The big gold beaded earrings worn by Rudhiben is called Vedla. She is from the Maher community (Chingariya village, Porbandar District, Gujarat). Both the Mahers and Kolis of Gujarat wear the Vedla. The earrings, made of gold, can weigh between 25g to 35 g each. The Maher and Koli women wear this in their everyday life, even when working in the fields.

The tattoo on Ruhdiben’s neck was once common practise. The tattoos - on the neck, hands and legs - were usually done during the teenage years. But, Rudhiben explains, 'it was very painful, for upto ten days after the tattooing, and often, women got infected and that made it harder to bear the pain.' Her experience made her decide against get her daughter

PHOTO • Gurpreet Singh
Gurpreet Singh

Gurpreet Singh works at the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme on projects related to sustainable agriculture and conservation of natural resources, in Mangrol town of Junagadh district.

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