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Members of the Rabari or Rewari live throughout the Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, states in India. There are some Rabari families who also live in Pakistan, especially in and around the region of Sindh. The Rabari are also known by other names such as Desai, Raibari Dewasi, Hiravanshi, Rebari, Rebadi and Rayka or Raika.
The word "Rabari" basically means the "Path Breakers". The actual Rabari are thought to be Hun Rajputs. The Hun Rajputs invaded India in 507 AD and ruled from 509 to 511 AD. Their king was Mihrikula. Looking back at early European-Asian history, the head of the Huns was Attila the Hun. The Huns were a group of Eurasian nomads, appearing from east of the Volga, who migrated into Europe c. 370 and built up an enormous empire there. Their main military techniques were mounted archery and javelin throwing. The Huns were a society of pastoral warriors whose primary form of nourishment was meat and milk, products of their herds. The Rabari or Huns Rajputs are believed by some, to have roamed the deserts and plains of what is today western India for almost a 1000 years. It is believed that this tribe, with a peculiar Persian physiognomy, migrated from the Iranian plateau more than a millennium ago. The Rabari are now found largely in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab.
Caste and faith
The Rabari claim descent from the Chattari Rajput clans such as the Rathore, Solanki, Bhati, Paramara, Chauhan, Tanwar and Ponwar. Many historians believe they arrived in India from central Asia, but military-historians like Colonel James Todd wrote in his famous book “TAREEKH-E-RAJISTHAN( HALAT-E-MARAWAR)” (1818) that, the Rabari are actually BHATI rajputs who are decedents of the seventh wife (Bhadra) of prophet KIRSHANA. The Rabari of the past were great warriors, wise men and clan royalty. The Rabari clans are called ' NAKH '. These clans are further sub-divided in SHAKHS [Branches].
About their origin there are interesting myths. According to one of the legends on their origin, Lord Shiva gave Sambal, one of these minions, three apsaras, to marry and flourish with a condition that he will not speak one word to them. If the violated the condition, the apsaras would be lost forever. From his association, one son and four daughters were born. Soon, the family grew large and therefore the lord asked him to go and dwell on the earth. Since then Sambal was called Rabari.
According to another version, Sambal was an ace camel breeder. Someone started stealing the beautiful and sturdy animals. Sambal soon discovered that the stealer was a goddess. However, Sambal caught her and through a clever stratagem removed her clothes, leaving her in an embarrassing situation. As per the tradition in situations like this, the two married and after wandering across Haryana, Rajasthan and Sind, settled in Kutch.
Rabaris are devout Hindus. According to their myth of existence they were created by Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, who wiped the dust and sweat from Shiva as he was meditating and fashioned the very first camel from the dust balls she collected from his body. Once Shiva had breathed life into this camel, it kept running away, so Parvati fashioned a man, and the first Rabari was given life so he could mind the camel. Keeping animals has thus always been a pious occupation and Rabaris see themselves primarily as custodians of animals during their moral existence, rather than their owners. It is also their beliefs that the mother goddess presides over them. Her advice is taken about when to start out migration, and animals are commended to her care.
Part of a large family
The traditional Rabari are mainly dependent on the milk profession. Other communities like them are identified by different names in different regions of the country like Bharwad, Maldhari, Dhanger, Gowda etc. The only commonality is the profession of cattle and camel raising. They have lived in different parts of India for a millennia. The Rabari are comparatively a very recent migrant. They are part of the Huns (Hunas). Other Rebari tribes also each claim different origins. An example, the Oraon are the earliest inhabitants (Aboriginal) of the Orisa province in south east India. Prior to the arrival of the Aryan tribe or Sanskrit speaking people. "Reference Structure" of Hindu society by N.K. Bose published by Oriental Longman limited Delhi in 1937. The Gowda claim origin from the Dravidians. The Dravidians were the original people of India. They are the ones who established the Indus civilization, and reference Harrapa and Monajodaro archaeological findings. These sites were in the Indus valley thousands of years prior to the arrival of the Aryans. These other tribes or castes are good, but none of them have any genealogical, hereditary, endogeny or exogeny relationships to each other. Each of these are proud people. They developed their profession (cattle raising) independently of each other in different parts of India over thousands of years ago.
Reference to support this statement is found in the books published in twentieth century by many authors. Particularly by N.K.Bose as noted above, and his second book, Castes. (The emergence of the South Asian social system) by Mortan Klass. Published by- Institute for study of Human issue, Philadelphia. PA. USA.
