Into the Wild-An adventure with Rabari (nomads) living in Kutch, Gujarat

Dear reader,
Welcome to Kutch Adventures India .

Rabari family, KutchRabari family, Kutch

Today I’m sharing some pictures with brief story of Dhebar Rabari-one of the most interesting traditional community living in Kutch who are known for their nomadic lifestyle, along with their sheep, goats and camels and their beautiful Rabari Embroideries that has made them world famous.

Quilt, water carrierQuilt, water carrier

History of Rabari: Mythological stories inks 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. 100 km west of Bhuj, near Banni region, my Rabari friend Lakhabhai Rabari’s family was camping with their approx. 100 goats and sheep along with “goods carrier”-Camel 🙂

Jiviben-Mother
To locate them and reach there wasn’t very easy though fun as they are living in the middle of nowhere, under the sky and few kilometres off the approach road. There weren’t enough bushes to get some shade to skip 36’ degree Celsius temperature which could not be fun for some people however spending a day along with them, watching them doing their daily routine that includes-taking heard for grassing, making tea several times for herders, bringing water from nearby field, cooking meals, milking cattle, chopping wood, etc. And everything is done by 60 years old mother (Jiviben) and her 2 sons (36 and 27 years old) and her middle son Lakhabhai is living in village 100 km far along with his wife and 10 months old son. 60 years old Jiviben was very proud embroider and mother who was claiming to have stitched some of the most intricate embroidery and quilts when she was young. (Derailing from the subject but I think women like Jiviben can be best example for women to get inspired from rather than some of those so called celebrities 😉

During our stay we came to know about various issues that Rabari (or any other shepherds) are facing such as shortage of grass land as the region Kutch is gradually becoming industrial after the earthquake of 2001. Their dependency on Nature (grassland) which is now captured by some industries and expanded human population, the future of this nomadic group seems in danger. Besides all of these, they have to cope with drought, cattle dieses, shortage of grassland and water, and no access to the medical or any other emergency help. However in my observation, I learnt that those who are living most naturally, the Nature takes care of them and that can be seen in their self-confidence, physical and mental strength to deal with all those obstacles they’re facing and most of all simplicity and satisfaction they have, could be secret of their existence. Jiviben, carrying water over head

I wish you can also spend some time with them while you’re travelling in Kutch, Gujarat. For more information you can visit http://www.kutchadventuresindia.com/

Cheers!

Kuldip Gadhvi