The search
for the right vessel

gujarat photovoice

Facilitated by Natasha Maru

The camel is crucial to the migrating camp as it carries all of the pastoralists’ belongings, as well as the little lambs that are unable to walk long distances.

The Rabari trace their origin to a religious myth that saw the Hindu god, Lord Shiva, mould them as camel keepers. Therefore, although not all of them rear camels any more, they share a special relationship with the animal.

The Rabari prefer to keep male camels aged eight and upwards for carrying their load. While the men tame the camels, graze them and apply ointment to them, it is the women that share a special relationship with the camel. They say that as long as the women are walking with a camel, they will never tire. Women organise the equipment on the camel and develop the tools through which to carry the equipment. They load and unload the camel as the camp is moved from one location to the next.

Now the camel is often being replaced by a tractor and this is altering the spatio-temporal rhythms of pastoral mobility as they are unable to go to some places where the camel would go but, at the same time, they are able comfortably to cover larger distances.