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Culture of Gujarat

The diverse ethnic groups represented in the Gujarati population may be broadly categorized as Indic (i.e., northern-derived) or Dravidian (southern-derived). The former include the Nagar Brahman, Bhatia, Bhadela, Rabari, and Mina castes (the Parsis, originally from Persia, represent a much later northern influx); among the peoples of southern origin are the Bhangi, Koli, Dubla, Naikda, and Macchi-Kharwa tribes. The rest of the population, including the aboriginal Bhil tribe, exhibit mixed characteristics.

Members of the Scheduled (formerly "untouchable") Castes and of the aboriginal tribes form nearly one-fifth of the state's population. There is one entirely tribal district of Dangs. Ahmadabad district has the highest proportion of Scheduled Castes. Gujarati and Hindi are the official languages of the state. About 70% of the population are Hindus ahead of minorities of Muslims and Jains. About one-third of the population is urban. The most urbanized part of the state is the Ahmadabad-Vadodara (Baroda) industrial belt. Major towns that were once capitals of princely states are Rajkot, Junagadh, Bhavnagar (Bhaunagar), and Jamnagar.

The folklore and folk culture of Gujarat are traced to the mythology of Lord Krishna. Dance forms and festivals in honour Krishna exist, Garba and Bhavai being two examples. Among the most durable and effective of the state's cultural institutions are the trade and craft guilds known as mahajans which often solves disputes, acted as channels of philanthropy, and encouraged the arts. Gujarat's handicrafts are famous the world over.

 

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