They have no idea that the ‘GODNA’ they do of their village, is named Tattoo outdoor. They have no idea that those intricate designs which they do for peanuts and a kilo of rice are value 20 bucks all over the global. They have no idea concerning the shiny tattoo retail outlets and the hygiene problems that the tattoo artists are coping with. For them doing a GODNA is not any giant deal – with their easy and rustic methodology, they do it with out the pomp and display of an uptown tattoo store. They’re MALHARS and so they battle to eke out their life within the jungle. I’m right here within the BERITOLA village of Jharkhand to determine extra about their age previous stint with ‘tattoos’. The adventure from Netarhat- where the place I’ve been tenting, to Beritola isn’t going to be simple. I will be able to need to climb down a hill, stroll down some 20 kilometers on foot via essentially the most hard stretch I’ve ever come throughout, making my approach via this steep rocky terrain dotted with monstrous shrubs. The adventure starts on a slightly unlucky word as I twist my ankle proper firstly of it. However extra irritating than the ache in my ankle, it’s the considered bumping throughout a Lions or Bears, who I believe, could be out for a morning stroll.


I don’t wish to die so younger’, I tell Satender, my pal from Netarhat who has been very sort to accompany me to this position. He helps to keep on strolling down together with his pal Arun – the lanky lad from ‘Paseripat’ village in Netarhat, who is aware of the folks from the Malhar neighborhood. I attempt to in finding the peace of mind in his silence!

It’s been twenty mins since we’ve got left to street to hit into the Jungle. I’ve been strolling always with out bothering as soon as to prevent and go searching. It’s simply the jungle and us. There may be not anything however an unlimited stretch of sprawling Sal timber throughout. Proper in entrance of my eyes is the looming hills which glance deliciously greenish from this distance – there are 5 of them in a row. ‘That’s the ‘PANCHA –PANDAVA’ mountain; the PANDAVAS had got here right here whilst they have been on VANVAAS,’ Saty is instructing me. I depend the hill tops – there are precisely 5 mountains in a row – one for each and every brother. However what about ‘DRAUPDI’, wasn’t she accompanying the PANDAVAS all the way through their VANVAAS? , I enquire. Saty offers me a sour glance. My highbrow fondling with any such broadly permitted delusion has no longer long gone down smartly with him. Historical past isn’t all about dull mundane details, it’s the myths and the fiction that make it vigorous, I understand.




It takes us an hour to climb down the hill. The adventure isn’t over but. We wish to stroll into the jungle for every other 8 miles. I want a cup of tea to get my nerves revitalized. We prevent close to a scanty DHABA. The vehicles stay on thundering previous us, belching gushes of black smoke. Saty says he has cherished the odor of this smoke ever since he was once a kid. I confess the similar, sipping the sugary liquid which they’ve served within the identify of tea. The youngsters are going to college, with luggage on their infantrymen. One of the vital luggage has a Spiderman!



We might be strolling for every other 8 kilometers ahead of we achieve Beritola – the village the place the Malhar tribes are living. The trail to the village is studded with tiny rivulets that have extra sand than  water in it and swaying Sal timber which refuse to go away me.



We go a dilapidated faculty development. The naxals had blown it up a couple of months again. A couple of meters from this development the place every other faculty has been established. The one distinction is this time onwards, there are hundred policemen sharing the distance with the youngsters. I discover a ‘Jawan’ status simply outdoor the doorway, keeping a SLR rifle in his hand, taking a look on the taking part in kids as though scavenging for the memoirs of his misplaced early life amidst them! I so want he may just throw that SLR and sign up for the youngsters in taking part in Soccer. Alas!

We stay on strolling till we discover ourselves at Beritola. The entire village is accumulated close to a Banyan tree. It’s the ‘PANCHAYAT’, Saty tells me. ‘Would they communicate to us’? I ask. Sure without a doubt! Arun assures me. He is taking me to fulfill his maternal aunt. He’s visiting them after 10 years. I’m in Beritola – the naxal bastion in Jharkhand. There may be not anything horrifying about this position. Tucked cozily amidst the sylvan hills, with tiny rivulets splurging throughout, I’m residing heaven out right here!




