Homai Vyarawalla was India’s first woman photojournalist who rose to fame for her work between 1938 and 1970, which included some of India’s most iconic images such as the first tri-colour being hoisted after Independence, the death of Mahatma Gandhi and prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru releasing a pigeon.
Born on December 13, 1913, Vyarawalla was raised in a middle-class Parsi family in Navsari. She completed a diploma in Arts from the J J School of Arts in Mumbai. She worked for the British Information Service for many years.
She learnt photography from Maneckshaw Vyarawalla, who she later married in 1941. The couple lived in Delhi. In 1969, Vyarawalla’s husband passed away, and a year later she quit photography. After her husband’s death, she moved to Vadodara in Gujarat, where she spent the rest of her life. Their only child, Farouq died of cancer in 1982.
Vyarawalla, who began her career in 1938, published her work under the pseudonym ‘Dalda 13’, which symbolised her birth year (1913), the registration number (DLD 13) of her first car, and the age at which she met her husband — 13.
Vyarawalla was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, in 2011. She was also conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the I&B Ministry in 2010.
Vyarawalla passed away on January 15, 2012 at the age of 98.