Kutch, located in the western part of India in the state of Gujarat, the land of culture, confluence of traditions and off the tourist trail. It has always surprised me with its beauty and rich heritage. Even after a continuous immigration and emigration in the region, the essence of the land has stayed intact like a constant among the ever-changing demographics. It is one of the most off the beaten track places in India and if you are longing for that then this is the place to go.
Being my homeland, a place where I was born and brought up, Kutch holds a special place in my heart. It’s a colourful state which has always been a mystery for many and has hence attracted travellers from around the world. They come to see the beauty of the land, the magical white sands of the Rann of Kutch, the numerous communities and their embellished colourful attire, to taste their culture hidden deep in their hearts and to indulge with these local tribes and their way of life.
Want to join me on a quick journey of this special place? Please continue reading.
Meet the people of Kutch, Gujarat
The Rabari people are a semi-nomadic cattle herder community also known as “Desai”.
Rabari men and women can be easily identified by their clothing. The men wear white coloured turban and a tight jacket with bit of Rabari embroidery and white loose trouser like a dhoti. Rabari women, on the other hand, wear mostly black clothes. They usually wear identical hanging earrings and a lot of other gold or silver ornaments. Young girls wear a bright top with colorful Rabari embroidery which is inspired from Nature. They also include mirrors in their embroidery which can also be seen in their headgear. Their arms, feet and neck are tattooed.
You can find them near the villages of Bhuj, Nakhatrana while Dhebar. Those who are still grazing cattle (mainly sheep, goats and some camels) have to migrate in search of water and grass. Sometimes you can see them camping on the roadside while migrating along with their herds.
Meghwal is another interesting community that you can find in the Banni region near the Great Rann of Kutch. They live in “Bhunga”, traditional huts made of grass, mud, wood and decorated inside with mirrors and mud work. These huts are eco friendly and smart. Mud keep huts cooler inside during the summer.
Harijan Men wear simple white Pathani suit, which is a long shirt with -seems they have adopted this from their Sindhi neighbours and white and blue chequered turban. However they look bit bland compared to women who wear most beautiful and colourful costumes every single day.
They wear beautiful tops called Kanjiri with mirror handwork, heavy and bright skirt and headgear. Some of them wear huge nose-rings and lot of other ornaments. They make their own beaded necklaces and wrist belts.
Jat, Mutva, Halepotra, Pathan, Raysipotra, Sama, Sumra, Node, are some of well known Muslim communities. They mostly live in the northern part of Kutch like the Banni and Pachchham area.
They are most hospitable and traditional people in Kutch but mostly conservative in their ideology. They wear bright and one-colored Pathani suit. They are also recognised by their physical features. They are generally very tall, have long and sharp nose as well as chin and some have henna dyed red beard. Bhirandiyara is a junction village in Banni where you can see all these people busy with their daily routines.
How to meet the local people
The above mentioned communities have preserved their lifestyle and outfits for generations. They are outstanding in making beautiful handicrafts. There are many other unexplored communities as well who may be small in number but have very beautifully lived through times and yet saved their culture and traditions.
If you would like to explore this area and meet these wonderful communities, please be aware that the approach should be a bit different then you are used to. You should treat them respectful and must gain their consent before visiting their villages/homes. A friendly introduction or having local connections will make a big difference in the kind of experience you can have. It will be easier to interact and know the communities better. As I know many communities for years I would love to offer you my help, if you wish. Please have a look at this Experience one of the biggest salt deserts in the world or 3-day handicraft experience I organize.
“Carpe diem” 🙂