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Grasia Tribes, Rajasthan


Submitted By rlogani
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The Garasia tribal community has gained a place of prominence in Indian culture due to their lifestyle and culture. This Garasia tribal community has got concentration in several areas of the state of Rajasthan. The Garasia tribal community is considered to be the third largest tribal group of the state of Rajasthan. The people of this tribal community are basically concentrated in different parts of this state namely Kotra, Abu Road tehsil of Sirohi, Bali and Desuri tehsils of Pali districts, Gogunda and Kherwara tehsils of Udaipur.

As per the history, the Garasias tribes are a division of the Rajput community. The colonization made the scarcity of lands during the time of the British administration, and the tribal people were marginalized and started living with the people dwelling in the forest. The further division was created by the nationalist movement in between the groups. Among the Garasias, the Bhil-Garasias are the part of tribes who married the Bhil women to maintain peace and harmony. This tribal community is divided in three sections namely the nanki niyat, moti niyat and nichli niyat and these sections have further clan divisions namely Solanki, Mali, Parmar, Raidara etc. The territory of the Garasia people is called patta and the smallest unit of the villages is termed as hamlet or phalia.

The word `Garasias` is derived from the Sanskrit word `gras` that signifies the substance. The history says that after defeated by Ala-ud-Din Khilji, the Rajputs took flight to the hilly areas of Bhil tribes. The Garasias took control over the Bhil tribes and came to be known as Garasia tribal community. They have a link with the medieval Rajput community. Moreover, the Garasia tribes are popularly known as `the fallen Rajputs` and as per the popular belief is that these Garasia tribes can trace back their heredity to the famous Chauhans of Rajasthan state.

Some say that the Garasia tribes are the off springs of the Rajput who got married to a Bhil female. It is assumed that they formerly were `chiefs` who were thrown out by several plunderers. As early as 13th century, several hapless Rajput escape to Aravalli and Vindhya hills. There these Garasia tribes get the opportunity to mix up with several tribes of the Bhil community.

After sometime, the Garasia tribes crushed the power of the Bhil leaders and their supporters, settling down near the dense forests and at the bottom of the hills. For safeguarding the local people and their settlements, this Garasia tribal community got the land for carrying on agricultural activities. There are many people who even refer all the Rajput and other landholders dwelling in both Gujarat and Rajasthan states, as Garasia.

The language of the Garasia tribes is Dungri Garasia language. It belongs to the Bhil sub-group of the famous Indo-Aryan language family. It has been said that the Garasia language is a blend of three different languages namely Bhili, Marwari and Gujarati language. The dialect of the Garasia people is called Nyar dialect or Nyar-Ki-Boli.

Cultural exuberance of these Garasia tribes of Rajasthan is rightly being depicted in several of its elements. Since the houses of these Garasia tribes are small, a Garasia male of the household can perform all the household chores on his own. These Garasia tribes in general reside in one-room houses prepared from mud and bamboo. Nowadays, this Garasia tribal community has learnt to make flat tiled roofs. There are also few Garasia tribes who still today make thatched roofs. Houses are usually built on the slopes of hills with their fields extending out in front. There is as a rule a guest house opposite the house of the head of the Garasia village. However, there is hardly any meting point for all the people of the Garasia community.

Even though the whole of the Garasia tribal community can be divided into several clans, they seldom maintain unity amongst themselves. In order to sustain their living these Garasia tribes practice cultivation. However, there is also no dearth of Garasia people who also work as laborers in the fields also. Needless to say, food habits of these Garasia tribes too follow the tradition of any other agrarian tribal community of the state. Maize is the staple food grown by all Garasia families. Apart from this, they also add rice, jowar and wheat in their diet. Many of this Garasia tribal community also consume all the forest products like vegetables, fruits etc. Rab or rabdi is considered as the well admired food of the Garasia people. They prepare lapsi, malpua, Churma etc. during their occasions. The Garasia tribes are mostly veggies and also have got no addiction to various types of liquors.

The society of the Garasia tribe is controlled by the Panchayet and the village head Patel takes the major decisions related to the village and the villagers. The position of a woman is not high in a Garasia tribal community. Like any other patriarchal society, the Garasia tribal females also are not permitted to possess property. There are also certain stringent rules that these Garasia tribal women need to follow quite diligently. For example, it is mandatory for the Garasia women to put veils over their faces when they are present in front of senior male relatives.

Different duties are allotted for both Garasia males and females. The onus of carrying on certain domestic duties are fall upon the Garasia women. These include cooking, nursing the cattle, milking the animals, and also taking care of the children. The men do the physical labor such as plowing, harvesting, and building the houses.

Marriage too like any other tribal community is held in high position. The Garasia tribal community is permitted freedom in selecting their partners. Young Garasia males between the ages of eighteen and twenty four generally marry females who are between fourteen and eighteen years. Another interesting thing is that any Gharasia couple cal lives together without getting married. However, under the impact of Hindu rituals and customs, nowadays, this rule of the Garasia tribal community varies in certain places of the Rajasthan. As per recent survey, it has been rightly find out that only 1 percent of the Garasia tribal community has taken up the religion of Christianity.

The Garasia tribal community also follows the tradition of "joint family system" in which the sons stay with their families till the time their own children become adults. Intermarriage with other Bhil tribes is allowed, and also cross-cousin marriages are severely prohibited. Polygamy is also prevalent in certain cases. For instance a Garasia male is permitted to have more than one wife, only if his first wife is either sterile or bears him no sons. Position of widows is really deplorable. There is a popular belief amongst the Garasia tribal community is that the widows bring bad luck to the whole of the village community.

Dresses that this Garasia tribal community wears are quite exquisite. Both the males and females of the Garasia tribal community have developed individual style for dressing. Several silver ornaments are in fashion. The felames of the Garasia tribal community usually wear jhulki, gherdar ghagra, and odni. The men are noted for their red or white turbans which are also called safa or potiyu. The male attire includes angarkhi, kurta and dhoti. Tattooing is prevalent amongst both the Garasia females.

Just like any other tribal community of the Indian subcontinent, these Garasia tribal communities too have got orientation towards religion as well as spiritualism. Following the tradition, these Garasia tribal communities follow animism and revere animals like their horses, their swords, and the sun. Although till today these Garasia tribal community has maintained their age old traditional beliefs and customs, the Hinduism has widely influenced the religious believes of many of the Garasia tribes.

In other words, the religious rituals of these Garasia tribal communities are a blend of both the Hindu customs and local conventional beliefs. Even though this Garasia tribal community now reveres myriads of deities and fete holy cows, just like any of the Hindus, they still stick onto their unique faith in several things like spirits, venerating ghosts, spirits of the dead, and black magic. They also worship Thakurji, Amba Mata, Dharamraj, Lord Ganesh, Chamunda, Hawlo, Kalaji-Goraji, Abu and Sitala. They worship the deity of Bhakar bavasi. They celebrate different festivals and fairs like Holi, Rakhi, Diwali, Navratri, Akha Teej, Dussehra etc. The main fair of the Garasia tribes is the Siyawa-Ka-Gormela which is celebrated during the time of Baisakhi Krishna Panchami in the village of Siyawa of Abu Road tehsil. This tribal community has a rich culture of tribal songs and folk tales. They celebrate their local, religious and cultural festivals with their tribal songs and dances. Musical instruments namely ghoriya, kundi, harnai, dhol etc. are used with their music in their tribal dances like rayan, ghumer, valar, mandal etc.

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