There are a number of areas where the Rabari community live, and the majority of Rabari's live all over the states of India's Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhyapradesh and now they are getting involved and playing an important role in the development and future of India, by developing themselves in education, milk business etc.
All Rabari follow mainly the Hindu religion. The Rabari are worshippers of Mata Devi. Many of them serve as priests (Bhuva/Bhopa) in Mata Devi temples. Mata Devi, however is honoured in all her natural elements. The Rabari also worship 'Goga Maharaj', who is believed to be the incarnation of 'Gogaji Chauhan', a brave Rajput warrior, who laid down his life to save the cows of the Rabari. The Rabari in the Saurashtra region (Gujarat) believe in Momai Mataji. They have 8 main madh(temples) and 1 deri (temple). Every year on [Navratri festival] they celebrate a community function called punj. The Rabari from all over the state, get together and worship the goddess. The Rabari in North-Gujarat annually performs 'Ramel', in which rituals are done for the whole night by Bhuvas (Priests), generally in Chaitra maas (in Summer). Some Rebari also follow Sikhism and believe in the teachings of Guru Nanak.
Important religious places of Rabari caste:-
- Vadwala Mandir, Dudhrej, near Surendranagar, (Gujarat).
- Vadwala Mandir, Dudhai, near Surendranagar, (Gujarat).
- Vadwala Mandir, Zak, near Dahegam, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
- Valinath Akhada, near Visnagar, (Gujarat).
- SHREE DASAJIYA GOGA MAHRAJ MANDIR, AT-DASAJ, TA-UNJHA
- Pirana Satpanth Mandir, near Ahmedabad, (Gujarat).
- Shree Diodari Ban Mataji Mandir.At-Diodar,Dist-B.K-gujrat-Kamlesh I Desai Karli.
- Shree Ban Mataji Mandir Karli,At-karli,Ta-Unjha,Dist-Mehsana-Gujarat-Kamlesh I Desai Karli.
- shakti ma, chehar ma, meladi ma, goga mahraj mandir , (MANIYARI) (CHANASMA) (Patan)
- Sikotar mata, Vankal mata, goga maharaj mandir, (Kimbuva) (Patan)
- Ravrai Ravechi Mataji Dham, near Rapar, (Gujarat).
- Goga Maharaj Mandir, Kasva, near Kadi & Unava near Gandhinagar, (Gujarat).
- Chamunda Mata, Chotila, near Sayla, (Gujarat).
- Dwarkadheesh Krishna, Dwarka, near Jamnagar, (Gujarat).
- Ramdev Pir, Ramdevra, Pokhran, Rajasthan.
- Khodiyarmata Temple, Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
- Chamunda Mata, Sundhaji, Rajasthan.
- Shakti Mataji, Chorvad, Gujarat.
- Momai Mataji, Satapar, near Jam Jodhpur, Jamnagar, Gujarat.
- Momai Mataji, Loej & Deri, near Mangrol, Gujarat.
- Momai Mataji, Balej, near Porbandar, Gujarat.
- Momai Mataji, Dari & Sidokar, near Veraval, Gujarat.
- Recently Mangrol & Divasa madh Mangrol, Gujarat.
- Gogamedi, which is 359 km from Jaipur, in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan.
- Vadwala Mandir, Tintoda, near Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
- Vadwala Mandir, Chaveli, near Chanasma, Patan, Guajarat.
- Pirana Mandir, Balisana, near Patan, Gujarat.
- Pabu ji maharaj mandir, bhirdana, fatehabad (haryana).
- Vagdod Mandir, near Sidhpur, Gujarat
- vadnath mandir,petli,near nadiad..di:kheda.....gujrat
- Shrre Shesh Sikotar Mandir,Kamboi,Near Mehsana.Gujrat. (The Kuldevi of Kalotra)
- Shree Sikotar Goga Mandir, Tamboliya, Chanasma, Gujarat. (Bhuvaji Virambhai k Kalotra)
- shree goga maharaj mandir, Near railway station,Radhanpur (North Gujarat)
- Shree Sikotar Mata Mandir,Bhabhar,Banaskantha,Gujrat.(charkata parivar bhabhar)
- shree butbhavani & Jodh Mataji Madir Ajimana Patan Gujarat...(Lodha pariwar)
- Shree Limboj Mataji, Delmal and Raisan, Gujarat..(Bhumbharia and Aal's KulDevi)
Shree roop nath ji dham vill. sai dist. bhiwani haryana
- sri maru devasi samaj ,chennai ,[JAIRAMJI DEVASI Aal]
- Dewasi Samaj Seva Sanstha Kothar Rajasthan ( Run By Talsharam Gongal)
- Tilkeshwar Mahadev ( Arawali Prawat )Bhimana Rajasthan
- shree momai mataji mandir-pachakvada,ta-sidhpur,dist-patan samast kola parivar..by raju kanji kola
- "Shree pabu ji ki dham rulayani (sikar)raj...
