Friday, 2 October 2015

The Delhi Durbar, English extravaganza in British India









During the colonial India, it is a paradox that when the majority of people world over were leading   basic normal lives, some in abject poverty, a fraction of fortunate people such as European royals, Indian rulers and other dignitaries led  luxurious, rich lives. Their preoccupation was such that they were more concerned about their expensive jewels on their crowns, dazzling dresses and the paraphernalia around them dresses than about the grievances of their people and their welfare. For the poor British working class people, luxury was  a curious word, Same was true of India's untouchables and poor people. The Delhi Durbar lavish celebrations showed  the maximum limit to which regal power and grandeur could be displayed.



King Edward VII (November 1841 –  May 1910).Coronation 
portrait by Sir Luke Fildes.en.wikipedia.org

Victoria May 1819 –Jan. 1901) en.wikipedia.org
 
Above image:  Queen Victoria May 1819–Jan. 1901). Wth a small diamond crown Photo by Alexander Bassano, 1882............


Full-length portrait in oils of George V.en.wikipedia.org
 
The Delhi Durbar was held three times  in the past. The very first one was held on 01 January, 1877 to proclaim Queen Victoria as Empress of India. It was celebrated with considerable gaietyThe royal event  was attended by the 1st Earl of Lytton—Viceroy of India, maharajahs, nabobs and intellectuals. A special aspect about the first Delhi Durbar was, it marked the  transfer of control of much of India from the British East India Company to The Crown. The oppressive East India company ran the proxy government for the crown. Unhappy over their misrule, rampant corruption and discrimination, after 1857 the Crown took over the control from the British company. 

King George V and with Queen Mary.1911 Durbar. .
www.lookandlearn.com



The 1911 Delhi Durbar.blogs.wsj.com.
The second Durbar was held in 1903 - on the new year day to mark the succession of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as Emperor and Empress of India. Edward VII, did not attend the Delhi Durbar but sent his brother, the Duke of Connaught who arrived with  a large group of dignitaries by train from Bombay. Lord Curzon, who came all the way from Calcutta, then capital of British India, was disappointed over King Edward's absence at so important an event. The Durbar was well attended by Indian rulers who put on their best royal regalia adorned with an array of stunning jewelry.  A vast collection of valuable jewels  was on display and one  could see them all in one place. The Indian rulers  on the first day, along with Lord Curzon  entered the arena on their elephants, some of them with  huge  solid gold candelabras stuck on their tusks. The Durbar was held in a massive well decorated tent erected  specifically for this purpose. It was more or less a  self-contained ''tent city.'' 

The Delhi Durbar, also known as  the  Imperial Durbar   meaning  "Court of Delhi", was a mass  assembly of people, military higher officials and Indian princes at Coronation Park,  Delhi, India, to mark the succession of an Emperor or Empress of India.

The standard  motor Co. car. 1911.Delhi Durbar..azhayathu. blogspot.com

Following days there were entertainments - polo and other sports, dinners, balls, military reviews, bands, and exhibitions. The media people, who gathered at Delhi from four corners of the world, had a field day. The great event came to a close with a grand coronation ball attended by the highest ranking guests presided over by Lord Curzon and Lady Curzon.


York Cottage at Sandringham House en.wikipedia.org/wiki


 Above image:George and his wife lived here (York Cottage) from 1893 to 1926........
As for  third Durbar  held in December 1911 Delhi it lasted from  December 7th to 16th. It was an exciting event which was attended by the King and queen.  It commemorated the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary held a few months earlier - at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911, and was celebrated by the Festival of Empire in London  and  now it allowed  their proclamation as  Emperor and Empress of India.  He was the only Emperor of India to be present at his own Delhi Durbar. Previous Durbars were held with out the British ruler. It was an important and grand ceremony held in British India.   George wore the newly created Imperial Crown of India at the ceremony  and declared the shifting of the Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi.

In their full royal regalia,  the Sovereigns appeared in their Coronation robes, the King-Emperor wearing the Imperial Crown of India with eight arches, containing six thousand one hundred and seventy exquisitely cut diamonds, and covered with sapphires, emeralds and rubies, with a velvet and miniver cap all weighing 34.05 ounces (965 g). Standing in the  Jharoka (balcony window) of Red Fort, the royal couple  greeted half a million or more of the common people who had come to greet them.

It was a show of pomp and royal extravaganza. There is a magnificent tiara belonging to the present Queen called the Delhi Durbar Tiara. The necklace was presented to Queen Mary by the Maharani of Patiala on behalf of the Ladies of India to mark the first visit to India by a British Queen-Empress. In 1912 Garrards slightly altered the necklace, making the existing emerald pendant detachable and adding a second detachable diamond pendant. This is an 8.8 carats (1,800 mg) marquise diamond known as Cullinan VII, one of the nine numbered stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond.

Both the British and Indian intellectuals considered such Durbar by the British rulers as crass display of British supremacy under the  Crown vested with 

lots of power. With their well  choreographed, orchestrated  and richly decorated celebrations, they impressed on the other countries that they were a force to reckon with as a powerful imperial power. Paradoxically, the British rulers did not do much when India faced famines and people dying in thousands during their height of rule. When Delhi Durbar celebrations were on, in a few regions of India, famin like situation prevailed. Struggle for India's independence was on during that time and the Indian patriots kept aloof from such lavish ceremonies and were not happy with the princes who lost most of their lands to the British. Indian princes' singular  preoccupation was to retain their royal title, small piece of land held by them, and the annual allowance - just pittance  given by the British rulers. Some critics in London said that the Delhi Durbar was a crass display of British arrogance and recently acquired opulence by squeezing India and its riches.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_Park,_Delhi


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi_Durbar