Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

GETTING INTO THE ROOTS OF THE INDIAN CULTURE AND HERITAGE THROUGH THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

A well-planned city
Two storied houses
With private baths and drinking wells
State-of-the-art sewage systems
Kids playing with toys
Women beautifying themselves with jewellery and lipsticks
Dances, swimming pools and creative crafts
And all this existed 5000 years ago! 

It is not just another story to lure your kid to sleep. These real facts and situations existed during the Indus Valley Civilization which flourished from about 3000-2,500 BCE to about 1500-1900 BCE. This means that it existed at about the same time as the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations. The civilization was spread over an area of some 1,260,000 km, making it the largest ancient civilization in the world. Also, it is one of the earliest urban civilizations of the world.

However, much is not know about the marvelous Indus Valley Civilization, as we have not been able to decipher their scripts until today.

DUG OUT

The ruins of Harappa were first described in 1842 by Charles Masson in his ‘Narrative of Various Journeys in Baluchistan, Afghanistan and the Punjab’. In 1856, the British engineers accidentally used bricks from the Harappa ruins for building the East Indian Railway line between Karachi and Lahore. In the year 1912, J Fleet discovered Harappan seals. This incident led to an excavation campaign under Sir John Hubert Marshall in 1921-1922. The result of the excavation was discovery of Harappa by Sir John Marshall, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni and Madho Sarup Vats and Mohenjo-Daro by Rakhal Das Banerjee, EJH MacKay and Sir John Marshall.

The excavations continued. After the partition of India in 1947, the area of the Indus Valley Civilization was divided between India and Pakistan.

TOPOGRAPHY

The Indus Valley Civilization extended from Baluchistan to Gujarat and from the east of the river Jhelum to Rupar. It covered almost entire Pakistan along with the western states of India. Even though most of the sites have been found on the river embankments, some have been excavated from the ancient seacoast and islands as well. About a 500 sites have been unearthed along the dried up riverbeds of the Ghaggar-Hakra River and its tributaries according to the archeologists. There are approximately a 100 along the Indus and its tributaries.
Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, as well as Dholavira, Ganweriwala, Lothal, Kalibanga and Rakhigarhi.

A DEEP INSIGHT

Houses and Infrastructure:

It is believed that the Indus Valley was a very advanced civilization. The houses were made of baked brick, with flat roofs and were just about identical. Each home had its own drinking well and private bathroom. They were proud owners of the best sewage system. Clay pipes led from the bathrooms to sewers located under the streets. These sewers drained into nearly rivers and streams. The advanced architecture is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms and protective walls.

Lifestyle:

Excavations show that women possessed jewellery of gold and precious stones. They even wore lipsticks. Among the treasures found, was a statue of a woman wearing a bracelet. Also, a statue of a dancer was found.

Scientists have found the remains of a large central pool in Mohenjo-Daro, with steps leading down at both ends and smaller pools that could have been private baths. This central pool could have been a public swimming pool or perhaps been used for religious ceremonies.

Not much information is available on their agriculture and food habits. But majorly, the cultivated cereal crop was naked six-row barley, a crop derived from two-row barley. It is believed that they worshipped a Mother Goddess, who symbolized fertility.

Arts and crafts:

Toy making, pottery, weaving and metalworking must have been the skills of the then people. Arts and crafts that have been unearthed include sculptures, shell works, ceramics, agate, glazed steatite bead making, special kind of combs, toys, seals, figurines in terracotta, bronze and steatite, etc.

Science:

The people of Indus Valley are believed to be amongst the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. Their smallest division was approximately 1.704 mm. The brick weights were in a perfect ratio of 4:2:1. The numerous inventions of the Indus River Valley Civilization include an instrument used for measuring whole sections of the horizon and the tidal dock. The people of Harappa evolved new techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, lead and tin. They also had the knowledge of proto-dentistry and the touchstone technique of gold testing.

A FASCINATING RIDDLE

It’s a mystery as to where such a flourishing civilization vanished. The major reasons of the decline are believed to be connected with climate change. Not only did the climate become much cooler and drier than before, but substantial portions of the Ghaggar-Hakra river system also disappeared.

A definite reason is still elusive. It has also been suggested that the Aryans who were the next settlers, may have attacked and destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization, since their epics talk about their conquest of great cities. Such theories of a violent end have been partly proved by the discovery in Mohenjo-Daro of human remains that indicated a violent cause of death.
However, the Indus Valley Civilization did not disappear suddenly. Its many elements can be found in later cultures. There is no exact evidence of where this civilization came from or where it went. Let us study and dig out more about the history to design a better future.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=There%20Has%20To%20Be%20A%20Beginning_670

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GUJARAT IS HOME TO SOME OF THE MOST EXOTIC EMBROIDERIES. LET US SAVE THEM, KNOW THEM AND ADORE THEM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

Gujarat is better called Manchester of the East. It has been involved in textiles since centuries. Almost all parts of the state have a unique style of textiles, weaving and embroideries. All the creations have a versatility that makes the embroideries famous all over the world.

