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Pakistan's Umerkot gets a new Hindu ruler

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The new Rana: Hamir Singh.
The new Rana: Hamir Singh.

Sunny Sebastian

JAIPUR: A successor to the former Hindu ruler of Umerkot, the late Rana Chander Singh, was anointed in Pakistan this past Sunday. A large number of Hindus and the predominant Sindhi Muslim population of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Mithi -- places not far from the Indo-Pakistan border -- joined the stately procession of Hamir Singh, who was crowned the 26 {+t} {+h} Rana of Rajputs, also referred to as the Rana of the Thakurs of Tharparkar.

The 53-year-old Hamir Singh, son of the late ruler who passed away in August 2009 and the scion of the Sodha-Parmar clan, is a political person. He held the portfolios of Science and Technology and Agriculture as Minister during the second tenure of the late Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. A popular figure among the people of the border districts and three times MLA, he also worked as the deputy Nizam of Umerkot.

The leading Pakistani newspaper The Dawn reported the event in a report datelined Mithi, the headquarters of Tharparkar district, on May 25: “The coronation, held at the playground of Govt. Boys' High School, drew a large number of elders of the community and the local elite. People belonging to different faiths turned up to watch the event. The ceremony began with the entry into Mithi of a convoy of hundreds of vehicles from Rana Jagir (Rana's native village near Umerkot) .When the caravan stopped at the old Naka (checkpoint), two girls sang aarti in praise of a deity during which worshippers held a platter containing incense”.

The coronation ceremony was a gala event, which for any Indian onlooker would have resembled the crowning of a Rajasthani prince of yore --for Umerkot is only 40 km from Khokrapar, the first railway station in Pakistan if one enters from Rajasthan's Barmer district.

Rana Hamir sat on a colourfully decorated chariot even as the Thakurs, donning traditional headgear, stood on both sides of the road. Pir Ladhu Singh, the guardian of Pir Pithoro shrine, put a golden crown on the head of Hamir Singh marking the continuation of the 800-year- old tradition.

“Both the Hindu and Muslim communities recognise the authority of Rana. This part of the Thar in Sindh is called Dhata and Rana of Amarkot is Rana of Dhata,” said Hamir Singh, talking to The Hindu from Umerkot on phone. Like in the case of the former royal families in Rajasthan, the Rana has Thakurs placed directly under him while the Muslim tribes are represented by the “Pradhans”.

“An area spread over 22,000 sq km follows this tradition and, irrespective of religion, accepts us. The coronation was a public affair with the full involvement of all the communities,” said Mr. Hamir Singh, who maintains his links with India, especially Rajasthan, the home of many of his people, the Sodha Rajputs.



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