Tattooing the Name of God on Your Body as an Act of Faith and Defiance

A century ago, low-caste Hindus, deemed ‘untouchables,’ faced widespread discrimination, and were not allowed to attend temples alongside those in the higher castes. In the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, a group called Ramnamis arose, who began to tattoo the name of the Hindu god Ram on their bodies—acts of faith and defiance to those in higher castes, saying to them “God is everywhere—even here with me.” Reuters photographer Adnan Abidi recently visited Chhattisgarh to document the changes that are taking place, as class-based discrimination has lessened over the years, and fewer young Ramnamis are getting the full-body tattoos common among their elders, who have proudly worn the name of God on their faces for decades.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

    Top 25 News Photos of 2016

    The past 12 months have been an eventful time for news stories, from the unpredictable and tumultuous U.S. presidential election, to continued war and terror and refugees fleeing to Europe, to a historic World Series win for the Chicago Cubs, and so much more.

  • Matt Eich

    A Hidden American Anger

    Life in Ohio's proud but economically abandoned small towns

  • Thomas Mukoya / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 11/26–12/2

    Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, a beard and mustache competition organized by the Bangalore Beard Club, wildfires in Tennessee and Israel, Cubans mourn Fidel Castro, a monkey buffet in Thailand, and much more.

  • NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

    2016 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar

    Every day until Sunday, December 25, we’ll present one new image of our universe from NASA’s ‘scope.

Join the Discussion