History

Kshatriya literally means "protector of gentle people". Second in the social hierarchy of the caste system, the Kshatriyas were kings and warriors. They were said to have evolved from the arms of Brahma, signifying that their role in society was the protection of people and livestock. The Hindus maintain that only a Kshatriya had the right to rule, though Brahmin rulers are not unknown. They were supposed to be brave and fearless, and to live and die by a code of honour and loyalty. Their most exalted death was to die in battle.

The Puranas say that Parashurama in his time destroyed all the men of the Kshatriya race. Since there was no one left to rule, anarchy prevailed. The Brahmins realized that a class of rulers was required. They held a sacrifice near Mt. Abu (Rajasthan), and from the fire pit emerged four clans: the Parmars, Chauhans, Parihars and Solankis. These fire-born clans (Agnikula) were called Rajputs. There are also leading Rajput clans that claim descent from the sun and the moon and accordingly labeled themselves as Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi.

Kshatriyas dominated Indian political life down the centuries. Even under the British, there were approximately 600 Indian states. These states had not been annexed by the British and were responsible for their internal administration. Some accepted suzerainty of the Crown and allowed the British to administer their defence and external relations. When the India Independence Act, 1947 was passed, it decreed the lapse of suzerainty of the British Crown. The Indian states regained the position they had held prior to the assumption of suzerainty by the Crown. However, in their own interest, most states merged with either the Dominion of India or Pakistan. All 552 states located within the geographical boundary of the Dominion of India acceded to it by August 15, 1947, except Hyderabad, Kashmir, and seven other states. Subsequently, these states also joined the Indian Union. Almost all the rulers voluntarily ceded all powers of governance to the Dominion government, retaining only certain personal rights and privileges.

Special provisions were made only for Kashmir. All rulers, including those of Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad, adopted the Constitution of India by special proclamations. With the Constitution 7th Amendment Act, 1956, the special provisions relating to these former princely states were also omitted. The Indian states lost their separate identity and became a uniform part of India. In 1971, the Privy Purses guaranteed by the Government of India were abolished by Parliament and modern India bid a formal farewell to the princely order.

Many scions of former ruling houses are still well-regarded by the people of the area. Many have joined the modern political system and contest elections to the state assemblies and Parliament. People who identity themselves as Rajputs are found across northwestern India, the Ganges plains, Madhya Pradesh, and Himalayan valleys. Following Indian independence, the twenty-three Rajput states that formed what was called Rajputana were consolidated into the modern state of Rajasthan. In the past, Rajputs formed the fighting, landowning, and ruling castes. They claim to be the descendants of the Kshatriyas of ancient tradition, and from this association they derive their identity as a distinct group, superior to other groups in their traditional territory.

The chief feature of Rajput social organization is their division into hierarchically ranked clans and lineages. One hundred and three Rajput clans are well known. Additionally, rankings based on regional location, the degree of centralized political control within regions or Rajput states, and hypergamy were all important elements of the traditional Rajput social order. Still, the Rajput tradition and identity permit even poor Rajput farmers to consider themselves the equal of powerful landholders of their clan and superior to any high official of the professional classes. No people in India can boast of finer feats of arms or brighter deeds of chivalry, and Rajputs still form one of the main recruiting fields for the Indian army of today.

The Rajput courts were centers of culture; Sanskrit Literature and drama flourished and the modern vernacular Languages began to appear. The Rajput bards sang the praises of their overlords in Hindi; the earliest of these material ballads is the Prithviraj Raso, which tells how Prince Prithviraj carried off his bride. Rajput princes were great builders, and constructed magnificent palaces, fortresses, and stately shrines, of which the Saivite temples at Khajuraho in Bundelkhand and the Dilwara Jain temples at Mount Abu are outstanding examples in contrasting styles. Rajput men and women are still much involved with elaborate ceremonies, especially weddings, for these are the rituals of Rajput identity.

