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Raikas on Migration and more art by Sundeep Bali

Raikas on Migration, 2019
24.9 x 16 inch (h x w)
Photographic Print on Inkjet paper
for sale

[ IVLA - Honorable Mention ]

balislens@gmail.com

A Raika dhang(caravan) settles for the day as a Raika man and woman(with camel) walk to the edge of the frame. The group is on their return journey to Godwar at the onset of monsoons. Typically one would see hundreds of sheep, sometimes goats and a few camels dotting the landscape. Cots and other essential stuff that travels over camel-back are untied and laid out. Marwari dogs watch over the herd during day and night.

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There are communities around the world that have developed complex and sustainable relationships with the natural world over the course of a long time. And pastoralists are one of the classic examples of this relationship. Raikas are a community of nomadic pastoralists that hail from Godwar, a geographical area in the southwestern part of the state of Rajasthan in India. Their way of life has traditionally been based on the belief that they were created by Lord Shiva, one of the Gods of the Hindu trinity, to be guardians to the camels. The camel itself, they believe, was created by Lord Shiva. Raikas have not only herded camels for centuries but have also created a complex bio-cultural heritage. Their Camel-herds have traditionally been welcomed to browse in fallow fields and provide valuable manure and also convert extremely thorny vegetation unsuitable for any other kind of consumption into dietary resources.A large population of Raikas has practiced transhumance over the centuries where they migrate over large distances with their camels and other livestock with their extended families or kin. It's both flummoxing and magical to witness a huge group of men(in red turbans) and their livestock negotiate and even appropriate ever-changing landscapes as they migrate during the day everyday and set up camps for resting during the night in fallow fields and village commons. I have been following and traveling with Raikas on migrations and otherwise for the last 15 months and plan to continue for the next year or so.

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