Today’s Google Doodle celebrates India’s first woman photojournalist Homai Vyarawalla. Vyarawalla clicked some memorable pictures between 1938 and 1970. The pictures of first tricolour-hoisting after Independence, the death of Mahatma Gandhi, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru releasing a pigeon and others have become part of national archives.
Born on December 13, 1913 in a middle-class Parsi family in Navsari, Vyarawalla began her photography career in 1938. Her father was an actor with a Parsi-Urdu theatre. She did a diploma in Arts from J J School of Arts, Mumbai, and learnt photography from Maneckshaw Vyarawalla whom she married in 1941. They later shifted to Delhi.
At the onset of the World War II, she started working on assignments for the Bombay-based The Illustrated Weekly of India magazine which published many of her black and white images that later became iconic. After moving to Delhi in 1942 to join the British Information Services, where she photographed many political and national leaders in the period leading upto independence, including Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Indira Gandhi and the Nehru-Gandhi family while working as a press photographer.
Most of her photographs were published under the pseudonym “Dalda 13″. The reasons behind her choice of this name were that her birth year was 1913, she met her husband at the age of 13 and her first car’s number plate read “DLD 13″.
A year after her husband passed away in 1969, Vyarawalla quit photography. In 1973, she moved to Vadodara where she lived alone till her last day. Her only child, Farouq, had died of cancer in 1982 and since then she had been living alone.
Vyarawalla gave her collection of photographs to the Delhi-based Alkazi Foundation for the Arts. In 2010, the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai (NGMA) in collaboration with the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts presented a retrospective of her work.
She was awarded Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civillian award. She was also conferred with Lifetime Achievement Award by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2010.