Friday, February 24, 2012

Lohan kaar of Saurashtra

The Lohana claim descent from the Lava son of Rama, and thus status as Suryavanshi Kshatriya and are said to be a branch of Rathor clan of Kshatriyas or Rajputs.
The Lohanas, also known as Thakkar, trace their roots in history right up to the emergence of Aryans, a linguistic of Indo-Iranians in the Indian sub-continent (which then included today's Afghanistan) making theirs the oldest surviving community in the world. According to Puranic (ancient Indian texts of lore and legends) sources the Aryan civilization was established by king Ishaku (Ikshvaku) some two or three millennia before Christ (BC). His 22nd descendant(Ref: Valmiki Ramayan; Balkand Sarg 70 shlok 38 to 43;) was the great king Raghu, a great conqueror, who established the Rahguvansh Dynasty.
It is believed by Legend that the Lohanas are descendants of the Rama (Son of King Raghu), who bore two sons: Luv and Kush. Descendants of Kush are known as Kushwaha. His younger son Luv was given the North (uttar Kaushala) of his kingdom (Refer :Valmk Ramayan Uttar Kand sarg 107], which came to be, called Luvalka or Luv's land consisting of present day Lahore (Pakistan) as it's Capital. Luv is portrayed in the Ramayana as a great warrior. In one of the episodes of the Ramayana even though he is a mere boy in the hermitage, he brings the entire army of his father Lord Rama (under the command of his uncle Laxman) to a standstill by the prowess at archery (of course along with his older brother Kush). His descendants too were cast in the same mould, but they were not satisfied with Luvalka and pushed to the west and annexed today's Afghanistan and adjoining areas.
Around 580 BC., when king Bimbisara ruled over Bharat (India), the society came to be divided into different communities based on their occupation. One of their communities was called Kshatriyas and King Luv's descendants were classed with them and came to be known as Luvanam, which was also referred to as Luvana. The Luvanas from Loharghat became known as Loharana (masters of swords; or iron ("Loha") chiefs ("Rana")), which later became Lohana.

As per their folk tales, Jashraj, who lived around between 1205 and 1231, was at his wedding mandap when he came to know that enemies were taking away cows, the holy animal worshipped by Hindus. he left his feras and went after enemies to save cows. He was assisted in war even by his own sister Harkor. Although, the enemy from Kabul was eventually defeated, and Jashraj became victorious, he was killed as a result of an enemy strategem. He has ever since been worshiped by Lohanas and Bhanushalis as Veer Dada Jashraj and his sister Harkor Pabaru is worshiped as kuladevi by the Lohana clan.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Saurashtra's dance forms


A form of dance which is supposed to belong to Kutch and Suarashtra is performed all over Gujarat. The rasa traditions are as old as the Puranic period. In various parts of the country, Rasa are danced in different manners. The main feature of Rasa is dancing in a circle by men and woman, to the accompaniment of musical instruments and keeping time either by clapping or beating of two sticks. The number of dancers go from 8,16, 32 up to 64 couples, who also sing the song. There are three varieties of Rasaka described.

Danda Rasaka-Rasa dance where Danda or sticks are used.

Mandala or Tala Rasaka-Rasa dance where clapping is used.

Lata Rasaka-Rasa dance where dancers cling to each other and dance like a creeper to a tree.

Most of the art traditions of Gujarat trace their origin to the mythological times of Lord Krishna. He is said to have been an exponent of art of dancing. Raas Nritya is a form of dance performed by lord Krishna with Gopikas. The Dandia variety of the Raas Nritya of Gujarat is generally performed by a group of youthful persons, both males and females, who move in circles to measured steps, beating time with small sticks (called dandia) singing to the accompaniment of Dhol, Cymbals, Zanz, flute or Shehnai. When the time beat is given by the clapping of palms and performed males or femals, it is called Garbi.

The Gof variety of the raas is an intricate performance wherein the performers holding coloured strings attached to a top, move in circles weaving and unweaving different patterns.

