Asia in 1200 AD, showing the Yadava Dynasty and its neighbors.

Members of the Rabari or Rewari live throughout the Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states in India. There are many other Rabari families who also live in Pakistan, especially in the region of Sindh. Rabaris are also known by other names such as Desai, Dewasi, Hiravanshi, Rebari, Rebadi, and Rayka or Raika.



The word "Rabari" basically means the "outsiders". This is because of the traditional trade they used to do in times past. The Rabari's main business used to be raising cattle, camels and goats; for some traditional-minded families this is still the case. However, the new generation is slowly moving away from this way of life.

These animals needed lots of space for grazing and pasturing. Due to this reason, the Rabari couldn't live in town houses and have room for their animals also. They started living on the outskirts of towns and beyond for this reason. This community was given a name by the general populace -"Dhani". Dhani means the Basti-community,because they were outside the main community, so the name became Rabari for these wandering and herding people.

The actual Rabari are hun rajput. They invaded India in 507 AD. and ruled from 509 to 511 AD. Their king was Mihrikula, the leader of hun rajput. If we go to the early history their head was ATTILLA THE HUN. Attilla the hun was born in southern part of Russia. Some people also believed that Rabari or Huns Rajput, came to India from the Roman side because Attila the Hun was king of the region at the time.

Caste and Faith

Rabaris are often devout Hindus, but many follow the Sikh religion. Keeping animals is considered a pious occupation and Rabaris see themselves primarily as custodians of grazing animals during their mortal existence, rather than their owners. It is also their belief that the Mother Goddess presides over them. Her advice is taken about when to start out migration, and animals are commended to her care. Rabari clans are called nakhs, and are further sub-divided into shakhs (branches).

Rabaris claim descent from the Rajput clans such as the Rathore, Solanki, Bhati, Paramara, Chauhan, Tanwar and Ponwar. James Tod specifically places them as Bhati rajputs descedants of the seventh wife (Bhadra) of the prophet Kirshana.[1]

Part of Large Family

Rabaris are mainly dependent on the milk profession. Other communities like them are identified by different names in different regions of the country like Maldhari, Dhanger, Gowda etc. The only commonality is the profession of cattle raising. They have lived in different parts of India for a millennia. While Rabari are comparatively a recent migrant. They are the part of Huns (Hunas). Other tribes each claim different origin. An example, Oraon are the earliest inhabitant (Abrogenial) of the Orisa province in south east India. Prier to the arrival of the Aryan tribe or Sanskrit speaking people. "Reference Structure" of Hindu society by N.K. Bose published by Oriental Longman limited Delhi in 1937. Gowda claim origin from Dravidians. Dravidians were the original people in India. They are the ones who established the Indus civilization, and reference Harrapa and Monajodaro archaeological findings. These sites were in Indus valley thousands of years prier to the arrival of Aryan. These other tribes or caste are good, but none of them have any genealogical, hereditary, endogeny or exogeny relationships to each other. Each of these are proud people. They developed their profession (cattle raising) independently of each other in different parts of India over thousands of years ago. Reference to support this statement is found in the books published in twentieth century by many authors. Particularly by N.K.Bose as noted above, and his second book, Castes. (The emergence of the South Asian social system) by Mortan Klass. Published by- Institute for study of Human issue, Philadelphia. PA. USA.

Andar, Ahiyaru, Appugol, Ahir, Bharwad, Bharavadaru, Dhangar, Dhangad / Dhanwar / Dhanka /Dhangod, Doddi, Gadaria, Gaddi,Gadhariya, Gowda,, Gadri, Gurjar, Gollavadu, Gounder, Halumatha, Heggades, Idyar, Khuruk, Kuda, Kuruba, Kurumba, Kurmar, Kurumbar, Kalavar, Kuruma, Kurumavaaru, Kurkhi, Kurupu, Maldhari, Mer, Naikers, Nikhers, Oraon, Pal / Pala, Palaru, Paalakyatriya, Poduvar, Yadav, Pashupalak, Spetc. castes can be considered as their distant relatives.

There are a number of areas where Rabari community live, and the majority of Rabari's live all over the states of India's Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhyapradesh and now they are getting involved and played important roles in the development of India, by developing themselves in education, milk business etc.


