The Rajputs, who were the rulers of most of the erstwhile princely states of Rajputana, form an important section of society, even if they do not comprise a major percentage of the population. The Rajputs generally worshipped the Sun, Shiva, and Vishnu. Vedic religion and rituals are still followed by the Rajputs. Traditionally, people followed the professions of their castes, and society was clearly divided between the priests, the warriors, the businessmen and the agricultural communities. Many tribes are also found in different parts of Rajasthan, with their own social systems and customs, religion and dress. Rajasthan is one of the least densely populated states in India with most villages and towns to the east of the Aravalis. Rural houses are huts with mud walls and roofs thatched with straw. Rajasthan is known for the unique and varied festivals that dot the calendar.
The aboriginal people of Alwar, Jaipur, Bharatpur, and Dholpur include the Minas or Mewatis as well as the Meos, Banjaras, who are travelling tradesmen and artisans, and the Gadia Lohars who are also a wandering itinerant tribe. The Bhils, one of the oldest peoples in India, belong to Bhilwara, Chittaurgarh, Dungarpur, Banswara, Udaipur, and Sirohi and are skilled archers. The Grasias and nomadic Kathodis live in the Mewar region while Sahariyas live in and around Kota, and the Rabaris of the Marwar region are cattle breeders.
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Hindusim is the most common religion. There are many Jains who follow the teachings of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara who stressed the practice of non-violence. There has been an increase in the number of followers of Sikhism. Some other major religions that are followed are Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and the Parsi faith.
Increasingly men are switching to Western attire, and the salwar kameez is catching on with women. The use of ornaments dates back to prehistoric times and continues to be immensely popular. Whereas both men and women wore ornaments in the past, now men hardly use them. Women continue to wear a great deal of jewellery for which Rajasthan is famous.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.