The Mers of Saurashtra are known for their folk dance called the Mer Raas. White shepherds perform what is called the Gher Raas. The Gheria Raas is a dance performed by the agriculturists of south Gujarat.

All these dance forms preserved by hundreds of years, though not having any contact with their homeland by Tamil Nadu Sourashtra community's people migraters from Saurashtra.  A small variation in dance name is found comparing with above name to Tamil Nadu's Sourashtra language.

Adi Sankaracharya's Saurashtra Visit

Dwaravati, now Dwaraka, was the first city of eminence in Saurashtra in pre-historic times. But today, Dwaraka can hardly be called a city, though it continues to be one of the most important temple towns in India. Almost all roads in the town lead to the temple of Dwarakadheesh Shri Krishna. Situated right next to the temple is the Sharada Peetha, one of the four peethas (monasteries) established by Adi Shankaracharya 12 centuries ago, as history books tell us.

Why did he choose Dwaraka to set up his first peetha? “Adi Shankara envisioned India’s unity in cultural, religious and all other aspects and hence he established his peethas in the four corners of India, beginning with Dwaraka,” reasons Swami Sadananda Saraswati, Pramukh Dandi Swami at Sharada Peetha.

Swami Sadananda Saraswati is referred to, albeit in hushed tones, as the next Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Sharada Peeth. Fluent in Sanskrit, Hindi and Gujarati, the ascetic’s understanding of the annals of history, however, remains Shankara-centric. “Our duty calls upon us to travel within the country, revive and rejuvenate Hinduism and society,” he says.

Mahamahopadhyay J.N. Dwivedi, director of Dwarakadheesh Sanskrit Academy and Indology Research Institute, tells us that the current Shankaracharya of Dwaraka is 78th since the time of Adi Shankara. “There has not been a single day when Dwaraka Peetha did not have a Shankaracharya,” he says. “There is an interesting copper plate inscription at the peetha which was issued by King Sudhanva in 477 BC.” (The peetha puts Adi Shankara’s birth at around 507 BC.) There are no other records available. In fact, the institute has undertaken an ambitious project to trace the actual path undertaken by Shankara during his Bharat Digvijaya Yatra.

If we go by the popular 
history that Shankara was born in AD 788, it was a period when the great Valabhi dynasty had met its end in Saurashtra region, with the defeat and death on battlefield of King Shiladitya VII in 779. Fall of Valabhi led to the emergence of many small states in the region. It is said that around the same time, Wagher tribes of Okhamandal region, where Dwaraka is situated, became independent. While Waghers were in control of the Okhamandal and the coastline, the control of the hinterland was passed onto the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty. Shankara’s travel in Saurashtra region and then to Dwaraka seems to have taken place during the reign of Nagabhatta, the Gurjara-Pratihara ruler who ruled from Avanti (Ujjain).

There are varying accounts about King Sudhanva, too. According to Wikipedia, he was a Malayali king and disciple of Shankara. Swami Sadananda Saraswati speculates that Sudhanva could have ruled from Avanti. But, according to Naval Udela Chandanshu, a detailed account in Marathi about Adi Shankara’s life, Sudhanva was a king of Dwaraka who had fallen under the influence of Jainism. Written by S.D. Kulkarni, the book is based on Brihat Shankar Vijaya, written by Chitsukhacharya, and Prachin Shankar Vijaya, written by Anandagiri.

The Naval Udela Chandanshu states that, “Organising the religious order was his [Shankara's] main aim. He knew that it would be easier to organise the religion if such an effort is blessed by royal patronage. So he, along with Sureshwaracharya, proceeded to Dwaraka, where Kumrila Bhatta had been a Raj Guru.

“When Acharya [Shankara] entered Dwaraka, the king personally welcomed him and expressed his desire to be Acharya’s disciple. Acharya accepted the king’s wish with much happiness. The king then urged Acharya to take up residence in Dwaraka. Acharya told the king that he respected the king’s wish but it was his duty to travel all over India. He said, ‘I will establish a Dharmapeetha here in your capital. I would like you to be the patron of this Dharmapeetha.’ Upon this, the king bowed to Acharya’s command and urged him to appoint Sureshwaracharya as the first pontiff of Dwaraka Peetha.” (This paragraph is roughly translated from original work in Marathi.)

