Bhindar, Rājasthān 313604, India
The Desert People of RajasthanWhile working and playing in Udaipur, Rajasthan, I hired a local driver one day and took off for nearby desert villages. We made a circle to the east, driving by women in fields harvesting grain in their gorgeously colorful saris and displaying arm and leg bangles. Men in loosely wrapped head scarves and leggings gathered up the grain in piles. We saw other men with oxen winnowing grain using a medieval looking stone wheel, and still others making mud bricks by hand, drying, and setting them in high piles. Goatherds crossed the narrow, rough road with their charges daintily trotting along.
We passed through villages with simple earth buildings and a hand pump for water. Women squatted there washing themselves, hands working under their saris and veils for privacy. Then they carried off water in big earthen jugs atop their heads.
Most villages, however small, house a temple close by. In the middle of this barren land, with only a score of people, are temples splendid enough for a maharaja, and, in fact, were built by one hundreds of years ago. On this Sunday afternoon, some villagers spent their afternoon resting in the shade of the temple entry, having come for blessings and given offerings, presided over by the resident holy man dressed in a simple white cotton robe. Sanjay, my driver, and I took off our shoes, approached the hand-made altar, and were welcomed as any one else. I felt I had entered the heart and soul of Rajasthan.