Employment and Income  
Family Life  
Social Change  
Spiritual Beliefs  
Traditional Skills  

Click on arrows
to find more
these themes


(INDIA 20)








Harsil and Dunda villages, Bhagirathi valley, Utta


December 1996


Yagjung is a widow and mother of four. She is a Jaad, who are part of the Bhotiya community. Like many Bhotiya, she is a skilled weaver. She migrates annually with her family and livestock between Harsil, where she owns an apple orchard, and Dunda, where the meadows are. But an army base has taken over their fertile meadowland, and access is now restricted. She explains, “we would all like to return immediately. We remember the lush green fields there… Milk used to flow like rivers there.” Nowadays “We take our goats and go there but we have to take prior permission of the army.” She also talks of the destruction of her environment due to increasing population. “Where are the forests now? There are fields and houses everywhere. Earlier these were…very dense forests.”

Her eldest daughter has become a Buddhist nun, and she says this has caused her distress: “My daughter had very long hair and it was all cut off. I felt very bad and cried for the four months of Chaturmas (months of the rainy season)”. She also mourns the decline of the joint family, saying “Now everyone has started living separately” including her own daughter-in-law, which means that Yagjung has to look after her husband on her own. “I should have become free at this age yet I am bound.” She talks about the festivals celebrated in the community and concludes the interview talking about marriage ceremonies.

detailed breakdown

You will need a password from Panos to view the full transcript of the interview. To apply for a password, click here.

Once you have a password, click here to go to the beginning of the transcript. You can also click on any section of the breakdown of content below and go straight to the corresponding part of the transcript.


Section 1-3  Family details. Has an apple orchard and spins wool. Came from another area further up where the land is better, but the army set up a base and “shifted us here”. Used to trade with Tibetans and Bhotiya, buying wool and salt and selling crops. Had a poor apple crop last year. Grows potatoes for own consumption. The land in Vagori is not very good. The village temple and goddesses and village beliefs.
Section 3-4  She did not receive any education: “How can we study now? We have grown old.” Her eldest daughter was at school, but has now become a Buddhist nun. Her distress about this. Her youngest daughter “does not want to study - she doesn’t like it.” Has two cows which are kept elsewhere, looked after by her son and servant. Has to go far to get grass from the forests for fodder. Forest cut down and land used for fields and housing.
Section 5-6  The population is increasing and, naturally, cultivated land is increasing. Wherever there is vacant land, it is under government control.” During padiyala, (a specific time for mutual aid and collective work) the villagers spin wool together and sing. Describes festivals, in particular Lassar and the foods eaten. Ceremonies surrounding birth, including a goat sacrifice, and death. Widowhood.
Section 7  Now everyone has started living separately” abandoning traditional joint families. The younger generation of her family live separately, leaving her to take care of her husband. “The old days were better. We ate to our satisfaction, though we had fewer clothes” as there was “less cash”. Does not earn much money from wool, used to earn money from goats acting as carriers up the mountain before the road was built.
Section 8  The road “has brought a lot of comfort for the tourists” but problems for the locals: “Now we fear theft, as thieves have started breaking open our doors. Earlier it never used to happen, we had no fears.” Now they live in concrete houses, more permanent than grass-thatched huts. Used to be ruled by a king. “Those days were not good, the modern age is better. Everyone is independent. Now no one is subordinate to anyone.” Would like to return to original village. “We remember the lush green fields there.” Now there is no Mahila Mangal Dal due to lack of supervisor. The village head is a woman, but she is illiterate. “What is the point of making an uneducated person a village head?” The weather “has gone bad”, raining at the wrong times of year and ruining crops.
Section 9  Alcohol is a local problem. “In the evening all the drunkards gather.” Marriage ceremonies, changes in customs.