Monday, March 03, 2014

The Tribes of Dandeli: A Photo Essay

Dandeli, a small town in the Western Ghats of NW Karnataka is very popular for its tryst with the river Kali and for its adventure sports. In the second place, comes its wildlife, nature and birding. But, what a lot of people do not know is that Dandeli houses many tribes within and around the main town. On my last visit to Dandeli, I got the opportunity to meet these various people and interview them. These sessions were very interesting and helped me understand these unique cultures much better. The 4 tribes I met during this visit were the Lambani, Medar, Siddi and Gowli. While I have already written stories about the Lambani and the Medar, I am yet to write about the Siddi and the Gowli. While you wait for all the stories, I thought I should entertain you with a photo essay on the people of these four tribes.

Siddi Tribe – The African Tribe of India

This tribe came to India as slaves during the Portuguese rule (Goa and Diu) and today exist as farm laborers, construction workers and small businessmen. They live in villages outside Dandeli.
Siddi Tribal Kids pose
Siddi kids pose for the lens

Members of the Siddi tribe from near DandeliA group of families from a Siddi tribal village

A kid from the Siddi village near DandeliA Siddi Kid with his tire toy

Lambani Tribe – The Nomadic Gypsies of Rajasthan Originally from Rajasthan, these nomadic gypsies have completely embraced today’s way of living, but still follow their traditions and culture. When they came to Dandeli, they used to do odd jobs, collect firewood from the forest and make country liquor.
Colourful look of a traditional Lambani tribal womanA traditionally decked up Lambani woman

An Elderly Woman from the nomadic Lambani Tribe
An elderly Lambani woman who hardly smiled

Gowli Tribe – The Cattle Herders of South India
They are cattle herders and have more cows, buffalos and goats in their village than people. Today, most of them have taken to work in the city, but the traditional ones still sell milk, curd (yoghurt), ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (cottage cheese) for a living.

A Gowli man out on the streets of Dandeli to sell his milk

Elderly Gowli Tribe Woman near Dandeli, Karnataka
An elderly Gowli woman at a Gowli village outside of Dandeli

Elderly Gentleman from Dandeli's Gowli TribeElderly Gentleman from Dandeli’s Gowli Tribe

Medar Tribe – The Bamboo Community of West India
This tribe makes its living from making crafts and products out of bamboo. In fact, their biggest revenue generator is funeral arrangements wherein a Medar family gets the right to make the entire funeral crafts and pyre using bamboo.
Medar Community - the Bamboo craftsmen of DandeliA Medar family from Dandeli

Bamboo craftsman from the Medar community of DandeliA Medar man makes his living from making bamboo crafts
Courtesy: I organized this trip through

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