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Photographer's Note

Bhuj is the gateway to a unique landscape that doesn't exist anywhere else in this world - Kachchh. The vast expanse of these endless arid plains looks like a desert, but it's not a desert. It's not made of sand, but soil encrusted with salt. The British coined a new word for this new land. They called it Rann - the Rann of Kachchh.

Mythology has it that many centuries ago, most of the land of Kachchh was submerged under water. Needing more land to live on, the people of Kachchh went to a saint called Dhoramnath and requested him to help them. To answer their prayers, the saint went up the hill of Dinodar and meditated standing on his head for 12 long years. The meditation is believed to have created so much cosmic energy that the sea retreated, leaving behind enough land for people to live on. Now, there is ample land in Kachchh.

As we drove down from Bhuj to Banni, we came across an amazing wandering community called the Rabaris. These friendly gypsies lead a pastoral life, rearing either camels or sheep. Knowing too well that fodder here is sparse and far between, they wander from one oasis to another, coming back to a place only after they have given nature enough time to recoup.

The shelters they make are basic. There are no doors and no windows. In fact, they spend their entire day outdoors, returning only to sleep at night. When they leave the place they inhabited, there's no trace of their having lived there.

The cooking is done outdoors with dried twigs and branches, which they take great pains to gather. The greens are strictly reserved for the camels and the sheep.

The way they conserve the scarcely available water is very interesting. After finishing their meal, they wash their hands in the plate, then wash the plate with that water, and then drink that water. A little shocking to the uninitiated. But to the discerning, it's water conservation at its best. In one go, they complete three activities with the same quantity of water.

Rabari men wear white dresses but the women wear black. There's an interesting story about why they wear black. A few centuries ago, a Hindu ruler called Sumro, who had protected them from Mughal rulers, died fighting for them. From that day onwards the women started wearing black as a sign of perennial mourning.

From Gangadharan Menon's Article - Kachchh: Land of minimalism

Spotted this Rabari lady and her son herding their flock of sheep in the arid fields by the road.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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