The Kshatriya Rajus
Raju is a Telugu variation of the Sanskrit word Raj and Raja meaning King, Prince or Lord. Raju is used to refer to the Telugu Kshatriya Caste in Andhra Pradesh. Kshatriya Rajus are said to be descendents of ancient Royal dynasties like Eastern Chalukyas, Chalukya-Cholas, Vishnukundina, Gajapati, Chagi, Paricheda and Kota Vamsa. Over the centuries they have been called by various alternative names that signified their military status. During the British Raj they were known as Ratsas and Rajavars, which means of or belonging to the caste of Ratsawars (Raja Caste), using the title of Raju. They are around 1.0 percent of the Telugu population, concentrated mainly in the Coastal Andhra region with pockets in the Rayalaseema, North Arcot and Rajapalayam of Tamil Nadu, Bellary of Karnataka and Ganjam of Orissa. In the last few decades, significant population of Rajus have migrated and settled in US and UK. Rajus use Raju or Varma in the Andhra regions and Deo in the Orissa regions as an agnomen for their last name. Varma in Sanskrit means Armor, Protection and Deo in Sanskrit means God or Lord. In Telugu tradition, the family name is written first followed by the given name and then the caste title. For example Alluri Sita Rama Raju, a prominent freedom fighter in the mid 19th century, is interpreted as Sita Rama of the Alluri family and Raju for Kshatriya caste. Similarly name of Penmatsa Ram Gopal Varma, a prominent Bollywood and Tollywood movie director-producer, is interpreted as Ram Gopal of the Penmatsa family and Varma for Kshatriya caste.

History
There have been varying accounts about the origins of the Raju community. Some include them among the military tribes of Rajput descent. Regarding this community Edgar Thurston in his seven volume Castes and Tribes of Southern India writes...The Maharajas of Vizianagaram claim to be Kshatriyas from the Rajputana and the leaders of the people of gotrams said to have come to the Northern Circars centuries ago. It is noted in connection with the battle of Padmanabham (in present Visakhapatnam district) in 1794 AD that Rajputs formed a rampart round the corpse of Vijay Rama Raju. Padmanabham will long be remembered as the Flodden of the Rajputs of Vizianagaram...as a class they are the handsomest and best developed men in the country and differ so much in feature and build from other Hindus that they may usually be distinguished at a glance...they are mostly Vaishnavites, and their priests are Brahmans...Rajus of course assume the sacred thread, and are very proud and particular in their conduct. Brahmanical rites of Punya Havachanam (Purification), Jata Karma (Birth ceremony), Nama Karanam (Naming ceremony), Chaulam (Tonsure), and Upanayanam (Thread ceremony) are performed...at weddings the Kasi Yatra (Mock flight to Benares) is performed...at their wedding they worship a sword, which is a ceremony usually denoting a soldier caste...they use a wrist string made of cotton and wool, the combination peculiar to Kshatriyas, to tie the wrists of the happy couple...in some villages. Historically South Indian royal families of Kshatriyas (Rajus) had marital relationship with Central and North Indian royal families, like Rajas of Vizianagaram, Salur and Kurupam had marital relationships with the Rajputana royal families.

