“These are Bishnoi villages. The people here don’t eat non-vegetarian food; and they won’t let you eat either!”
That’s the response that I got from the man who put together our 6-night long desert safari in Rajasthan, India. At that point, I didn’t know anything about Bishnois.
On the first evening of our safari through the Thar Desert I asked our guide; who doubled up as our cook, “what’s this Bishnoi?”
It turns out that Bis (twenty) + noi (nine) = Bishnoi. Guru Jambheshwar, a spiritual master imposed 29 commandments on his followers.
Our camel-men and all the people living in the villages that we trotted through are Bishnois. Our camel-man was most delighted to tell us all about Bishnoism. Please listen to the recording:
I don’t speak the local language i.e. Marwadi. Our guide did his best to translate it for us but then again; at the end of the day, some of it might have been lost in translation. Nevertheless, the Bishnoi tradition is all about protecting the environment, its flora & fauna. The commandments address issues of morality, personal hygiene, to refrain from the use of intoxicants, stealing, insulting, lying, cutting trees, adultery, gossip, cheating etc.
Bishnois were forbidden from wearing blue clothes. During the time of the Guru, natural blue colour was obtained from indigo. The Guru wanted to protect the shrub. Perhaps?
Male goats are not sold/worked. In fact, they’re embellished with earrings and left to their own free will.
The mala /Hindu rosary must be recited twice daily.
Women are prohibited from doing housework & cooking during their ‘time of the month’.
On a new moon night, one must fast and recite the mala.
One must vow to have children and expand the community.
_ BE HAPPY!
I’d like to thank our camel-men for their wonderful service during our 5 nights in the desert. Our guide cum cook was fantastic too. If you’re wondering about the food in the desert… STOP! It’s all here! If you’re planning a trip to the Thar Desert, you should read this. Please leave a comment.
I’m on twitter. Get in touch.