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Nepal
 
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Nepal glossary

Gaumati

(NEPAL 8)

Sex

female

Age

51

Identity

N

Occupation

farmer

Location

Ruchang VDC, Sindhuli

Date

February 1994

 

transcript

Section 1
What do you actually do?
Nowadays, I just sit around. In the rainy season, I go to fairs, cut grass and work in the fields.

What is your religion, do you know?
No, I don't know.

How many family members are there in your house?
My husband, one grandchild and myself, just the three of us.

How many children did you have?
I had two whom I could breast-feed and one I couldn't breast-feed, couldn't really take good care of.

Actually, how many children did you give birth to?
I had four, including the once which I lost during the early stage of pregnancy. So, now I have two, the son of 2018 BS, and the daughter of 2020 BS.

Where was your husband in the early days?
In Nagdanda.

Who was living there?
Two grandfathers and my father-in-law. They youngest grandfather had two, and the eldest grandfather had two mother-in-laws. I had one mother-in-law and three aunts. There were altogether six father-in-laws.

How long has it been since you all came here?
I don't really remember, it was already four years when my grandson was born. Now he is fifteen years old.

How long after your marriage did you come here?
It was after quite sometime (married on 2018 BS).

Why did you come here?
The family was too big. There were too many father-in-laws, so when we shared there wasn't much for anybody, even if we worked hard we were still very poor. We spent too much of our time in going and coming to our fields, we had to take our animals and ploughs from one place to another wasting our time. Since it wasn't fruitful we came here. This is my land, given to me by my family.
Section 2
What did you do to your husband's land?
We gave it to our father-in-law.

You gave it for free?
No, but we gave it away very cheap. The money was just enough to buy a gagro, (water pot) two plates, 2 soup bowls and two ankhora (brass tumbler) for my daughter.

At what age did you get married?
I was seventeen then.

And your husband?
Same.

How was your marriage ceremony performed?
First, my brothers dragged me and carried me, as if they were giving a chicken and then they were again sent to fetch me, so they grabbed me, like a leopard grabbing a pig, and brought me home. Then they put them on my forehead or officially married me. Then there was a party where 25 houses were invited. The party was very big, with song and dance.

How did you celebrate the wedding of your daughter?
It was almost the same. I wanted my only daughter to go to school at least up to 7th grade, but the boy's father, the Pradhan Pancha (village mayor) said it was better for my daughter to get married rather than go to the school. And saying that his family did everything to my daughter carried her off to his house. So on the day of tika (decorative mark made on forehead as a blessing) ceremony I had a big argument with the groom's father and his friends and asked them for saat bis (7 x 20=140).

What do you mean by saat bis?
Saat bis means, inviting that many houses. And they were all invited to the bridegroom's house. In the reception when putting tika to the invitee I spent about 12-13 pathi for the party. In the early days, 10 rupees was expensive. For my daughter we gave a lot - 10 rupees and we gave away 2 sher, 3 sher of long strips of meat [in the wedding ceremony the Magars give away raw meat to the guests] in the Perungo.

Did you spend more on your daughter's marriage than on yours?
Yes, of course. My only daughter, so we made a deal with our relatives and with loans, like the marriage of three sons and two daughters, we had a very big wedding
celebration.

What are the important festivals of this region?
Now we have Maghe Sankranti then Baisakhi Purne (full moon) we don't celebrate Fagu Purne but people do play with colours.
Section 3
What do you do in Baishakh Purne?
We invite our relatives, daughters and sons-in-law, we also go to our father's house. We have rice and meat if not have mash dal (type of lentils), and if we have guru (spiritual teacher) we have Ghatu dance.

How different is the way of celebrating festivals nowadays to the old days?
It is very different now. The daughters have gone far away physically and mentally also. Now they all ask for more.

What do you mean by demanding more?
Rice is no problem but they ask for more meat and vegetables.

