Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The youngest Maharaja of Sirmaur

Middle of last week i.e., Wednesday May 15th was a big day full of twists and turns in the royal families of India. The 9-year-old prince of Jaipur, Rajkumar Lakshya Raj Singh's Raj Tilak (coronation) ceremony (pic) took place at the Nahan Royal Palace (in Sirmaur) making him the youngest titular Maharaja of Sirmaur - an erstwhile princely state 565-km away in the hills of Southern Himachal Pradesh.
Members of erstwhile royal families from former princely states across India, industrialists, businessmen, film stars, politicians and well wishers of the family were present at the splendid regal coronation ceremony at the Palace's Darbar Hall. Actress Dimple Kapadia and Sunanda Pushkar were also present.
The new titular Maharaja, Rajkumar Lakshya, is the younger son of Princess Diya Kumari who happens to be the only child of Jaipur's last Maharaja Late Brigadier Bhawani Singh and Padmini Devi. On the other hand, Sirmaur's last ruling Maharaja, Late Prakash Singh, passed away in 1964 without any male successor. Bhawani Singh had legally adopted Diya Kumari's 12-year-old elder son Padmanabh Singh (his grandson) who became the titular Maharaja of Jaipur in 2011. Two years later now Princess Diya Kumari's younger son has become the titular Maharaja of Simaur.
Lakshya's succession story, however, is also full of twists. He owes his coronation to his maternal grandmother Rajmata Padmini Devi. His coronation has been contested by Padmini Devi's 58-year-old first nephew Udai Prakash who has pointed out that Durga Devi, his maternal grandmother and the first of Late Maharaja's two wives, had legally adopted him in 1965. But former nobles like Arak, Ajay Bahadur and Abhay Bahadur, who have considerable influence in Sirmaur's royal household, opposed Udai's bid for th
Since Rajmata Padmini Devi hails from Sirmaur the erstwhile nobles of the area had requested that Rajkumar Lakshya Raj Singh be anointed as the new Maharaja and the head of the Sirmaur family, since there is no male heir to the erstwhile State. Rajmata Padmini Devi had agreed to their request.
The coronation ceremony was preceded by another important function on May 13th in which Lakshya Raj's paternal gotra (clan) was formally changed from `Manav' to `Attri' (of Sirmaur royals) at the Jaipur City Palace amid chanting of Vedic mantras. The decision to adopt an heir has set tongues wagging. When Princess Diya Kumari married Narendra Singh in 1997, a commoner of her father's gotra, many people in the Rajput community did not take it kindly.
On this auspicious occasion, the sword of Guru Gobind Singh (picture), the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, which was with the family of Sirmaur, was also presented by Mr Ajay Bahadur Singh of the Sirmaur family to Maharaja Lakshya Raj Prakash. The story goes that Guru Gobind Singh had taken shelter from the Mughals at Nahan and as a goodwill gesture had presented his personal sword to the then Maharaja Madheni Prakash of Sirmaur before leaving.
Sirmaur's royal lineage goes back to before 1097 AD and there are many stories about its origins. One of the most popular ones is that Raja of Jaisalmer, Ugar Sen, who happened to visit Hardwar on pilgrimage and on hearing the throne vacant in the nearby state sent his son Soba Rawal who conquered and established his kingdom with the capital at Rajban taking the title of Subans Parkash. He ruled the state up till 1099 AD and thus after 4 years of rule he expired.
Eversince, the name “Parkash” or “Prakash” became a part of the royal family of Sirmaur and continues even today.
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