My road trip through Kutch in Gujarat was an eye opener in more than way. I have been overwhelmed by the love and affection of the people I met at every stop. We visited the village around the Heritage Home Stay near Bhuj and was given a warm welcome in the homes of local Rabari households.
As we entered the room passing under the colourful embroidered Toran, the first thing that struck us, was the neat order in which the utensils were arranged on the lofts above. When I took a 360 degree turn admiring the arrangement, the pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses and beautifully embroidered decorative pieces on the wall did not go unnoticed. The matriarch of the house with a platoon of grandchildren in tow, emerged from her room with glasses of water and welcomed us with a smile. Her low hanging heavy brass ear-rings , faded tattoo on the neck area which was adorned by a bunch of amulets around a thick black thread and the long flowing head scarf was very typical of a Rabari woman.
After a few minutes of initial hesitation, we seated ourselves much to the amusement of the young children who were keenly observing the cameras in our hand. The young girl of the house, no more than 18-20 years spoke to us in clear Hindi, often using English words telling us about their lives and the embroidery that she was doing. We come to know that girls in their clan learn to embroider early in life since it forms a part of their trousseau at the time of the wedding.
A girl’s worth and wealth is measured by the quantity and quality of embroidery that she has accumulated over the years, when she reaches marriageable age. This young girl, all set for marriage showed us an elaborate piece on the traditional black cloth that she was working on which her mother draped around for our photo shoot. Exquisite !! The combination of colourful stitches of herringbone, button hole, single chain, double run interspersed with different shapes of glasses that was used to create the bold geometric motifs was a treat for the eyes.
Origin of Rabari Tribe
Rabari community trace their origins to the Rajputs of Rajasthan and over time they made it through the desert into Kutch. Known to be nomadic shepherds, their life revolves around everything milk and are devout Hindus who worship Krishna, Shiva and Parvati. With the passage of time, the community has made great progress and in the present generation very few follow the nomadic way of life. Education has brought about a change in their lives and and now many occupy positions of power and learning in society.