Panna Dhai Award - (Established in 1997)
It was not uncommon 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 A.D. Rana Vikramaditya was assassinated by Banbir. Kanwar Udai Singh, the rightful successor to the Gaddi, was an infant at the time. Banbir, who was an outsider, wanted to usurp the Gaddi of Mewar and remove all impediments including the young Kanwar Udai Singh.
Kanwar 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 Banbir and was extremely careful and protective of her ward, knowing the serious consequences lest anything happened to the future successor of Mewar.
One night, Banbir, with naked sword in hand, managed to enter the quarters of Kanwar 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 Kanwar Udai Singh. On entering, Banbir saw two infants sleeping and demanded to know which was Kanwar Udai Singh, Panna Dhai pointed out Kanwar Udai Singh’s bed on which she had placed her own son, Chandan. Without hesitation Banbir assassinated the innocent child. Thereafter Panna Dhai discreetly smuggled Kanwar Udai Singh out in a basket and managed to reach Kumbhalgarh fort safely. When the nobility and people came to know the facts, they promptly forced Banbir 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, reflecting an altruism possessed by no other known in the history of the world. 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.
The Panna Dhai Award is a national award. It has been instituted to honour Panna Dhai and is awarded in recognition of one who ventures beyond the call of duty and sets an example in society of permanent value through sacrifice.
This national award consists of:
- A ceremonial shawl.
- A “Toran” plaque of honour.
- A Citation certificate
- Cash award of Rs. 1,00,001/-