Communities
 

Dasada and its nearby villages are inhabited by a number of interesting communities including pastoral groups.

Kharapat Rabaris

The Kharapat Rabaris were among the original inhabitants of Dasada. Rabaris have always been pastoralists and keep camels, cattle and other livestock but the Kharapat Rabaris never kept camels and tend cattle and buffalo. The story begins long ago in Jaisalmer, perhaps in the 14th century from where Rabaris spread to different parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, with the Kharapats finding the land around present day Dasada good. They made mud kubas, and stayed on here where they established the village of Dasada. Today Kharapat Rabaris live in thirty-five villages between Sankeshwar and Kharagodha and continue to herd cattle and live by dairy farming.

Kharapat Rabaris worship Kuverma, an incarnation of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning, and Krishna, and the Sufi shrines. Their prime celebrations are Navratri in October, Divali in November, and Janamashtami in the monsoon season.

Til today, Bhopa Rabaris from Jamnagar and Dwarka, and Vagadia Rabaris from eastern Kutch migrate seasonally into Dasada. Searching endlessly for fodder and water for their herds, the Bhopas come from July to September, and Vagadias from January to February. Thankfully not suffering political pressures, they return to their homelands til the next year.

Til today, Bhopa Rabaris from Jamnagar and Dwarka, and Vagadia Rabaris from eastern Kutch migrate seasonally into Dasada. Searching endlessly for fodder and water for their herds, the Bhopas come from July to September, and Vagadias from January to February.

Mirs

On the periphery of Dasada lives a community of 15 families of nomadic Mirs. Their dress is Rajasthani; their homes are temporary. Traditionally they kept the genealogy of Rabaris. The Rabaris would pay them in kind – goats or sheep- to record their births, marriages and deaths. The Mirs used to also draw what was given in exchanges between Rabari families.

Mirs migrated with Rabaris, keeping relations with them according to Rabari lineages. Each Mir was in charge of a particular lineage or sakh. Today, some 10,000 Mirs live all over Gujarat – all the way to Mumbai, Sattarbhai declares. They no longer live in Rajasthan but live particularly in Vagad, eastern Kutch, and north Gujarat.

Women wear aniyo (a short, backless blouse), kurti (a front closing sleeveless jacket) ghagharo (a 20 meter gathered skirt), and chundadi (a 5 meter veil). Most striking are their ornaments: copious necklaces and tassels fashioned from beads, coins and trinkets, and in particular their white bangles from wrist to armpit. Mir men wear white pachedo (a wrapped lower garment) and kamiz (a shirt)

Though Muslim, each Mir has both a Hindu and a Muslim name. Today Mirs do manual agricultural and construction labour. The women are expert in beadwork and in Dasada they have started making beaded bangles.

Bharvads

Bharvads originated in Mathura. They were traditionally maldhari, or nomadic herders, and have kept sheep, goats, cows and buffalo. In Mathura, it was the Bharvads who raised the refugee infant Krishna. Bharvads came to the Dasada area looking for grass. Bharvads have Barots who keep their genealogical records.

With their intimate connection to Krishna, the Bharvads’ main celebration is Janamashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. On that day, they make a clay image of kanudo, the child Krishna. They decorate the image, dance around it, and finally immerse it in a body of water. Bharvads gather for marriage during the Tarnetar Fair.

Women wear tangalio (wrapped skirt) and galmendi (veil), both woven from the wool of their sheep, with a khinkhab (brocade) kapadu (short backless blouse). The galmendi was traditionally bandhani, symbolizing suhag, the auspicious state of a married woman. embroidered, sometimes also using wool. Married women also wore balaiyun (bracelets) of silver, and when a son was married and a daughter-in-law arrived, exchanged these for ivory versions. Men wear a blue, green or red bori (wrapped lower garment) with a machine embroidered bandi (vest) and kediyun (ruffled jacket), and a red melkhayu (turban). Most notably they wear gold upper earrings, both tansiya (rings) and phul (umbrella-like studs), and silver kadu (bracelets) and kanduro (belt).

Dangasias

Closely associated with the Bharvads are the Dangasia, traditional weavers. The two communities share a symbiotic relationship. Bharvads keep sheep, and Dangasias weave the wool into garments for the Bharvads. Moreover, Dangasia dress is the same as that of Bharvads. As with the Mirs and Rabaris, the connection is not coincidental.

They traditionally wove the tangalio and galmendi of Bharvad women’s dress, as well as dhabla, woolen blankets used by many local communities. Dangasias are devout believers in Chamunda Devi, the ascentic form of the goddess Parvati, whose main temple is in Chotila. On the 8th day of Navratri, in October, they gather to worship this goddess.

Jats

Landholders in Bajana near Dasada for centuries, the Jats also have a pastoral nomadic history. Jats of this region wear the dress of Rajputs, and practiced the regional styles of embroidery.

KOLIS

Kolis work at the salt pans in the Rann of Kutch. About 5,000 Koli people work as Agarias or salt workers in the Little of Kutch area near Dasada.

 
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