I wanted to share this experience with you all since that day in February this year. A part of our four month road trip from the west coast to the east coast of India, I would say this experience was one of my highlights.
When you travel, generally the focus is on sightseeing, trying to capture the best shots of the temples, the landscapes and the sunsets. Little do we realise that the most joy is when you capture emotions, feel and hold hands, look into their eyes and even dance with them!
Half way through our trip, we crossed the west coast to visit a forgotten 16th century empire, now a very popular toursit site – Hampi. So, we did the temples, captured the sunsets, landscapes, soaked in the history and all was fascinating, but then a rickshaw trip to explore the outskirts of Hampi, and lookout for the much heard ‘Lambani’ community, not only completed my trip in Hampi, but gave me an unforgettable experience!
‘Lambani’ community, once nomadic, but now settled in this part of the region, which is south central part of India, date their origins dating back from 11th century and migrated from the northern west part of Rajasthan and further from Afghanistan. Historically, there is great relevance between Lambani’s of India, romani gypsys of the Eastern Europe and middles east countries. Through these ages, they have served many princely States and Rulers in the sub-continent. It is evident that before the independence and post independence of India, the community had engaged in trading and transportation of food grains, arms and ammunitions and essential commodities from one region to another. However, post independence, their status took a completely downturn. They were left useless, without their trades and their dignity. Hence their migration to other parts of the country, in search of a better livelihood. Several decades have gone by, and their means of livelihood have changed, but what has not changed is their beautiful history and glorious heritage. The women, have kept their distinct clothing and jewellery alive, and this what makes them distinct in their neighbourhoods.
Our local rickshaw driver knew exactly where to take us, and when a couple of these coloufully clad women started to appear, we were already getting excited. We were led to their houses, and surprsingly greeted warmly. One thing led to other, and soon I was surrounded by a few more women and their curious children. I was invited into their home, shown their simple but intersting kitchens, and as curious I am, started asking them lots of questions…. food, clothes
What attracted me the most was their colouful, hand embroidered clothes. The most elderly lady was dressed traditionally, and I could see the slow degeneration of the clothing styles in the gernerations. The middle aged wore part traditional clothes, and the young teenagers and children had adopted the modern indian clothing. My curiosity was well received, and soon I was brought a new skirt, fully embroidered with a matching blouse! And rapidly, I was being transformed into a ‘Lambani’! The group of ladies brought in some beautiful earrings, dressed my hair, while the crowd of onlookers was growing. Suddenly, I felt like a new cajoled bride!!
We were all excited by then, and suddenly there was some music ( from their mobile phones!!) and a Lambani style dance was in action. So surreal, and overwhelming this was, I just could help laughing and had a ‘genuinely being happy feeling‘
I mentioned earlier about capturing emotions, holding hands, looking into their eyes and dancing away…. and this is what my heart and sould did on that day. What an unforgettable day, even the photos below do not do full justice.
Their glorious tradition