On 26th February, the Union Ministry of Culture began with year-long celebrations to commemorate the 284th birth anniversary of the religious banjara leader, Sant Sevalal Maharaj.
This is being organized by the Ministry of Culture under the aegis of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav at Dr B.R. Ambedkar International Center in New Delhi, where for two days cultural and dance programs will be performed accompanied by an exhibition of Banjara Art.
The banjara community is a part of the Scheduled Tribes list in five states- Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Bihar. Odisha, Jharkhand and is a Scheduled Case in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. In Chhattisgarh, Daman and Diu, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand it is a part of the Other Backward Class list.
The government is also going to start a special train that will run from Karnataka to New Delhi, to bring Banjara community members to Delhi for the celebrations. This train would accommodate more than 2500 people of the Banjara Country from states such as Karnataka, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.
WHO WAS SANT SEVALAL MAHARAJ?
Sant Sevalal Maharaj was an 18th-century social reformer and a spiritual teacher of the Banjara community. He was born on 15th February 19739 at Surgondankoppa in Shivamogga district of Karnataka.
Sant Sevalal Maharaj traveled across the country with his troop to serve the forest dwellers and nomadic tribes. He used extensive knowledge, extravagant skills and spiritual background in Ayurveda and Naturopathy to eradicate myths and superstitions prevalent amongst the tribal communities and helped them adopt a better way of life.
He is now worshiped by the Kshatriya community of Gor Banjara as a spiritual guru. Gor Banjara is a forest-dwelling and warrior community. The people of this community share a symbiotic relationship with forest and wildlife while having its own culture and language.
The Samadhi Sthal of Saint Sevalal is situated in Manora Taluka of the Washim district of Maharashtra which is also known as Banjara Kashi.
HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE REFORM MOVEMENT
Sant Sevalal Maharaj gave 22 major principles for Banjara Life known as the Seva Bollies:
1. Protect the forest and the environment
2. Live the natural life and stay connected to nature
3. Do not discriminate anybody on any bsis
4. Live a life with the dignity
5. Be honest (sat Boli), and do not steal
6. Do not talk ill of others and do not harm others
7. Respect women, and girls are living goddesses
8. Do not worry and live fearless, be courageous and confident in life
9. Shade the greediness and material as well as sensual comforts
10. Protect the water, provide water to the thirsty and also never involve in selling water, which is the biggest crime/sin
11. Provide food to the hungry and help the needy people
12. Respect elders and love younger, and also respect animals
13. Preserve forests and lead a simple life in forests
14. Do not consume toxic substances and completely avoid drinking alcohol or any intoxication
15. Do not involve in an illicit relationship
16. Meditate to have inner peace, and study, seek knowledge and gain the Knowledge
17. Do not be lured by modern lifestyle and comfort, and must engage in physical activity
18. Have a love for humanity and do not just seek money, have companionship for your fellow community persons.
19. Have a reasoned life and avoid all superstitious beliefs
20. Respect your parents, take care of your family and the community, and never break the brotherhood in the community
21. Protect the culture and language of the community, speak Gor Bhasa/Gorboli and also celebrate all the community’s festivals, which are connected with nature, and avoid those festivals which cause harm to nature
22. Should follow the community norms and maintain the identity of the Gor/Banjara, be connected with nature and do not exploit it