The Rebari community is an indigenous pastoral nomadic community found in the Sindh province of Pakistan. They have traditionally lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, herding and grazing livestock such as cattle, buffaloes, sheep, and goats. The Rebari culture revolves around their occupation of animal husbandry and their unique traditions, customs, and way of life.
The Rebari people move from place to place in search of fresh pastures and water for their livestock. They travel long distances each year between the jungles of northern Sindh and the coastal areas in southern Sindh. This migration pattern follows the seasons and availability of resources. In summer, they move to higher elevations in the north to escape the heat, while winters are spent in the warmer southern regions.
Their camps or settlements, known as "dhangs", are made up of dome-shaped huts made from wooden poles and thatch. The huts are temporary structures that can be dismantled and transported easily during migration. The dhangs lack any permanent infrastructure and utilities. Livestock such as cows and buffaloes are kept in open enclosures near the huts.
The Rebari speak their own dialect known as Rebari which is similar to Sindhi but incorporates many loanwords from other regional languages as well. Their oral traditions, folklore, music, and poetry are an integral part of Rebari culture. Well-known Rebari folk singers and poets called "Langas" play an important role in preserving and passing on their cultural heritage through song and verse.
The Rebari follow their own unique customs and traditions. They have an oral legal system and resolve disputes through community elders acting as judges. Marriages are usually arranged within the community and are often between cross-cousins. Dowry is paid by the groom's family which may include livestock.
The staple diet of the Rebari consists of milk, butter, cheese and meat from their herds. Staple grains such as bajra are also consumed. During migrations and travels, milk products provide sustenance and nutrition. Herbal medicines form an important part of their healthcare and treatment of minor ailments. Faith healers and spiritual leaders also play a role in their community.
The Rebari face numerous challenges to their traditional way of life. Loss of grazing lands and access to pastures due to urbanization and conversion of land for agriculture has disrupted their migration patterns. Lack of legal rights over land and resources has made them vulnerable. Poverty is widespread due to lack of education and job opportunities. Prejudice and social discrimination against their community also persists.
Conservation efforts are underway to document and preserve Rebari culture, music, folklore and crafts. NGOs work to improve livelihoods through vocational training, livestock healthcare and access to microcredit. The government has initiated some projects for settling Rebari communities but with little success in maintaining their traditional lifestyle. Overall, the Rebari face an uncertain future as pressures of modernization increasingly threaten their unique nomadic pastoralist culture. Unless concerted efforts are made for their development and rights, this ancient way of life may disappear.
In conclusion, the Rebari community of Sindh have developed a rich culture perfectly adapted to their occupation of pastoral nomadism over centuries. However, changes in land use and lack of support now endanger their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle. Urgent measures are needed for the economic empowerment and social uplift of the Rebari while also preserving their cultural heritage for future generations.