The hospitality which the kinfolk gives humbles me. They don’t pass about showcasing it for they’ve not anything to exhibit. Poverty breathes closely on this village. However the ‘LOTA’ (Tumbler) by which they’ve given me the water is a ways richer than another treasured merchandise that the sector can call to mind. I inform them my function of coming to the village.




‘You might be on the proper position – we’ve got our village teeming with ‘MALHARS’, an aged woman informs me. She says she is going to pass out and phone the most efficient ‘Godana’ artists proper right here, at this time. They preserve on ground me with the humility that oozes out of them. I don’t have any qualms about being humbled. You aren’t getting those probabilities on a daily basis

Inside 5 mins I’ve Purni Devi and Madijan sitting with me. This mom – daughter duo is likely one of the maximum achieved ‘Godana’ makers across the neighborhood. It takes them a couple of mins ahead of they catch their breath and digest the truth that they’re getting filmed. It’s the primary time of their lives that someone has come to click on their images. Purni has her six yr previous daughter napping coyly in her lap.

ME – How lengthy have you ever other people been on this ‘Godna’ factor?

PURNI – It’s our industry and we make excellent cash out of it.

I sense she is mendacity. Alternatively, there’s a peculiar irony that encapsulates this lie. It’s the digital camera which is making her lie. It does have peculiar results on other other people.

ME- How a lot?

PURNI – 1000! We price round 1000 when anyone asks for a complete frame Godna.

I doubt whether or not she would have ever noticed 1000 rupee word in her lifestyles. Her rickety determine appears to be bruised all over with stains of poverty. I’m really not certain why she is mendacity however I’m certain it could no longer be lengthy ahead of the reality concerning the merciless miseries that circumscribe their lives would get spilled out of them.

ME – That’s nice. So I assume you should be more than happy about this industry?

It’s Madijan who drops within the dialog.  She is Purni’s mom.


MADIJAN – “Ab Ni Khudais l. a. Chaudi guy…..kahis l. a. shadi Na hokhi….!”

She is talking SADRI – a tribal dialect spoken on this locality. She says that women don’t favor having Godna anymore. They are saying that no person would marry a lady with a Godna on her frame.

They begin speaking about some Vinita Lakra, a good looking lady from a close-by village who’s ‘eighteen’ and but to get married. It’s all about having a ‘truthful pores and skin’, what if this can be a black one! This is a tale of the evolving model tendencies inside those tribal communities.


ME – If other people don’t wish to get a Godna anymore, then who will pay you 1000 rupees?

Purni is stumped. She blushes. I smile. I don’t intend to take her off the hook. I’ve discovered strains of reality in her eyes. It’s all I’m searching for.

PURNI – Yeh! However we transfer out continuously. There are nonetheless many of us who need us to do a Godna on their frame.

I do know I’ve many such contradictions coming in my approach.

ME- Are you aware again there in Delhi other people name your Godna as ‘Tattoos.’

PURNI – They talk English in the market. We have no idea their language.

ME- They might wish to know extra about your stuff.

PURNI – Why?

ME- As it’s part of your age previous tradition. Is it your ancestral career?

MADIJAN – Sure! We’re Malhar. Our ‘Purkhas’ had been doing it since ages.

ME- Did your oldsters train you this artwork?

PURNI – Sure! We’re anticipated to absorb their career. No one taught me the way to do a Godna. I learnt it on my own, taking a look at my mom whom I used to accompany whilst she went to do a Godna.

ME- How do you do it? What are the equipment which you employ for doing it?

The mum and the daughter start speaking in hushed voices. Purni goes to deliver her tattooing equipment. I’m crushed at their gesture.

I proceed speaking to Madijan whilst Purni walks out to deliver the equipment.

ME – Why do other people opt for getting a Godna completed?

MADIJAN – ee…Oraon guy ke chinha hake…..! (It’s the mark of Oraons.)A couple of generations previous, it was once part of our rituals. We thought to be it to be an indication of purity.

ME- Now?

MADIJAN – The youngsters don’t wish to have it now. I believe this is because they will faculties. Skilled other people don’t need their our bodies to be scribbled.

ME- What about the ones naxals who roam within the jungle keeping a gun of their palms? Do they’ve Godna on their hand?

MADIJAN – Sure! Why no longer? They’re part of our neighborhood. ‘Abhi Na hua hai…Ee sab….party-tarty…pehle to sab eke they….! (This entire speak about party- tarty is a contemporary one. Previous we was one!)