SAURASHTRA AND KUTCH

The most important centers of embroidery work of Gujarat are located in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions and are admired for their creative excellence. Kutch, being a desert, there are less chances to celebrate life. But the way people live is really varied and appreciable. The women add colors to life and create innumerable opportunities to celebrate everyday life through their arts. A striking feature of the Kutch embroidery is that at a very early age, the girls acquire the embroidery skills and they prepare their own wedding garments. These exclusively created embroidered works are then sent to the in-laws for closer examination, which is one of the important criteria for deciding matrimonial alliances!

Saurashtra, on the other hand, is home to the oldest form of embroidery, Kathi, which is known for its romantic motifs.
The designs and the techniques vary with the communities and regions. Apart from this, the embroidering is a source of second income for most of the nomads, wives of the herdsmen and agriculturalists of Gujarat.

DIFFERENT PATTERNS AND ARTIFACTS

The artisans of Gujarat use an array of stitches that are used to decorate the items. The embroidery of Gujarat is highly praised for the distinct quality of raw material and the creations follow an excellent technique. The embroidery work done by the people of Gujarat thus displays the artisanship of the local artisans. These deserve promotion and acceptance.

Whenever we visit Kutch or Saurashtra, let’s make it a point to bring home these colors of life!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=A%20Stitch%20In%20Time%20Saves%20Nine_619

A LOOK INTO THE ORIGIN, CULTURE, LIFESTYLE AND THE UNIQUE ‘MASK DANCE’ ACUMEN OF THE KOKNA TRIBE OF GUJARAT

Gujarat is a land where hundreds of different tribes have come and established themselves with their culture and lifestyle. As a famous Gujarati saying goes, these tribes have settled here just like the sugar settles within a bowl of milk! It has always been interesting to know more about different people, their cultures and traditions. The anthropologists who have studied various tribes of Gujarat, say that the tribe named ‘Kokna’ is worth to make a note of, among others. Also known by alternative names like Kokni, Kukni or Kukna, the tribe is considered a scheduled one.

KOKNA CONNECTIONS

Most of the tribes that have settled in Gujarat, just like the Kokna, belong to the Neolithic era. It is believed that the hermitic people of Egypt were the ancestors of the Kokna tribe and the stories of their existence date back to the prehistoric times. Kokna used a square stone pillar with half moon shaped top for capital punishment, resembling a pillar in the Egyptian pyramids. This practice confirms the belief.

However, the name Kokna is derived from the word ‘Kankan’, that is an armlet worn by the tribe. Some people, on the other hand, believe that the name comes as they migrated to Gujarat from some part of Konkan in the olden times, which is the western coastal belt of Maharashtra. The area between the coastal line and the Sahyadris was the original abode of the Kokna tribal community.

THE KOKNA SETTLEMENTS

In Gujarat, the Kokna tribe is concentrated at Dharampur, Vansda, Valsad and the Dangs.

Some researchers mention that it is from the ancestral, ancient speeches of the Kokna that the origin of the contemporary Kokni language has actually taken shape. This is their native language, a dialect of Marathi. But they also speak Hindi and Gujarati.

The Kokna community is divided into ‘kuls’ or clans. Monogamous, they have a strong sense of united families and community. However, with the modernization and occupational mobility, the concept of nuclear families is fast moving into all the tribes. But, when outside their village, they move in groups.

LIFESTYLE

Kokna tribe can easily be distinguished from other Gujarati tribes. It has an unique attire. The women of this community wear saree and ‘fadki’. They cut the saree into two halves. The upper half is called fadki and the lower part of the body is covered by the saree. Sometimes they also use blouse or lehenga along with the fadki. The males get into a Khadi headdress, jacket, coat and langot with gold rings in the ears. The langot is an essential sign of their culture.

The Kokna women are very fond of ornaments made of white metal, lead and iron or silver. They use the traditional necklaces and other ornaments even today. They also wear flowers and tattoos.

Another major attraction of the Kokna tribe is their houses. The walls are built with mud and whitewashed. The roof comprises of thatched grass and the houses have no windows. Pucca houses are rare.

