The Rajastani of India
The ancestors of the Rajasthani were tribes who settled in a few fertile regions of western India. Over time, the tribes became kingdoms that constantly fought each other. One of those kingdoms was called Marwar. Collectively, the kingdoms became known as Rajputana, or "land of the kings."
Rajput kings controlled Rajasthan for over 1,000 years, until Muslim forces conquered the region. In the 1700's, the British took over most of India and entered into alliances with the Rajput states. The British allowed them to retain their independence, with only a few political and economic constraints.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Hindu Rajasthani belong to a variety of different castes; thus they are engaged in many different professions. Many belong to the highest caste, or Brahmans, which consists of priests and scholars. They spend their lives honoring various Hindu gods, and each caste usually focuses on one god above all the others. The Brahmans are often supported through offerings given to them by members of lower castes.
Cattle raising is a vital part of Rajasthan's economy, and some Hindu Rajasthani are members of agricultural or cattle breeding castes. Important crops in Rajasthan include rice, barley, wheat, cotton, tobacco, chilies, and mustard.
A number of Hindu Rajasthani belong to scholarly or writing castes. These castes are often involved in government jobs. Still others are members of artisan or worker castes. The members of these castes are often employed as metalworkers, tailors, weavers, carpenters, or cooks.
The Hindu Rajasthani have a variety of marriage customs, which are generally dependent on one's caste. Tradition requires that no one marry outside his own caste.
The Rajasthani are known for their distinctive, colorful culture. Due to their long history of conflict and warfare, they value virtues such as honesty, valor, honor, and courage. The uniqueness of their culture is also reflected in their dress. The men wear colorful turbans and the women wear bright skirts and silver jewelry.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Hindus worship a great number of gods. They believe that though divinities appear in separate forms, these forms are part of one universal spirit called "Brahman." They believe that many divinities make up Brahman. The most important ones are Brahman, the creator of the universe; Vishnu, its preserver; and Shiva, its destroyer.
Hindus believe that when a person dies his soul is subsequently "reincarnated," or reborn into another body. They teach that if the person lived a good life, he will be reborn into a higher caste; but if he lived an evil life, he will be reborn into a lower caste or even as an animal. This process of death, life, and rebirth is said to continue until the person reaches a higher state of existence.
What Are Their Needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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