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INDIA-TATTOOS/WIDERIMAGE
RTX2205X
January 12, 2016
Punai Bai, 75, a follower of Ramnami Samaj, who has tattooed the name of the Hindu god Ram on her entire...
GORBA, India
The Wider Image: Tattoos, faith and caste in India
Punai Bai, 75, a follower of Ramnami Samaj, who has tattooed the name of the Hindu god Ram on her entire body, poses for a picture outside her house in the village of Gorba, in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, India, November 15, 2015. Denied entry to temples and forced to use separate wells, low-caste Hindus in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh first tattooed their bodies and faces more than 100 years ago as an act of defiance and devotion. Ramnamis wrote the Hindu god Ram's name on their bodies as a message to higher-caste Indians that god was everywhere, regardless of a person's caste or social standing. While discrimination on class grounds has lessened and most young Ramnamis today avoid full-body tattoos, elderly devotees are still proud of the indelible message their bodies have carried for decades. Bai spent more than two weeks aged 18 having her full body tattooed using dye made from mixing soot from a kerosene lamp with water. "God is for everybody, not just for one community," said Bai, who lives in a one-room house with her son, daughter-in law and two grandchildren. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi PICTURE 22 OF 31 - SEARCH "RAMNAMI" FOR ALL IMAGES
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