THE CULTURAL ESSENCE

The most splendid part of the Kokna tribe is that they celebrate all the major festivals of the Indian Territory, only after adding their own fervor and ritualistic elements. They enjoy Shivratri, Dushera, Navratri and Diwali. But the most exciting among the others is the ‘Bhavada’. This is celebrated at the completion of the harvesting season. The Kokna tribes worship Goddess Kali and before harvesting, worship of Gram Devi is celebrated with festivity and jubilance.

The tribe is considered very religious and worships animals like crocodile and tiger.

WOOD CARVING AND THE MASK DANCE

Bhavada is more special because of its artistic zeal and acumen. The Kokna tribe shapes up masks for this festival which houses the Bhavada Dance. The mask dance is held across a number of villages and only at nights in the summer. Each village has a different set of masks, and sometimes masks are even loaned to villages if they can’t afford to have their own.

The masks are carved out of single pieces of soft wood and then decorated with bamboo strips and colored papers. Bright red, yellow and green in color, they depict Gods and Goddesses like Panch Pandava, Ravana, Ganesh and tribal deities like Kaloba, Mhasoba and Rangatai. Facial expressions, eyebrows, moustaches, cheeks, nose etc. are nicely emphasized in these woodcarvings. Particular families are privileged to do a particular kind of mask. The male members of the family are expected to paint and decorate the mask. Masks may also be made out of cow dung, clay, rice-husks and paper. Every dancer enacts steps typical of the character whose mask he wears, as he dances to the tune of musical instruments like the Sur, Kahali and Sambal.

The art of mimic along with tribal dances still survives in Gujarat. During Holi, Kokna dramatic groups, sometimes using masks, perform in villages with young boys playing female roles laced with wit and humor. Songs of Mahabharata and Ramayana epics are sung to music.

Apart from masks, Kokna tribes are known for their artistic wooden tobacco containers. They are either carved out of wood or made by joining pieces of wood together. A thick coat of lead is applied over the container and then beautiful designs are carved on it. Sometimes, these containers are made into animal shapes like peacock, peahen etc. Apart from wood, these are also made from tough-skinned fruits or seeds.

ALL INCLUSIVE

Gujarat is rich, truly vibrant – be it in terms of economy, development or heritage. All we need to do is move forward in the direction of inclusive growth. Let us look behind the masks, remove our mask of perceptions and grow hand-in-hand!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=Behind%20The%20Masks_602

A SHORT ACCOUNT ON DANGS DARBAR: A FEATHER IN THE CAP OF THE DAZZLING DANG

It is always interesting to peep into the age old traditions and rejuvenate yourself. Gujarat offers innumerable such opportunities and is indeed vibrant. One such tradition dates back to almost 155 years, celebrated in one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat, the Dangs. The Dangs is home to the biggest tribal festival, the Dangs Darbar. Just like other festivals and fairs of Gujarat, this one too, has stories and beliefs attached to itself.

WHERE, WHEN, WHO?

Dang is located in the Saputara Hills of Gujarat. While, the exact venue for the extravaganza named Dangs Darbar is Ahwa, a small town and the district headquarters of Dang.

Dangs Darbar coincides with the festival of Holi in March-April. The celebration goes on for 3-4 days when thousands of tribal people from over 300 villages in Dang district descend on Ahwa to eat, drink and make merry. The actual fun starts a week in advance where the tribals purchase sweets, farsan, utensils, toys, cutlery, radio, tape, TV cassette recorders, clothes, articles of bamboo, household goods, ornaments, etc.

Most of the partakers of the festival are tribals, making it the biggest and most awaited time in Gujarat. Dang is the home of adivasis who have lived in the forests and highlands of the region from time immemorial. The tribal natives constitute nearly three-fourth of the population. Visitors, along with the tribal communities like the Bhils, the Kunbis, the Warlis and the Gamits throng the place.

UNMATCHED SHOWCASE

The spirit of festivity and pomp reverberates in the Dangs Darbar. The tribals appear in their best traditional attires. The atmosphere is marked by the sound of the drum and shehnai (a wood-wind instrument). All men wear lion clothes which are complimented with a waistcoat and colored turban. Women are robed in saree and blouse. They team it with numerous silver ornaments, of which they are very fond.

Apart from the rich display of the traditional arts and crafts of the tribal people, tribal dances of the region are also spectacular to watch. People move in concentric circles holding each other by the waist, dancing to the beat of drums and wind instruments. Many musical instruments are typical of this district. It also serves as a platform to search for brides and grooms for the local people.

THE BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL START

The most interesting part of the Dangs Darbar is the way it started. A bold and beautiful story unfolds as we peep into this traditional celebration that began years before independence.

