Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Bijoyeta Das | The Last Aryans (Al Jazeera)

Photo © Bijoyeta Das-Courtesy Al Jazeera
"Now we charge $5 from tourists to pose for photos and more to wear traditional clothes and a lot more if you want to shoot videos"- Thinely Aryan, a Brogpa.
The Brogpas (also known as Drogpas) live in Ladakh, as well as in India-administered Kashmir. They claim to be the last of the Aryans. Out of the 5 Brogpa villages in India, two have are open to foreign tourism.  The villages of Dha and Biama are entirely populated by last remaining remnants of the Dards who are considered as last race of Aryans confined to Indus Valley. The Dards practice an ancient pre-Buddhist religion known as Bon-Cho, and have remained in total isolation for over 2000 years until 1947. 

Al Jazeera In Pictures features a gallery of photographs of Brogpas by Bijoyeta Das.

While no one knows for certain if the Brogpas' claim of belonging to an Aryan race have any merit, and whether their origins are true, the tourism industry is endeavoring to capitalize on these claims, and bring tourists to the area. These villages are about 170 km from Leh, so it is a hardy tourist that goes there...but it seems that it's picking up.

According to entries in Wikipedia: In the 19th century, the speakers of the Indo-Persian or Indo-European languages came to be called the "Aryan race", to differentiate them from what came to be called the "Semitic race". By the late 19th century, the notions of an "Aryan race" became closely linked to Nordicism, which meant Northern European racial superiority over all other peoples. 

Bijoyeta Das is a journalist and photographer. She has reported from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea and USA and holds a masters degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, USA and a photojournalism postgraduate diploma from Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines.