Human Journey

Video: Rare Inside Look Into the Lives of the Last Nomads of India

This short video captures a rare inside look into the lives of some of the last Nomadic people in the world. Video by Asha Stuart/National Geographic Explorer

The Nomadic gypsies of India live a life of constantly questioning and searching for the unknown. Originating from the Northern Indian state of Rajasthan, the Gypsies cross the nation and transcend international borders on a lifelong quest for new beginnings and prosperity. In all of India there about 1 million nomadic tribal people, including the Gypsy clan consisting of fewer than 60,000 members. Today, the community consist of the Bopa and Kalbeliya tribes — two of the last remaining Gypsy clans. The Bopa are mostly musicians, while the Kalbeliya are snake charmers and dancers.

Every few months members settle into a new home, typically moving up to four times each year. Due to government land rights, most Gypsies travel to subsidized land designated for tribal communities when they relocate to a new village. Over the past decades, because of rising temperatures and financial instability, many tribal members have transitioned into semi-nomadic lifestyle or opt to plant permanent roots.

Asha Stuart is a documentary photographer and filmmaker whose work focuses on sociocultural themes. Her passion for storytelling has taken her across the world—documenting rural village voodoo ceremonies in Haiti and acid attack burn wards in India. Asha’s story interests are rooted in the lives of people living in marginalized communities and facing injustice in areas of racial inequality, women’s rights, and environmental issues. Asha’s National Geographic Society grant funded her work documenting the Siddi tribal people, an African diaspora community that arrived in India some 500 years ago. Her short films have appeared on CNN, PBS, and other news outlets. She previously worked as an investigative video journalist for Circa News, based in Washington D.C., covering politics, culture, and environmental and women’s issues. Asha is currently a freelance video and photojournalist creating short news documentary profiles across Asia. She is a 2016 National Geographic Young Explorer grantee and is part of the 2017 Young Explorer Leadership and Development Program. @asha.stuart

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