Legends
The history of South India and the Puranas reveal that the Andhra Kshatriyas descended from the Aryavarta (northern India) to the south due to internal conflicts, foreign invasions, famine, etc. Vayu Purana, Buddhist and Jain literatures mention about migration of Ikshvaku Kshatriyas to southern India. Rajus traditional accounts claim descent from Ikshvaku, Vishnukundina, Chalukya, Paricchedi and Kota Vamsa.
Some historians and traditional accounts link Rajus to ancient Andhra Ikshvakus, which was the first Kshatriya kingdom in Andhra which ruled during 2nd and 3rd Centuries CE and are purportedly linked to ancient Ikshvakus of Kosala. According to most historians and by the inscriptional evidences of Paricchedi and Chagi ruling clans, during 4th - 5th century AD few Kshatriyas of four clans travelled from northern India to the south, where they initially worked as feudatories of Vakatakas before establishing the Vishnukundina Kingdom, while some Kshatriyas of Andhra are said to be descendents of Eastern Chalukyas and few other Kshatriya dynasties. Basing on ancient inscriptions, traditional accounts and historical evidences, the Rajus of Andhra are descendents of the following ancient clans:
1. Vishnukundina: A folktale claims Madhav Varma of the Vishnukundina dynasty led the original members of their gotras to Andhra.
2. Chalukyas: Chandravanshi Rajus are said to be descendents of Eastern Chalukyas.
3. Parichedis: The forefathers of the Pusapatis.
4. Kota Vamsa: Dharanikota Kings of Dhanunjaya gotra.
5. Chagi: Forefathers of the Sagis and Vatsavais
6. Chedi (Haiheya-Kalachuri-Kona Chodas): Chodarajus
7. Gajapati and Eastern Ganga: Kurupam and Salur zamindars claim descent from them.
8. Matsya of Oddadi (Orissa), which is linked to ancient Matsya Kingdom: The zamindars of Madgole claim descent from them.
Rajus are classified into two sects (as per ancient Kshatriya tradition based on Vansh):
1. Suryavanshi (Sun Dynasty) include Vishnukundina, Paricheda, Kota Vamsa, Chola-Chalukyas (Cholas claimed Suryavanshi and Chalukyas were Chandravanshi, the two families merged) Eastern Ganga and Gajapati.
2. Chandravanshi (Moon Dynasty) includes Eastern Chalukyas, , Kalachuris (Chedi-Haihaya), Saluva and Aravidu dyanasties of Vijayanagar.

Gotras
They are further subdivided into Four Gotras.
1. Vasishta
2. Dhanunjaya
3. Kashyapa
4. Kaundinya

A poem called Sri Krishna-vijayam dated 1540 A.D. tells of a migration of these four clans to Telingana led by Madhav Varma. While Rajus of Coastal Andhra and Rajapalayam have above four gotras, the Rajus of Karnataka have three additional gotras:
1. Pasupati
2. Vishwamitra
3. Atreya
Each Gotra is again sub-divided into hundreds of endogamous sects based on surnames that are named after villages of origin, a famous member of the clan, personality, etc. Sage Kaundinya (Kundin) was the son of Vasishtha and nephew of Agastya. Dhanunjaya is a branch of Vishwamitra. Pasupati is a branch of Kashyapa. A book entitled Sri Andhra Kshatriya Vamsha Ratnakaram elaborates on the traditional accounts and genealogy of the Kshatriya Raju community of Coastal Andhra and was written by Varahala Raju Buddharaju in Telugu. This book gives genealogy details of the 109 surnames of Andhra Kshatriya Rajus and their Four gotras.

Vishnukundina Dynasty
Vishnukundinas, one of the ancient clans that ruled in Andhra Pradesh from 5th to 7th centuries. It is believed that Vishnukundina Madhava Varma along with members of the other three gotras conquered the Salankayanas and established their rule. Some of the feudal kingoms of this time were the Kotas, Chagis, and Paricchedi. The Paricchedis Kings were ancestors of the Pusapati royal family who built Bezawada (Modern Vijayawada) off the river Krishna by 626 AD and another capital in Kollipaka establishing themselves for nine centuries there. They are considered to be descendants of one of the earliest Maharana's of Mewar, who migrated to south during 7th century. They were staunch patrons of Hindu Dharma in contrast to the Chalukyas, who initially were patrons of Jainism. The family name was changed to Pusapati after moving to the coastal region. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Pushavat (Pushan), meaning of the sun, to highlight their Suryavanshi lineage. They founded the city of Vizianagaram, named after Vijay Rama Raju. They obtained the title of Gajapathi, after the battle of Nandapur, in the northern circars in the 16th century. The Raju families of Rajapalayam are descendents of migrated families led by the brother of the Vizianagaram Maharaja, Pusapati Chinna Raju.

