PHOTO • Gurpreet Singh

The big gold-beaded earrings worn by Rudhiben are called vedla . She is from the Maher community in Chingariya village of Porbandar district in Gujarat. Both the Mahers and Kolis of Gujarat wear the vedla . The earrings, made of gold, can weigh between 25 to 35 grams each. The women wear them in their everyday lives, even while working in the fields.

The tattoo on Ruhdiben’s neck was once common practice. The tattoos – on the neck, hands and legs –  are usually inscribed during the women's teenage years. "It was very painful for up to 10 days after the tattooing," says Rudhiben. "Often, women got infected, that makes it harder to bear the pain." Due to her experience, she decided to not let her daughter get tattooed.

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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