Monday, December 8, 2008

The Dhangars (shepherds). The poor little rich community.

I've never seen their riches personally, but all over Maharashtra Dhangars (the shepherding community) are notorious for hoarding large amounts of wealth & evading taxes since they don't own property. There are tales of them having whipped out hundreds of thousands out of their hats to buy tractors and other frivolous items on a whim.
I ran into one group while visiting my grand parent's farm in Ahmednagar. The men are much easier to approach. The women are shrews to the bone. And they wont be captured on film (willingly at least) without promise of hard cash. There's no point in arguing with them because they'll either walk off or set their dogs on you.
Women in the community are married off very young & the kids hardly attend school. The schooling bit maybe improving some but these folks seem to have a big hand in bringing down the national average literacy rate.
The men & sheep move separately from the women, children & dogs. I knew this as a young girl & always wondered about the safety of the women. Till I met them. No sane male with half a brain would take on these ladies. One Dhangar woman was accosted while stealing guavas from my grand parent's farm (yes, the Dhangars believe in helping themselves liberally from farms along the way). Before the orchard keeper could say another word, she had pulled off most of her saree & started to scream assault. The keeper had run half a mile before he realised what had just happened. When he returned, the woman was gone with the fruit.
Barbed wire doesn't help because they cut through it, take what they want & then sell the barbed wire they cut. Even the police realise that it's next to futile to tangle with them. Other than that, they're a hugely interesting lot.

Cameras used:Canon EOS 400D Digital SLR Camera (incl. EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Kit)

Lenses used:
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM Lens

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