BY ARCHANA SHARMA
Jaipur, (IANS) A group of women artisans from Gujarat sporting chunky gold earrings almost as big as their earlobes and arms and hands tattooed with little green dots, are the cynosure of all eyes at the WomensUp! Summit in Jaipur these days.
At their stalls, not just their wares but also their own appearances are making heads turn.
“We belong to the Rabani community (herders) from Gujarat. Wearing earrings as big as our ear lobes is a tradition in our community,” said Rami Ben, a trustee of the Okhai Board and president of the Self Help Group Federation at Mithapur in Dwarka.
Rami Ben explains that to sport these chunky earrings, the size of the ear piercing requires slow and painful enlarging over the years. It begins with a small neem stick, which is pushed into the piercing. As the piercing gets bigger, the number of sticks that go inside is gradually increased to almost cut through the entire earlobe in a few years.
“This way, we ensure that girls aged 15-16 years have their ears completely pierced before their wedding,” said Rami Ben.
About the tattoos on her arms, she said: “Getting dot tattoos is also our tradition. Earlier, our mother and grandmothers would make dots using a tattoo needle. Now machines have replaced the needles. But the traditions continue.”
The dots in the tattoos match with the designs on their dresses — dotted skirt in red and black matched with either a black or red blouse.
Although education has come in, around 70-80 per cent of the community is still engaged in herding and grazing cattle. And the women folk go out for work sporting attires that a contrast to the shades of green in the woods, she said.
As an active member of her village self-help group for the last 12 years, Rami Ben is an expert in designing, cutting and stitching fabric and their designs are high in demand.
“We are a team of 1,500 women who work from home during our free hours. We want to create something different and are passionate about our work. Perhaps, that’s why customers like our products and love our work and attire.
Despite being illiterate, these women have picked up the ropes. They settle their stall, talk to customers, both Indian and foreigners, pack and unpack the stock, and maintain the accounts. “Time teaches everything,” said Rami Ben.
BY ARCHANA SHARMA