Rana Punja Award - (Instituted in 1986-87)
The name Rana Punja, who was a true son of the soil, is used with great reverence because of his contribution and service to the House of Mewar. He was the chief of Bhil tribe of Panarwa and one of the most trusted leaders who fought with his fellow tribesmen alongside Rana Pratap in the famous battle of Haldighati on 18th June 1576 CE. Even after the battle of Haldighati he and his fellow tribesmen came forward frequently to assist the Maharanas to maintain the freedom of Mewar.
The Bhils proved that anyone who is prepared to lay down his life to protect the independence of their motherland does not have to belong to any particular caste or creed. The most significant implication is that lack of resource is no impediment in the path of preservation of self-respect and self-reliance. It further symbolises that for centuries Mewar as believed in equality amongst all men. Rana Punja and his fellow Bhils were the first to be given equal status to as any other citizen of Mewar – a unique first in the history of India.
Because of such selfless devotion and loyalty the name of Punja was given a prefix of Rana which is the original form of address of the Maharana himself. The entire Bhil tribe is highly regarded by the Mewar dynasty, to the extent that at the time of succession, unless the Bhil chieftain puts a tilak with his own blood on the forehead of the person succeeding the deceased Maharana, he would not be recognised as the subsequent Maharana. According to historical evidence this tilak ceremony was performed till the reign of Maharana Raj Singh II (r.1753-1761 CE).
During the British times when the coat-of-arms of Udaipur was registered with the Royal College of Heralds in London the Maharana honoured the Rajputs and the Bhils, in recognition of their joint contribution by accepting the coat of arms of the state of Mewar depicting them both standing on either side of the shield which shows the fort of Chittorgarh. This implied that the presence on the coat-of-arms of the House of Mewar is not only acceptable but most appropriate and befitting. Furthermore, it suggested that it was the Maharana, the Rajputs and the Bhils, who collectively upheld the freedom of Mewar.
Rana Punja Award is a State award. This award was instituted to honour works of permanent value to society by a person of tribal origin in commemoration of the mutual trust and continued association between the Bhil tribesmen and the House of Mewar.
This Annual State Award consists of:
1. A Ceremonial Shawl.
2. A 'Toran' plaque of honour.
3. A Citation Certificate.
4. Cash Award of Rs. 51,001 each.
* No. of recipients will be decided by the selection committee.