Jayashri Vyas, a lawyer from Dwaraka, takes us to the Bhadrakali temple. Shankara chose Bhadrakali and Siddheshwara as the reigning deities of the Dwaraka Sharada Peetha. “When Shankara visited the Bhadrakali temple, he had placed his staff at the feet of the goddess; the tradition continues since then,” says Vyas.

There is another interesting temple dedicated to all Shankaracharyas in Dwaraka. Situated rather oddly in a small lane named after the late Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of the Reliance group, this temple has a statue of Shankara in a padmasana position. On both sides of the statue are placed smaller statues of successive Shankaracharyas who have headed Dwaraka Peetha.

According to Glory of Dwarka & Saradapita, a book authored by Swami Sadananda Saraswati, when Shankara arrived in Dwaraka, the Trailokya temple in the town was empty. The idol of the deity had been thrown away by non-believers. He reinstated the idol and built Sharada Peetha on the same premises.

There are hardly any historical details available of Shankara’s journey in Saurashtra region, leading up to Dwaraka. The Missionary, a book published by the Chinmaya Mission Trust, merely mentions that after beginning his southward journey from Badrinath, Shankara went to Dwaraka. “On his way to Dwaraka, he visited Girnar, Somnatha temple and Prabhasa Teertha [the place where Lord Shri Krishna breathed his last],” says the book.

On other hand, some people like Balubhai Joshi of Prabhas Patan, the town that is home to Somnatha, say that they have never come across any reference to a 
shastrarth (discourse) by Shankara during his journey to Dwaraka. He, however, is certain about Shankara’s visit to Prabhas Patan. “Adi Shankara wrote Dwadashjyotirlinga Stotra. The first verse in this composition is in praise of Somnatha. How could he have authored a Sanskrit composition without ever visiting the temple?” asks Joshi, a highly respected senior citizen in the town.

Local people believe that when Shankara travelled in this region, he prayed inside a cave near Triveni Sangam in Prabhas Patan. This cave is now the venue of Sharada mutt in Somnatha. While the actual Sharada mutt is above the ground, the cave is situated underground and can be accessed using steps that have been specially put in place for devotees so that they can visit the venue where Shankara is believed to have rested and prayed during his journey in Saurashtra.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Naga Worship and Naga Godess of Sourashtra

Naga worship in sourashtra clan is common one.  Usually group of Naga idols worshipped and these idols are called " Nagaan " OR " Nagal ".

Naga Having both Male and Female forms.

The Female form is most popular.  Among Nagas Eight Naga are  important and these eight Naga names described in many Hindu religious texts.  The mula mantra of Naga is Puuh.  Below are Eight Naga Devi Mantra.

Om Puuh Anantamukhii Swaahaa
Om Puuh Karkodamukhii Swaahaa
Om Puuh Padminii Swaahaa (Padmavati)
Om KaalaJiihvaa Puuh Swaahaa
Om Mahaapadminii Swaahaa
Om Vaasukiimukhii Swaahaa
Om Hum Hum Puurvabhuupamukhii Swaahaa
Om Shankhni Vaayumukhii Hum Hum

Sourashtrian's Temples of Nag bai / Nagam bai / Nagalamma at Tamil Nadu
A famous Naga Godess worshipped by sourashtrians is called  "NAGA BAI " Devi.  Her rare painting is below.  The Word ' Bai ' literally means ' Women '  in Sourashtri language. 

