The Bhavasar are an ethnic group in India, traditionally associated with woodblock printing on textiles and tailoring. They are mostly located in the regions of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan while some are also located in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Gujarati and Rajasthani Bhavsars refer to themselves as just Bhavsars, while in Maharashtra the community has bifurcated further and they refer to themselves variously as, Bhavsar Kshathriya, Bhavsar Shimpi, Namdev Shimpi. Namdev Shimpis are considered a distinct group, although they bifurcated from the Maharashtrian Bhavsars, as they are followers of Namdev, However, they use the same surnames as Maharashtrian Bhavsars.
Bhavsar or Bhavasar could also be the surname of some of the people of this ethnic group. According to the specific profession, Bhavsars are further divide into Rangrezs who were traditionally involved with woodblock printing on textiles and Shimpis/Darzis, who were traditionally involved in tailoring.
The Bhavasar’s legendary origin dates back to Saurashtra. According to the epic stories, the legendary Parshuram, who was said to be an avatar of Vishnu, had vowed vengeance against the kshatriyas (the community of warriors) and had wiped most of the kshatriyas off the earth. This scenario had worried two young princes Bhavsingh and Sarsingh from Saurashtra who had foreseen their dynasty meeting its end. The princes had been directed to appeal to the Hindu Goddess Hinglaj at the holy shrine situated on the banks of the Hingol River in semi-desert coastal strip of Makran, Baluchistan in present-day Pakistan, where the Hindu goddess assured protection of their dynasty by compelling Parshuram to leave them alone, on the condition that none from their community would confront Parshuram as he too was a son for her. The Bhavsar community was named after these two princes, Bhavsingh and Sarsingh. The Bhavsar community has negotiated with the Pakistani government passage for regular pilgrimage to Hinglaj. The community fled from the Sindh area around Hinglaj when faced with conversion to Islam by force by Mughal invaders and settled in Gujarat and Maharashtra in the Middle Ages. The Maharashtrian Bhavsars moved further to the South of India up to Tamil Nadu, settling along the way in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Another branch moved eastwards to Vidharbha and Madhya Pradesh.
Culture and demographics
Bhavsars are found mostly in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. All have adapted to their local culture and traditions to varying degrees. However, Gujarat and Maharashtra are the primary regions from where the more recent migrations have occurred. Most Gujarati Bhavsars follow Vaishnavism, while some others follow Jainism. The Bhavsars started migrating to South India from the time of Shivaji and have settled in the South for several generations. However, they have maintained their Gujarati cultural ties to this day and date.
The Bhavasar community in Rajasthan speaks Bagri, a Rajasthani language. Further south, a very large number of Bhavsars have either Gujarati or Marathi as their mother tongue. Migrants to states other than Gujarat or Maharashtra invariably continue to speak their native mother tongue while being multilingual with the local language. For example, migrants from Maharashtra to the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu speak Telugu, Kannada and Tamil respectively, while being multilingual with the local language/s
The weddings among Bhavsars are given a lot of importance. The wedding takes place as a Hindu Wedding Ceremony which has a number of rituals and customs. The community follows the system of arranged marriages which are usually decided by the parents or an older family member. The match could be selected by parents, or by the elder member of the family. However, the modern practice is to choose from a matchmaking agent, matrimonial site, or a trusted third party. Although most of it is like a traditional Hindu Wedding Ceremony. Love marriages and intercaste marriages have grown more common in present generations outside the community.
Traditionally, Bhavsars were very religious and spiritualistic people. They worship Hinglaj Mata or Hingulambika who all Bhavsars claim as their original deity. The oldest temple dedicated to this deity Hingulamata is in the Baluchistan province of present day Pakistan. It should be noted that the Hinglaj temple is an important place of pilgrimage to other Hindus of that area and is maintained by a small Hindu community that remains there. Bhavsars may be one of the communities that resided in that area and worshiped the same goddess. There is no other older temple or deity in any other part of India that is commonly worshiped by the Bhavsars. It is therefore speculated that the Bhavsar community had its origin in the north-western part of undivided India (present day Pakistan).
Most of the bhavsar worship Amba Bhavani or Tulja Bhavani at Tuljapur(Maharastra)
Bhavsars in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have their traditional caste council known as the Bhavsar Samaj or Bhavasar Kshatriya Samaj. The main function of the Caste panchayat (Jathi panchayat) is to settle inter-family feuds, quarrels, etc.
They have formed a Trust through which they also carry out charity work like providing financial aid for Educational purpose & for Medical treatment for the needy persons of their community. They also publish a monthly periodical called “Bhavsar Jyoti” through which they highlight the achievement & various activities done by their community members. The magazine also has section dedicated for matrimonial ads for their community.
Bhavsar Kshatriya’s Gotras
Bhavsars in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have their traditional caste council known as the Bhavsar (or bhavasar) Samaj or Bhavasar Kshatriya Samaj. The main Gotras of Bhavsar Kshatriays all over the world are listed below.
- Mandvya Rishi
- Namdev a Maharashtrian Bhavsar saint who was one of the co-founders of the Varkari sect.
- Disha Vakani (b. 1978), Television actress, who plays the role of Daya Ben, in the tele-serial, “Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah”.
- Natvar Bhavsar (b. 1934), famous Indian-American painter.
- Raj Bhavsar, (1980-) : US Olympic gymnast 2008 bronze medal winner.
- Shashikala Jawalkar, Bollywood actress
- VC Bhavsar (b.1939): Technocarate at BHEL who was driving agent in solar and thermal engineering