A day in the Summer of 2019. In the arid heat of the Indian desert, I found warmth beyond compare. Not in the scorching sand dunes, but in the heart of the Bishnoi tribe.
A people united by their deep respect for Mother Earth and all her creatures, the Bishnois are considered the traditional guardians of wildlife and trees in the desert. Photographers have even captured Bishnoi women feeding black buck calves with their own breast milk to avoid their starvation during particularly hot years in the desert.
Due their dependence on seasonal jobs to make a living, Bishnois often live on limited food and water supplies. Despite that, when I came across a Bishnoi village during my explorations around The House Of Rohet, I was greeted with respect and welcomed in.
Starting with a neem tree flanking the courtyard to thatched roofs, everything about the houses displayed a strong connection to the Earth and humble roots.
As dusk drew closer, I was visiting a Bishnoi home with 3 generations living under one roof. I was invited to look at the cowshed and goat shelters, the domesticated animals being the prized possession for them (as they engaged in selling cow and goat milk to neighboring households). At the end of the walkabout, I asked the grandfather for his blessings to return on my journey. He smiled and insisted I wait for a few moments. Before I could resist, a hot cup of freshly prepared goat’s milk was presented to me.
The mild yellow hue of that milk felt like liquid gold poured into a glass, and it may have well been, since even this glass of goat’s milk was worth a week’s food for the family. As I sipped the milk, a few tears came gliding down my cheeks. It was the most perfect moment I experienced - sunset in the desert, surrounded by the love of a family and enjoying a simple luxury. The warmth of that memory lies deep within, even today. And that experience taught me that nothing is too small to share, and no one is too big to be thankful :)
Love and gratitude,