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

  • Benjamin Grant / Daily Overview / Amphoto Books / DigitalGlobe

    The Awesomeness of Earth from Above

    Can satellite images of our planet's varied terrain make humanity's impact apparent?

  • Wong Maye-E / AP

    Photos of the Week: 10/15–10/21

    Diwali lights in England, a pair of scary clown masks in Nicaragua, a rat stuck in a New York garbage can, a bioluminescent jellyfish in the Marianas Trench, a little Hitler, and much more.

  • Yasin Akgul / AFP / Getty

    The Beginning of the Battle for Mosul

    Thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops, supported by the United States, France, and Britain, are now in the early stages of a massive operation to retake the Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, from ISIS militants.

  • Jim Cole / AP

    Fall Is in the Air, Part II

    One last overview of autumn

Join the Discussion