India

The Rabari

Still on the move

Kutch is a district of Gujarat, the Indian state that borders Pakistan, where groups of herders live and from where they begin their migrations. The Rabari (in the past they were known as Raika) follow a nomadic existence in this area and travel slowly for hundreds of kilometres in search of pastures. Their pilgrimage never stops, not even during the monsoon season, in spite of the fact that the rains mean that the herders could stay in areas closer to their villages.

Traditionally camel breeders, today the Rabari migrate in small groups composed of a few families, their flocks and some camels to carry the essentials for the journey, such as beds, cribs, clothes and cooking utensils.

Their annual routes take them into the heart of an increasingly urbanized and industrialized environment, requiring them to traverse congested traffic arteries and camp alongside motorways.

We accompanied them on their journeys for one month during the autumn of 2017, living alongside them and sharing in family members’ daily activities. We returned in 2018 to follow their movements during the monsoon season and to take part in their ceremonies. It was during this period that we realised that we were witnessing an epochal change in today’s India and that we were spending time with the last generation of pastoral nomads in this part of the world.

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