By Michael Benanav


Shot in: Gujarat, India


The Maldhari are the traditional herding clans of Western India. Mainly hailing from Gujarat, they belong to a number of tribes, most Hindu, some Muslim, each with unique distinctions yet bound by a strong sense of common identity.  Raising cows, sheep, goats, camels, and buffaloes, they often migrate far and wide in search of fodder for their animals. Renowned for the quality of their dairy products, they once supplied the rajas of the region with milk, butter, yogurt and mava (an important ingredient in Indian sweets).

Today, most Maldhari communities are poor and politically marginalized. While more young people are now becoming educated, many Maldhari remain illiterate. As their grazing lands shrink due to industrialization, agricultural encroachment, climate change and other factors, and as deeply ingrained elements of their own culture conflict with their contemporary aspirations, many Maldhari struggle to find a way to thrive in modern India without abandoning their traditional lifestyles and pastoralist livelihoods.

This photostory explores some of the marriage practices of the Maldhari - and how they are changing. 

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