The Gujarat is made up broadly of three regions. The mainland plains on the East, where the major cities Ahmedabad, Vadodara (Baroda) and Surat are located; the remote, largely arid, yet picturesque, Rann of Kachchh (Kutch), in the North; and the mango-shaped hilly peninsula, Saurashtra, which was made up of some 200 princely States till India’s independence, and which holds many of the cultural festivals and historical treasures of the Gujarat.
So courteous are the Gujaratis that while talking they add the suffix ‘Bhai’ (brother) or ‘Ben’ (sister) to the name of the person addressed – hence ‘Vallabh-bhai’ or ‘Meera-ben’. They are mostly vegetarians. The language they speak is also called Gujarati.
Renowned for their business acumen, honed through centuries of sea-borne trade, the Gujaratis have spread to many parts of the world – notably East and South Africa, UK and USA, and many have made a mark in the business world. This spirit of entrepreneurship has made Gujarat one of the most industrial state in India – the important industries being textiles, electronics, petrochemicals and fertilisers.
Gujarat is not industries and business alone. The State is also home to people of diverse races and religions, the last Asiatic lions (in Sasan Gir National Park), 4000-year old archaeological places (Lothal, Dholavira), rock edicts from the region of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) near Junagarh, important Hindu and Jain pilgrim centres, beautiful mosques, the oldest sacred fire of the Parsi community in India (at Udvada), excellent textiles & handicrafts and some immaculate famous beaches. The incredible diversity highlighted in around 1500 Fairs and 2000 Festivals held each year in the State! Over two hundred of these are major festival occasions, rooted in religion, attracting thousands of people, mostly rural folk dressed and rich cultural heritage are in their traditional finery.