photo of Indian woman Garwhal and Kumaon
India glossary


(INDIA 11)






midwife/ farmer


Sunara village, Rawain, Yamuna valley, Uttarkashi


March 1993



Village Sunara is 5 kms away from Naugaon, on a steep winding footpath uphill. To get there you have to walk uphill for 5 kms. Naugaon, the nearest village connected by road, is 5 kms away from Uttarkashi town. District Uttarkashi is in Garhwal about 1100-metre elevation and lies on the northwest bank of the river Yamuna.

Section 1
Mother, what is your name?
Attar Devi.

What is your age?
60 years.

How many children do you have?

What are they doing?
Three of them are drivers and one of them is a student of class 12.

Do you have a daughter?

What are they doing?
They are married and are busy in their household work.

What does your husband do?
Nothing. He was a farmer. He is no more.

You are a widow! What was your husband's age?
About 80 or 90 years.

You had told me that your husband had married for the second time. What was the reason? [Before the interview she revealed that she was the second wife]
He had no children. So he married a young girl - me - and then had children.

That means yours was a choti marriage (early marriage)? [This is marriage with the consent of the family. It is a marriage for children]
Section 2
How old were you at the time of the choti marriage?
I was 15 years.

And, what about your husband?
He was 50 years.

Oh! 50 years! Weren't you scared?
These days everyone is scared. The modern girls are scared. They are not prepared to marry an old, useless man. They are more concerned about their own comforts and “facilities”. The modern girls have weak bones. The reason for this weakness is their habit of eating pickles and chutneys and not getting sufficient milk and ghee (clarified butter). They are used to eating spicy things.

So, pickles and chutneys have invaded villages?
[Narrator nods.]

Do you have cows and buffaloes?
Nothing. There is one pair of oxen for ploughing the field and one buffalo. Its milk is sold to the hotels.

You don't drink milk? At what rate is the milk sold?
No. We don't drink it. It is 6 rupees a litre.

Do you sell pure milk?
Yes, we do. But people don't drink it or keep it for use. That's the reason why they slip - fall and break the bones of legs and arms. Tell me why is it so? We don't break our bones as we have eaten enough and our bones are strong. We are healthy and even if we fall down our bones don't crack. Tell me why do your bones crack? [Laughs].

Does it mean that in your times nobody had fractures?
No, not at all. There was no question. We had no doctors. If anyone had fever he was given half roasted and half-raw cumin seed powder with lukewarm water and was made to lie down. The person sweated and became well.

Were there any medicines?
In our times for fever we had powder of half-raw and half-roasted cumin seeds to be eaten with lukewarm water. And for stomach ache a tala (long thin iron needle) was heated and put on the stomach and we became all right. Even now it is used.

Did you ever have a headache?
Yes. To cure headache we used to put some water on one's head and we became well. Nowadays they go in for injections. And the same mode of injection is used for a TB patient, a leper and other diseases. That's why so many diseases are breaking out.

Were there any serious diseases in your time?
Section 3
Was there tuberculosis?
No, we didn't know what TB was. Today if someone has pain in the legs it is called sciatica. We never knew about sciatica. Then people talk of cancer etc. In our times we had never heard of cancer.

Madam, didn't you refuse to marry an old man?
Had I refused I would have been beaten.

Who would have beaten you?
My father. We could not refuse and oppose in our time.

Tell me, in this Yamuna valley did they take money?
[In Kamal Sirai and Ramsirai they did. The girl's father used to take money from the boy's father].
Yes, they did.

How much?
Not much, four to five hundred only.

They took so much for one daughter?
Yes, for one daughter.

Were there any cases of divorce?

Can you give the reasons for divorce?
The main reason was early marriages. When the girls matured they found that in some case the mother-in-law was bad and sometimes the husband was not good. While very young they never realised it but later on they used to repent, feel unhappy and never went back.

Was re-marriage easy?
Yes. It was, quite.