Is it more expensive to celebrate the festivals now?
It is expensive. Before the meat was 1 rupee for a dharni now it is more than 5 rupees. What do you get for Rs.5 anyway? Nothing. Now, even if a neighbour cuts a pig it will cost 60/70 Rs per dharni. For buffalo meat it is 90 Rs per dharni. It is very expensive.

During the festival, is it fun for the women or not?
It is fun for those who do not work but who just eats and fools around. But if you do nothing you are not able to provide good food to your son-in-laws then you feel bad.

Is there any one who can read and write in your house?
I have one grandson.

No one else, how about the grandfather?
No he cannot. He knows a little bit, he learnt Barhakhani.

From where did he study?
In Nagdanda. He learnt from the old men, not the modern education.

Where did your grandson study?
Before in Nagdanda and now he goes to Byaghan school.

In which class is he studying?
He passed class six and now he is in class seven.

Didn't you send your daughter to school?
The son did get the education, but he forgot. I wanted to send my daughter to attend school up to class seven but her father-in-law took her away but she has passed class four.

Do you think education is good?
I think it is good, that is why I wanted my daughter to go to school. I am very sad that I could not send my daughter to school. Before the old men were against the education for the girls, they used to say that the girls become witches if they are educated.
Section 4
Did they really mean it or were they joking?
They used to say that seriously and jokingly. I didn't get education. I had a son, because we needed one so the daughter could not go to school.

You said you gave birth to many children, in this region what kind of diseases do the mother and child get?
The mother suffers from the ang rog (?).

What is ang rog?
Anything in your body and blood. Some have sore eyes and some have very long and painful labour pains.

What do you do during such labour pains?
We call the Lama to pray. If the Lama is good the mother survives or else she dies.

Is that the only method to treat the sick or do you have other methods?
Yes, we have other methods. We get the witch to pray, some use the Lama (Buddhist priest) and their medicines and some go to the doctors too.

Where do you have the doctor?
He is down there in the Dadegaun health post.

Since when did you start to use the doctor and his medicines?
Maybe since 10-12 years ago.

You said you had a miscarriage 2 or 4 times, in those times did you use the doctor?
Yes I did.

Do the people in your village work in groups or not?
Yes they do, but only for Bheja (monthly full moon celebrations).

What do they do in Bheja, can you explain?
Bheja means Baisakh Purnima, Chaitra Purnima and Mansir in those times.

For what other things do they work in groups, except Bheja?
If people work in groups it helps everybody otherwise the life is very hard here.

How does the life become difficult?
We have difficulty for money.

Do you need money for Bheja?
We need it sometimes when they collect.

What other things do they do in a group?
Going to the gathering, we call it parma (communal labour) which means going to a friend's gathering and the day after coming to my gathering, doing sohori (harvesting?).
Section 5
What else do they do in groups?
They cut grasses and bushes together, carry fertilisers, sand and goods in one's own village.

What kinds of crops do you have here?
In the winter, we have wheat, barley and musuro (type of lentils), but if it doesn't rain we've had it. Then we have rice and millet.

What else do you have like other crops or vegetables?
If we sow then we can grow vegetables, otherwise just grass.

Then why haven't you planted any vegetables?
I am not sure, maybe we are lazy and we don't get seeds for vegetables. People do have vegetables and they have seeds. In the summer we plant pumpkin and eat and in Aashaadh, Srawan and Bhadra we eat gava and radish.

Is there any difference in planting and production of the crops between old days and now?
Before we only had rice and millet and it was quite enough. Now we have wheat, barley and musuro. Before in the fields we could plant mustard, millet, rice and corn, nowadays, it is not enough. The production is more now but still it is not enough.

Why is it more but not enough? What's the reason?
Land is less, the fertiliser is not enough. Too much plantation is eating away the soil.

How?
The soil is getting less and not so fertile, so the crops are not very healthy hence the production is less.

