The Meghwals - 'Prayers &Rains'

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Hodko, Gujarat

60 kms from Bhuj near a village called Hudko, Nilesh Bhai, has invited me for lunch. I am going to meet him in his village after a span of 4 years. I came to this village in 2014 and have known him since then.

Nilesh Bhai is a senior member of the Meghwal community . On our way to their house, he tells me about the drought that has currently engulfed the area . Water is scarce and while desert dwellers work around the scarcity, this is truly a tough time.

On my way, I see women carrying water in steel pots balanced on their heads walking miles to gather water for their families. And I begin to wonder about the name 'Meghwals' and how ironical its meaning in these times - ' people who pray for rains' !

Nilesh Bhai lives in a joint set up . His parents, brothers their wives and children stay together. As we approach his house, he tells me that much has changed in this region after the 2001 earthquake. They now have pucca houses and don’t live in the mud huts anymore; something I had read in books and articles. The 2001 earthquake has changed the way Meghwals live. Much was destroyed in that deadly earthquake.

Entering this house, everyone greets me warmly. Women of the Meghwal tribe strictly follow purdah system. They recognize me from 4 years ago and I can see that the children in the family have grown up considerably.

Living with the Meghwal family
The Meghwal family i visited in 2014

Meghwals of Gujarat
The same Meghwal family in 2018

The women are in their traditional dress of colorful Ghagra , a long embroidered shirt and a shawl covering their heads. Adorned in their ears are jeweled earrings, a large metal neck piece, a very large stringed gold nose ring and plastic bangles on the upper arms. These ornaments are distinct to the Meghwal community.