All Rabaris follow the Hindu religion. Rabari are worshippers of Mata Devi. Many of them serve as priests (Bhuva/Bhopa) in Mata Devi temples. Mata Devi, however is honoured in all her natural elements. Rabaris also worship 'Goga Maharaj', who is believed to be the incarnation of 'Gogaji Chauhan', a brave Rajput warrior, who laid down his life to save the cows of Rabaris. Rabari in the Saurashtra region (Gujarat) believe in Momai mataji. They have 8 main madh(temples) and 1 deri (temple). Every year on [Navratri festival] they celebrate a community function called punj. Rabari from all over the state, get together and worship the goddess. Rabaris in North-Gujarat annually performs 'Ramel', in which rituals are done for the whole night by Bhuvas (Priests), generally in Chaitra maas(in summer).

Important religious places of Rabari caste:-

Dwarkadheesh Krishna Mandir
  • Vadwala Mandir, Dudhrej, near Surendranagar, (Gujarat).
  • Vadwala Mandir, Dudhai, near Surendranagar, (Gujarat).
  • Valinath Akhada, near Visnagar, (Gujarat).
  • Pirana Satpanth Mandir, near Ahmedabad, (Gujarat).
  • == Sikotar mata, Vankal mata, goga maharaj mandir, (Kimbuva) (patan),==
  • Ravrai Ravechi Mataji Dham, near Rapar, (Gujarat).
  • Goga Maharaj Mandir, Kasva, near Kadi & Unava near Gandhinagar, (Gujarat).
  • Chamunda Mata, Chotila, near Sayla, (Gujarat).
  • Dwarkadheesh Krishna, Dwarka, near Jamnagar, (Gujarat).
  • Ramdev Pir, Ramdevra, Pokhran, Rajasthan.
  • Khodiyarmata Temple, Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
  • Chamunda Mata, Sundhaji, Rajasthan.
  • Shakti Mataji, Chorvad, Gujarat.
  • Momai Mataji, Satapar, near Jam Jodhpur, Jamnagar, Gujarat.
  • Momai Mataji, Loej & Deri, near Mangrol, Gujarat.
  • Momai Mataji, Balej, near Porbandar, Gujarat.
  • Momai Mataji, Dari & Sidokar, near Veraval, Gujarat.
  • Recently Mangrol & Divasa madh Mangrol, Gujarat.
  • Gogamedi, which is 359 km from Jaipur, in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan.
  • Vadwala Mandir, Tintoda, near Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
  • Vadwala Mandir, Chaveli, near Chanasma, Patan, Guajarat.
  • Pirana Mandir, Balisana, near Patan, Gujarat.
  • Pabu ji maharaj mandir, bhirdana, fatehabad (haryana).
  • Vadwala Mandir, Zak, near Degham, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
  • vadnath mandir,petli,near nadiad..di:kheda.....gujrat

Rabari Culture

Traditional Tattoos

Rabaris have a very rich cultural past and present. They are known for their "Rabari Bharat (Embroidery)",especially in Kutch. Embroidery is a vital, living, and evolving expression of the crafted textile tradition of the Rabaris. Rabari women diligently embroider on textiles as an expression of creativity, aesthetics and identity as far back as the tribe’s collective memory goes. Afternoons are time for embroidery in all Rabari villages, where women routinely embroider trousseaus, everyday apparel, dowry bags, bride's ghagro (skirt), kanchali (blouse) and ludi (veil), the groom's kediyan or shirt, children's cradle cloths as well as dowry bags and auspicious torans. Rabari embroidery is very vigorous, with many bold shapes. Designs are taken from mythology and from their desert surroundings. They use glass mirrors in various shapes: round, lozenge, rectangular, square, triangular, and beak shaped. The stitches are square chain interlaced with buttonholes for mirror work, single chain, knot, Romanian, blankets interlaced with herringbone, running, and double running. Another interesting aspect of Rabari women is their earrings which are the most abstract form of snake earrings. Women in Puskar, Rajasthan describe a mushroom as snake umbrella, because it comes out after the rains and snakes have the habit of hiding under its hood. The nagali earring are supposed to stand for the double shape of the mushroom.

Rabari tribes, now living in Kutch passed the Puskar region on their migration from the north of Rajasthan and may have seen the local earrings there, or rather transferred their main designs to the village people.

The nagali earrings of the Kutchi Rabari with their spiral, spring like shape can be considered as the form most closely related to the snake. Their attire(clothes),which is different on regional basis, also shows their culture. We can see that in the Navratri festival days, urban people try to imitate their attire. The Rabari women are easily distinguished by their long, black headscarves, which fall loosely to the ground. They wear distinctive heavy brass earrings which hang low, stretching the earlobes. They tattoo magical symbols onto their necks, breasts and arms. Their jewelry is modest in comparison to other tribal women. They wear small gold nose rings and silver and gold chains around their neck on where protective amulets are hung. Few simple glass bracelets adorn their arms.

