Photographer's Note

Walking in Naredha, a Rabari people village in western Gujarat.

Rabari people
Members of the Rabari or Rewari tribe live throughout Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab,Harayana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states in India.
The word "Rabari" basically means the "outsiders". This is because of their trade and what they used to do in times past. The Rabari's main business used to be raising cattle, camels and goats; for some traditional-minded families this is still the case now but the new generation is slowly moving away from this way of life. These animals needed lots of space for grazing and pasturing. Due to this reason, the Rabari couldn't live in town houses and have room for their animals also. They started living on the outskirts of towns and beyond for this necessity.

Rabari Culture
Rabaris do have very rich cultural past and present. They are known for their "Rabari Bharat (Embroidery)" ,especially in Kutch. Embroidery is a vital, living and evolving expression of the crafted textile tradition of the Rabaris. Rabari women diligently do embroidery on textiles as an expression of creativity, aesthetics and identity as far as the tribe’s collective memory goes. Afternoons are time for embroidery in all Rabari villages when women routinely embroider trousseaus, everyday apparel, dowry bags, bride's ghagro (skirt), kanchali (blouse) and ludi (veil), the groom's kediyan or shirt, children's cradle cloths as well as dowry bags and auspicious torans. Rabari embroidery is very vigorous, with bold shapes. Designs are taken from mythology and from their desert surroundings. They use glass mirrors in various shapes: round, lozenge, rectangular, square, triangular, and beak shaped. The stitches are square chain interlaced with buttonhole for mirror work, single chain, knot, Romanian, blanket interlaced with herringbone, running, and double running. Another interesting aspect of Rabari women is their earrings which is the most abstract form of snake earrings. Women in Puskar, Rajasthan describe a mushroom as snake umbrella, because it comes out after the rains and snakes have the habit of hiding under its hood. The nagali earring is supposed to stand for the double shape of the mushroom.
Rabari tribes, now living in Kutch passed the Puskar region on their migration from the north of Rajasthan and may have seen the local earrings there, or rather transferred their main designs to the village people.
The nagali earrings of the Kutchi Rabari with their spiral, spring like shape can be considered as the form most closely related to snake. Their attire(clothes),which is different on regional basis,also shows their culture. We can see that in Navratri festival days,urban people try to imitate their attire. The Rabari women are easily distinguished by their long, black headscarves, which fall loosely to the ground. They wear distinctive heavy brass earrings which hang low, stretching the earlobes. They tattoo magical symbols onto their necks, breasts and arms. Their jewelry is modest in comparison to other tribal women. They wear small gold nose ring and silver and gold chains around the neck on which protective amulets are hung. Few simple glass bracelets adorn their arms.
In contrast to woman, a Rabari man commonly appears in white dress, golden earrings and a big stick in the hand. They wear dhoti and on the top a short double breasted waist coat (all white) laced over the chest and tied, long sleeves which are gathered up and folded at the arms. The head is covered with 'Paghadi'(Turban).
They also do have mass collection of rare folk songs and stories. Rabari women even sing on their loved one's death occasion,which is their tradition.
One of the most common thing in their culture is highlighted in their food habit, it is that from wherever they may belong, they consume lots of milk and milk products.

Traditionally they are camel herders, and were once nomadic people. These days the Rabaris are said to be semi-nomadic. They live in small hamlets of round huts with mud walls and thatched roofs. The women manage the hamlets and are shrewd and intelligent. They sell wool and clarified butter to city merchants and manage all money matters. The women are strong, tall and well built. The Rabari men can often be seen roaming the countryside with their droves. They travel hundreds of miles on annual migration routes in search of new pastures to graze their animals. Rabari girls can be married from as young as 15-months old. Most of the Rabari marriages take place on the same day once a year and can be very extravagant event involving polygamist rites. Now a days a very small percentage of Rabari are nomadic (1-2%).

from Wikipedia

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Additional Photos by Luca Belis (Mistral) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 519 W: 74 N: 2118] (15416)
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