" A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people "
- Mahatma Gandhi
The word Meghwal is derived from two different words , ‘Megh’ means clouds and ‘war’ means prayers, connoting people who pray for rains.
Gujarat is the confluence of many tribes adding the colour, culture and vibrancy to this state. Meghwals are originally from Marwar in Rajasthan and subsequently migrated to various parts of Gujarat.
For years Meghwals were classified as scheduled castes or ‘untouchables’. They lived in small groups in the outskirts of villages. They have lead a simple yet oppressed life . A humble lifestyle etched with their peace loving nature is a mark of the Meghwal people . Meghwals were termed Harijans by Mahatma Gandhi. Harijans literally means God’s own people . ‘Hari’ means God’s, ‘Jan’ means People.
Most Meghwals live in hamlets of mud brick huts on the outskirts of villages .These huts have unique designs , Intricate patterns and mirror work etched on them that catches instant attention. People of this community are excellent craftsmen. They are weavers for wool and cotton and also engage in leather work and wood carving The women of the community are gifted and are famous for their embroidery- mirror and applique work.
Exotic hand embroidery and fine work by Meghwal women witnesses increasing demand from urban markets. This work is unique and is distinguished by the usage of red color made up of pigment derived from crushed insects.
The womenfolk of the tribe dress up in many bright colors. Their costumes have Intricate work , the jewelry has immense detailing and married women wear a large stringed gold nose ring called ‘Velado’ . This may be embellished with many precious stones . They also wear elaborate earrings and neckpieces that can weigh upto few Kilos.
Meghwals are Hindus and worship Lord Ganesha . They are further divided into many subtribe that may worship Sitalamata, Yakshas or Lord Siva.
Much has changed over the years for the people of the community. Many from the younger generation are finding work elsewhere, and are seeking their identities beyond just the community.
Meghwals have successfully managed to bring their rich heritage, culture and art to the forefront.