The Jain rituals tend to be austere, and even ceremonies organised at these temples are linked with the need to contain expenses, in splendid contrast to the exuberance of the temples themselves.

For a people who rewrote history with a flick of their wrist, the Rajputs proved to be extremely religious as a race. But then, not surprisingly, they claimed the gods as their ancestors too. State chroniclers traced the history of each of the Rajput clans back to the gods and the elements. The Suryavanshi Rajputs were descended from Ram, the hero whose exploits fill the epic Ramayana, while the Chanclravanshi Rajputs trace their lineage to Krishna, the prank-loving god who is a central figure in the other great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Both, needless to say, were also kings. For those who could claim neither, a third category was the Agnikul, or fire-born.

But the people worshipped, besides Ram and Krishna, also Shiva and his manifestations, especially in the female form of the Devi whose incarnations as saints led to the creation of family deities who were ensconsed in temples where the families came to worship. Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner would walk barefeet from his capital to Deshnoke where at the shrine of Kami Mata, he would pray for the success of his ventures. No war was fought, no major task or journey undertaken, without the ritual worship of the family deity. Such faith was abiding: Kami Mata, after all, had predicted to the founder of the Bikaner dynasty of Rathores that he would be successful in laying the foundations of a new kingdom.

Maharaja Man Singh
of Amber, on the other hand, carried an image of Shila Devi all the way from Jessore in Bengal, and had it consecrated at the Amber temple. And the Maharanas of Udaipur, who offered protection to the Vallabhachari sect fleeing from Muslim oppression, pay homage to the idol of Krishna as Shrinathji at Nathdwara. According to the tale, apocryphal or otherwise, the chariot carrying the particular idol of Krishna got stuck at Nathdwara and no one was able to get the wheel unstuck. Taking it as divine intervention, it was decided that it was here the idol would be consecrated, and so Nathdwara came to be a pilgrimage centre. It is in these and multitudes of other temples that the people continue to come when they are wed, and when they are blessed with an heir, when there are festivities, or during the ritual nine days of fasting during Navratri; they come here when they wish to ask for something, and to pray when their wishes are fulfilled. They come on pilgrimage, or merely to complain to their gods who are also their ancestors. It links them intimately with their gods, and reverence is also shared with a feeling of kinship. In the hard wastelands of the desert, such faith is healing.