In contrast to woman, a Rabari man commonly appears in white dress, golden earrings and a big stick in his hand. They wear dhoti and on the top a short double breasted waist coat (all white) laced over the chest and tied, long sleeves which are gathered up and folded at the arms. The head is covered with a 'Paghadi'(Turban).

They also have mass collections of rare folk songs and stories. Rabari women even sing on their loved one's death occasion, which is their tradition.

One of the most common things in their culture is highlighted in their food habit; wherever they may belong, they consume lots of milk and milk products.


Traditionally they are camel herders, and were once nomadic people. These days the Rabaris are said to be semi-nomadic. They live in small hamlets of round huts with mud walls and thatched roofs. The women manage the hamlets and are shrewd and intelligent. They sell wool and clarified butter to city merchants and manage all money matters. The women are strong, tall and well built. The Rabari men can often be seen roaming the countryside with their droves. They travel hundreds of miles on annual migration routes in search of new pastures to graze their animals.

Rabari girls can be married as young as 15-months old. Most of the Rabari marriages take place on the same day once a year and can be a very extravagant event involving polygamist rites.

Nowadays a very small percentage of Rabari are nomadic. (1-2%) Most of the grazing land is gone in India, because of an increase in human population. After the independence of India, many other opportunities opened up in business and education. So most Rabari at present day have settled down in their original communities, and are engaging in commerce and agriculture. Many have entered into politics. In the state of Gujarat some Rabaris became ministers and member of parliament in Delhi. Education has opened up other avenue for them. So many became lawyers, engineers, teachers, nurses, dentists, doctors and MOD staff.

Not all Rabari live in India now, some who wanted a better life live abroad in countries like Canada, USA, UK, Australia and Italy.

Rabari Subcastes (Shakh)

As stated earlier,Rabaris are also believed to be the sub-castes of Rajputs because they share many clans like Rathod, Solanki, Bhati, Parmar etc. with Rajputs. These clans are called ' NAKH ' in Rabaris. These clans are further sub-divided in SHAKHS [Branches].The total Shakhs are 133. The Shakhs are also known as "VIHOTAR" which means Vis+Sau+Ter(20+100+13=133). Rabari's have 133 sub casts like Laltuka, Nagoh, Moidav, Bhungor, Kola, Aal, Khambhalya, Khatana, Ghangol, Bhangra,, Kalotara, Mori, Bhumbhaliya, Savdharia, Punchlya, Kodiyatar, Bharai,etc.

A- Aal, Azaana

B- Bal, Bhaangra, Bharai, Bhadka, Bhatcha or Bhaatka, Bhedred, Bhoku (pohku), Bhumbhaliya, Bhungor, Bhusya, Buchotar, Balesh, Bhim, Bhopu, Bhundre, Bhati,Baharai & Badh.

C- Chavda, Charakta, Chelaana (Bharai), Chauhan (Chohan), Charamta (Karamta)

D- Daya, Dev, Dodana, Diya, Dhagal

G- Galchar, Ghatiya, Gehar(punjab), Ghanghar, Gohil, Garsar

H- Hathol, Huchol (Suchol), Hun

I- Ihor

J- Jamla, Jaha, Jotana, Jiyod

K- Kachhela, Kachhod, Kaalor, Kaid, Kalotara, Khaambhala, Khatana, Kola, Kankuta, Kataria, Karmata,Kodiyatar

L- Lalutara, Laltuka, Lodha, Luni

M- Makwana, Moidav or Moree

N- Nogoh, Navor

P- Padhar, Padheriya, Pahwala, Parmar, Punchhalya, Padhiyar, Pavar, Patval, Panwar, Pusala

