Revisiting Rajput Matrimony and Dance with TRIPTI SINGH
Five years back, somewhere in the American state of Ohio, a Rajput woman started a Facebook page titled Gathjor with the vision of creating an online Rajput community. This action was the result of an epiphanic moment that she had had to actualise her long-standing plan of facilitating a networking resource for Rajput families worldwide for the specific purpose of matrimony and matchmaking. “I realised that no credible online resources existed for rajput families that were looking for matches for their children. There were a couple of commercially motivated players, but nothing that had the personal touch, albeit virtual, of a confident and counsel in a matter which is perhaps the most important to parents” says Kunwarani Tripti Singh, the founder and pioneering lady behind Gathjor, the first-ever online matrimonial community dedicated specifically to Rajputs worldwide.
A Tanwar Rajput from Daudsar, Bikaner, Tripti Singh had shifted overseas with her family due to a work assignment undertaken by her husband. With him gone to work and her children busy at school, she found a lot of idle time that she wanted to utilise productively. It was then that she formalised her plan of charting a systemised online structure for Gathjor. In the matter of a few weeks, her online network found more than a thousand active members requesting her services to help them seek suitable prospects for their children.
With the primary goal of facilitating a meaningful matrimonial network for the Rajput community to engage in, Gathjor faced its fair-share of hurdles during its inception. As Tripti Singh discusses, “initially, people found it hard to believe that someone would spend so much time for free to get them meaningful connections within the community.” She also mentions the difficulty in winning the confidence of several families who had a skeptical attitude towards an online matrimonial site, which continues to be an unexplored idea amongst several traditional-minded Rajput families. Another concern, she affirms, was that of privacy. However, all of these concerns melted away with time as the concept of Gathjor spread organically, through word of mouth and gained worthwhile credibility amongst Rajput social circles. Tripti Singh’s ‘open source philosophy’, and the goodwill-based identity of Gathjor gradually came to be known with its increasing outreach towards people and active engagement in the successful facilitation of suitable marriage prospects. But the challenges did not end here. An unexpected but nevertheless concerning probem, as Tripti Singh enlists it, was that of imitation. She elaborates, “Since there was no commercial motivation from the beginning, I had never bothered to register or trademark the Gathjor name. Within two years, there were multiple entities who used spin-offs of the Gathjor title to launch matrimonial services for Rajputs. But I guess we’ve gone from strength to strength, and what’s a journey without a little struggle. Imitations helped me write my standard sign-off line- ‘If you’re not speaking to Tripti Singh, it’s not Gathjor!’”
Tripti Singh’s spiritedness is not limited to the logistical realm alone. She has actively utilised her networking assets in a way that positively impacts the matrimonial realm. In other words, she has specifically raised her voice against the dowry system, an abolished yet passively rife occurrence in present-day Hindu marital system. “As much as I respect Rajput tradition, I firmly believe that financial preconditions in marriages are a malpractice and should be stopped. So in a small but humble way, I have been able to put this idea forward through Gathjor. All alliances that we have forged, or started conversations around, had no dowry or tika pre-conditions. Or, as they are popularly known, families with ‘big demands’ do not get any service at Gathjor” she comments.
In addition to her active stand against the dowry system in its most covert manifestations, Tripti Singh has also conducted a crowdfunding initiative to help finance a poor Rajput widow’s pursuit to marry off her two daughters in her nanihāl (maternal village). Immediately after mentioning this active effort of hers, she humbly adds, “I don’t mention this here to claim my credit, but it’s an important aspect of how I aspire to impact the society.” Tripti Singh thus serves as a present-day example of amplifying one’s networking skills through the powerful apparatus of technology and social networking. Through her conscientious efforts and active engagements through Gathjor, Tripti Singh presently hosts an online networking resource of over five thousand Rajputs worldwide.
In addition to facilitating matrimonial ties within her community, Tripti Singh has also gained worthy reputation as a successful event organiser in India. Upon returning to her country in 2013, she began organising bespoke events around traditional themes. A recent event titled Ghoomar: Twirl with Grace, took place in Gurgaon earlier in 2016 and served as an inaugural event to the collective event franchise with the same title that has found resonances in Udaipur and Indore. “Going forward, I see myself occupying a unique space where traditions and old cultural practices meet modern events and design experiences” she adds.
Tripti Singh’s vision does not end here. As one reads this article, she is preparing to launch a new brand labeled Dastur: Rajputana Customs and Weddings, which is her personal rendition of metamorphosing a particular Rajput cultural ceremony into a full-fledged classical event that is redolent of Rajasthani culture. She resonates her ethnically zestful purpose with a concluding statement, “from an early age, I was aware that there’s something that makes Rajput weddings unique- and even though the scale changes with time, there’s an inherent grace in weddings in this community that gets passed along from one generation to the other. Through Gathjor, I will continue to facilitate meaningful connections and conversations among parents looking for matches for their children.”