A temple of Naga is situated at Salem Sourashtra Vipra Kula Nandavanam Near Renuka Temple under Peepal tree.   Many Naga idols found under peepal tree.  Usually a sampradaya found that, these Naga with Sapta Kanyas (Kannigal) OR Atma of childs who died in earlier ages are worshipped before marriage took place.  Another temple situated at Salem Ashok Nagar and maintained by ' urthunnu' clan.   Another Temple at Dindigul, Nagal Nagar. 
A famous surname also exist in her name in Salem district sourashtra families.   That was " KaLa naagaan " .  It means " Black Serpent "

Naga Bai
Amont Last generation of sourashtrian population of Salem (Tamil Nadu, India) wemen, having named as " Nagam bai "  " Nagalamma " , " Naga thai " and " Nagamma "  is common one.
The Gayathri Mantra of " Naga Bai "  is
Om Nagadevathaya Vidhmahe Jwala Malaya Dhimahi
Tanno Ananda Prachodayat

Prayer Mantra of Naga Bai is :


Festival of Naga Mata is NAGA PANCHAMI :

Naga Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrated by Hindus. It is celebrated on Panchami in Shravan month. On this day, they worship Nāga Devata (Cobras). People go to temples and snake pits and they worship the snakes. They offer milk and silver jewelry to the Cobras to protect them from all evils. They also fast. This festival is to celebrate the day Lord Krishna defeated the serpent Kalia. On this day swings are put up in the village and people enjoy themselves. The married girls visit their parents during this occasion.

In Hindu, snakes must be kept happy or the rains might fail. On Naga Panchami, people worship the holy reptile by sticking images on their doors and leaving bowls of rice and milk out for the serpents' delectation.

The snake is a potent force in Hindu, and greatly feared: the images on doorways are also there to keep the naga from entering the home. Failure to observe Naga Panchami may induce their wrath, resulting in an onset of general evil and, worse, the stopping of the monsoon, over which they have magical powers.
नागमाताको स्तुति :

आस्तीकस्य मुनेर्माता जगदानन्दकारिणी ।

एह्येहि मनसादेवि नागमातर्नमोsस्तु ते ॥

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bhagwathi Randal's abode at Dadva, Saurashtra

Bhagwathi Randal - Randal Maa is the Goddess who appeared as the daughter of Vishwakarma  ( God of Architecture ). She is known as Sandhya and Chhaya in the Vedas.

She came down to earth as a form of a girl when the earth dried upand there was no granary and fruit growing due to no rain. She made the clouds thunder and the clouds burst out with rain, the soil became rich as her feet touch the earth. Soon all the fields and gardens begun to bloom green. She was no ordinary girl but had super natural powers from which she healed the sick and cured them including the blind. Couples who could not give birth to children beared fruit due to the powers of Randal Maa. She is known to be the wife of Surya ( God of the Sun ).

Randal Maa once took a form of a horse ( Ghodi ) and came to earth. Surya wanted her to stay with her, Thus she divided herself into two forms Sandhya ( twilight ) and Chhaya ( Shadow ) She is also worshiped today and her miraculous powers still exist as she is possesed by many. People get healed from her possesed spirit and seek her for guidance in relationships and other matters in life. Her main Temple is located in Dadva, Saurashtra in Gujrat.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Refugees from Mohenjo-Daro Occupied Saurashtra

From Saraswati to Ganga
Saraswati flowing through the Thar Desert

Because of this dramatic turn of events, the denizens of the Indus-Saraswati had to relocate Northwards, Westwards and Eastwards. The eastward movement formed the major chunk of migration and the attributes of Saraswati were gradually transferred to the other major river of the sub-continent, the Ganga.Most Early Harappan sites are located in the middle Ghaggar-Hakra river valley, and some on the Indus and the Saurashtra area of Gujarat. However, in the later period, the number of sites in the Ghaggar-Hakra and Indus diminish, while increasing in the Ganges plain and Saurashtra.

Supporting data is present in the literary evidence where the earliest texts like the Rig-Veda mention Ganga only twice, but later literature like the Upanishads, mention the river repeatedly!

As the senior Indian Archaeologist, SR Rao observes -

In circa 1900 BCE most of the mature Harappa sites were wiped out forcing the inhabitants to seek new lands for settlement...

They seem to have left in great hurry and in small groups, seeking shelter initially on the eastern flank of the Sutlej and the Ghaggar and gradually moving towards the Yamuna. The refugees from Mohenjo-Daro and southern sites in Sind fled to Saurashtra and later occupied interior of the Peninsula.