Eastern Chalukyas
Chalukyas were a royal dynasty that succeeded the Vishnukundinas and ruled large parts of southern and central India between 550 and 750, and again between 973 and 1190. Chalukyas originated from Karnataka, were led into Andhra by Pulakesi II, who appointed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana as his Viceroy. On death of Pulakesi II, Kubja Vishnuvardhana declared himself king of the Eastern deccan and his dynasty came to be known as the Eastern Chalukyas (Vengi Chalukyas). The Eastern Chalukyas ruled from Vengi. The collateral branches of Eastern Chalukyas ruled over small principalities like Elamanchili, Pithapuram and Mudigonda. The Eastern Chalukyas, who were Chandravanshi Kshatriyas, were closely connected by marriage ties with other Kshatriya families in Andhra (Kalachuris, Chagis, Parichedas and Kota Vamsas). The Eastern Chalukyas through marital alliances merged into the Cholas and ruled from 1076 C.E to 1019 C.E as Chalukya-Cholas The other important Kshatriya dynasties during this period were Perrichedi, Kota Vamsa, Chagi and Haiheyas. Kota Vamsa (Dharanikota- Fort Dynasty)

Kota Vamsa:
The Kota kings, Kshatriyas of Dhanunjya gotra ruled from Dharanikota during the 11th and 12th century AD. Last King of this dynasty was Kota Betaraja. The Jampana, Datla, Dandu, Dantuluri, Uppalapati, Pakalapati and Nallaparaju royal families of Dhanunjaya Gotra, who were Zamindars of Ramachandrapuram, Mogalthur, Kotapalli, Ghandavaram, Kuppili, Moida and Mutta Talaga Chiralaall claim descent from this ancient dynasty.
Chagi:
The Chagis have been around since the Chalukyas at least and possibly the 6th or 7th century. They were mentioned as subordinate Chiefs of the Chalukyas and Kakatiyas. Bezawada inscription mentions in honor of Tulukam Velnadu Sagi Doraya Raju dated 1215 A.D. In 1246 inscriptions describe the reign of Chagi Manma Raju and in 1230 grants by Chagi Pota Raju. An inscription in Gudimetla on a fort dated around 1268 A.D. during the reign of Kakatiya Rudrama Devi states that Sagi Pota Raju was her commander-in-chief. Sagi Gannama was a governor under Vira Pratapa Purushottama Gajapati (AD 1462-1496). He built a hill fort in Vinukonda. The Kota Uratla and Thangedu royal families are descendents of the Chagis, with their name changing over time to Sagi. The founder of Peddapuram line of kings was Sagi Potha Raju who participated in the battle of Palnadu in 1178-1182. The family attained the title of Jagapati in the 16th century and changed their surname to Vatsavayi in honor of a fort during the times of Vatsavayi Timma Raju (1555-1607).
Chedi-Kalachuri-Kona Chodas:
The Matsyas, Chedis, Haihayas and Kalachuris seem to share a common mythylogical and historical background with possible ancestry links to ancient Matsya Desa. The Chedis (A.K.A. Haihaya, Kalachuri) eventually became the Chodarajus of Kona. Historians such as Dr. P.B. Desai are emphatic about the central Indian origin of the Karnataka Kalachuris who are also referred to as Katachuris (shape of a sharp knife), Kalanjara-pura-vara-dhis-vara (Lord of Kalanjara) and Haihaya (Heheya). Several Kalachuri kings were related to Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas by matrimonial alliances and had ruled from places like Tripuri, Gorakhpur, Ratnapur, Rajpur. By the time they are mentioned in the Telugu epic Battle of Palnadu, they are referred to as the Haihaya family of the Kona region (Amalapuram and Razole of the present East Godavari District), and the Haihaya family of Palanadu, feudatories of the Chalukyas. The Kona Chiefs later took the title of Chodas, loyal governors for the newly formed Chola-Chalukya empire. They were Chandravanshi Kshatriyas of Kashyapa gotra. Kalachuris, Chalukya, Chagis and Kota Vamsa clans were important participants in the battle of Palnadu. It was a battle between two factions of the Kalachuris (Haihaya).

