The countryside of Rajasthan has fascinated scholars for a long time, where thirty million people belonging to over two hundred ethnic groups reside in thirty thousand villages, and away from the madding crowd of the urban centres, cherish the glory of their age old cultural traditions handed down to them from generation to generation.
A comprehensive appreciation of the life-style and the ways of the village folks, however, was not made so far. A break through in this stupendous task has been achieved by this trailblazing-book which portrays a glimpse of the abundant material for observation by the social social scantiest and plenteous from and beauty to be captured by the creative artist. Built over field studies made in two hundred and fifty villages over a period of two decades, the work a unique blending of verbal pictuuuring with visual depictions of the folkways in Rajasthan-has resulted in a most informative and delightful publication.
Founder member of the Folklorists a group of social scientists devoted to the study of folkways and propagation of our cultural tractions, Dr. U.B. Mathur is an ethnologist. He has witnessed the country scene in Rajasthan for over twenty years and has made significant contribution towards the understanding of the province. His Glimpses of Rural Rajasthan and Ethnographic Atlas of Rajasthan earned a state government award, and The Sound of Music in Rajasthan carrying a foreword by Yehudi Menuhin, an International recognition.
Memories of the fascinating array of portraits of the social and cultural life in the countryside of Rajasthan, as observed by me during my tenure with the Census Organization haunted me for a long time. Some of my close associates allured me to write my personal experiences made during the investigations in the field and encouraged me into building a study of the variegated scene of tradition and the folkways in Rajasthan. The result, based on the memoirs of my visits to over two hundred fifty villages spread all over the province, is now presented in this work which offers a glimpse of- the life style of the common folk and the current folk tradition.
The first two chapters of this book are by way of orientation, to help the reader appreciate the whole range of the splendorous spectrum of the folkways in Rajasthan; they deal with the cultural divisions and the ethnic mosaic of the state. Tradition divides Rajasthan into several cultural regions, the names of many are now getting out of use and are familiar only to the folks or to those few who frequent the areas of antiquity. As each of such regions is known to have characteristicelements of its own in folk tradition and culture, I have thought it necessary to bring up their names from the oblivion and also attempt a map delineating the current cultural cantons. As an additional backdrop to the discussion, the succeeding topic presents a profile of the ethnic pattern highlighting its antiquity, as evident from its luxuriant ramification, which indeed has brought forth its magnificent cultural tradition. I have also tried to build a map to illustrate this discourse which, besides showing the location and dispersal of our important castes, also indicates the extent of their strength and preponderance in various regions of Rajasthan.
No words of my gratitude can ever be sufficient for the Census of India and specially its organisation in Rajasthan, on whose treasures I have drawn upon with impudicity. Indeed my relationship with it has come to be that of a beneficiary seeking to inherit its fabulous legacy, which has resulted on account of my long innings with it spread over more han two decades.
My debts to the pioneering works by the great antiquarians like James Todd, Rev. Sherring, Rev. Macalister and Grierson, from which I have borrowed quite a few expressions, are also immense. Amongst those who have helped me extensively with their experience are my esteemed friends-Mr. Shamsher Singh, Mr. Ramesh Chandra Bhargava, Mr. Baldev Raj Gulati and Mr. Gopal Das Agarwal.
Most of the illustrations illuminating this book have been drawn by my luminous friend Mr. Laxman Rao Pendharkar, which effectively bring home to the reader the underlying spirit of the life style of the village folks.
Mr. Hem Singh and Mr. GP Kushwaha have provided additional sketches and Mr. Madanlal Kumawat and Mr. Ganeshilal Verma have prepared the maps and other art work.
My daughter Meenu and her friend Anju Dhadha helped me scrutinise the entire matter with great care and understanding, and Dr. Anil Kumar Mathur generously provided critical insight to steer it up to the manuscript stage.
My wife-Shakuntala has been my inspiring influence; she stood by my passion and spurred me for over a decade in this engrossing adventure, the building of which carried me through a gruelling succession of alternate periods of high and low spirits.
The Folklorists, a group of social scientists with a mission to probe and propagate the ethnological treasures of India, has taken upon itself the task of bringing out this book as its maiden publication. It therefore merits a special mention, and a special expression of my thanks.
Amongst those who enthused me greatly are my kind friends Mr. Vijay Verma, lAS, Mr. Kaushal Bhargava, Mr. Sampatrai Luhadia, Mr. Ishwar Dutta Mathur and Mr. Sanjeev Srivastava.
I shall be happy if the reader finds this work interesting as a modest aid• to some understanding about the folkways in Rajasthan, despite all its inadequacies inherent in a glimpsing survey.
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