- shree pabu dham nagli saladi singh(jhunjhunu)rajasthan
- Shree Chehar Chamunda Mandir Devrasan (Mahesana)
- Shree Chehar Semoj Mandir Manknaj (Mahesana)
by-sandip gulchar jhunjhunu
- Shri Baba MastNath Asthal Bohar math Rohtak.(haryana)
by-Amit aal Bhatti kaithal.
- Sh.Rupnath Ji Maharaj Dhaam Bhirdana Fatehabad Haryana(Gurdev Rabari Samtani Aal 9017971099)
- SH.RUPNATH JI MAHARAJ DHAAM BANKANDUNGRA ALVER RAJSTHAN
(("rupnath ji maharaj ki jai , jai sh. pabu ji maharaj ki jai , jai jeevan mata ki jai jai bhirdana dhaam ki jai, rupnath ji dhaam ka mela badwa me anderi nomi(9) se ters(13) tak rahta hai yah stan dekne yogey hai dhaam me bandara chalta hai bhav bhi aur rayka samaj ka bahut bahda(big) utsav ya tivar hota hai.yeh mela har saal aug.month me aata hai thanks... by:gurdev rayka bhirdana fatehabad haryana 9017971099,9541357099,"))
Rabaris have a very rich cultural past and present. They are known for their "Rabari Bharat (Embroidery)",especially in Kutch. Embroidery is a vital, living, and evolving expression of the crafted textile tradition of the Rabaris. Rabari women diligently embroider on textiles as an expression of creativity, aesthetics and identity as far back as the tribe’s collective memory goes. Afternoons are time for embroidery in all Rabari villages, where women routinely embroider trousseaus, everyday apparel, dowry bags, bride's ghagro (skirt), kanchali (blouse) and ludi (veil), the groom's kediyan or shirt, children's cradle cloths as well as dowry bags and auspicious torans. Rabari embroidery is very vigorous, with many bold shapes. Designs are taken from mythology and from their desert surroundings. They use glass mirrors in various shapes: round, lozenge, rectangular, square, triangular, and beak shaped. The stitches are square chain interlaced with buttonholes for mirror work, single chain, knot, Romanian, blankets interlaced with herringbone, running, and double running. Another interesting aspect of Rabari women is their earrings which are the most abstract form of snake earrings. Women in Puskar, Rajasthan describe a mushroom as snake umbrella, because it comes out after the rains and snakes have the habit of hiding under its hood. The nagali earring are supposed to stand for the double shape of the mushroom.
Rabari clan, now living in Kutch passed the Puskar region on their migration from the north of Rajasthan and may have seen the local earrings there, or rather transferred their main designs to the village people.
The nagali earrings of the Kutchi Rabari with their spiral, spring like shape can be considered as the form most closely related to the snake. Their attire(clothes),which is different on regional basis, also shows their culture. We can see that in the Navratri festival days, urban people try to imitate their attire. The Rabari women are easily distinguished by their long, black headscarves, which fall loosely to the ground. They wear distinctive heavy brass earrings which hang low, stretching the earlobes. They tattoo magical symbols onto their necks, breasts and arms. Their jewelry is modest in comparison to other tribal women. They wear small gold nose rings and silver and gold chains around their neck on where protective amulets are hung. Few simple glass bracelets adorn their arms.
In contrast to woman, a Rabari man commonly appears in white dress, golden earrings and a big stick in his hand. They wear dhoti and on the top a short double breasted waist coat (all white) laced over the chest and tied, long sleeves which are gathered up and folded at the arms. The head is covered with a 'Paghadi'(Turban).
They also have mass collections of rare folk songs and stories. Rabari women even sing on their loved one's death occasion, which is their tradition.
One of the most common things in their culture is highlighted in their food habit; wherever they may belong, they consume lots of milk and milk products.
Traditionally, they are camel herders and wanderers, and were once nomadic people. These days the Rabari are said to be semi-nomadic. Some live in small hamlets of round huts with mud walls and thatched roofs; others live in big villages and towns. The women usually manage the house and are very shrewd, independent , strong-willed and intelligent. They sell wool and clarified butter to city merchants and manage all money matters. The women are usually fair, beautiful,tall, strong and well built. The Rabari men are also tall,handsome and well-built ; and usually support a moustache and beard. Some Rabari also have different coloured eyes, green, green-brown and hazel. This may be the influence of Persian genealogy over the millennium as some tribe members claim. They can often be seen roaming the countryside with their droves of animals. They travel hundreds of miles on annual migration routes in search of new pastures to graze their animals.