Kakatiya Period
In Kakatiya period there were inscriptions mentioning about Kshatriyas in the Kakatiya army. There were 2000 Kshatriyas who lived in the Kakatiya capital. There were also few Kshatriya kingdoms in Andhra during Kakatiya period. There are 9 inscriptions mentioning the Sagi rulers, 6 inscriptions mentioning Pericheda Bhimaraju ruling in the Guntur region. The Chagis, Kota Kings and Paricchedis continued to hold onto their regions as subordinate rulers of Kakatiyas. the Chodarajus were ruling in Narasaraopeta, the Chagis (Sagis) were described as Kshatriyas ruling with Gudimetla as their capital and a Rudraraju was the General of Nathavadi region allied to the Kakatiyas. Kakatiya King Ganapatideva's sister Melambika and his two daughters were given in marriage to the three Kshatriya family clans Chagis, Chalukyas and Kotas respectively. After this marital alliance with the three Kshatriya family clans, Kakatiyas started claiming Kshatriya status as evidenced by an inscription found in Guntur District. Ganapati Deva's sister Melambika was married to the second son of Chagi Buddaraju, who was ruling Natavadi region. Ganapatideva's first daughter Rudramadevi was married to Veerabhadra, Eastern Chalukyan prince of Nidadavolu and his second daughter Ganapamba was married to Kota Betaraja. Kakatiya King Ganapati Deva had no sons so he made his daughter Rudramadevi as his legitimate heir. As Rudramadevi was married to an Eastern Chalukyan prince of Kshatriya clan, Kakatiya rulers from Rani Rudramadevi regime used to mention themselves as Kshatriyas of Kashyapa gotra as seen in Guntur inscriptions. Kakatiya King Pratap Rudra's brother, Annam Deo, who left Warangal and established his kingdom at Bastar in Chhattisgarh around the late 14th century also mentioned Kakatiyas as Kshatriyas.

Gajapatis of Kalinga/Orissa
The Suryavanshi Gajapatis of Orissa, on the height of their power in the 15th century, ruled over a kingdom extending from the Ganges river in the north to the Kaveri in the south under Gajapati Kapilendra Deva. But by the early 16th century, the Gajapatis lost great portions of their southern dominion to Vijayanagar and Golconda. During the Gajapathi reign an inscription mentions a Bhupathiraju Vallabha Raju Mahapatra in Chodavaram. It was common for the Zamindari families of the border region of Orissa and Andhra to have alliances. Early on, they actually sided with the Gajapatis against the Vijayanagar Empire. There was a notable exception with inscriptional confirmation of two Kshatriya generals fighting on the side of Krishna Deva Raya. Of the modern clans, the Vyricharla royals of Kurupam and the Satrucharla clan of Salur have more in common with the Orissa royals, who claim descent from the Gajapati and Ganga Dynasties, than they do with the Godavari clans. The Rajas of Kurupam are related through marriage to Jeypore Royal family, Bhanj dynasty of Daspalla princely state, Parmar dynasty of Gangpur princely state of Orissa and Kacchawa dynasty of Talcher princely state of Orissa founded in the 12th century.

