One of the major states in western India, Gujarat covers a huge geographical area of 196,000 sq. km. According to the 2001 India census, the state has a population of 5.06 crore out of which, a major portion lives in the villages. There are many villages in Gujarat that are spread into 26 districts. The villages of Gujarat present a wonderful scenic beauty and the villagers love to live together in peace and harmony. The economical and industrial strength of the state largely depends on the villages of Gujarat.
The educational scenario in the villages of Gujarat is quite impressive. The children of Gujarati villages begin their educational career from the government primary schools and then pursue higher studies from the colleges and universities mostly established in the urban areas of Gujarat. The government authorities have also taken many initiatives to increase the female literacy rate in the villages of Gujarat.
The principal occupation of people in the villages of Gujarat is agriculture. Agriculture forms a vital sector in the state`s economy as many villagers earn their livelihoods from agriculture. People in the villages of Gujarat cultivate the crash crops like cotton, quite extensively. The state is the highest producer of cotton in India. However, the cultivation pattern in the villages of Gujarat varies according to the variations in climate and topography. The major crops cultivated in the villages of Gujarat include groundnut (highest production in the country), cotton, tobacco (second highest production in the country), Isabgul, cumin, sugarcane, jawar, bajra, rice, wheat, pulses, tur, gram, banana, etc. Apart from these, the villagers in Gujarat also produce honey, wax and bamboo; the medicinal herbs and fruits like Jamun and guava; etc. The people living in the forests of Gujarat produce teak, Khair, sadad, hadariyo, manual bamboos, etc. as well. Besides agriculture, the villagers in Gujarat are also engaged in other occupations like dairy farming, textiles, petroleum, cement production, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, etc.
Cottage industry is also one of the major occupations in the villages of Gujarat. Many people are involved in textiles industries. The most popular textile styles found in the villages of Gujarat include Patola, Bandhej (tie and dye fabric), Matani Pachedi prints, Jari, Mashru, Deesa, Toran, Dhamadka and Ajrakh, Tangalia, etc. The villagers also make different types of Sarees that include Brocade Sarees (known as ganga-jamuna), Tanchoi, Gharchola, Panetar, Patola Silk, etc. Apart from these, the people in the villages of Gujarat are involved in the occupations like jewellery making, Lacquer Work, Wood Carving, Furniture making, Temple Curtain making, Pottery, Embroidery, etc. as well. In some villages in Kutch, the people make dhurries, carpets, blankets, rugs, etc.
The society in the villages of Gujarat is comprised of people from various religions like Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, etc. The majority of people in the villages are Hindus and the number of Muslims and Jains are also quite significant. There are several ethnic groups living in the villages of Gujarat and these diverse ethnic groups can be broadly categorised as Indic and Dravidian. The castes, such as, Nagar Brahman, Bhatia, Bhadela, Rabari, and Mina (the Parsis, originally from Persia) belong to the Indic group. On the other hand, the Dravidian ethnic group includes the tribes like Bhangi, Koli, Dubla, Naikda, Macchi-Kharwa, etc. Apart from these, the aboriginal Bhil tribe also lives in the villages of Gujarat. All the ethnic groups in Gujarat exhibit mixed characteristics and diverse cultures. The members of the scheduled castes and the aboriginal tribes form about one-fifth of the state`s total population. A majority of the villagers in Gujarat speaks Gujarati and Hindi languages.
The folklore and folk culture is one of the major characteristics of the village society in Gujarat. The root of this culture can be traced back to the mythology of Krishna. The villagers in Gujarat celebrate different fairs and festivals together, irrespective of their religions or castes. The most popular festivals celebrated in villages of Gujarat include the Kite Festival, Modhera Dance Festival, Rann Festival, Bhavanath Fair, Diwali, Holi, Chitra Vichitra Fair, Dang Durbar, Janmashthami, Bhadra Purnima, Tarnetar Fair, Navratri festival, Shamlaji Fair, Vautha Nomelo fair, Somnath Fair, etc. The people perform various art forms as part of celebrating the festivals. The popular dance forms performed by the villagers include Ras dance, Dandia or stick dance, garba dance (Lasya Nritya), etc. The people also perform a folk drama named `bhavai` during the festivals.
The villages of Gujarat are rich in their tradition and culture. The people like to live in harmony and peace and are quite helpful to each other. A healthy relationship can easily be found among the villagers in Gujarat.