Rabari girls can be married as young as 15-months old. Most of the Rabari marriages take place on the same day once a year and can be a very extravagant event involving polygamist rites.
Nowadays, a very small percentage of Rabari are nomadic. (1-2%) Most of the grazing land is gone in India because of an increase in human population. After the independence of India, many other opportunities opened up in business and education. So most Rabari in the present day, have settled down in their original communities, and are engaging in commerce and agriculture. Many have entered into politics. In the state of Gujarat, some of the Rabari have became ministers and others, members of parliament in Delhi. Education has also opened up other avenues for them. Many have studied hard to become lawyers, engineers, teachers, nurses, dentists, doctors and MOD staff. Not all Rabari live in India now, some who wanted a better life live abroad in countries like Canada, USA, UK, and Australia.
Rabari sub-castes (Shakh)
As stated earlier, the Rabari are also believed to be the sub-castes of Rajputs because they share many clans like Rathod, Solanki, Bhati, Parmar etc. with Rajputs. These clans are called ' NAKH ' in Rabari. These clans are further sub-divided in SHAKHS [Branches].The total Shakhs are 133. The Shakhs are also known as "VIHOTAR" which means Vis+Sau+Ter(20+100+13=133). Rabari's have 133 sub casts like Laltuka, Nagoh, Moidav, Bhungor, Kola, Aal, Khambhalya, Khatana, Ghangol, Bhangra,, Kalotara, Mori, Bhumbhaliya, Savdharia, Punchlya, Kodiyatar, Bharai,Verana,etc.
A- Aal, Azaana
B- Balya , Bar, Bhaangra, Bharai, Bhadka(songra), Bhatcha or Bhaatka, Bhedred, Bhoku (pohku), Bhumbhaliya, Bhungor, Bhusya, Buchotar, Balesh, Bhim, Bhopu, Bhundre, Bhati,Baharai & Badh.
C- Chavda, Charakta, Chelaana (Bharai), Chauhan (Chohan), Charamta
D- Daya, Dev, Dodana, Diya, Dhagal ,Dedar
G- Garchar, Galchar, Ghatiya, Gehar(punjab), Ghanghar, Gohil, Garsar,Goyal
H- haumod, Hathol, Huchol (Suchol), Hun,Haran
J- Jamla, Jaha, Jotana, Jiyod
K- Kachhela, Kadri, Kachhod, Kaalor, Kaid, Kalotra, Khaambhala, Khatana, Kola, Kankuta, Kataria, Karmata,Kodiyatar,Katara
L- Lalutara, Laltuka, Lodha, Luni
M- Makwana, Moidav or Moree, Motan, Maru,Musar
N- Nogoh, Navor,Nangas
P- Padhar, Padheriya, Pahwala, Parmar, Punchhalya, Padhiyar, Pavar, Patval, Panwar, Pusala piswala ,poswal,
R- Ranjya, Roziya, Rathod, Ranva,Rada
S- SAMTANI(Bhati,Aal), Sambod, Samad, Savdhariya, Seval, Shekha, Shilora, Solanki, (Sonigra) Songra, Sangawat, Savdhor, Shamla, Sindhal,
T- Tomar,Tawana, TAMALIYA.
U- Ulava, Umot
Community hostels and educational institutions
- Samast Rabari samaj vidhyarthi Bhavan,Gayatri Chowk B/h G.G.hospital,Navagam Ghed,Jamnagar.
- Kirtivan Gopalak Chhatralay,Patan, Gujarat.
- Hiraba Kanya Vidhya Sankul, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
- Shree Purandham Chhatralay Chotila, Gujarat.
- Junagadh Rabari Chhatralay, Junagadh, Gujarat.
- Samasta Sorathiya Rabari Seva Samaj, Porbandar, Gujarat. Currently run by Shri Virabhai Garchar
- Vada Rabari Chhatralay, Vada, Gujarat.
- Shri Vadwala Dudhrej Chhatralay, Dudhrej, Gujarat.
- Bhavnagar Rabari Chhatralay, Bhavnagar,Gujarat.
- Gopalak Chhatralay, Thara, Banaskantha, Gujarat.
- Mangal Mandir Chhatralay, Bhujodi, Kutch, Gujarat.
