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Darbar


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Darbar a Persian word, meaning a court and also the executive government. The Mughals, who held court with the amirs, mutsuddis, visitors, ambassadors, seekers of justice and so on, introduced darbar as an institution. It was a formal assembly in a designated place of the royal palace. Constitutionally, the darbar had a descending order. For example, the darbar-i-ala was the highest assemblage presided over by the emperor himself. The provincial subahdar held darbars attended by his ministers, mutsuddis, nobles and other leading citizens. In the darbar, the subahdar transacted certain state businesses pertaining to provincial concerns. Subahdar's decrees including judicial pronouncements were made at the darbar. Besides, the subahdar also held social darbar attended by poet laureates, sages, pundits and entertainers who performed to the pleasures of the royalties and attendants.

The Mughal darbar was an institution, which provided a direct contact between the ruler and the ruled. It was at the darbar that the subahdar heard the Arjees (petitions), received dignitaries, conversed with the advisors and made state consultations with the nobles and generalities. The colonial rulers had borrowed the splendour of the Mughal darbar without its consultative character. From the time of Lord wellesley began the practice of holding a darbar in the fort william once a year. The kings and diwans of native states, great zamindars and favoured native officials attended the darbar to express their continued loyalty to the raj. But they were seldom consulted on state affairs, as was the practice of the Mughal darbar. The greatest such pageantry was the delhi coronation durbar of 1911.

The chief of the sikhs religion sits at the 'darbar' and so do the spiritual leaders of various Muslim sufi orders. The big zamindars used to convene annual 'darbar' of their chief raiyats at the time of the punya. The district collector sat in a darbar both at the time of puniya and also at the time of conferring honorific titles on the important subjects of the raj. In some places, the village salish is called darbar. In short, darbar, which had originated from the assembly of the Mughal kings, has in course of time diluted extensively to other areas of secular and spiritual powers transcending the bounds of the original Mughal executive authority. [Sirajul Islam]