Indeed, the Saraswat Brahmins still trace their origin from the banks of Saraswati and are today spread all over the country right from Kashmir to Kutch to Konkan!!

War horses of Saurashtra

The Kathiawari breed horse is accepted throughout the India as the purest and oldest of all horse breeds. Its origins are in the Middle Eastern land of Saurashtra region in State of Gujarat in India, where the Kathi's tribesmen and Rajput clans rulers used it as a warhorse, abandoning any animal which could not carry him at speed across miles of open dry lands of 'Kathiawar' with little food or water and they favored the Kathiawari breed mares because, unlike the Kathiawari breed Stallion, he could trust her to keep quiet….!

Today, almost every breed and type of horses has traces of Kathiawari breed blood in India and all are descended in the male line from the Charls, Gulfaam, Ashwinikumar in early 1900s era which were bread by the 'Nawab's' and 'Maharaja's' and in recent times Stallions like, Scarlet, Chand, Amit, Rajhans, Nilesh, Chandragupt, Chital, from Government of Gujarat Kathiawari Horse Breeding farms in Junagadh and Innaj which were all bread into Gujarat in the early 1980s.

Breed history

In ancient time, this breed was developed by a Warrior clan called 'KATHI's ' from the Western region of India , this region known as SAURASHTRA. It has a longest Coast line, and trade with Gulf was too much at that time. So may be in that trading business ARAB breed horses were brought to this part of India and sold to the local Kings of the regions. From their Stallion , they mixed with the local breed and produced this KATHIAWARI breed horses, because if you see the confirmations of this KATHIAWARI breed, it is much similar to the ARAB breed. The only difference is, that in ARAB breed DUN colour is NOT available at all, and where in KATHIAWARI breed all colours are based with DUN and, this colour is very prominent colour in KATHIAWARI breed. Also BLACK colour you found in ARAB breed, but BLACK is the only colour you don't found in KATHIAWARI breed. Also the curved Ears of KATHIAWARI breed, is another prominent marking to differ this two breeds. But at some point I personally think, that these two breed has mixed up during the olden times.....but the experts of the KATHIAWARI breeds are simply denying this statement. This KATHIAWARI breed was developed for the WAR horse, and also for the Pleasure riding purpose. The primary occupation today for the KATHIAWARI breed horses is mainly for the pleasure riding, competition riding, and mainly used by the farmers to go one place to another. But never used for the Farming work. In 1991, the Government of Gujarat State has done the counting of the pure breed KATHIAWARI horses in the state, and it was numbered only 700 horses only. But today with the efforts of KATHIAWARI HORSE SOCIETY and KATHIAWARI & MARWARI HORSE BREEDERS CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD. - GONDAL, and PORBANDAR HORSE BREEDERS ASSOCIATION, today in Gujarat State , more then 20, 000 of Pure Breed KATHIAWARI horses are their , and we expect this figure will reach to 100,000 by year 2010.

The Kathiawari breed horse averages 13 hands to 14-5 in height and odd Stallions goes up to the 14-5 hands to 15-2 hands in height. The stallion has great presence whilst the mare gives an impression of elegant gentleness. They have a distinct outline and are of perfect proportion. The coat has an iridescent sheen. The head is slightly dished and concave profile, tapering to a fine muzzle; the eyes are large and evenly placed with a tod eyes looks, while the throat is fine, with a well shaped arched neck. The back is short and the loins strong and muscular, the croup is level and the tail set high. The ears are small and maximum of 14 to 17 cms, narrow at base; tips are curved inward and touching or almost touching like a 'Sting of a Scorpion', with rotation of 180 degrees backward. To these must be added dense flat bone, hard feet and hoofs with double in-sole, acute eyesight and hearing, purity and prepotency coupled with a gentle temperament and ability to survive. Black Eel Stripe on back and Zebra markings on front legs are seen in these breed too. These are the hallmarks of the Kathiawari breed.