Panna Dhai Award - (Instituted in 1997-98)
In former times it was usual to engage a lady who was nursing her newborn child to supplement the feeding of another infant whose mother was unable to do so. Such a lady in Mewar was known as ’Dhai’ (foster mother). In the House of Mewar the privilege of being appointed a Dhai had long been in existence and selection was usually restricted to a particular community.
In 1535 CE Rana Vikramaditya was assassinated by Banveer. Kunwar Udai Singh, the rightful successor to the Gaddi, was an infant at the time. Banveer, who was an outsider, wanted to usurp the Gaddi of Mewar and remove all impediments including young Kunwar Udai Singh.
Kunwar Udai Singh had a Dhai called Panna, who had her own infant son, Chandan. She was deeply devoted to both and lovingly brought them up as her own children. Panna Dhai was fully conscious of the evil intentions of Banveer and was extremely careful and protective of her ward, knowing the serious consequences lest anything happened to the future successor of Mewar.
One night, Banveer, with naked sword in hand, managed to enter the quarters of Kunwar Udai Singh, determined to eliminate the last hurdle in his desperate quest for succession. Panna Dhai had suspected his malicious intentions and while both the infants were asleep that night, she placed her own child in the bed of Kunwar Udai Singh. On entering, Banveer saw an infant sleeping and demanded to know where was Kunwar Udai Singh, Panna Dhai pointed out Kunwar Udai Singh’s bed on which she had placed her own son, Chandan. Without hesitation Banveer assassinated the innocent child. Thereafter Panna Dhai discreetly smuggled Kunwar Udai Singh out in a basket and only after some time they managed to reach Kumbhalgarh Fort safely. When the nobility and people came to know the facts, they promptly forced Banveer out of Chittor and instituted Udai Singh as Rana, thus ensuring the unbroken lineage of the House of Mewar.
Words can never encapsulate the intense dilemma, immense trauma and enormous personal sacrifice of Panna Dhai. Her prodigious and fierce loyalty extended far beyond any call of duty. The House of Mewar will always be indebted to Panna Dhai. Her unparalleled sacrifice has immortalised her in the annals of history and she shall be forever revered.
Panna Dhai Award is a National Award. The award has been instituted to honour an individual who has rendered selfless service, rising beyond the call of duty and setting an example to society of permanent value through sacrifice, in the face of immense hostility.
This National Annual Award comprises:
1. A Ceremonial Shawl.
2. A ’Toran’ plaque of honour.
3. A Citation Certificate.
4. Cash award of ₹ 1,00,001