This is real life story of my friend Haji Kasam-a seventy years old sailor from Mandvi, Kutch. Mandvi is small coastal town, located 60 km south of Bhuj(India)which is famous for wooden ship building.
I have been touring people around Kutch and Mandvi is one of the “Must see” town.
Once I was wandering on the main street of Mandvi along with some tourists, showing them around, explaining how the ships are being built, history of the town and so on, I met this sailor-Haji Kasam, who was sitting right under one big ship and chatting with his friends. Seeing me, guiding tourists, he welcomed us and offered us cup of tea. I introduced myself and they (Haji Kasam & his friends) did themselves. Most of them were wearing white cloths and netted Islamic hats. They were retired sailors. Haji Kasam told us about how those ships were being built, what kind of woods they use, how long it take to built one big ship and goods they used to transport across the Arabian Sea. Some of them told us about their sailing adventures and places they’ve had sailed to, that included some European countries which amazed me because I have never been into the Sea. Anyway after a while we moved in to the town to see the colourful market.
Greetings from Kutch Adventures India.
Being born and brought up in Kutch region and especially hosting and guiding tourists for the last 7 years I’ve met so many interesting local tribes/communities living in Kutch who have impressed many visitors with their colourful culture and way of harmonious existence in the Great Rann of Kutch.
“One must not miss chance to meet them personally before the Rural culture and traditions of Kutch get vanished under the influence of Urban Culture”
Here is the brief introduction of these communities:
Rabari people are on top of the list. They moved in Kutch from Sindh region, Jaisalmer-Rajasthan and settled in Kutch about 700-800 years ago. They are classified in 3 groups. One group of Rabari known as ‘Dhebar’ or ‘Dhebariya’, is still wandering in the wild with their sheep, camels while other two Kachhi and Vagadiya have been settled. Rabari Men are wearing white and tight jacket with bit of Rabari embroidery, White Turban over head, white loose trouser (kind of dhoti styled) and their ears are pierced. They have innocent and attractive features. Rabari Women wears mostly black cloths with embroideries, identically women’s top (blouse) embroidered with colourful Rabari stitches and black headgear with embroidery. Their arms and feet are tattooed and they wear long/big golden/silver ornaments. Bhujodi, Anjar, Nakhatrana and Vagad are best place to find these people. However wandering group can only be spotted by chance.
“Into the Wild” – An adventure with Rabari (Shepherd) living in Kutch, Gujarat
Today I’m sharing some pictures with brief story of Dhebar Rabari-one of the most interesting semi-nomadic community living in Kutch who are known for their nomadic lifestyle, along with their sheep, goats and camels and their beautiful Rabari Embroideries that have made them world famous today.
History of Rabari: Mythological stories links Rabari back with Shiva and Himalayan Valley. The recent history reveals that they moved down to Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) to Gujarat and to Kutch. Some people also believe Gypsies in Europe could also be one of their decedent families. Anyway in Kutch, district of Gujarat state, Rabari are divided (actually I’d prefer to use the term “Known”) in 3 sub-group. “Kutchi, Dhebar and Vagadiya”
1-Kutchi Rabari (or Katchhi Rabari) who believed to have settled in Kutch longer than other groups) 2-Vagadiya Rabari (living in Vagad-North East region in Kutch) and 3-Dhebariya/Dhebar Rabari (semi-nomadic group who are still migrating from one place to another in search of grass and water)
I’ve spent a lot of time with various communities of Kutch such as Mutva, Halepotra, Pathan, Marwada Harijan, Sodha, Jat, Rabari, etc including Dhebar Rabari while touring people around Kutch region however recent visit of Dhebar Rabari family was one of the best experience I consider so far because it was off the Tourist circuit.
(an initiative to promote least known artisans of Kutch, sponsored by Return to Stranger)
Since last 7 hears I have been visiting various arts and crafts makers of Kutch and eventually learnt that there are still some artisans who are not known, who are under the shade and someone need to put lights on them so that their history, stories and their crafts can be brought out to the world. I met some artisans who are not only skilled artisans but also genuine human beings. When I started promoting these artisans on my tours, I realized that they need little bit of assistance in organized a self-help group so that they can support each other as a team and linking this group to some textile and handicraft related businesses straight will make difference in their lives. Since I had some fund, raised by my friend Jessica (return to stranger) that helped me to form this project, develop some promotional tools, documenting their crafts and stories. Please check United Artisans of Kutch website and support least known artisans by paying them visit.
Responsible and Sustainable Tourism in Kutch Gujarat
Hello and Namaste ! 🙂
I’m so glad that finally there are people searching for an authentic and Responsible Tourism Activities in India. Let me tell you bit about Kutch Adventures India-World Responsible Tourism Award winner for Best in Engaging People and Culture in Nov 2014, at World Travel Market (WTM) London.
The founder and tour leader Kuldip Gadhvi has started offering local cultural experiences to visitors of Kutch and showing the real side of local culture by offering them Home Stay where visitors can experience local food, exchange experiences with hosts and meet genuine locals who are willing to share their side of stories, handicrafts they have been practicing for generations and other cultural values straight in very natural manner that many big operators have failed to offer.
“No more photography please”
If you’re culturally conscious then you must have got an idea that what I am talking about. If you don’t have any idea then let me elaborate the title bit.
Kutch region is culturally and environmentally very sensitive and rich district in Gujarat, a state of India which is bordered with Pakistan on north, separated by the Great Rann of Kutch-a seasonal salt desert.
Since 2005 Tourism Department has started promoting Kutch, Gujarat on national and international level, using its cultural, historical and geographical wealth through tourism campaign and within last 12 years it has started receiving thousands of visitors every year from all over the country as well as increased number of foreign tourists who are visiting Kutch to visit some of those traditional communities who are known for their unique costumes and jewelries they wear, handicrafts they make, their villages, relationship with their cattle and everything which considered unique and rare when the larger population of the country is becoming westernized or have adapted urban lifestyles.
“Fashion Revolution-My personal perspective”
What to buy? What to wear? What’s fashionable? What’s most popular? Who designed my cloth? And so on…
These are some of the questions many people are surrounded with, especially those who are living in the modern society, urban culture, who have luxury to choose, who can attend such event such as fashion week, fashion revolution week, sustainable fashion, etc. Perhaps they are more conscious about ethnic wear, sustainable fashion, slow fashion, hand-made, fair trade and all those trendy/catchy words that are being used these days by every single textile and fashion businesses, brands, labels, designers and celebrities.
On the other hand there are still many less fortunate people who are also concern about what to buy? What to wear? but for different reasons.
Meeting Robyn Davidson
Following my Soul track, lead me to the “Tracks”
Indeed ~ this is what it’s all about. Dreams, desires, wishes, hopes and how some of them turn into reality.
In 2015, my friend Jenny from UK was reading a book called “Desert Places” written by Robyn Davidson, based on her traveling with Rabari/Rayka (shepherd) in Western India (Rajasthan and Gujarat) in 1992. Jenny sent me message and said that this book made her think of Desert, Camels and Kutch region…