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Amazing Fashion of Women Doing Manual Labor in India

What an image: Female brick workers in rainbow clothing.

What an image: Female brick workers in India in rainbow clothing.

India has the most beautiful clothing in the world. Its embrace of color, drape, and texture makes the heart dance! What I didn’t realize before our December teacher tour of India, however, was the fact that many woman in India wear these remarkable clothes even when doing arduous manual labor.

A female worker cleaning the fountain at the "Little Taj Mahal."

A female worker cleaning the fountain at the “Little Taj Mahal.”

What this means is that wherever you go in India, there are female manual laborers — bricklayers, hedge cutters, roadside merchants, farmers, and maintenance workers — toiling in the sun and dust wearing colored clothing so splendid-looking that residents of any other country would wear them only on the most special, fancy occasions.

The bright clothing of agricultural workers glows through the haze.

The bright clothing of agricultural workers glows through the haze of India.

Our tour group was fascinated by these women, but our guide, Manu, urged caution. “Tell her we think she’s amazing!” one of the teachers on our tour gushed to Manu after watching a female bricklayer (shown in the first photo) balance fourteen bricks on her head. “I can’t do that,” Manu replied, “because she’s just doing her job, wearing her normal clothes, and your comment might seem rude.”

Selling a giant head-basket of bread by the roadside in a dreamy sari.

Selling a giant head-basket of bread by the roadside in a dreamy sari.

So what are YOUR thoughts seeing these photos? Do you feel joy seeing the vibrant colors? Does your heart ache at the physical toil depicted? Are you shocked? Fascinated? Maybe… inspired?

The work was dusty and hot by the side of the road.

The job was dusty and hot by the side of the road for these women.

Workers at the Amber Palace taking a water break.

Workers at the Amber Palace taking a water break.

The colors! The colors!

The colors! The colors!

Scrubbing dishes in a small town in India.

Scrubbing dishes in a small town in India, dressed like a queen.

I’m so curious to read your thoughts, experiences, and insights, below. Do leave a comment!

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