R- Ranjya, Roziya, Rathod, Ranva

S- Sambod, Savdhariya, Seval, Shekha, Shilora, Solanki, Songra,Sangawat,Shamla

T- Tomar

U- Ulava, Umot

V- Vatma,Verana,Vansh

Community Hostels/Educational Institutions

  • Kirtivan Gopalak Chhatralay,Patan, Gujarat.
  • Shree Purandham Chhatralay Chotila, Gujarat.
  • Junagadh Rabari Chhatralay, Junagadh, Gujarat.
  • Porbandar Rabari Chhatralay, Porbandar, Gujarat.
  • Vada Rabari Chhatralay, Vada, Gujarat.
  • Shri Vadwala Dudhrej Chhatralay, Dudhrej, Gujarat.
  • Bhavnagar Rabari Chhatralay, Bhavnagar,Gujarat.
  • Gopalak Chhatralay, Thara, Banaskantha, Gujarat.
  • Mangal Mandir Chhatralay, Bhujodi, Kutch, Gujarat.
  • Gopalak Chhatralay, Anjar, Kutch, Gujarat.
  • Gopalak Chhatralay, Talod, Sabarkantha, Gujarat.
  • Gopalak Chhatralay, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • Shree Vadvala Chhatralay, Radhanpur, Gujarat.
  • Maldhari Hostel, run by Maldhari community and MARAG, Rapar, Kutchh, Gujarat.
  • Kanya Chhatralay, run by Gram Seva Mandal and MARAG, Fattepur, Patan, Gujarat
  • Saraswati Hostel, Deesa, Gujarat.
  • Govindpura School, Dhedhal, Deesa, Gujarat.
  • Rabari Gopalak Chhatralay, Deesa, Gujarat.
  • Gopalak Chhatralay, visnagar, [mehsana], Gujarat
  • "BalramDas Gulabdas sant Ashram"(Bhagwandasji maharaj)Pushkar Rajasthan
  • Gulabdas ji maharaj birth place Nokha chandavtan,dist-nagour, Rajasthan

Rabari NGO/Charitable Trusts

  • "'RAIKA JAGRATI MANCH" Nagaur,Rajasthan run by RAMU RAM RAIKA professor in govt. college Nagaur,Rajasthan.'
  • "RECT" ( Raika Education Charitable Trust), run by Lalsingh Pawar (Director) and Surata ram dewasi (IES,Govt of India) in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • "Ram Roti Annakshetra Aashram", run by Vaja Bhagat,Surendranagar, Gujarat.
  • "Manav Kalyan Trust", run by Lallubhai Desai, Gujarat.
  • "Janjagran Sangh", run by Tejabhai Desai, Gujarat.
  • "Neh", run by Hemant Bar, Surendranagar, Gujarat.
  • "WAMIP" (World alliance of mobile indigenous people), run by Secretary General Lalji Desai from India and President Chachu Ganya from Kenya. This is mainly organization of the pastoralist people which has based in more than 38 countries. It has Secretariat at MARAG, Ahmedabad,
  • "MARAG" (MALDHARI RURAL ACTION GROUP)' An organization working in 42 block of Gujarat and also now networking in 12 state of India. this organization founded by Neeta Maldhari(Pandya) and Lalji Desai in 1994. MARAG is focusing on rights of the Maldharis. MARAG has been raising pastoralist issues from grass root to the global level, from villages to UN level. Also working with long term approach on right to livelihood, education,and governance. "MARAG" believes in collective leadership, accountability and equity.

SAMAJ NGO Run by Karshan Bharvad at Viramgam

* Rebari- a nomadic\semi nomadic tribe by Devesh Raika Nagaur,Rajasthan.

  • "Gopal Bandhu", run by Govindbhai Desai since last 40 years, Mehsana, Gujarat,
  • "Rajasthan Lok Disha", run by Umedsingh Dewasi, Jaipur, Rajasthan.
  • "Gopal Gatha", run by Amrutbhai Desai, Gujarat.
  • "Rabari Mahima", run by Virabhai Kodiyatar, Porbandar, Gujarat.
  • "Gopalak Dotcom", run by Arjunbhai Desai,Vadodara, Gujarat.
  • "Valonu" A development magazine run by Laljibhai and Neetaben of MARAG.
  • vadnagar rabari samaj kamlesh rabari vadnagar

Problems of Rabari Community

  • Illiteracy
  • Child marriage
  • Prevalence of superstitions
  • Social barriers
  • Redundant old age-traditions
  • Divorce issues
  • Lack of hostels and community places in major cities
  • Many reside in rural areas and earn very little
  • Youth are unemployed or can only find substandard employment
  • Reduced pasture land ("gauchar")
  • Lack of representation in political system despite large population
  • Lack of all-India or statewide unity organizations
  • Migration from their native places
  • Extravagant and expensive events like engagements, marriages, "Maameru" (gifts from the bride's family during a wedding), dowry, etc., and its imitation
  • Lack of knowledge in community about culture

See also


  1. ^ James Tod, Annals and Antiquities of Rajast'han or the Central and Western Rajpoot States of India, London, Smith, Elder (1829, 1832); New Delhi, Munshiram Publishers, (2001) ISBN 978-81-7069-128-0[page needed]
  • Mirella Ferrera, People of the world. Published by VMB publisher 13100 Vercelli, Italy 2005
  • Rabari: A Pastoral Community of Kutch: by Francesco D'orazi Flavoni

External links

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