The Dangs Darbar has drawn its name from the Ahwa Darbar, a one-time assembly (Darbar) venue for English ministers and mandarins during the British era. According to legacy of history, it is said that 5 Bhil kings ruled the Dang District, which was in ancient times known as Danda-Karanya, till the British arrived in the remotest part of Gujarat. However, they could never conquer the hilly regions of the Dang. So, they entered into an agreement with the Dangi Kings. In 1842, they executed a forest lease with these 5 Kings and Naiks in lieu of annual sum to be paid to the Rajas. This amount was paid by organizing Darbars.

It was considered a great honor to receive payment from the hands of European political agents. Thus began the Dangs Darbar more than 150 years ago, out of a payment to be made because of forest lease. The annual fair continued even after independence, though in 1954, the privileges of the Kings and Naiks were cancelled and instead hereditary political pension was granted to them.

CHANGED NATURE OF DANGS DARBAR

Today it is also called the Jamabandi Darbar, and the District Collector officiates it. The merchants and traders from different parts of the district arrive at the fair, displaying and exhibiting their products. It provides a great opportunity for the local merchants to mint money. People from Nasik, Surat and West Khandesh also visit the place in aspiration of good business.

An exhibition of local culture, tribal development schemes and forest environment is inaugurated during the Dangs Darbar. However, the customs instituted earlier, continues – to provide pensions to the Tribals (Daher, Gadhvi, Linga, Pimpri and Vasurna were awarded pensions in 2009). Various other schemes are implemented like the ‘Malki Plantation’ scheme in which tribals grow teakwood and other forest products in their land, for which they are paid by the Government under the scheme. Another such scheme is, ‘Mafi Kaat’ – about 225 tribals were provided with teakwood worth Rs 22.5 million free of cost to build and repair their own houses.

2011

Ahwa is all set for the festive look of the Dangs Darbar, starting March 16, 2011. A unique exhibition depicting the tribal arts and culture of Dang will be on display and a special program has been organized at the Saputara hill station on March 17. The tribal people of Dang and the visitors will have a chance to witness the traditional dance by the west zone cultural group from Udaipur. Also, a national photography competition has been organized wherein photographers submitted their work on the natural beauty of the Dangs, its wildlife, culture and tradition. The winners will be announced on the first day of Dangs Darbar.

We cannot afford to miss such a colorful festival. Worth an excursion this week-end!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=The%20Told%20And%20Untold%20Stories%20Of%20Dang_550

The celebration on the foothills of Mount Girnar takes place on Maha Shivratri every year and is entirely dedicated to Lord Shiva

VIBRANT GUJARAT is not just a coined term. It finds proofs in the people, activities, fairs, festivals and variances of the state. Gujarat comes alive with much enthusiasm and energy at the times of celebration. Its vibrancy is witnessed by the people, who without any differences come under one roof to rejoice at the fairs and festivals. One such charming fair, woven with culture, traditions, heritage and rituals is the mammoth Bhavnath Fair of Junagadh in Gujarat.

Bhavnath Fair is celebrated on the pious occasion of Maha Shivratri every year. It is a five-day extravaganza commencing from the Hindu calendar date of Magh Vad 11, during the months of February-March.


HARD-CORE BELIEVERS OF LORD SHIVA

The much-famed Bhavnath Fair is celebrated on the foothills of Mount Girnar. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva; Bhavnath Mahadev Temple is the host for the fair. The temple is placed near Damodar Kund. It celebrates the vitality of the Shiva cult. During Shivratri – the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva, according to the Hindu myth, a five day Bhavnath Fair, is held with great zeal.

The place buzzes and bustles with the presence of diehard worshippers of Lord Shiva. They believe that the Lord himself visits this place on Maha Shivratri. Mount Girnar is home to 9 immortal Nathas, and 84 Siddhas, all of whom are believed to visit the shrines in invisible spirits on the occasion!

Pilgrims take a 7 meters long Parikrama of the Holy Girnar before visiting the fair. About one lakh visitors throng the place for the auspicious celebrations, most of them from Gujarat and Marwad. The lively and colorful local communities of Ahir and Mer are the most attractive among them all.

DISTINCT VISITORS AT THE FAIR – THE NAGA SADHUS

A distinct attraction of the Bhavnath Fair is the participation of the Naga Sadhus aka Naga Bavas. These sages are the ones who actually commence the fair celebrations. They are practically nude. A strong belief among these sages is that the whole world is their home and the sky is their cover. They need no clothes to cover their bodies, as they are ‘sky dressed’. They have accepted nakedness as a part of life.

