Tribes in Rajasthan: History of Tribes, Tribes in Rajasthan

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Tribes in Rajasthan

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Rajasthan is home to various tribes who have very interesting history of origin, customs and social practices. Even today these tribes are very distinct from the 'civilized' society around them. While a few tribes are medieval in their origin, mainly due to historical events, there are a few who date their origin back to one of the oldest prehistoric civilizations in world which is the Indus valley civilization.

History of Tribes

From the beginning of man's presence till around 1400 BC, the Bhil and Mina tribes roamed and ruled the land of Rajasthan. Due to the Aryan invasion, represented by horse drawn chariots and superior bows and arrows, these tribes migrate towards the south and the east. Pushed into the natural hideout forests and the ancient and craggy Aravalli ranges, the Bhil and the Mina tribes survived more easily. In the northern part of Rajsthan the nomadic intrusions continued. These people were respected by the Sakes, Kuakas, Abhors, Hunas and others. A large number of these invaders are known as the Rajputs whose royal lineage stood upon the ruins of the Gurnard (Prather Empire). These warrior invaders fitted the Aryan material caste of Kshatriyas which were earlier divided into 36 Rajput clans.

Tribes in Rajasthan:
The various tribes in Rajasthan are as follows:

- Bhils are the bow men of Rajasthan. The Bhils comprise of 39% of Rajasthanís tribal population and form an important group in the southern part of the state around Dungapur, Udaipur and Chittorgarh. Their stronghold is in Banswara. The generic term derives from bil (bow) which describes their original talent and strength. The Hindu epic the Mahabharata mentions the Bhils and their archery skills.

Minas - Minas are the militant defenders of Rajasthan. The Minas are Rajasthanís largest and most widely spread tribal group. It seems that the Minas may have been the original inhabitants of the Indus valley civilization before they were ousted by the Aryans. The Minas have a tall, athletic build with sharp features, large eyes thick lips and a light brown complexion.

Sahariyas - Sahariyas are the jungle dwellers of Rajasthan. The Sahariyas are jungle dwellers and their name possibly derives from the Persian Sehr (jungle). Simple, illiterate and open to exploitation, the Sahariyas are regarded as the most backward tribe in Rajasthan and serve their living as shifting cultivators and by hunting and fishing.

Garasias - Garasias are the fallen Rajputs of Rajasthan. The Garasias comprises only of 2.7% of Rajasthanís tribals. These tribals have an interesting custom of marriage through elopement, which usually takes place at the annual Gaur fair held during the full moon of March.

Lohars - Lohars are the nomadic blacksmiths of Rajasthan. The Gaduliya Lohars receive their name from their beautiful bullock carts (gadis). These nomadic blacksmiths are said to have wandered from their homeland of Mewar because of a pledge made to their acknowledged lord, Maharana Pratap. He was ousted from Chittorgarh by the Mughal emperor Akbar and the Gaduliya Lohars, a clan of warring Rajputs, vowed to re-enter the city only after the victory of Maharana Pratap.

Bishnois - The Bishnoi community of Rajasthan have been identified as conservators. The Bishnois can be mostly seen in the western Rajasthan, especially in the Jodhpur and Bikaner areas. The Bishnois were the followers of the 15th century saint, Guru Jambeshwar who, due to a prolonged period of drought, bade all his followers to protect all animal and plant life, since it seemed the only way to nurture nature. Ever since, their sanctity has extended to all trees and animals, and they do not allow either felling or hunting on their lands.

They also believe that in their after life they will be reincarnated as deer, due to this the herds of deer can be seen roaming in their fields, without fear. The Bishnoi men are distinguished by their large, white turbans, while the women wear earth colours and have particularly ostentatious nose ring that establishes their identity. Cattle rearing and agriculture are their main occupation.

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