Dance of innocence (Photo story of Munni)

This photo story was clicked during Pushkar camel fair 2013.

While a celebration was going on in camel fair ground, a gypsy family living in that camel fair ground was forced to shift outside of camel fair area and they are waiting for this festival to get over. In this picture is Munni, a 12-year-old girl, who got married at the age of 9. When I asked about her marriage, she brought this photograph from her tent as the only memory she has of her marriage.
Munni is a gypsy dancer, her mother sings Rajasthani songs and her father plays some instrument for her dance.But because of camel fair, many artists from different areas around Pushkar had came to Pushkar ground. As a result, very fewer tourists were interested in seeing mini’s dance.


She danced for hours and managed to attract only a few photographers including me.
In above picture, Munni took a pause in her dance as she was looking at the foreign tourists who just crossed her after clicking a picture of two. Her father is playing some musical instrument in the background of the image also trying to figure out if any tourist is nearby. Earlier she used to get all attention but during fair everyone was interested in clicking photos of camel and camel sellers


In above picture, Munni’s step mom is singing songs while some tourists are giving money to munni in the background . Till now, many questions would have come up in mind after knowing Munni’s story, so here are answers to few

Why she got married at 9?
I had the same question which most people have in mind after knowing the age of Munni (9) when she got married. As per her father(Sampath), Muni’s mom died when she was 9. Sampath had invested a lot of money in Munni’s mom treatment. As per Hindu rituals, after a death of family member, you need to organize small get together of family members and treat them with food at your place. So to save money, Sampath organized a treat for the marriage of Munni and funeral of muni’s mother at the same time.

What about muni’s step mom?
After a year of Munni’s mom death, Sampath got married again. This time he got married to a 16-year-old girl(Sampath was 30+ that time ). Yes, it was getting more complex to understand. This 16-year-old girl got married to Sampath because her father didn’t have money to give as dowry and Sampath accepted her without any dowry. With her new wife, Sampath have 2 kids. One of them was less than 1 year old at the time I met them.


Munni doesn’t go to school because as per her father they( a Gypsy family) don’t have a valid document or paper to proof identification of Indian citizenship. Not sure if this was the document or because they want to save money on girls education.

Her husband is living in Ajmer and studying in school, she will be living with her father for next 4 years (till she gets 16). After which her husband will take her to his place in Ajmer.
I took this picture in 2013, so by now, she has already been shifted to her husband’s house.
In this picture, Munni is playing with a doll which I gifted her. In Background is her father, her step-mother and her brother(from stepmother). I didn’t have much to give to this family, so I brought toys for the kids. Munni wanted to have a gudiya(toy girl ). Apart from this, other toys they normally play are beer bottles. Fill the bottle with sand and empty it at another place
I hope she is living happily now with her husband. I always wish I could talk to the people again whom I have clicked years ago

3 thoughts on “Dance of innocence (Photo story of Munni)

    1. There is a lot more to be taken care of if you are going to police. I would have make her father arrested but who will take care of family with a 2 month old baby. And this issue is not unknown to people , even a NGO also comes regularly to meet them but nothing had happened in last 2 year.

      Although , I told her father that it’s not legal but unfortunately they have bigger problem to face. As per her father , they are gypsy and keep migrating to different places . They don’t have valid identification card to prove themselves with Indian identification. Thats the reason Munni didn’t get admission to government school as well.
      Sometimes foreigner comes and adopt these children. With foreigner adoption school are ready to give them admission in school.
      She got married but she was not forced to live with her husband till she get 16. After 16 only her husband will take her.

      I went back to Pushkar lake and met a pandit on ghaat. I told him the entire story and all he said it happen in Rajasthan. Gypsy family is lying to get some money from tourist.

      So I decided not interfere in this issue.


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