THE MIDNIGHT CELEBRATIONS

The Bhavnath Fair begins with rituals on the moonless night of Maha Shivratri. It is believed that Lord Shiva performed his dance of destruction ‘Tandava’ on this night and a Mahapuja was performed to honor this action of the Lord. The Naga Sadhus arrive seated on elephants. They are seen holding flags and are all decked up with ornaments. They lead a procession to the Bhavnath Temple that marks the commencement of the mystic celebration. This religious march on a dark night is one of the grand attractions of this fair.

THE RHYTHMIC PROCESSION

The Naga Sadhus blow conch shells, tungis, turis and drums that create a religious and emotive atmosphere. This procession is then followed by an exhibition of the grand sword fights and other activities by the sages. The wrestling at the akhadas is a unique blend of dance and martial arts. The march reaches the Temple’s Mrigi Kund at 12 in the midnight.

THE STORY BEHIND MRIGI KUND

A belief of the Puranic era has it that the Shiva Ling at the Bhavnath Temple has emerged out of its own divine intentions, without any human intervention. The Mrigi Kund is considered auspicious as while travelling over Mount Girnar, Shiva and Parvati’s divine garment fell over the place. Shiva worshippers strongly believe in this legend and even today, the Naga Sadhus are known to bathe in the holy Mrigi Kund before joining the Maha Shivratri procession.

OTHER ACTIVITIES AT THE FAIR GROUND

Apart from the offerings to the deities and the decked up Shiva temples, there are performances of dance, music and traditional Bhavai theatre. The colorfully clad tribes with dazzling ornaments at the fair are a treat to the eyes.

Stalls are set up for copper and brass utensils, idols, rosaries and holy beads brought from Ayodhya and Mathura. Mouthwatering sweets at the food stalls and the free meals served by the organizers to the devotees are yet another motivation for a visit to the fair!

JOYOUSNESS IN THE AIR!

Bhavnath Fair is an example of the strong beliefs and rituals of the people of Gujarat. It is a place to lose oneself to the rhythmic experience and honor the 5000-year old Hindu traditions. It captures the senses of all humankind. The richness of our heritage is on display at the fair.

The Bhavnath Fair is a look into the roots of our culture and traditions. It is a real beauty, equally passionate, intense and mystical.

Do not miss on the magnificence of the event and get enthralled from head to toe – The hustle-bustle begins on 3rd March 2011.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=bhavnath%20fair_513

AMID ALL OTHER GLORY, GUJARAT POSSESSES GREAT PRIDE IN BEING HOME TO DIFFERENT TRIBES – ONE SUCH IS THE MEGHWALS (HARIJANS).

Gujarat is a land that has absorbed lakhs of people, thousands of cultures and hundreds of communities into itself. It is a treasure to learn about all these. All have different religions, lifestyles, costumes, traditions, cultures, beliefs; yet they stay under one state as a family! There are about 290 distinct communities in Gujarat. And interestingly, as many as 206 of these are immigrants from neighboring Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & Maharashtra – and even overseas! One such known tribe of Gujarat is the Meghwals – who came originally from Marwar in Rajasthan to Sindh in Pakistan in the 17th century, and then on to Kutch in 1971 after the Indo -Pak war. At present, its national population is nearly 4 lakhs. Of which, sizeable population is inhabited in the District of Kutch and large numbers of people are found in Saurashtra, Jamnagar and Ahmedabad districts of Gujarat.

PEOPLE OF GOD: HARIJANS

Meghwals were named Harijans by Mahatma Gandhi. Hari means God and Jan meaning people; they are God’s own people. The term Meghwal, also called Meghwar, is derived from the Sanskrit words megh that means clouds and rain; and war means prayers. Meghwar thus means people who pray for the rains.

A story goes that once a great ancestor of the Meghwals was not allowed to bathe in a nearby pond. Then the Brahmins had predicted a famine in Junagadh for twelve successive years. This ancestor climbed to the top of Mount Girnar convincing people that he would come down only when his beard will be submerged in the rainwater. Soon, the clouds started pouring so much that there was a fear of the entire place being flooded. The then ruler of Junagadh urged the ancestor to stop the rain and offered a vessel filled by the rainwater to submerge his beard. Hence the name Meghwal was born.

It is also believed that the the Meghwals are descendents of the Khod community of Rajputs in Rajasthan. An old man belonging to this community once removed a dead calf, as no one from a lower caste was available. People mocked at him and he was termed as impure. Meghwal means abrasht (impure) according to this belief.

LIFESTYLE AND CUSTOMS

Meghwals live in groups in the outskirts of villages. Classified as ‘Scheduled Caste’, they lived a humble life for centuries. Gradually, they have improved their lifestyles. They are peace loving and believe in humanity. They live mostly in small settlements of round, mud-brick huts painted on the outside with colorful geometric designs and decorated with detailed mirror inlays. Known as weavers of wool and cotton, their women do exquisite embroidery and patchwork. Leather embroidery is another of their specialties. Also, Meghwals are into agricultural labor, weaving Khadi and woodcarving.

