‘Raja’ means Kings and ‘sthan’ means land or place. Rajasthan, as the name suggests, is the land of Kings and this is completely true as we look back at its history and tradition.
The Indian state once had a dominant population of Kings and Rajputs who ruled over the state for years. Previously called Rajputana, Rajasthan had kings and rulers of different dynasties from Rajputs, Marathas to Muslims. This diverse rule over the state led to its rich culture and heritage – the magnificent forts, monuments, temples, food, language, etc.
People call it “Rangeelo Rajasthan” for a reason – the colorful history and vibrant culture. Let us unveil the rich culture and heritage of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan Culture and Heritage
Rajasthan is known for its royal grandeur and splendid history. It is a state highly captivating and charming for tourists from across the world. Known for the reign of brave kings and vast dynasties, Rajasthan dates back to the time of Indus Valley Civilization invasion.
The Rajasthani community was found during the rise of Western Middle Kingdoms like Western Kshatrapas. Kshatrapas were successors of the Indo-Scythians, people who invaded Ujjain area and brought in the Saka era.
Everything from Rajasthan culture, food and dress still have roots in its history making it a royal state of India.
Kings after Kings ruled over the state establishing the royalty of their respective empires which is today preserved in form of the ancient forts, palaces, and monuments.
Some of the areas in the state still live with the old culture and tradition introduced by their ruler centuries ago.
Rajasthanis first emerged as trading merchants during Medieval India and served as one of the significant trading center connecting with Southeast Asia, Rome and the Eastern Mediterranean.
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Tradition of Rajasthan
The cultural traditions of the state reflect the typical ancient Indian lifestyle. The Rajasthani community has Hindus, Muslims, Jats and Jains living in co-existence. Although Hindus are in predominance, Muslims, Jains, and Jats are considered equal in the society.
Jats in Rajasthan are mostly Sikhs or Hindus. Meenas are a tribe in the state who still follow the Vedic culture that promotes worshipping Bhairon (Shiva) Maa Durga (Goddess Durga) and Krishna.
When it comes to tradition in Rajasthan, people follow the ancestral cultural ethics till date like women stays in covers which is a sign of modesty to the elders in the family, girls are married at a young age (not all but the ones in rural areas) and most men are traders.
One of the most important traditions in Rajasthan is the wedding. Rajasthani wedding involves individual rituals distinct to any other community in the country. The wedding involves traditional music (women sing songs of love called ‘geet’, ‘banna-banni’), dance (mainly ghoomar), sparkling jewellery (bajubandh, borla, etc ) and several other wedding rituals.
The rich Rajasthan culture and heritage are best depicted through festivals and fairs observed here. Popular Rajasthan festivals include Desert Festivals in January-February, the Marwar Festival in September-October, Pushkar Fair in October-November and Camel Festival in January-February.
Holi and Diwali are also celebrated with great excitement and devotion in the state.
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Costume of Rajasthan
Following the ancient tradition, men in Rajasthan wear kurta, dhotis, angarkha, safa or paggar (kind of headgear, turban). In some regions of the state, men wear chudidar pyjamas (puckered trousers) replacing dhotis.
Talking about the dress of Rajasthani women, they wear kanchli (top) and ghagra (long skirt). However, the size and style of the costume (men and women) alters from region to region in the vast state of Rajasthan.
Men wear dhotis in a different style in Shekhawati (Jaipur area), Marwar (Jodhpur area) and Hadoti (Bundi area). In the same way, pagri and safa are also worn differently depending on the area. In Mewar, the tradition is of ‘paggar’ or ‘pagri’ but Marwar promotes the tradition of ‘safa’.
The Rajasthan culture and heritage also boasts amazing ornaments. Since the time of kings and kingdoms in the state, Rajasthanis wear jewelry of different metals and materials.
By tradition, women wear silver and gem-studded ornaments whereas, in historic times, gold and silver ornaments were used to decorate the interiors in different ways like designing handcrafts, on seat cushions or even stitched on curtains. Rich Rajasthanis boasted their weapons studded with gems, gold, and silver showing its value in the community.
The cuisine of Rajasthan is the result of its warlike lifestyle in the ancient days and lack of green vegetables and other ingredients.
Food was prepared to last longer without heating and as such the famous cuisines of Rajasthan are the ones that you can have for days. The scarcity of water also had an effect on cooking principles in the state.
The most famous and delicious food items of Rajasthan include Dal-Baati-Churma, Bajre ki roti, satte ki roti (Chappati stiffed with pure ghee), bajre ki roti (millet bread), bikaneri bhujia, lashun ki chutney (garlic paste), mirchi bada, mawa kachori, pyaaz kachori (try the ones from Jodhpur or Rawat ki Kachori in Jaipur).
Rajasthan is also famous for scrumptious desserts like Mawa cake or Milk cake from Alwar, Ghewar from Jodhpur, rassgollas from Bikaner and Malpuas from Pushkar.
Rajasthani folk music and dance
Rajasthan has rich folk culture some even recognized at an international level. The folk dance Kalbeliya of Jaisalmer and Ghoomar of Jodhpur are promoted internationally.
Some of the strong examples of Rajasthan folk culture are Kathputli, Chang, Ghindr, Teratali, Bhopa, Tejaji and Kachchi ghori. Rajasthani folk music includes ballads related to love stories and heroic deeds.
You will also find women singing devotional or religious songs called bhajans and banis accompanied by instruments such as sitar, sarangi, and dholak.
Rajasthani Art and Craft Culture
Rajasthan is famous for its colorful and traditional art forms. The tie & die, block prints, Sanganer prints, Zari and Bagaru prints are some of the most common and popular export products of the state.
People make handicraft items like blue pottery, carpets, furniture and crafts which are exported throughout the country. The essence of ‘Rangeelo Rajasthan’ is reflected in its shopping scenes – clothes with embroidery and mirror works, anklets, ornaments, etc.
The ‘chanya choli’ or ‘lehenga’ worn by women is the traditional attire with a piece of cloth covering the head to show modesty and protection against heat. Dresses are commonly designed using bright color clothes like orange, red, blue and yellow.
Popular tourist attractions
As aforesaid, the state is a land of beautiful forts and palaces established by the then kings and rulers. The intricate architecture and craftsmanship of the ancient times attract tourist from all around the world to take a tour of the Land of Kingdoms.
Some of the popular tourist attractions in Rajasthan include Palaces of Jaipur, desert forts of Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and Jodhpur, lakes of Udaipur, Ajmer Sharif in Ajmer and others.
If you are a traveler at heart, these revelations of Rajasthan culture and heritage would definitely make you visit the place. Well, do that for sure! Book cheap flights to Jaipur at Indian Eagle and enjoy a tour to the culturally rich Rajasthan.