Vijayanagara Period
Out of the four clans that ruled the Vijayanagara empire, two clans Saluva Dynasty and Aravidu Dynasty claimed to be of the Kshatriya Varna. Raja Achutya Deva Raya, Zamindar of Anegundi and head of the Hindu Kshatriya Community mentioned that they are of the Kshatriya Raju caste and marry among Telugu speaking Kshatriya Rajus settled in Hampi area. Raju families such as the Chodarajus, Tirumalarajus, Madirajus, Nandyalas, Gobburis, Saluvas (Bommarajus) of Karvetinagar, the Rajas of Owk and Matla Chiefs were all relatives of the Aravidu dynasty. The founding brothers of the Aravidu dynasty were the sons-in-law of Krishna Deva Raya of the Tuluva Dynasty and were also related previously through marriage with the Saluva Dynasty. Gobburi Narasaraju was the nephew of Aliya Ramaraju and After the death of King Venkatapathi Raju, from 1614 to 1616 there was a great war of succession. Amongst the claimants to the throne was Gobburi Jaga Deva Raju, the brother-in-law of the emperor and also a relative of the Raja of Karvetinagar, Saluva Makaraju. The Chodaraju's gotra was given as Kasyapa and the Nandyala's gotra was given as Atreya and were described as belonging to Chandravanshi, both were related through marriage and both were appointed Mahamandaleswars during the start of the 16th century. The Madiraju's gotra was given as Kasyapa and Suryavanshi and related to the Thirumalarajus, both appointed Mahamandeleswars of Guntur area and happened to be the grandchildren of Aravidu Rama Raya. Madhava Varma Bejawada was mentioned in 1509 AD as of the Vasishtha gotra and Suryavansi. Krishna Deva Raya defeated among others Rachi Raju Pusapati, Srinatha Raju and Lakshmipati Raju on his way to defeating Pratapa Rudra Gajapati Raju of the Gajapathi Dynasty. He immediately reinstated these rulers as his vassals and married the daughter of Pratapa Rudra as a truce offering. All this occurred between 1514-1517 AD. Ganapathirajus were described as of the Suryavanshi and Kasyapa gotra and were Mahamandaleswars in 1555 AD.
Karvetinagar: The current Bommaraju family of Karvetinagar are of Kshatriya Raju caste and trace their origins back to an ancestor who migrated from the Pithapuram area of the Godavari Delta about the 8th or 9th century. One ancestor obtained the favor of the Eastern Chalukya King, Vimala Aditya and Saluva Narasa was appointed the Chief of the region around Tirupati, where he founded a town called Narasapuram. The family later became feudatories of Vijayanagar, and had marriage alliances with the Saluva and loyalties to the Aravidu dynasties over the next two hundred years. Around the 16th century the family changed their name to the current Bommaraju, retaining Saluva as a title.

Nizam/Colonial Period
The Sultans, Nizams and British all employed Rajus as the governors of estates with the responsibility of collecting taxes. In 1857 the British broke up the estates and realigned the bigger brigands into Princely states and the lesser ones as Zamindars or Jagirdars. These Zamindars were abolished after the formation of the Indian Union in 1947.

Modern community
After the Independence of India, Zamindari was abolished. During this time many Raju Zamindars donated their property and land liberally for the upliftment of poor and Education. Vizianagaram is the oldest and largest Hindu Princely State of Andhra Pradesh (Samsthanam). Maharaja PVG Raju donated his Royal State to Republic of India. He also donated enormous wealth, Khazana, Land, Gold, Diamonds, Properties, Palaces to Korukonda Sainik school, Andhra University, Mansas Trust and to poor and needy for schools, colleges and hospitals. Rajus of Andhra are designated as forward caste. Most of Rajus are doing well in Education, Information Technology and other fields. Despite sizeable population of Rajus being economically backward, Andhra Kshatriya Rajus never asked for reservation.

Andhra Kshatriya Customs:
Some traditional ceremonies that are performed by the Kshatriya community of Andhra Pradesh known as Rajus are

Punya-kavachanam

Things Required
1. Flowers
2. Betel leaf, haldi, kumkum
3. Blouse pieces

On the eleventh day after birth there are purification rituals to cleanse away the pollution (Janama Sutaka) caused by childbirth. The mother and the child, who are till then secluded from the family, re-enter the household. A priest performs a pooja, recites the appropriate mantras and sprinkles sacred water all over the house, thereby purifying it.

Naam-karan/Barasala
Things Required
1. Rice
2. Tray
3. Gold ring
On the eleventh day after birth, the child is given a name. It is during this ceremony that for the first time relatives and close friends see the child. It is a small ceremony where invitees sing songs and celebrate the arrival of the child. The name is written on rice spread on the floor or on a tray. The child's maternal uncle takes a golden ring and keeps it on the child's mouth. The mother and both the grandmothers give gold to the child (either a chain or a bangle)


Uyyalalo-veyadam/(Cradle-Ceremony)

Things Required
1. Flowers
2. New silk cloth
3. Cradle
An auspicious time is chosen on the evening of the 21st day after childbirth. Usually a new silk cloth is put in the cradle and it is decorated with flowers. At the auspicious time, the mother or the paternal grandmother places the child in the cradle. This is known as Uyyalalo Veyadam.