How were marriages performed in your times?
It was as if they were animals. Initially one came with a wooden container full of milk - the container is called pandudhi (small container).

Didn't the groom come along?
In those days we didn't have any idea what a bride was, or for that matter what was a groom. Now, of course, we know what the meaning is of a bride or a groom.

Were there no bands and other fanfares?
Section 4
Are you sure nothing of this sort came? Is it true?
In some cases, yes. In the case of those who said that there will be a marriage procession or barat. Barat meant that for the girl's wedding all her people - who could walk - used to walk up to the bridegroom's place. That was called the girl's barat. Everybody said that the girl's barat has come. In those days giving dowry was in fashion. Some local people of Rawai used to measure the door of the cowshed.

What is the meaning of measuring the door?
The people measured the door so that they gave a phooch (a large pan used for cooking meals during marriage) bigger than the size of the door and it could not be taken inside the house, to boast of their riches. This they did without being noticed by others. At the same time they could also assess the financial and economic status of the boy's people.

Could people afford to give such a big pan or did it become more of a compulsion, socially?
No - there was no compulsion. They willingly gave it to show off. The poor didn't give anything.

How is it these days?
Now there is nothing if that sort happening. People give steel utensils. I got bronze plates.

Do you like these steel utensils?
No. I don't use steel plates for eating. I use bronze plates. What is steel? It is useless; if it breaks it has to be discarded.

Now listen, Mother, for you it was a second marriage. Do you approve that you were the second wife of your husband?
We did not know what was good or bad. We had to obey our parents. My father told me that as his son-in law had no children - should he die without having his own children? He also told me that I selfishly wanted only my wishes to be fulfilled and that I thought that I had become very intelligent in our family.

In your times divorce was common. Why didn't you apply for that?
I had produced children. How could I ask for divorce? I have a son of 20 years, a daughter of 30 years and the eldest son of 32-35 years. Where could I go with the children? I tried once. But could not as I was attached to children.

I have come to know that at the time of divorce the money has to be returned - the money that the girl's father gets at the time of the marriage?
Yes, it is a fact.

How much of the amount had to be returned - the exact amount that he took or more?
It depended on the boy's wish. For example the price paid for the wife is Rs 500 but in case of a divorce the wife had to pay as much as the husband wanted. He could ask for Rs 5,000 instead of Rs 500, and nobody could make it less. He could ask for a refund of a Rs 1000 in place of a Rs 100 that he paid. So divorce was quite difficult.
Section 5
Is this custom popular even nowadays!
Nowadays divorces are not required as the girls marry when they are matured. They soon have children, and divorce is out.

Do you feel this custom has disappeared in the most interior villages?
Yes, some girls still ask for divorce. This has not died down fully.

What all do you grow here?
We grow chatdhan (variety of rice), wheat, koda (finger millet) etc.

What is the harvesting time for chatdhan?
The month of Baisakh (April/May).

What type of crop is it? Is it grown in sera (irrigated fields) or ukhad (un-irrigated fields)? [In Ukhad all types of things can be grown. In sera only paddy, wheat and spinach can be grown well]
Chatdhan is grown in sera. We don't grow paddy in ukhad. Aikdhan or gyarasu (variety of rice) was grown in ukhad - nowadays it's not grown. That quality of rice had a fragrance.

What was its taste like?

When is the reaping season of chatdhan, once it's sown in Baisakh?
It's Aashad (June/July).

Which yield is better - the wheat cultivation or the koda cultivation?
The production of wheat is better in sera whereas ukhad is better for koda.

When is the harvesting time for koda?
In the month of Baisakh.

And what is the time for the cultivation of kauni?
The time for kauni (proso millet) and jhangora (barnyard millet) is Baisakh only.

