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