MEGHWALS

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Region : Banni, Kutch, Gujarat
Also Known As : Harijans
Originally Belong To : Marwar Region In Rajasthan


GOD'S PEOPLE

The name Harijan was given by Mahatma Gandhi to the Meghwal people. They are originally from Marwar in Rajasthan but now live all over Kachchh. They live in groups outside villages. Masters in weaving wool and cotton, their women do exquisite embroidery and appliqué work. Leather embroidery is another of their specialties.

Garments And Embroidery

Hodko Girl show off haar,bead choker and plastic bangles - GujaratIn the Banni area of Kutch, the Meghwal-Harijans who migrated from Rajasthan use Khambira, Kharek, Kudi Stiches in their embroidery. Also outline and satin stitch embroidery of the area and very minute mirror designs similar to the famous Mutwa embroidery of the area. They make wall hangings, waistcoats and pouches in Kharek Stich and do 'Moti Bharat' or beadwork on handheld fans, bracelets, toys and belts.

Marwada Meghwal-Harijans at Dinara village near Khavda is known for prize-winning leatherwork, bold patchwork, Paako embroidery and finely detailed wall paintings.

Admirable Ornaments

Meghwal Harijan married woman wear an elaborate gold nose ring called "Velado". It is a sign of marriage and worn only on special occasions. Beadwork by the Harijans includes neck chokers and bracelets, sometimes with the initials of the artisan stitched into the pattern. Bead items required during marriage celebrations like 'Akhiyan', the face cover for brides, 'Indoni', and 'Mangal Sutra' are prepared by using plastic beads.

Small Children at Birandiara wear three bead drop earrings in upper ear. Women wear beadwork chokers on the neck, silver Varlo, silver chain with 'Tajvi', 'Chuda' and 'Bangari' and 'Silver Kadi' from Bhuj. Unmarried girls among Meghwal-Harijans in Hodka, Banni, Kutch, wear a 'Haar' necklace with silver leaf-shaped pendant.

Customs

At marriages, alight is fed with Ghee or oil with betulnuts corn and red Kunkoo powder. The couple walks four times round this light. Meghwals of Nirona in Nakhatrana marry outside the village. Marriages between members of the same sub-division are prohibited in Meghwals.Matangs take their wives from other sections, and inter-marriages take place between Maheshri Meghwals and Maheshri Meghwal Brahmin.

Polygamy is allowed but polyandry is not practiced. The marriage offer comes from the boy's parents and is communicated through the priest. There is now dowry amongst Maheshshri Meghwals. Other Meghwal sub-groups have a dowry paid by the boy's parents.

Beliefs

Meghwals follow Hinduism and belong to the Mata Panti sect in general. Mahesh Mahesri Meghwals do not worship Mata in particular. All Meghwals worship Lord Ganesha by preference. In Meghwal localities there is a Ganesh (also spelt as Ganesha) 'Otlo' or open veranda shrine Meghwal Marwads, Gojra and Charania worship Mata under the name of Bhagwati. They also worship Yakshas, Sitalamata or the Goddess of Smallpox and Kshetrapal snake Gods.



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