Nagars have been given three symbols according to the Skand purana. Gnatibhaskar- by Jwalaprasad Mishra also speaks of the three symbols of Nagars:
Kalam(Pen): Kalam denotes intellect, literary proficiency, Depth in thought, administrative skills and statesman. It is said that the writings by Nagars, on any subject, are always the best.
Kadchhi(Ladle): Kadchhi is a culinary instrument denoting the proficiency of Nagar men and women in culinary efforts. The food in a Nagar household is always tasty healthy and hygienic. Kadcchi however, depicts a much larger quality of Nagars. The main purpose of kadchhi is to stir the food and to serve the same. In a sense the Nagars serve the purpose of stirring the society by their revolutionary ideas, thoughts and deeds and at the same time also serve the needy and deprived ones in the society.
Barcchi(Small spear): Nagars have fought many a battles to safeguard their culture, religion and the Nation and therefore Kadchhi denotes the bravery, fearlessness, valour and courage of Nagars. Kadchhi also denotes the willingness of Nagars to fight injustice and fight for the rights of weak, incapable, defenseless and poor.
These three symbols ensemble the entire Nagar culture.
Patotsav ( Hatkeshwar Jayanti )
Hatkeshwar Patotsav is celebrated on Chaitra Shukla Chaudas which is also believed to be the date of incarnation of Lord Hatkeshwar. Apart from Skand Puran, references of Lord Hatkeshwar are also found in Shiv Puran, Vaman Puran and Bhagwatma Puran.
Mother Gauri(Annapurna) is the ishtadevi of Nagars. Nagars are therefore called devotees of Shiv-shakti. Nagar culture is believed to be influenced by Shaiv Culture. The birth place of nagar culture is believed to be Kailash Mansarovar. Our marriage rituals also depict the Shaiv culture where the groom is treated as Shiv and the bride as Parvati. The main aim of Nagars is believed to be the attainment of Shivatva and Shakti. Shakti can be in the form of wealth or intelligence. After being displaced from Vadnagar, wherever Nagars went, they excelled in business, education, administration, literature, agriculture and politics.
નાગરોમાં લગ્ન ( Wedding in Nagars )
A Nagar wedding has for its ideal the union of Shiva and Parvati. A custom peculiar to it is that of Pallu, constituting stridhan. It is said:
જે ભરે ગાગરડી
તે પરણે નાગરડી
This means that one who wants to wed a Nagar girl must offer a fixed sum- eht exact amount varying according to localcustom- of money termed as Pally. The object in charging this sum is an insurance against ill lich to which the bride may be subject during her lifetime- it is never construed to be a sale or a dowry prevalent in several other Indian communities.
Ganeshpujan, grihashanti, the bridal procession, Kanyadaan, Madhuparka, (gifts of gold ornaments and vessels), oblation offered to Agni, Saptapadi, Dhruva Darshana and lastly the sent-off are the principal marriage rites. All the members of community were fed sumptuously. The betrothal is fixed after comparing the horoscopes of the eligible boys and girls. A Nagar Brahmin traditionally goes through 24 sanskaras (refinements). However, only four main sanskaras are in vogue today: the tonsure ceremony-mundan, ther sacred thread ceremony- upnanayan sanskar or janoi, marriage and obsequities.
Women observe a variety of vratas or vows. Girls who are between the ages of 7 and 12 observes Gaurivrata or Goryo. They eat food without salt and worship Parvati or Gaurimata. Suryapuja is another vow observed by girls in this agegroup. Girls between the ages of 12 and 16 observe Chandla vrata; they apply saffron marks to the forehead of at least five married women whose husbands are alive.
For married women, there are three main vows. Vatasavitri, which falls on the full moon day of Jyeshtha (June), Jaya parvati, which commences on the thirteenth day of the bright half of Ashadha (August) and kevada trij, which falls on the third day of the bright half of Bhadra pada (September). During Vatasavitri, women do not eat for the whole day, worship the banyan tree and read in the evening the story of Satyavan and Savitri. There is a fast for the Jaya Parvati Vrata also: on this day Shiva and Parvati are worshipped. This day coincides with the Gauri vrata for unmarried girls. In the observancer of Kevada Trij Vrata, the pandanus (Ketki) is offered to shiva.
