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Calico Museum of Textiles
Hutheesing Jain Temple
Sabarmati Ashram

Indian Subcontinent >> India >> Gujarat >> People of Gujarat

People of Gujarat

The people of Gujarat comprises several different ethnic groups and tribes, including the nomadic Ahirs, shepherd community of the Garasia Jats, the craftsmen of the Meghwal tribe and the vibrant colourful Rabadis who trace their roots to Afghanistan and Sind. There are 290 distinct communities in Gujarat. And interestingly, as many as 206 of these are immigrants from neighbouring Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & Maharashtra - and even overseas! The Siddis who live in coastal Saurashtra have Negroid features typical of the people of Africa. They are descendants of the African sailors and traders who found their way to Indian shores in the early centuries of the millennium. The majority of the population lives in small, rustic villages, although about one-third lives in urban areas.

The peace-loving Jains form a sizable and influential part of the population of the state (12%). Their foremost religious vow is ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) - the simple, but unique weapon that Mahatma Gandhi used against the British! The people of Gujarat are so courteous that in conversation they add the suffix ‘Bhai’ (brother) or ‘Ben’ (sister) to the name of the person addressed -- hence ‘Vallabh-bhai’ or ‘Meera-ben’. They are mostly vegetarian as befitting their religious vows not to harm any living being. Incidentally, Gujarat boasts of a number of Jain pilgrim centres, including Shatrunjaya near Palitana, one of the holiest. The crest of ‘Shatrunjaya’ hill- Shatrunjaya means ‘the Place of Victory’, over hatred and worldly things - is dotted with as many as 863 beautifully carved marble temples built over a period of 900 years. The constant chanting in the vicinity of the temples makes for a truly spiritual experience.

Gujaratis are certainly not a warrior people and you will find most of them involved in some sort of business enterprise.

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