The origin stories of the Meghwars, the leather artisans of Kachchh, are many and complex. They tell a story of persecution yet resilience, of cruelty yet compassion, of hardship yet richness of spirit. In the ancient varna system, Meghwars used to belong to the so-called Shudra category — the lowest category. They were the underbelly of society who took care of all the unpleasant tasks and functions of living.
The Meghwars are believed to originate from the time of the Brahmin Parshurama, in the time of the Mahabharata. Parshurama was on a mission to exterminate all Kshatriyas or warriors, the second highest category of the varna system. Many Kshatriyas became Shudras in order to flee Parshurama’s wrath. A Kshatriya named Megh Singh, in the Marwar region (parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Sindh), fled with his family to take refuge in a forest. Survival required them to bend many caste rules – they began eating dead meat, and acquired skills in processing hides.