An Indian awards ceremony that in previous years has honored leading British cultural icons including Oscar-winning film director Richard Attenborough and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Sir V S Naipaul is to be held in the Rajasthan city of Udaipur next month.
Eminent scholars, students and exceptional individuals from across India and around the world will gather at The City Palace for the 35th Maharana Mewar Foundation Annual Awards. The event is being organized by the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF) and will take place on Sunday, March 5.
The aim of the awards ceremony is to recognize individuals who’ve excelled in their chosen field and made a notable contribution to society. There are categories for student, state, national and international awards, covering everything from achievement in academia and education to music and the arts, sport, journalism and public service. Previous British recipients include writers, academics and broadcasters.
An international annual award, the Colonel James Tod Award, was first presented in 1997 “to honor a foreign national who has contributed through their work of permanent value an understanding of the spirit and values of Mewar”. British officer Colonel Tod spent 22 years in India at the turn of the 19th century, four of those in Udaipur helping to develop a fruitful relationship between the British East India Company and Mewar. Past winners of the award include filmmaker Lord Attenborough in 2004, historian and former chairman of the British Library Sir Colin Lucas in 2010, Dr. Andrew Topsfield in 2012, and J P Losty, writer and former curator at the British Library, in 2016.
Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, 76th Custodian of the House of Mewar and the MMCF’s Chairman and Managing Trustee, will lead the presentation ceremony. Prizes are dependent on category and include ceremonial shawls, toran plaques, certificates, commemorative medals and cash awards.
Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar said: “Now in its 35th year, the Maharana Mewar Foundation Annual Awards ceremony continues to grow in scope. The focus of the event has widened from recognizing the achievements of local students in Udaipur to acknowledging contributions to society at a state, national and international level, yet the core values remain the same.
“By showing appreciation for the efforts and accomplishments of conscientious students, as well as individuals who have served society by excelling in their particular field, we hope to inspire future generations.”
The awards were established in 1981 by His late Highness Maharana Bhagwat Singh Mewar of Udaipur and remain an integral part of the MMCF’s activities and its mission to nurture cultural values in society. The deadline for nominations and applications passed in November, with this year’s winners chosen by panel of scholars, artists and historians.
For further details about the Maharana Mewar Foundation 35th Annual Awards and the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, please contact Dr. Mayank Gupta, Convener, MMFAA firstname.lastname@example.org or visitwww.eternalmewar.in
Notes to editors:
About Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF)
‘Eternal Mewar’ was conceptualized in 2006 to provide an expression to the vision of the House of Mewar. Eternal Mewar, underlined with the words ‘Custodianship Unbroken Since 734 AD’, expresses, embodies and encompasses the core values, principles and legacy of the House. It covers all initiatives of the House of Mewar, which as an institution is bridging a historic past with a volatile, uncertain future in the 21st century. Today, in the age of globalization, Eternal Mewar is no longer just an established heritage brand but essentially a vibrant catalyst which continues to sustain the living heritage of Mewar and the civilizational ethos of India. The City Palace at Udaipur is a rare and exemplary living cultural heritage under Eternal Mewar.
House of Mewar, Udaipur: Facts, stories and snippets for Editors
- The House of Mewar is the oldest-serving dynasty in the world dating back to 734 CE.
In the 20th century, the House made one of the most successful transitions in modern India: from a Royal House to one that has clearly defined commercial and non-commercial enterprises, comprehensively preserving the its values, legacies and heritage under the laws of India’s democratic republic.