Are the people more now or were there more before? Maybe itís why the crop is not enough?
I don't think itís the population. Now there are all sorts of people, the educated, cheats, gentlemen, thieves they are all the same. Before there were only clever and weak people.

Who makes the decisions in your family, you or your husband?
First the grandfather decides, then they send me in the middle, after that the grandfather again thinks on it, sometimes I myself decide if I am able to.

In what conditions do you decide for yourself?
I decide on farming.

And your husband's decisions?
He decides mostly in day to day life and other matters.
Section 6
What do you mean by other matters?
He goes to the sahu (money lender) for loans, give and take money.

Today you sent the pig, who decided to exchange the pig?
My husband did. I kept it during Maagh and now he gave it away.

Didn't you stop him?
Yes, I did, but my husband had already given it, so I couldn't be rude.

Who made the decision for your daughter's marriage?
My husband did. But I talked to my in-laws. I didn't want my daughter to get married very far away, I wanted her to come and live here but my in-laws said my daughter and son-in-law will look after my household. But now they come once in a while.

Do you have to get loans?
Of course, without loans it is difficult to live.

Why do you need it?
In the summer, we have to pay for the plough and cattle, and for planting the fields, which we call alo pani in Magar language. We need the money for three months only for the plantation. First we have to plough the barren land, then we plant the crop, so at the end we will not have enough so we have to borrow.

You spend all your money only for planting the crops, but don't you need the money to buy the seeds?
Yes only for plantation, we don't have to buy seeds. We buy only a few things which I want.

What kinds of things do you want?
Things like basmati rice and other delicacies whenever we need them. And sometimes liquor to drink with friends.

From where do you get loans?
As far as possible we manage among the friends, otherwise we borrow from the bank.

Where is it more convenient to get loans?
It is quite easy in the bank, but not very convenient, you have to be there in time. It is convenient in the village but the interest is high.

How much is it?
In the village, when you are really in need whatever you've promised to give you have to pay back.

How much is the interest?
Interest is minimum 20% and for a thousand they take a muri of rice, millet, etc. Whatever, you give it has to be a muri for one thousand. And when you pay one thousand in cash it is finished.

And what is the interest rate in the bank?
My husband deals with the bank so I don't really know. I think it is 4%. If you go yourself it is easier. But you cannot always go in time, so sometimes you cannot pay the interest in time and becomes a little bit more that's all.
Section 7
When there are fights in the village, what do you do?
Nothing, they fight and after sometime its quiet again.

Do they always go to some person to settle the fights?
Some people like us do that, they blame each other for wrong doing, itís always like that. And one or two persons go to the police station and enquire. We don't understand such things so we do not go.

Have you ever had such a big fight?
Me? Never. We only have small fights over our pigs and goats. We do fight with our friends sometimes when we forget to do things which had to be done, especially about our animals.

Is there any incident that you always remember?
Of course I have, but now it is difficult to remember.

However, there must be something unforgettable?
I do remember my life without giving birth to a son. I used to come from the forest after cutting the grass but there wouldn't be any food for me, so I used to cry and return holding my khurpa (small weeding knife), I feel very sad thinking about it. This is not like the city, here you are neglected if you cannot give birth to a son. Now we have many offices here, so the officers tells us that whether you have a daughter or a son its the same. But the villagers have a different saying, they say that the daughters are not equal to sons. Those who have lost the seeds must plough again. Sons are the seeds of men so one has to try for them.

So you are very sad?
Yes, I am very sad that I don't have a son.

When was your happiest moment?
I was happy when I was with my mother. Then I wasn't married, I could wear good clothes, I used to wear my mother's clothes too and of course my presents of clothes. The clothes are much better now than before, but my husband doesn't bring much even if I ask so I have to bring them myself. It is difficult, my husband is not very keen on such things, so if I ask in the market to bring they take at least 3-4 days to deliver so if the clothes are old and then it is very difficult to replace.

Thank you very much for your co-operation, I really enjoyed talking to you. Thank you again.