Lambani Tribes

  • Post category:Travel

Last few months have been exceptional days of our lives. There has not been a single thing which isn’t affected by Corona pandemic and the sudden lockdown followed by it. On the 23rd of March, I was in a village near Malvan in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. In the night I got to know about the nationwide lockdown. Though I was living in a cozy village with all the lovely people around me it took me some time to digest the fact that I won’t be able to go back to my hometown for at least next 21 days. At the same time I was hopeful to spend good time in the village; close to the nature where I had a lot to explore as an artist and as a photographer. All those days I got myself busy in farm carrying out various activities. It was on 4th day of my stay, when I was walking towards the shop to buy essentials, I saw 7-8 huts. It triggered my curiosity. Usually, whenever I see something interesting I spontaneously follow it to uncover. That day was no exception. I wanted to know more about those people living in the huts. Few small children were playing outside the huts. I started walking towards them. As I reached there one old woman came out and started looking at me with suspicion. Suddenly I came to my senses and realized that it is not the normal times when one can interact with strangers freely. Corona pandemic has created a lot of disturbance, mistrust and ‘social distancing’ in our day to day lives. Regular human interactions are not exception to it. I retreated but this incident left me with a lot of questions. Next day, I again passed by the huts and saw a man standing outside. I started talking to him from distance. He was not familiar with Marathi; we started talking in Hindi. The first question he asked me was, “when will we be able to go back to our home?” All 6-7 families were from Bijapur, Karnataka. They had come for road construction work. Their work got completed a day before the lockdown was declared and they were supposed to go back on 24th of March. All of them were Lambanis. Through popular culture we mostly know Lambani’s for their colorful dresses and jewelry but not so much about their occupation. Lambani is a tribal community in India. They are known by different names in different parts of the country. It’s a nomadic tribe. Initially they used to work as transporters but with development in transport and communication their traditional occupation came under threat. With lack of education and other resources, many from the community became construction workers. It takes one day to build the hut, the man told. Many women were making sewaiyya. Only one woman from the group could speak in Marathi. She said we have no grains to cook. The only thing we have is Gehukaata. Hence they were making sewaiyya from it. That was the only food they had during the lockdown period. Although everybody got affected during lockdown, it affected everyone differently. Some
questions didn’t seem to leave their grip of me after witnessing the suffering of these migrant workers. How can Lambani work from home? How can they get ‘home’ quarantined? Their living depends on their daily work; lockdown had created a havoc in their lives. The group had to struggle for basic necessities like water and food. Every day they had to walk miles to get the water. Even under such circumstances one of the women from the group was making door mats from old sarees. Through this photo – series I have tried to capture how lockdown has impacted Lambani. The tribes whose occupation compels them to travel were made to stop at one place without any resources at hand. There was hope and urge in their eyes. The eyes and the minds behind were waiting for this chaos to get over.

Glimpses of the series

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