8. Raikas

"Our home is under the sky. our village is the forest. For 300 days out of 365 we are on the road. Using the motor road you get to your destination quickly. But we move along the narrow by-paths in the fields. Others would get lost. Instead of taking us to the end of a journey, these paths always take us to new places. Each new place is a destination. In each new place, we again sleep under the sky, our pillows. Our home is the sky. I find it wherever I go."                                                                        -Kherji, a sheep herder

raika preparing tea

 

Introduction to Raika community of Sadri.

Raikas don't build much as they travel. Some use carts and some caravans, but mostly, the Raika I have met just walk and walk and walk and walk. Smaller dangs (nomadic camps) bring almost nothing with them, but rely on communities to provide them with food and fodder in return for fertilizing their fields where they stop. They carry just a few blankets or shawls, a pot for collecting camel's milk and making tea, and a small sack of sugar, tea and maybe some flour. They leave behind nothing but three stones and some ashes. Everything gets tied onto the camel and off they go.

 

raika herder drinking tea at a meeting