During the observance of all the above three vows, women keep a nightlong vigil- jagran, singing songs, playing indoor games or indulging in their favorite pastime. The object of these vratas is dirghasumangalya- the longevity of their husbands.
The death ceremonies have a socio religious bias. Until recently, all members of the caste gathered together for a sympathetic display of sorrow during the entire week, commencing from the second day of the death of a person. The mourning has today taken a somber form and afternoon sessions of the reading of the Gita or the Garuda Purana are held. Prayers and oblations are offered to the departed soul by the eldest son of the deceased on the tenth, elevent and thirteenth days. The eleventh twelthe and thirtheenth days are also observed as days of feast by the entire community.
Nagars have been proverbially known as urbanites (Nagars) since ancient times. Nagar families live together in exclusive localities- you find this even today in towns like Banswara, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Nadiad, Surat, Petlad, Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Rajkot.
An ancient couplet paints the picture of a Nagarwada woman:
નાજૂકડી નાર ને નાકમાં મોતી
પીયુ પરદેશની વાટડી જોતી
લખતી’તી કાગળને ગણતી’તી દાડા
એ એંધાણી નાગરવાડા
(A pearl graces the nose of a delicate woman while she eagerly awaits the return of her beloved who is away. She writes him letters and counts the days till his return). According to Puranas, the Sudra dynasty of Nandas, which exterminated the Kshatriy Kings of the time, was overthrown by the kautilya or Chanakya (believed to be a Nagar), who anointed Chandragupta (323-299 b.C) as King and thus laid the foundation of Maurya Rule.
Surnames in Nagars
According to well-known Nagar writer, Shri Shambuprasad Desai, Nagar surnames became popular during the British rule. In past, most of us were either known by our Gotra or common surname as Mehta or Pandya. Development of social structure in last couple of centuries influenced the usage of variety of surnames in our community. It is believed that there were more than 160 Nagar surnames in existence. Presently about 80 are in use. They can be classified in following way:
Derived from Geographical (Village or City) Names:
There are eighteen surnames derived from village names. Those are Anjaria from Anjar, Avasia from Avasgadh, Chhaya from Chhaya, Dhebar from Dhebarwada, Ghoda from Ghodadra, Hathi from Hathap, Joshipura from Joshipur, Kharod from Kharod, Kukasia (now Vaishnav) from Kakasia, Mahudhia from Mahudha, Mankad or Mankar from Mankadvada, Mankodi from Mankodivada, Pattani from Patan, Rana from Ranavav, Unakar from Una, Vasavada from Vasavad and Veravala (also known as Vaishnav) from Veraval. Major Nagar groups (Naati) also derived in such way like Vadnagara from Vadnagar, Visnagara from Visnagar, Sathodra from Sathod and Chitroda from Chitod.
Derived from Family Ancestry:
About ten surnames based on ancestry are Antani & Anantani, Bavani, Bhayani, Kikani, Maknani, Premapuri, Rindani, Savani and Vachhchharajani. Some people also include Vaishnav in this category.
Derived from Titles Awarded by Rajput and Muslim Rulers:
These rulers ruled Gujarat for about eight centuries. Nagars were on prominent positions and were awarded many titles. These twenty surnames include names like Baxi, Bhagat, Desai, Divan, Durkal, Hazrat, Janita, Jathhal, Jha, Kazi, Majmudar, Mazumdar, Medh, Munshi, Parghi, Pota, Saiyad and Swadia.
Derived from Professional Titles:
Most of Nagars are professionals. Many surnames were derived from the profession they were engaged in. These names include Acharya, Buch, Druv, Jikar, Mehta, Nanavati, Pandit, Purohit and Vaidya.
There are several surnames used in various regions in Gujarat. From Kachchh, these are Kachchhi, Maru, Oza and Jhala while from Kathiawad are Dholakia, Pancholi and Jha. Bhatt, Dave, Divetia, Dwivedi, Dixit, Joshi, Maharaja, Pathakji, Raval, Shukla, Tripathi, Trivedi, Vora and Vyas are usually from Gujarat. Please let us know if you know how these surnames are derived.