Homai Vyarawalla: The First Indian Woman Photojournalist

homai vyarawalla

About Homai Vyarawalla

A photojournalist is very important and an integral part of the print media. Nowadays with the advent of high-quality cameras. From that, we can click so many beautiful pictures easily. But in earlier days, there were no such cameras. Moreover, photography was not a wide field as of today. Only men used to choose it as a profession.

However, today the scenario is very different. Women and men are equally interested and are into this field. In earlier days, women were not so educated. They were confined to their homes and household chorus. But there was a woman who became the first woman photojournalist of India. Who was she? Let us know about her in this article.

Born on the 15th of December, Homai Vyarawalla was popularly known by Dalda 13, a pseudonym. She holds the pride of India’s foremost female photojournalist. It was late 1930 when she started to work as a photojournalist.

She was honored with Padma Vibhushan the year 2011. Padma Vibhushan is the second utmost civilian honor in India. She became the first woman in India to connect a conventional publication.

She got married to Manekshaw Jamshetji Vyarawalla. He was a photographer and also an accountant in the Times of India.  She gave up photography in the year 1970. Exactly one year subsequent to her husband’s demise.

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As said above she started her career in the year 1930. She started to work in The Illustrated Weekly of India, the Mumbai-based magazine. At the same time during the commencement of World War II. The magazine published many of her snaps. Those snaps were black and white.  The magazine published many of her most admired black-and-white images.

Initially, she used to publish her photographs under the name of her husband. She was afraid to use her name because she was a woman. During those times, women were not involved in such professions. Under the pseudonym “Dalda 13″, many of her pictures were made public. The motive behind choosing her pseudonym was: in 1913. She was born when she was 13 she first met her husband. And the number plate of the first car read “DLD 13”.

In 1942 when she moved to Delhi and joined the British Information Services. After that, her photography got recognition and was observed at the National stage.  Being a press photographer, she even snapped several famous leaders up to independence.  Those included Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

On 24th November 1956, she photographed 14th Dalai Lama. She captured them in a traditional dress, during he came to India. In his way when he was in Nathu La Pass in Sikkim. This photograph was for Life Magazine.

Farouq was her only son who taught in Pilani, Rajasthan. Homai Vyarawalla went on to live with her only son. In 1982 she returned to Vadodara (then, Baroda) with her son.  In 1989 when her son passed away due to cancer. She started to live in a small apartment and dedicated her time to gardening.


Image Source: “google.com”

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