- Spiritual precepts of the House of Mewar: Bappa Rawal is the founder of the dynasty’s supremacy. Bappa recognized Parmeshwaraji Maharaj Shree Eklingnath ji, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, as the Supreme Lord of Mewar. He received the State of Mewar in trust from his guru, Harit Rashi. He thus set a tradition of pious humility and the concept of Custodianship or trusteeship as a form of governance begins with him. In April 1955, Maharana Bhupal Singh created the Shri Eklingji Trust to institutionalise the management of this ancient religious establishment. http://www.eternalmewar.in/collaboration/charities/trusts/shri-eklingji/index.aspx
Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar as the 76th Custodian of the House has demonstrated his commitment, upholding the spiritual precepts as the living heritage of the House. The ambit of the Shri Eklingji Trust has grown and the Temple is now one of the most important pilgrimages of Rajasthan. In honour of Maharishi Harit Rashi, an annual award has been instituted for scholars of Vedic culture and ancient learning by the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation since 1980-81.
- On account of its illustrious history and adherence to values, Mewar was considered the foremost amongst all Princely States of India. Mewar was neither the richest nor the largest of the 565 Princely States of India. In terms of sheer wealth and power, Hyderabad, Mysore, Gwalior, Bikaner and Kashmir were far greater. Yet Mewar was acknowledged as the ‘most respected’ among all Princely States. The respect for Mewar, over the centuries, was the respect for the values and principles it stood for: Honour, independence, self-reliance and a respect for Mankind. The values go back to Vedic times: these are not ‘Indian’ values, as we understand the word ‘Indian’ today. These are ancient values and principles.
At the time of India’s Independence in 1947, the State of Mewar was the first to amalgamate with the Indian Union. Maharana Bhupal Singh, the Maharana of Mewar in 1947 said, “India’s Independence brings to fulfillment the 1400 years’ struggle and endeavour of my forefathers.”
With the accession to India, Mewar ceased to exist as a sovereign State. Its economy, polity, administration, judiciary, lands and resources were now merged with, or handed over to, the Government of India. Members of the former Royal families were now citizens of the free democratic Republic of India.
- In the mid-15th century CE, Rana Kumbha (r. 1433-1468 AD) emerged as a Renaissance figure whose Vedic knowledge and military leadership took Mewar to unparalleled heights. He was proficient in the arts, a scholar of scriptures and a man of letters.
Kumbha is credited with building 32 fortresses including Kumbhalgarh Fort now a World Heritage Site included in Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Kumbhalgarh Fort has an unbroken wall, 36 km long and is called the Great Wall of India, second only to the Great Wall of China. It is a major tourist spot, just 3 hours’ drive from Udaipur.
In honour of Rana Kumbha, an annual award has been instituted for scholars of history and literature by the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation since 1980-81.
Maharana Kumbha Sangeet Kala Trust, established in 1984 and developed by Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, promotes and encourages Indian classical music, dances, arts, drama, and other activities of cultural importance as part of the living heritage of Mewar. http://www.eternalmewar.in/collaboration/charities/trusts/mkskt/index.aspx
- Maharana Pratap (r. 1572-1597 AD) is one of India’s iconic historical figures. He fought for the independence of Mewar against the might of the Mughal Empire and Emperor Akbar. His determination, self-sacrifice and military strategy puts him in a pantheon of mythical, legendary heroes. Four hundred years after his death, Rana Pratap’s life and deeds are recounted in folk stories, songs, popular films and television serials besides works of history and literature.
In popular lexicon, Rana Pratap’s name has become a pre-fix to the words: honour, valour, bravery, sacrifice and freedom. The closest equivalent would be Mahatma Gandhi of the 20th century.
In Udaipur today, the international airport, railway station and bus station are named after Maharana Pratap. In 2009, at Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar’s behest the President of India Smt Pratibha Patil unveiled a 15-foot high statue of Rana Pratap at the airport complex. It is probably the biggest statue of the Rana in India today.
- The future King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, visited Udaipur in 1875. The Prince was given a dazzling sarpech (turban ornament) made of three large emeralds and bordered by bands of bright red enamel and diamonds by Maharana Sajjan Singh (r. 1874-1884) and will appear in the Royal Collection exhibition ‘Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875–76’ being held later in 2017 in Bradford and Leicester. See: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/11286/turban-ornament
- Maharana Fateh Singh (r. 1884-1930) considered King George V ‘an equal at best’. The story most often recounted is that of the Maharana who ‘refused’ to be a part of the Delhi Durbar of 1903 and 1911. In his own quiet and unassuming way, he made the British realize that Mewar could not, and would not, be equated with any of the other ‘subservient’ Princely States. He knew how to make his point of independence and honour without creating a conflict or controversy.
