Village people: Southern Rajasthan

Village people: Southern Rajasthan


Driving from Udaipur north and west on tiny roads through the Aravalli hills is captivating.  Each village brings fresh surprises and not always pleasant.  This is real, hard, grinding life that hasn’t changed in forever. The caste system has not disappeared (or the many many categories of sub-castes) and if your father is a goatherd, you can pretty much plan on this as your life path – identified by your dress and color of your turban. All of these pictures that show faces were taken with permission, and most people were as curious about us as we were about them.  The gentleman above sitting on the wall tried several different poses until he was happy with the picture.  I always showed people their picture on my iPhone and they were often stunned to see themselves.

IMG_6350The things they carry. And most of these heavy things are carried by women.

IMG_6360…Except for this large bear of a man who grinned madly from beneath his huge load of kindling or roof thatch (hard to tell which).

IMG_6373This woman was carrying a bowl of cow dung which she was making into dung patties (dried and used for dung fires). After a few pictures she insisted that she put the pan down and wipe her hands. She was much happier with this result.

IMG_6375This woman and child may have been from a nomadic family (gypsies perhaps – or some sub-caste?) who live in pretty appalling conditions on the outskirts of town. I couldn’t get straight answers about their status. No matter who you are, women wear all their jewelry all the time.

IMG_6385This grandfather (or father — it’s hard to tell) was delighted to have his picture taken.  After I showed this to him he insisted that he put on his turban.  The result is below.  (I couldn’t get the gorgeous kids to smile – no way no how.)


IMG_6387This young man wanted his picture taken as well.  The kids especially seemed to think that having one’s picture taken was really serious business. No smiling allowed.

IMG_6391At the well. Too busy to take a break.  Throughout Rajasthan women wear red.

IMG_6392A very serious mother and child near the well (above). As I was trying to make silly faces with the child I noticed a louse crawl down her forehead.

IMG_6393At a government rationing distribution center.  Anyone with less than a certain income is entitled to specific amounts of basic food (rice, flour) per month according to the number of people in their household. It’s mostly women who haul the sacks home on their heads – which they manage with great grace.

IMG_6397She might walk for miles along the side of the road to get home with thatch for her roof.


IMG_6495Moving out of the Aravalli hills and into the plains of central Rajasthan, red morphs to pink for many of the women.  If you are married your face is covered, or half-covered with a veil.


IMG_6500This is about as big a smile as I could get.

IMG_6514This mother (or grandmother) escorts her daughter through town demonstrating her ability to sharpen and sell tools which the child carries on a frying pan on her head. Note the numerous white bracelets on the upper arms = a married woman. Not clear if you can ever take them off as they follow a specific pattern according to the shape of the upper arm.

IMG_6654This family was visiting the shrine/temple in memory of “Bullet Baba” – a young man killed in a motorbike accident. The bike mysteriously kept returning from the police headquarters to the very site of the accident and this inspired the creation of a temple with the bike as its centerpiece. People come from all over praying for good luck in a road trip and offering bottles of whiskey to the “god” and small nips to each other. (Because that’s just what you need when embarking on a road trip.)


IMG_6656If I were a scout for a modeling agency I would snap this young lady right up. She’s a natural!

IMG_6668In the Bishnoi villages near Rohet, south of Jodhpur, large family units live together “off the grid” in simple houses with dirt floors and thatched rooves, no electricity. The married women wear enormous nose rings which almost cover their mouths.

IMG_6693Preparing opium tea for a tea ceremony in a Brahmin home near the village of Rohet. Very serious business and usually no women are allowed. No opium tea was consumed by us as the idea of drinking out of someone’s cupped palm lowered the appeal.

IMG_6674Three cool dudes in a Bishnoi village.

IMG_6675The matriarch with her many bracelets and enormous nose-ring.

IMG_6679Finally, a smile!  One of the granddaughters in the Bishnoi village.