Even today, women do not enjoy an equal or high status in the Meghwal society. She has no rights in inheritance and her life is often confined to the household. They however engage in embroidery and other such arts during their leisure time. They also play an important role in social, religious and ritual activities of the community. Meghwals have a social evil in the form of a system called ‘ex-communication’ of persons they do not like. This is practiced even in the cases of trivial matters. This further increases the social hardships for their women.

Marriages are arranged through negotiation between the families before puberty. Polygamy is allowed but polyandry is not practiced among the Meghwals. The marriage fire is fed with ghee or oil, betel nuts, corn and red Kanku powder. The couple walks four times round this light.

ELABORATED ORNAMENTS

Meghwal women are known for their colorful and exuberantly detailed costumes and jewellery. Married women wear an elaborate gold nose ring called ‘Velado.’ It is a sign of marriage and worn only on special occasions. Some nose rings are so heavy that the weight of it is suspended by a beaded chain, which is connected to her hair. Whereas unmarried girls wear three beads drop earrings in upper ear and a necklace with silver leaf-shaped pendant. Neckpieces can weigh up to three kilograms.

Meghwals’ work is distinguished by their primary use of red, which comes from a local pigment produced from crushed insects.

GOD FOR THE GOD’S OWN PEOPLE

Meghwals are Hindu by caste, though little is known about the history of their religion. They are believed to worship Lord Ganesha by preference. There are traces that the community believes in Lord Shiva, some say they worship King Bali as their God and pray for his return. Some follow ‘Pir Pithoro’ and worship his shrine near Pithoro village. Daily offerings are made by Meghwals to Chamunda mata in the village temples. Bankar mata is worshiped at weddings. They also worship Yakshas, Sitalamata or the Goddess of Smallpox and Kshetrapal snake God.

There is a belief that Baba Ramdevji is their chief deity and the Meghwals worship him during the vedwa punam (in August-September). Meghwal religious leader Swami Gokuldas claims that Ramdevji was himself a Meghwal, in his 1982 book Meghwal Itehas, which constructs a history of the Meghwal community in an attempt to gain respect and improve their social status.
The worships and the Gods differ as per the habitats of the Meghwals.

THE SCENARIO TODAY

Gone are the days of untouchables. Meghwals today have witnessed a qualitative and progressive change. Efforts are made to mobilize them and reconstruct their culture, literature and history so that they can claim for their identities.

Gujarat, no doubt, is a significant confluence point for different races and people. The social set up is such that the customs and lifestyles of different tribes are welcomed. Meghwals are one of these – it is a charm to the eyes and pride to the knowledge of the beholder to learn more about this rich and varied heritage of Gujarat.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=PEOPLE%20OF%20GOD,%20IN%20THE%20LAND%20OF%20GOD:%20MEGHWALS%20IN%20GUJARAT_484

How does it feel like to be a part of ‘The Hutheesing Family’?
With every privilege, comes responsibility. Therefore, when you hold a powerful legacy or are a member of such a family, it is a huge responsibility. This is because of not only people’s expectations, but also your own code of conduct. For e.g. If everybody is highly educated in your family, you need to maintain those standards. Hutheesing family has over the years, earned a lot of money and even spent and donated it well. Now, to donate, you need to earn and be wealthy. This in itself is a pressure! And wealth is not only about money. Education is wealth, respect is wealth and achievements are also wealth. I think it is a privilege for anyone to be born in a good family. There is nothing like a bad family, though! But by the term ‘good’ Imean ‘historic’. And when Hutheesing family has done immense work for the city, it is our duty to take it forward. And very often, this may even take a priority over your lifestyle or your own self!

True. You studied science and banking. So was this one of the reasons for the switch to this field?
Yes I have studied business & marketing from America and then studied banking at Japan. I am not an art student. I have inherited the institutes that I run. The institutes are mainly involved with art, culture, heritage and other historical activities. But what people forget is that even art &culture, hospitals, religious trusts – all require management. There should be accounts on the income and expenditure of the money, a legal structure and many other aspects have to be looked after.