Maharana Fateh Singhji remains an inspiration for all Rajputs till date.
Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, his great-grandson, recounted this story during several events in 2011, commemorating the 100 years of Delhi Durbar of 1911. It struck a chord with many 21st century Indians and foreigners who realized what a demonstration it was of Mewar’s inherent strength and sense of nationalism. In every way, he was an honourable Custodian, upholding the flame of freedom just as his forefathers had done. “For me, Maharana Fateh Singhji remains a quintessential up-holder of India’s dignity and autonomy,” said Shriji.
- Udaipur was visited during Prince of Wales 1921 tour with the future King Edward VIII saying: “There is nothing between Madras and the Northern Passes like Udaipur.”
- Udaipur and the House of Mewar have played host to royal guests and celebrities from all over the world. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1961, Lord and Lady Mountbatten of Burma in 1963, the Duchess and Duke of Kent in 1984 have enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the Maharanas of Udaipur. http://www.britishpathe.com/
Jacqueline Kennedy’s visit in 1962 is being recalled in the global press even today. http://www.britishpathe.com/
The historian Brian Master recounted in his book, Maharana, “Queen Elizabeth II was received as a guest at Shivniwas by Maharana Bhagwat Singh. When he naturally offered the Queen precedence, she demurred, saying ‘Please lead the way. You come from a much older family than I do!'”
- The City Palace and Udaipur were the setting for the James Bond film Octopussy in 1983.
Maharana Bhagwat Singh took the lead in inviting the famous producers Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to Udaipur, the Lake Palace Hotel and threw open the doors of the new hotel, Shiv Niwas Palace, ahead of time to house the stars. The Indian press recognised the huge multiplier effect which the Bond film was having in Udaipur and Rajasthan.
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/octopussy-james-bond-comes-to-udaipur/1/392211.html Till date, 33 years after Octopussy release, the film is screened, talked about and often marketed by restaurants claiming ‘the best Octopussy show in town’.
- The Durbar Hall, built during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singhji in 1909-10, was called ‘Minto Durbar Hall’, to honour the visit of Lord Minto, the Viceroy of India. It took 22 years for The Durbar Hall to be completed, it’s an engineering marvel of its times. Today, it’s a glittering exclusive venue for corporate events and celebrations, an integral part of the Fateh Prakash Palace Convention Centre.
- Crystal Gallery is housed in Fateh Prakash Palace. It is the single largest, private collection of crystal anywhere in the world. In 1877, Maharana Sajjan Singh ordered the crystal from the Birmingham-based F & C Osler Company, including objets d’art, furniture, washing bowls, dinner sets, perfume bottles; the Crystal Gallery also houses the only crystal bed in the world. The crystal collection, carrying the crest of the House of Mewar, lay unpacked in cartons for almost 60 years before the present Custodian, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar curated and developed the Crystal Gallery.
Udaipur’s climate: Mild summers (30 degrees C to 40 degrees C); mild winters (11 degrees C to 28 degrees C). Clothing required: Light tropical in summer, carry hats and anti-sun lotions; Light woolen in winter. Accessories: Come armed with cameras and shoot to heart’s content in photographers’ paradise. Languages spoken: English, Hindi, Mewari. Best time to be there: September to April.
How to get there:
Nearest international airports: Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai.
Flights: Daily flights from New Delhi (flight time: 1 hr. 10 mts.), Mumbai (1 hr. 30 mts), Ahmedabad (45 mts.), Jaipur (45 mts.).
Rail: Convenient daily trains from New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.
Bus: Air-conditioned coaches to and from New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.
Road: 637 km from Mumbai, 250 km from Ahmedabad, 405 km from Jaipur, 664 km from Delhi