ME- Have you ever ever tattooed a policeman?


She is discovering me humorous. ‘Ee…chauaa ta majak Karis l. a.…’! ‘(This child is joking)’!

ME- Do you put on anything else for your hand whilst tattooing?

MADIJAN – Sure! We put on bangles!

ME- No! No! I’m speaking about gloves. You spot, individuals are very aware of hygiene. The higher portion of the outside is uncovered to a wide variety of grime whilst tattooing. Your palms would possibly switch the grime.

MADIJAN is flabbergasted to seek out that doing a GODNA could be a bad factor.

MADIJAN – No one has ever get a hold of such a whinge.

ME- Do you boil the tattooing equipments in sizzling water?


I start my 5 minute lecture concerning the significance of keeping up strict hygiene measures whilst tattooing. On the finish of it, I don’t discover a unmarried individual inspired. There has no longer been a unmarried document of pores and skin illness because of tattooing on this a part of Jharkhand, in a majority of these years, I’m instructed, virtually unequivocally.


Purni returns with a bag. The equipment is right here. My pleasure fizzes out as I in finding simply 3 issues tumbling out of the bag – a picket tube, a black pot consisting of ‘Kajal’ and a small needle.

PURNI – It’s all that we wish to do it. We combine the milk from a girls’s breast into this pot. The Kajal will get combined with the milk.

Their ink is composed of milk from a girls’s breast combined with lampblack. You can’t get extra rustic than this.

ME – What sort of designs do you other people draw?

PURNI – All of it is dependent what other people need. We will draw anything else starting from flora, snakes, fishes, identify of the husband to Bajrang Bali (the a lot respected Hindu god – Hanuman) and the OM.

ME- Do you’re keen on tattooing?

PURNI laughs! I sign up for her. Her husband has joined us. I ask him his identify. ‘Shree Jeetu’! He does no longer put out of your mind to say ‘Shree’, this can be a signal of reverence, he has been instructed!

SHREE JEETU – Godna isn’t sufficient! It’s getting pointless now. Now not many of us wish to have it. SAIKADA MEIN EK…! (One in hundred!)

Purni seems to be at her husband. He has quashed her lies, unknowingly. I take a look at her. I think unhealthy.

ME- Has the federal government ever to understand anything else about this creative lineage of your neighborhood?

SHREE JEETU – Why would they? They’ve different essential issues to do. We don’t love to be referred to as Malhar anymore.

ME – Why?

SHREE JEETU – If we use Malhar in entrance of our identify, they received’t train our kids at no cost within the executive faculties. Malhar comes within the ‘normal’ class.

ME- Have you ever ever felt like showcasing your ability to the sector?

SHREE JEETU – Sure! Who wouldn’t wish to exhibit it? However we wouldn’t have the chance.

A tender woman serves us lemon-tea in 3 giant glasses. It’s drizzling outdoor. I couldn’t have requested for extra.

ME- What do you are expecting from us?

SHREE JEETU – Simply inform the sector about our ability. Inform them we might not be very best like them however we’re unique.

ME- I promise, I might. Thanks such a lot for sharing such treasured knowledge with us.

It’s no longer over but. Purni says she want to draw a design for me. She is drawing it on a work of paper. I ask her to make use of the ‘milk’ at the side of the Kajal. Madijan stops her to take action. Milk is difficult to seek out on this a part of global and that too, the milk from a girls’s breast.

She helps to keep on drawing whilst 3 different girls sign up for us. Shree Jeetu desires me to jot down their identify in my tale. Their names are Nirmani Devi, Ramani Devi and Sukui Devi. They don’t use ‘Malhar’in entrance in their names!

I click on their photos. Hopes are hovering top on this tiny hut at Beritola. They are going to without a doubt speak about it for lengthy – about me, about my black diary, about my pc, about this digital camera with which I’m taking pictures their photos, concerning the hopes which I’ve introduced for them. They wouldn’t know what’s going to occur, neither do I. However in the meanwhile, Beritola is smiling. I’m their visitor and they might no longer let me pass with no need a THAALI stuffed with Bhat (cooked rice) at the side of them.

Existence, when lived at the side of moments, feels excellent. It’s the epochs which make it any such tough industry!






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