How do these institutes differ from each other? (The Hutheesing Foundation, Hutheesing Art Gallery, Hutheesing Trust)

  • You must have heard of the ‘Maslow’s Law of Hierarchy’. It talks about the five basic human needs viz. food, procreation, clothing, housing and finally it comes to ego. Now, I have crafted five different abstracts that are perhaps ‘My Laws of Hierarchy’ and this is how I believe our society functions.
  • The first thing that any human being needs is HOPE. More than food, we need hope. If we have hope, we will live another day. But if we don’t have it, all our motivation will be lost. And who gives us hope? God gives us hope! Even a person who says he is an atheist, a non-believer in God, trusts Him as a divine power. If your child is dying and you cannot find a cure for his suffering, you will surely turn to God. So, God gives us hope and that hope keeps the society balanced and moving ahead. Therefore, we have the Hutheesing Trust that manages temples and derasars.
  • After hope, we want GOOD HEALTH. More than education, we need health. And so, we built the Hutheesing Civil Hospital. This hospital became the largest public charitable hospital in the world, with 4700 beds.
  • We have hope and good health. Next, we need EDUCATION. So we came up with the Ahmedabad Education Society, for which I serve as the governing body.
  • Being educated is not enough, we need CULTURE. And so we have The Hutheesing Visual Art Centre that teaches art and culture.
  • After all these comes HERITAGE, our values, our lineage, our history. So, there is Hutheesing Heritage Foundation.
  • The Hutheesing Family as these 5 trusts and all these trusts address different things. Each of these is important for the society to function. These are all independent and have their own systems. But there is a lot to follow up on.

How do you manage to justify all these roles?
I cannot say that I manage all these institutes. This has come down through the generations. And hence, each generation has to make its own contribution and leave its own mark, however big or small. It’s not that I have set up and all these and I manage them. No! There are systems, there have to be. Say for instance, the Prime Minister does not run the country. The IAS does. PMs keep changing. So, there are systems. Wherever and however I can contribute, I do!

One question out of personal experience. This Haveli, in spite of being so gorgeous, has less visibility. Why is it that people don’t know about it?
Because it’s private and not open to the public. It’s our home and not a museum or a hotel. It is a stately home and so many people of historical importance have stayed here. Also, it has been a home for the family since several generations. So, we would like to maintain that honor of the family.

Your views on Heritage Week and people’s perspectives. 
See I’ll tell you, I don’t believe in the celebration of all these days. Mothers’ day, fathers’ day, lovers’ day, secretaries’ day, rose day, today fingers’ day, tomorrow will be hair’s day… Nooooo! In other cultures and traditions, everyday is a day when you pursue what you believe in. There is no time-table where each hour is dedicated to a subject, like we did in schools. All tasks are done simultaneously to do good to the society. I believe these celebrations are needed for a larger audience. But we can’t take them too seriously. It is silly. If you really want to value and preserve our heritage, then do something concrete about it. The taste of the food comes from eating, not from the recipes. The ground realities are quite different. Government cannot reach everywhere, if people are really interested, then they should be encouraged to preserve their own heritage. And in turn, if everyone does this, the heritage of the city too, will be well preserved.

To what extent does the Government support with regards to this issue?

Government may come up with any role. Let’s take for example, ASI. Ahmedabad has 52 ‘A’ grade monuments, recognized by ASI, which is more than the Old Delhi. (There are gradations of the historical monuments. There are global categories. A historical palace and a Haveli in a Pol will not have the same grades. They both are heritage, but the grades define their level of importance) Some places of historical importance in Ahmedabad are really filthy. It is the Government’s duty to maintain them. However, there are communal and political issues that obstruct the maintenance. And heritage is a complex issue as it is multi-cultured. But we need to look beyond religion. Whatever heritage is present on Indian soil is Indian heritage. Hats off to our CM Narendrabhai, he has started the Sarkhej Roza fest and does many other such things. But I feel the support is not there! Then there is Heritage Tourism and we have Amitabh Bachchan as the ambassador. But where is the necessary infrastructure? Geer – no proper roads, indefinite availability of jeeps, no proper hotels, no cleanliness. Modhera Temple – fantastic, but when you go there, you find that there are no washrooms! Marketing is necessary, but ground level facilities are a prior necessity. We Gujaratis are very good at business and entrepreneurship. But we terribly lack at service. And art and culture is a part of the service industry, as it comes under entertainment. We have lost the spark. Where is Gujarati theatre? Where is Gujarati poetry?

So, what do you think can be done?
It is not a simple solution! Travel & tourism, art & culture, entertainment, events need to be excavated in Gujarat. Gujarat completely lacks in the glamour industry too, be it sports or political or any other. It could not make it to the IPL as well. There is huge amount of money in Gujarat, but zero glamour. And the aspiration of the youth, that constitutes 65% of India’s population, is nothing but to be a star. That is why the reality TV sells!

Glamour reminds me, you have the highest number of royal clothes in your wardrobe in India. How did you manage to get them?

