases. Water played an important role in deciding the location of villages in Rajasthan. A village is even a little larger than a hamlet. The villages have pucca houses, or larger living units, belonging to the village zamindar family, with painted walls and decorated with wall paintings. The walls and houses are just decorated by creating a texture in the plaster, or by using simple lime colours to create vibrant patterns at the entrance, and outside the kitchen. The houses consists of the courtyard and a large cattle enclosure, attached to one side or at the entrance. These are made of a mixture of sun baked clay bricks covered with a plaster of lime. The floors are made with a mixture of pounded lime, limestone pebbles, and water. The villages have agricultural and pastoral settlements, temples and sanctuaries. There are also temples dedicated to Krishna, Ram or Shiva, located a little outside the village and surrounded by trees that are nurtured by the villagers. The central place is occupied by either a village well or a temple. The wells are often elaborately decorated, and have tall pillars that would indicate their presence for travelers on long journeys through the desert.

Well in Villages in Rajasthan

Each home in Rajasthan will also have a small room or an alcove where they would fold their hands and say the prayers before calendar images of their gods. To seek benevolence from their gods, they pray to the goddess Kali, the wrathful form of Shiva’s consort, to protect them from the demons of the elements, and the illness of mankind. Some of the images of the local deities like the Bhairuji and Sagasji are also located outside their homes, and in the villages, daubed with vermillion, and kept in the gnarled roots of a peepal tree, or set into the 

steps leading to the village pond. The Mina tribes in Chittorgarh practice an alternative form of medicine known as extra sensory perception (ESP). In this treatment, a Bhopa or priest enter into a trance and use a form of trapped energy to heal the ailments that ranges from aches, pains and disorders. Ash is used as an anaesthesia and antiseptic in the case of wounds.

At home, the women would confine themselves to the kitchen where rows of shining brass and copper vessels and platters are lined up on shelves against the wall. The cow-dung and wood are used as the fuel in the cooking stove, set on the floor. Over this stove, the earthen pots are placed for cooking. Most of the meals are vegetarian. The principal meal of the family consists of dinner, where freshly baked bread and porridge is served with a yoghurt curry called karhi, dried beans and fresh vegetables. For most of the families, the breakfast consist of a full glass of hot tea and bread, and lunch consists of an unleavened bread eaten with a spicy chutney of chillies and garlic.

The births, marriages, and deaths were the certain occasions where the entire village would come together, and participate in each other’s good and bad times. There are also several places in the villages, where people gather in a very large scale. These are temples, shops, wells, and a village square which is usually an old, leafy peepal tree with a large platform built around it for people to sit on. The cooking for wedding feasts was done in a large scale and the cooks dig pits under the ground where the fires will be lit for the huge cauldrons in which the food will be prepared. The entire village dresses up festively to welcome the wedding procession, and the Dholis and other of the singing caste lead the party to the house where the wedding is being celebrated. Such celebrations can last for a few days, and can become the social event of the season. The women came out of the villages only during the pilgrimages, combined with the fairs. 

Rajasthan House, Houses in Rajasthan

These women are always dressed in beautiful skirts or ghagras, with a veil on their face and lots of jewellery on the forehead and face. Just as the women adorn themselves, and decorate their houses, and the men wear rings in their ears and slip their feet into gaily embroidered shoes, they also create special jewellery for their camels, or cut their coats in intricate motifs.

Some changes have been made in the structure, and ceilings are made on land holdings, and the young people are moving towards the distant town in search of the employment opportunities. Some self-sufficient rural villages persist even today and a compact settlement with a tank or well and a struggling bunch of acacias and tamarind in the mid of yellowish sand is the dominant feature of the landscape. Most of villages in Rajasthan now boast of electricity, telephones, televisions and a network of roads from where they can travel more easily between villages, and to the neighbouring towns. Today, there are various fields, and various small habitations that have put a check on the winds that once raced through the sand dunes. Life in the desert is in a stage of transition, but the traditions still remain, which were not just essential in the earlier times, but also gave life its unique blend of flavours.

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