NEW DELHI

The friendly invaders are here

The scion of the erstwhile royal family of Nagpur, Raj Kumar Sawai Bhawani Raje Bhonsle, getting married to Kumari Aditi, daughter of Thakur Vasudev Singh of Geejgharh, at Geejgharh palace in Jaipur on Sunday. Photo: Gopal Sunger

The scion of the erstwhile royal family of Nagpur, Raj Kumar Sawai Bhawani Raje Bhonsle, getting married to Kumari Aditi, daughter of Thakur Vasudev Singh of Geejgharh, at Geejgharh palace in Jaipur on Sunday. Photo: Gopal Sunger  

JAIPUR, NOV. 29. It is a Maratha invasion of a friendly kind in Rajasthan now. The later day invaders to this land of Rajput warriors are not carrying swords and shields. For, when they are not coming to the State as Chief Minister or Governor, they are reaching here as brides and bridegrooms as it is happening in the current "sava''(auspicious season for marriage).

Perhaps, as of now for the Rajasthanis it is more the Marathas, the merrier. First it was Vasundhara Raje, who took over as the Chief Minister of the State around this time last year. Then it was the Governor, Pratibha Patil, who was sworn in as Rajasthan Governor last month. And now it is the steady stream of "baratis''.

The other day the scion of the Bhonsle family, the erstwhile Maratha rulers of Nagpur, Sawai Bhawani Raje Bhonsle entered into the wedlock with Aditi, a computer software expert and daughter of Vasudev Singh, the thakur of Geejgarh.

Till now barring exceptions, generally the Rajputs in Rajasthan -- Rathores, Sisodias, Shekhawats -- who battled the Marathas in the past avoided marriage alliances with them. However, this trend seems to be changing. Only during the previous "sava'' the aristocratic family Daata in Shekhawati region had entered into an alliance with the former rulers of Sattara, also of a Maratha clan.

The Geejgarh thakurs are Rathore Rajputs of Champawat sub clan who are originally from Jodhpur and later from Pokhran. According to bride's father Vasudev Singh, who is well known in theatre circles here as "Vasuji'', the family came down to Geejgarh, situated 90 kms on the Jaipur-Agra highway sometime during the period of Maharaja Prithvi Singh of Jaipur (1768).

The latest Maratha "invasion'' was a grand affair befitting kings (of course) as there were some 400 members in the "barat''(bride grooms' party) which reached Jaipur under the captainship of Udai Singh Raje Bhonsle, the former ruler and father of the groom. It was an occasion, when the even otherwise full, Five Star hotels in the Pink City, overflowed with Maharashtrian aristocracy.

As the Rajasthani style "pagris''(head gears) matched with the traditional round tops of the Peshwa and Maratha styles, none other than the former Queen Mother of Jaipur, Rajmata Gayatri Devi quipped, "the traditional rivals are now coming closer''.

Yet the bridegroom cannot be termed a rank outsider for Rajasthan. As one of the thakurs, dressed up in aristocratic finery and holding a ceremonial sword, explained, the Nagpur royals have a Sisodia ancestry. The Sisodias are from the Mewar (Udaipur) region.

There was only bonhomie as the former ruler of Jaipur, Maharaja Bhawani Singh, the Maharani, Padmini Devi, the son-in-law Narendra Singh, daughter Diya Kumari along with their children attended the wedding. The former ruler of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh and members of many other princely States were seen at the gala reception. Ms.Vasundhara Raje who reached the Geejgarh Palace to bless the couple as they were seated in front of the fire in the traditional way, stayed for almost an hour chatting with the guests in Marathi. She perhaps enjoyed the occasion more than anyone as she too had her initial Rajasthani connection through her marriage.

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