- Gopalak Chhatralay, Anjar, Kutch, Gujarat.
- Gopalak Chhatralay, Talod, Sabarkantha, Gujarat.
- Gopalak Chhatralay, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
- Shree Vadvala Chhatralay, Radhanpur, Gujarat.
- Maldhari Hostel, run by Maldhari community and MARAG, Rapar, Kutchh, Gujarat.
- Kanya Chhatralay, run by Gram Seva Mandal and MARAG, Fattepur, Patan, Gujarat
- Saraswati Hostel, Deesa, Gujarat.
- Govindpura School, Dhedhal, Deesa, Gujarat.
- Rabari Gopalak Chhatralay, Deesa, Gujarat.
- sri maru
- Gopalak Chhatralay, visnagar, [mehsana], Gujarat
- "BalramDas Gulabdas sant Ashram"(Bhagwandasji maharaj)Pushkar Rajasthan
- Gulabdas ji maharaj birth place Nokha chandavtan,dist-nagour, Rajasthan
- Rabari samaj PABU JI MANDIR, bawani khera distt. bhiwani ,haryana
- Motiji Maharaj birth place Kothar Dist-Pali Rajasthn( gongal )
Rabari NGO and charitable trusts
- "'RAIKA JAGRATI MANCH" Nagaur,Rajasthan run by RAMU RAM RAIKA professor in govt. college Nagaur,Rajasthan.'
- "RECT" ( Raika Education Charitable Trust), run by Lalsingh Pawar (Director) and Surata ram dewasi (IES,Govt of India) in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- "Ram Roti Annakshetra Aashram", run by Vaja Bhagat,Surendranagar, Gujarat.
- "Manav Kalyan Trust", run by Lallubhai Desai, Gujarat.
- "Janjagran Sangh", run by Tejabhai Desai, Gujarat.
- "Neh", run by Hemant Bar, Surendranagar, Gujarat.
- "WAMIP" (World alliance of mobile indigenous people), run by Secretary General Lalji Desai from India and President Chachu Ganya from Kenya. This is mainly organization of the pastoralist people which has based in more than 38 countries. It has Secretariat at MARAG, Ahmedabad,
- "MARAG" (MALDHARI RURAL ACTION GROUP)' An organization working in 42 block of Gujarat and also now networking in 12 state of India. this organization founded by Neeta Maldhari(Pandya) and Lalji Desai in 1994. MARAG is focusing on rights of the Maldharis. MARAG has been raising pastoralist issues from grass root to the global level, from villages to UN level. Also working with long term approach on right to livelihood, education,and governance. "MARAG" believes in collective leadership, accountability and equity.
SAMAJ NGO Run by Karshan Bharvad at Viramgam
* Rebari- a nomadic\semi nomadic tribe by Devesh Raika Nagaur,Rajasthan.
- "Gopal Bandhu", run by Govindbhai Desai since last 40 years, Mehsana, Gujarat,
- "Rajasthan Lok Disha", run by Umedsingh Dewasi, Jaipur, Rajasthan.
- "Gopal Gatha", run by Amrutbhai Desai, Gujarat.
- "Rabari Mahima", run by Virabhai Kodiyatar, Porbandar, Gujarat.
- "Gopalak Dotcom", run by Arjunbhai Desai,Vadodara, Gujarat.
- "Valonu" A development magazine run by Laljibhai and Neetaben of MARAG.
- vadnagar rabari samaj kamlesh rabari nadioad Charamta vadnagar
Problems of Rabari community
(To remove illiteracy among the rabari community, Raika Education Charitable Trust (RECT) has taken initiation and has set Vision 2020 "Complete Education in Rabari Community all over India" and RECT gets success also.)
- Child marriage
- Prevalence of superstitions
- Social barriers
- Redundant old age-traditions
- Divorce issues
- Lack of hostels and community places in major cities
- Many reside in rural areas and earn very little
- Youth are unemployed or can only find substandard employment
- Reduced pasture land ("gauchar")
- Lack of representation in political system despite large population
- Lack of all-India or statewide unity organizations
- Migration from their native places
- Extravagant and expensive events like engagements, marriages, "Maameru" (gifts from the bride's family during a wedding), dowry, etc., and its imitation
- Lack of knowledge in community about culture and wider world
- Davidson, Robyn (November 1, 1997). Desert Places, pastoral nomads in India (the Rabari). Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-026797-6.
- Mirella Ferrera, People of the world. Published by VMB publisher 13100 Vercelli, Italy 2005
- Rabari: A Pastoral Community of Kutch: by Francesco D'orazi Flavoni