From the 25th to the 30th of January, the Banjara and Labana Naikada communities gathered in Godri, Jalgaon district. Shabri Kumbh and Narmada Kumbh were previously held in Gujarat in 2006 and Madhya Pradesh in 2020. Kumbh refers to a gathering of saints. Saints from across the country gather for prayers and blessings, as well as to discuss various social and national issues. The nation gains momentum and direction through the churning of various thoughts and ideas. Every four years, the Sinhastha Kumbh and this Kumbha are held. The only distinction between them is in form and location. The rest of the goal remains the same.
Why is the Banjara Kumbh being held?
The mindset of “Religion” followers over “Dharma” followers is taking a toll in a dangerous manner and causing unrest all over the world, including the environment. The thought process of these religion followers, particularly few Christian missionaries, of converting every non-Christian to Christian is concerning, especially with the intention of creating rifts and destruction in that society and community. What exactly is the goal? Has forced conversion to Christianity or any other religion, or the use of deceptive practises, helped to bring the converted joy, happiness, peace of mind, and a better social and economic situation?
While I respect all religions and sects, ignoring the facts on the ground is both ignorant and dangerous. If Christianity is superior, why do countries with a majority Christian population have a good rate of mental, physical, drug abuse, and social issues? Why is there such a schism between Catholics and Protestants? Why is there caste discrimination among Christians? Why are so many Christian-majority countries collapsing economically and socially?
We welcome and applaud the spirit of many Christians who have begun to follow Sanatan Sanskruti and its principles; however, haters of Sanatan dharma are converting Sanatan followers, instilling deep hatred among converts. The Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Isha founder Jaggi Vasudev, Mata Amrutanandmayi, Swaminarayan, ISKCON, and many other Spiritual masters and organisations have a large number of followers all over the world, but they never convert them religiously; instead, they bless all of their followers to continue following Sanatan principles without changing their religion. This is why Sanatan dharma must be safeguarded for the greater good. Those who recognise the value of Sanatan Dharma for the individual, society, world, and environment should speak out, including the majority of Christians who don’t believe in Christian missionary propagandists who are destroying the social and spiritual fabric of Sanatan Dharma. The RSS, along with many other organisations, is working to bridge the centuries-old divides. “We all are one,” says the mantra.
What exactly is Seva or Social Service? Services rendered without self-interest for the greater good of society and the environment. Isn’t it true that the services provided by Christian missionaries and their organisations are intended to convert them? What good are such social services? As I previously stated, many Indian spiritual, religious, and social organisations provide social services across globe, the most important of which is developing peace of mind and happiness, which is the most difficult and critical aspect of everyone’s life. All of these social services, however, are provided with good intentions and without a selfish motive. This disparity in service must be addressed with greater awareness and understanding by governments, various organisations, and individuals.
Banjara Kumbha serves the same function to unite everyone for greater good. Two major challenges have emerged in Banjara society in the last 15 to 20 years. The first is the spread of Christianity, and the second is the ill intentional propagation of paganism. As a result, priests, saints, and Banjara community members took the initiative and decided to perform Kumbh. Every few years, it is discovered that they have a different religion in each caste tribe. Why is this done? This is a complex question. In today’s situation, this is a political vendetta by a few political parties to build a vote bank in order to win elections. However, the consequences can be severe. The destructive intent of gaining power by dividing Sanatan society must be recognised by all, and such Kumbh initiatives must be supported enthusiastically and with a sense of belonging.
There are several communities of Muslim Banjaras in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, converted only from the Banjara caste. The Mukars and Muzalams are also descended from the Banjaras. Following the Muslim emperor Aurangzeb’s invasion, only a few Banjaras accepted to forced conversion to Islam (1618–1707). These Banjara social groups are known as Tukkanaya and Mukeri. They have been spotted in parts of north-west India, as well as in Hyderabad.
Christianisation of Banjaras has occurred in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and in some other parts of India. Surprisingly, even after some Banjaras converted to Christianity, they continued to practise Hindu traditions. Turmeric bath before marriage, wedding procession, and Hindu festival celebration.
Way of life of Banjara society
The culture of the Banjara community follows the Hindu way of life. The people of the Banjara community prefer to live in special settlements known as “Thandas”. They first used to live about three to four kms away from the main village but now education, health facilities and Due to the planning of the government, they have started liking to live with other brothers and sisters.
Family Deity and Saint tradition The family deities of Banjaras are Mata Mahakali and Mata Jagdamba, also known as Mata Mahagauri. Mahagauri indicates Gaur dynasty. Venkateswara Tirupati Balaji and Banjari Devi is also worshiped. Especially in Gaur Banjara community, Sati Bhavani is worshipped. Lord Shankar’s vehicle Nandi is worshiped with great enthusiasm even today. It is also called ‘Garsha’. The Banjaras of Chhattisgarh worship Goddess ‘Banjara’, who is the goddess of this caste and is the symbol of mother power. In addition, they are also associated with the Mahanubhava sect, due to which, they also worship Shri Krishna. Banjaras also worship saints along with deities. Satguru Hathiram Baba Maharaj, Sant Sewalal Maharaj, Rana Lakhirai Banjara (Rana Lakhi Shah), Banjari Mata, Saint Roop Singh Maharaj, Samki Mata, Saint Samatdada, Saint Laxman Chaitanya Maharaj, Saint Ishwar Singh Maharaj, Saint Ram Rao Maharaj etc. are worshiped by the Banjara community and they believe that the thoughts of the saints are sacred.
Our Janjati brothers and sisters gave a lot of their pain to protect our great culture and nation. Let us shower them with blessings, have a sense of belonging, and lend a helping hand without any desire to develop them socially, economically and spiritually.
-Pankaj Jagannath Jayswal