About Kutch and its Culture and Historical Identity
In praise of the people of India it is often said that the country is “incredible”. This is true in so many ways particularly through its diversity and the unity of its people. India remains a mystery for people who have visited the country as it always shares the color of its vibrant life, its culture and its traditions. It is difficult to describe India and its glorious culture but let me take you to a land on its western border.
The place I refer to is the largest district of India and one of its most remote areas. The land is known as KUTCH or KACHCHH. Kutch literally means “something which intermittently becomes wet and dry”. A large part of this district is known as “Rann of Kutch” which is shallow wetland which is submerged in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The same word – Rann - also means “tortoise” in the Sanskrit language.
Kutch has very unusual geography as it is surrounded by the Gulf of Kutch and the Arabian Sea in the south and west, while northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Little Rann(seasonal wetlands) . It does have a green belt in the middle.
The history of Kutch is also very interesting. The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the ancient civilized societies, developed here and several archaeological sites have been discovered. KOTADA TIMBA famous as DHOLAVIRA (located in the northern part of Kutch) is one of the largest and prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. The Dholarvira site is believed to have been inhabited initially between 2900 BC and 1900 BC, declining slowly after about 2100 BC, briefly abandoned and then reoccupied finally by villagers living amongst its ruins until about 1450.
Kutch was an independent Kingdom founded and ruled by the Rajput community. It has existed since the13th century. It had its own law and whilst the rest of India had the Rupee as its currency Kutch State had its own currency – the DHINGLO, KORI. Etc. These coins are still used for some auspicious occasions to give as gifts or to worship God. Kutch had its own language KUTCHI which is similar to the Sindhi language. Many people still speak the language.
In the 1820s Kutch became part of British Rule and was renamed “Princely State of Cutch”, Bhuj becoming the State’s capital city. As the Kutch Princely State, it was divided into numerous regions: Aani, Abdaso, Anjar, Banni, Bhuvad Chovisi, Garado, Halar Chovisi, Kand, Kantho, Khadir, Modaso, Pranthal, Prawar, and Vagad. Kutch shared similar culture, tradition, food, etc. as Sindh Pradesh but on the partition of India in 1947, the province of Sindh became part of Pakistan. Even today you will find many communities living on the border area with close relatives in living in Pakistan. Kutch became part of Independent India on 1st June 1948 and declared as ‘c’ state.
Kutch has always been a secular place. The people of Kutch respect all religions and have some of the most important religious places in the region. Narayn Sarovar- Koteshwar is Hindu Pilgrimage and is one of the highest places in the heart of Hindu. Hajipir is a famous Muslim Pilgrimage that spreads the message of unity. The photograph shown is of Gurudwara believed to have been built by Guru Nank Saheb and is a very important place for the Sikh religion. There are also many churches also in this area.
There are many more things to know about the colorful region so keep visiting.
Author : Harita Mehta