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Tek Lal







Hindu, Brahmin caste




Bulingtar VDC, Nawalparasi


December 1993


This interview is full of details about local culture: festivals, marriage ceremonies, religious songs and childbirth ceremonies etc. He talks too about the difficulty in passing on local culture to the younger generation, noting that “we old ones are left to sing. If we old people all die one by one, than this bhajan and churdka (songs) will also be extinct from our culture. I want to [preserve it], but they don’t want to learn what to do. We can’t force them to learn”. He also discusses how traditional religious practices have to be altered as a result of economic stress; rather than sacrificing lamb, they now give bread and rice pudding – “God has accepted this. We can’t afford lamb. It is expensive”.

The narrator also discusses the impact of increasing migration and population rates on the local environment. In the past, there was enough land for everyone, but now that the population has expanded greatly, “everything is congested”. He notes how this has caused deforestation – “in the past, this area was all jungle. Only wild animals like bears were seen. Then the people came to live here one by one. Slowly, trees were destroyed by the people. Now the result is in front of us”. This population growth has also lead to increased poverty, of which he has direct experience – “in our family, we are 10 members. The land is the same as before. We can’t stretch any longer. That’s why we are poor and we are suffering more”.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Highly educated children; one couldn't get a job in Nepal so went to India.
Section 2  Suggests that good jobs demand higher and higher levels of qualifications. . Very cynical about politics: “Who has got money, he is on the top. Who does not have, he is fallen behind…. These days, people are too busy opposing one another. Nothing has changed. We have freedom of speech -that’s all we’ve got.”
Section 3-4  Changing caste profile of the village: some castes increasing in numbers, others disappearing. In-migration into the area has led to destruction of the forest. Population increase but no increase in land to feed them. Mentions sources of alternative employment. The future: expects deforestation to get worse, but argues that road building will open up valuable marketing opportunities.
Section 5  Suggests that closing down alcohol factories is a necessary first step to improving people's lives. Complains about the lack of markets for selling his surplus produce. Says they distribute it to neighbours instead.
Section 6  Discusses the merits of the different local high schools. Lists the facilities that exist in a nearby village: post office, health post, vet. Interesting quote about politicians’ unfulfilled promises.
Section 6-9  Discussion of festivals (celebrated by all castes) and methods of sacrifice. Description of the marriage ceremony, and of childbirth ceremonies. Detailed description of the different types of religious song and other religious practices. Says only the older generation is interested whereas the“Young generation seem to be interested just in reading and writing. That is, their attention is more on studies.”
Section 9-10  Mentions that religious sacrifices have changed out of economic necessity; people can no longer afford animal sacrifice. Brief mention of how the villagers help each other when someone is ill. Description of the child-naming ceremony (terminology unclear?). Mentions that pregnant women are forbidden from eating meat or from entering into the "holy place" .
Section 11-12  Further "superstitions" about menstruation (narrator claims he doesn’t believe in them). Description of rites involved in Chhewar and Bratabandha (initiation). Good account of traditional marriage rituals
Section 13  Younger generation's attitude towards arranged marriage/ "love" marriage.
Section 14  Further discussion about marriage, in particular, courtship rituals. Mentions that engagements can last a long time. If a man dies, his brother will look after his widow. Leads on to brief discussion of extended family sizes.
Section 15-16  Talks about the differences between castes Suggests that malaria has been eradicated in the area. Medical treatment: talks about common illnesses, and the use of herbal medicines. Inadequate healthcare provision: “Healthpost will give only half tablet, if it needs one tablet to cure. They have to manage for all. That’s why dose is not completed. How he will be cured from this medicine?”
Section 17  Very brief discussion of crime: police post nearby explains a lack of crime. Recounts an incident in which he nearly drowned. Importance of his children's education to him: “If my children will pass S.L.C, it will be the happiest moment.”
Section 18-20  Discussion and rendition of traditional Hindu songs. Religious rituals as protection from danger: “If we say this Mantra, we feel secure.” Brief but interesting discussion of growing vegetables, and the disadvantages of using fertilisers.