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Who are the Rabaris?

Name of community

Rabari

Livelihood

Animal husbandry, dealing in sheep, goats, cows and buffaloes

 

Geographical location

A migrant community spread out over Kutch, the Rabaris travel all over India, specifically the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Orissa

Kinship terms

Paragana refers to the geographical division of the Rabari community like Dhebar, Kaash, and Vaghadiya

 

Atak or Shaakh are various lineages of the Rabari community. The community has 133 lineages, colloquially referred to as Vihotter. The disaggregation of the term is ‘vi’ meaning 20, ‘ho’ meaning 100 and ‘ter’ meaning 13. Shaakh in colloquial language can be best defined as branch. A few examples are Karotra, Bhaar, Khambliya and Nangar.

 

Fadiyu is a name which each particular family adopts. In simple terms, fadiyu can be defined as their ancestral names, often those of prominent individuals who have performed selfless acts for the community. The term Fadiyu can also be defined as ‘seed’.

 

Vaas is the part of a village where families belonging to a particular fadiyu reside, e.g., Shujaani meaning ‘of Shuja’, Pethani meaning ‘of Petha’ and so on. 

Veterinary terminology

Tado is a veterinary method used by the Rabari when a sheep or goat is afflicted by a disease where a worm enters the body and causes delirium. During the treatment, an iron rod is heated to high temperature and rubbed on the affected area of the body of the animal, usually in patterns like circles, lines or crosses. This causes the worm inside to die because of the heat, curing the animal in the process.

Terms related to animal husbandry

Maal: A term often used to refer to their flock such as sheep, goats, cows, buffaloes and camels

 

Maaldhari: is the term often used to identify animal keepers. The Rabari animal keepers are referred to as Maaldhari, which means ‘keepers or owners of Maal’

Terms related to migration

Dang refers to a group of Maaldhari families migrating together in various parts of India

 

Vandhyu is an individual family from the Dang

 

Utara: Rabaris transport most of their belongings on the back of a camel while migrating. These may range from beds, clothes, utensils, rations, water, infant children, young lambs, crippled sheep or goat etc. They call this act, ‘utara’. In simple terms, it refers to the process of camping, migrating and decamping.

 

Ghar Vakhari: The Rabari term for basic necessities such as utensils, rations, clothes etc., which in simple terms translates as ‘all the things one requires in the home’.

 

Patel is the head of the Dang who is tasked with the duties of decision making, dealing with visiting village heads, etc. The most important task of the Patel is to scout for possible areas for camping where there are good resources of water and grass-fodder for both the animals and the Dang. 

 

Gauchar refers to the common grazing land, which is owned by the village panchayat.

 

Kheti: The term Rabaris use to identify rain-fed farms.

 

Wadi: The term Rabaris use to identify farms with irrigation facilities or bore-wells.

Crafts

The Rabari Bharat embroidery is done in three distinctive patterns namely katab (appliqué), moti (beadwork) and abhla (mirror-work). The Rabari Bharat has very intricate and complex embroidery patterns and has received international recognition for its beauty. In the past, Bharat was a form of dowry, which led to several social problems. The brides needed to produce a certain amount of Bharat before entering the family of her husband. This custom forced brides to remain in their maternal homes longer than they wished. In order to rid their community of this rigid norm, prominent members led a survey which eventually culminated in the imposition of a ban on Bharat, declaring its creation and wearing as a wrong to the community and sin against its gods.

Faith and Beliefs

The Rabari worship clan deities or ‘Kuldevi’ which are predominantly goddesses like Shesh Mata, Momai Mata and Khodiyar Mata. They also worship several community heroes as incarnations of gods such as Pabu Dada and Goga Dada. They also worships Pirs, and one such darga of Pathaji Pir exists in Mindiyala village, which is credited with having given the boon of water to the village.