Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Royal connection

-->Just couple of weeks ago, the entire world witnessed an outburst of royal hysteria with the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s baby boy in England. This, in fact, was no revival for the approval rating of the British royal family. The awe and devotion the royals continue to draw seem to be an undying phenomenon.
From the most powerful leaders to the average man on the street, all, even in this 21st century get starry at the mere mention of a royal figure.
Why go far, in our country adulation for royalty remains a continuous and wide spread fact. In India, which was once a motley group of many smaller kingdoms, the legacy of royalty, even today, draws immense respect. That our history and culture is decorated with tales of prince and princesses, adds to our fixation.
The last few decades have seen a revival in nostalgia for all things royal. Be it is books, movies fashion or even tourism we can’t seem to get enough!
Unlike England, in India after Independence, all royal states merged with the Indian Union and the erstwhile royal families were granted a “Privy Purse “. This too was abolished in 1971 and officially the whole princely order ceased to exist under Indian Law along with official symbols, titles and privileges.
For many years some families floundered faced with escalating costs and declining sources of income. Many of them entered politics as a logical move. Others embarked on brilliant commercial projects to sell fantasies for modern day consumption. They transformed palaces into hotels where common folk could be part of a pampered “royal” lifestyle and sold pieces of history as ‘experiences”.
Though the abolition of royalty happened according to the spirit of law, in reality many families continued to retain their social prestige informally.
Whether the interiors of Orissa, the far strung hamlets in Tripura, the deserts of Rajasthan or the waters of the Rann in Kutch The air still reverberates with sounds of `Hukum”, “Raja Saab”, “Khamma Ghani", "Aandata” etc. The locals in the erstwhile princely states never ceased to look upon the royals with anything less than the old reverence, especially among the older generation. They continue to be guardians of culture, religions, society and all that represents truly Indian.
Revival of old regal ceremony is becoming fairly common in the recent years Thousands throng to witness the heir to erstwhile Vijayanagar throne holding 'darbar' for the Dussehra festivities. Rajasthan and Gujarat too have witnessed the organising of many traditional royal ceremonies with grandeur and scores trying to catch a glimpse.
Why is it that in these so called Modern times this “royal romance” continues? Critics keep arguing that “obsession with royal babies is built on a bed of skulls thousands of years deep”. That royalty continues to perpetuates the class and caste system and undermine the recognition of merit, intellect and achievement. Furthermore, no one should defer to another simply because of his birth. It is against the basic grain of human nature.
But what is it about royalty that continues to attract this kind of reverence? Is it a desire to be connected with a “forever” part of history? Is it the romance and fairy tale like escapism attached to it? Is it that they truly represented a time of glory?
Or is just in human nature to be subservient to anyone deemed superior?
ess bee

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