Kesa Khandan
The Head-shaving (Tonsure) and ear piercing ceremony, also known as the Mundan ceremony. These ceremonies are not celebrated on a grand scale and are usually small events within the family. Kesakhandan is performed at a temple along with ear piercing for the female child.

Anna-prasanam
Things Required
1. Rice and milk
2. Silver bowl
3. A book
4. A gold chain
5. A pen
6. A knife
7. A small wooden table
The initiation of the child to solid food is known as Annaprasan. Food is first offered to God. Then the paternal grandmother mixes rice and milk in a silver bowl and feeds the child. Then a book, gold chain, pen and a knife are placed on a small wooden table. The child is then left free 15 yards (14 m) away from the table. As the child moves towards the table, he or she is believed to become associated with whichever of the four articles that he or she touches.
The qualities attributed to the four articles are:
1. Pen - Academician, Writer, Scholar
2. Book - Studious
3. Knife - Boldness
4. Gold - Wealth and Prosperity.


Vidyarambham/start of education
Things Required
Usual pooja samagri such as kumkum, rice, water, flowers and fruits, incense etc The initiation of a child into the formal learning process is usually done between the 3rd and the 5th year of the child. A priest is asked to preside over the ceremonies. The child participates in the Saraswati pooja as the priest recites the mantras. The child is then made to write the first two alphabets and is guided by the father in doing this. Children of the same age group and the child's friends are invited for lunch on this occasion. Sometimes the teacher of the school where the child would be educated is also invited and gifts are given. The children are gifted with slates and chalk, and shloka and poetry books

Upanayanam
Things Required
1. In the past Mundan or shaving the head was essential before this sanskar. Today many just get a hair cut before the sanskar.
2. Mekhla - Thread to tie around the waist.
3. Kopin - Loincloth about six inches wide and one and a half feet long.
4. Dandi - Wooden stick.
5. Thread for Yagyopaveet, which should be dyed yellow.
6. New clothes to be worn by the persons performing the ritual.
7. The Veda, which signifies knowledge. If the Veda is not available, any other holy book should be wrapped up in a cloth and should be kept on a raised pedestal.
8. Three mounds of rice grains to be kept on this pedestal for worshipping Gayatri, Saraswati and Savitri.
Upanayanam or the sacred thread ceremony is performed for the male child at the age of seven years (if this is not possible then in any odd year). This is when the boy is initiated into the Gayatri Mantra. The upnayanam ceremony in modern practice is performed just before marriage. Traditionally it was a long ceremony with elaborate rituals:
It is one of the most important rituals in a Hindu's life.


Raju surname
The surnames of Andhra Kshatriyas were created or formed during the 12th, 13th and 14th Centuries (AD). Prior to that, there were only Gotras (clans) but no surnames. Marriage alliances were being made between persons of different Gotras but not with persons of the same Gotras. At the time of formation of surnames, the villages where persons were residing generally became their surnames. From the data collected by Sri Buddharaju Varahala Raju, there were 109 surnames for Andhra Kshatriyas. 80 surnames were based on village names; 20 were based on Chivalry names; 1 based on nature and 8 based on other ways. It did not include Kshatriya Raju surnames of Rayalaseema and Karnataka. For some families the names of their famous and prominent ancestors became their surnames. For example - Bhupathi Raju, Rudra Raju, Tirumala Raju, etc. Gotra (clan), Vamsam means heredity. The Vamsams are of two types:
1. Janma Vamsam (based on Birth)
2. Vidya Vamsam (based on Education)
Those Kshatriyas who were educated under certain Sages (Rishis) became their Vamsiyas. They belong to the respective Vidya Vamsams.
Sage Apastamba wrote a book named Apastamba Sutramulu incorporating the traditions of persons wearing the sacred thread (Dvija). All the traditions and ceremonies of Rajus are based on these Gotras. The Rajus of Northern Circars belong to these Four Gotras:
1. Kaundinya
2. Vasistha
3. Dhananjaya
4. Kasyapa
The Rajus of Vijayanagar have these additional Gotras:
1. Atreya
2. Bharadwaja
3. Pasupati
4. Viswamitra