A lot among them are inherited; many of them were bought by my grandparents and parents. Others are collected.

Since you are a fashion consultant as well, what’s your take on today’s fashion industry?
The fashion world today is buzzing. It is a very big industry around the world. Roti, kapda and makaan are the three basic necessities of any human being. And fashion is not an invention. It is a psychological and physiological need. If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you make other people feel better. So, remember – fashion is not shallow. It brings happiness. Apart from this, the fashion industry employs so many people. It is not an entity of the affluent class of the society. Do you mean to say, poor and middle class don’t wear clothes?! Everything has cascading effect. But the raw inspiration is translated and brought down to various levels, various standards and various groups of people. So it has great domino effect.

What drives the trends, the fashion industry and the mindsets?
People are inspired from movies for their fashion and they follow trends, so that is the impact of entertainment. According to me, the glamour industry is a great empowerment tool. Today lot many people are taking this industry as a career. Many youngsters and college grads start their own event management company. This industry has even reached the smaller villages. With such cascading effect, this is the reducing pressure on the urban society. People used to migrate for better opportunity and better quality of life but now they are going back taking urban phenomena back with them, at very less cost. Every product needs to be marketed, even politicians need to be marketed, that’s what they do with the use of different media. And entertainment is great marketing and it’s all done by the youth through modeling, event management, hair-styling, make-up etc. Every girl, be from a metro or from a village, likes to look prettier. We need to understand the combined impact of beauty, entertainment and fashion industry. If we can develop this culture and mindset in Gujarat, then lot many people will get employment. And more importantly, it is self-sufficient, no bank is required to loan for that. I tell you, I had started ‘Lakme India Fashion Week 12 years down the line. And today, there are so many fashion weeks being organized all across India, promoting so many young designers who in turn employ so many artisans. Government has not poured a single penny for it; still it feeds lakhs of people being self-sustained without the help of Government, NGOs or any other external support system. These are the kind of activities required to be performed in order to empower the youth.

Somewhere heritage is being linked with fashion…
Absolutely…
Fashion, historically, always comes from the top. See… Today what Kate Middleton wore, that became the trend, the fashion. It always flows from top-down. People in great position and power are the derivatives for mass clothing. Even if you look at our traditional system, the jewels that our Kings and Queens used to wear are being replicated by other classes of the society. The diamonds may be replaced by silver, but designs are the same. There is street art, popular art, but all these are more functional. Today, the youth want style, not functions. Though it has to be functional, but it also has to be stylish. And I think these both can very easily blend. For example, a saree. None of the designers in India has invented it. It is there for 5000 years. Why are we so afraid of the word ‘Fashion’? I want to get this myth out; people think fashion is something frivolous. No, it’s not. Every human being needs clothes! Both, fashion and heritage are very important for the human society. A tree cannot grow tall without its roots and heritage is our roots. If you don’t take care of the roots or cut them off, then how would a tree grow? Grass will grow, but not a huge banyan tree!

Just to end with, 10 years down the line, what do see Gujarat as? Would it be a heritage state, industrial hub, education city or something related to fashion?
Let me tell you, it already is a hub for fashion. 40% of the manmade, synthetic fabric in India comes from Surat; Ahmedabad was the Manchester of East and is the largest producer of cotton and denims, 80% of the world’s diamonds pass from Surat. Clothes and jewellery, two most eminent parts of fashion come from Gujarat, what else is left to focus on?! But we need fashion to convert the raw materials to final product. It is the value addition where we are lacking. And by doing that, we can multiply our growth, in turn add income for the state and employ youth as well. This is my personal wish too! For this, we need education and insight. We have education institutes like NID, EDI, NIFT, NIJD etc., we have NGOs like SEWA, Kala Raksha, Shrujan etc., we have mills like Arvind, Ashima, Garden etc., we have textile museums like, Calico, Shreyas, TAPI collection in Surat; we have it all. Gujarat will be a great center for fashion. It will be a great learning center for education and it has been since history. First school of pharmacy, first entrepreneurship institute, ATIRA, first school of architecture, first school of design, IIM etc. – Ahmedabad is home to all these. The vision of Narendrabhai is to make Gujarat, a knowledge corridor and he will do it by encouraging knowledge investment. Every economy is driven by knowledge and Research & Development. If you have knowledgeable people, you can do R&D. Gujarat will be an industrial hub for sure, but it will also be a knowledge driven society in a span of couple of years. Gujarat will be rocking and it should be rocking. And we really will make it. What was missing, was a catalyst and I think those catalysts are here now! (You are the catalysts and this is what you people are doing! You are taking it to the masses. It has to be inclusive growth.)

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