The 12% of total population of Rajasthan is the Tribal group wherein Minas are the second largest tribal community. The name Mina is derived from Sanskrit word "meen" which means fish. They are considered to be the descendants of Lord Vishnu's Matsya Avatar, the fish form which is believed to be first of the ten incarnations.
The Minas are widely spread from the eastern terrain to the northern regions of Shekhawati region in Rajasthan.
They are believed to be the inhabitants of the pre-historic Indus Valley civilization. They were the ruling tribe before the intervention of the Kachhawaha clan of Rajputs. The Rajputs dispersed their power and forced them to hide out in Aravallis. They were named as the criminal tribe by the British government in 1924 so as to stop them from regaining the power over the Rajputs. The status of criminal tribe was lifted after the independence but their culture was discouraged and destroyed by then. Hence, they took upon agriculture as their primary occupation. The Minas have been given protection as a Scheduled Tribe after the upliftment of the Criminal Tribe Act.
The Mina tribe is basically divided into 4 groups.
Zamindar Mina surrendered themselves to Rajputs and as a reward they were granted lands to settle upon. Later they indulged themselves in farming profession and currently enjoy a clean cast status in the socio-ritual hierarchy.
Chaukidar Minas are the rebellious ones who didn't surrender to Rajputs and later British forced them to report to Chowkis to control them from indulging into any criminal activity.
Bhil Mina hold a higher socio-economic as compared to Bhil tribe. They are said to be the descendants of the Rajputs who were compelled to leave their native place during the wars between their own tribes or with Muslims.
Parihar Mina, also known as Ujwal or Ujala Mina claim to be Rajputs who follow vegetarianism. They seek higher status and distinguish themselves from other Minas by designating them as "Mailay Mina".
Most of the Minas follow Hinduism and they worship Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, Lord Krishna as well as few Goddesses. The Minas speak many languages including Hindi, Mewari, Marwari, Dhundari, Harauti, Malvi, Garhwali, Bhili etc.
The major festival celebrated by them is Meenesh Jayanti which occurs on the third day of Chaitra month in Hindu Calender.
The Minas are highly skilled in stone carving and wall painting and it can be seen in many exquisite temples constructed by them.