Do you still grow chatdhan?
[Many types of dhan (paddy) are not cultivated these days]
No. Now cycle dhan grown (variety of rice; name may come from the big cycle stamped on the sack it comes in). It's not very tasty but the yield is double that of chatdhan. In place of 1 bag now it's 2 bags.

Are the seeds of chatdhan available?
Section 6
How did the seeds of cycledhan come here and from where?
It came from Jaunsar. In this area, a girl from Jaunsar came as a bride - we married one boy in that region too - and she had brought the seeds of cycledhan from her place. We took the seeds from here and gave the seeds of chatdhan, as part of the barter system. Thus it spread all over. There used to be do-futu, another variety - it was round shaped. The cycle grain is long like basmati rice. But cycledhan is tasteless - useless - after eating a little bit one feels like drinking lot of water.

How was chatdhan?
It was very tasty. One doesn't have to eat anything with that. The water in which it was boiled for starch was a very tasty drink, after adding a pinch of salt, pepper and buttermilk. If seasoned a little it made a lovely preparation to be eaten with boiled rice. One didn't need any dal (lentils) one could eat rice with it. It's called mandjholi.

Can one get a few seeds?
No. It has completely disappeared.

Does the modern generation in your village like farming?
The children don't like it. The old people have a lot of patience and perseverance for farming and they keep chasing the younger lot but they don't care for the old people. All my fields have turned into a barren land.

Why is it so?
My elder son lives with his wife. Another son and daughter-in-law looked after cultivation. This daughter-in-law went to her parents' place last year in the month of Magh (January/February) and while she was there she slipped from the staircase, fell down and cracked her bone. She is still there. So my cultivation and farming are all over.

How are you managing to run your household?
My son gives me money.

Do your sons and daughters-in-laws listen to you?
So far they have been. I can't say about the future. God willing, they will. So far, I am in charge. So far, I am myself very active.

Do you help in the fields?
Yes, I do. I get ujed (fodder of green leaves) for sheep and goats.

Tell me where do you get the fodder from? I can't see it around anywhere?
We store it in advance. In the month of Asooj (September/October) we do so for the whole of winter - dried and preserved on trees - very carefully. Thus we are not worried during the winter months. Once the winter is over we take our cattle out to the channis (huts for shelter during grazing season).
Section 7
When do you do so?
I don't know when I do so but the village folks have taken their cattle out to the channs these days [in the month of March].

Why are cattle taken to the channis?
Cow dung is needed. There we have our fields. Cow dung is good manure. Our sera fields are there. The cattle are kept near them for manure. This way it is easier to carry the manure to the fields.

How far is it from the fields?
About three miles. We used to walk and carry heavy bags of grain on one’s back - even now I do it. The present-day girls carry cow dung to the fields on ponies. They get the grains also on ponies. We carried it on our back. Ponies are used for cultivation. You people are not strong enough for those hardships. You have no strength to fight and bear hardships.

What do you think is the reason for that?
Your diet is faulty. You all are fond of chutneys and pickles, which can't make you strong. For strength you need to eat ghee and drink a lot of milk. These days the youngsters dislike grass cutting. How can they get ghee and milk if they are not fond of rearing cattle? It is needed for obtaining ghee and milk - the health-giving things. One has to work hard to look after the cattle.

Where do you get the grass from?
We get it from very far away. Here the forests are on the hilltop - the hills are bare in between.

Is your forest panchayati (belonging to the village council)?
Yes, but we can't get grass from there. We have to take the cattle for grazing there only.

What are the trees in your forests?
Only bhimal. No other trees.

Yes, I can see only bhimal, and on top of the higher hills some chir (pine) can be spotted.
Only chulu (apricot) and bhimal are found.

Chulu is a fruit-bearing tree. Do you use it for fodder too?

Is Chulu only a fruit tree or is it used in some other ways too?
Its stone is used for extracting oil.

What are the other things, which give you oil?
Chulu seeds, mustard and til (sesame seeds).

Do you extract oil at home?
No - machines are used.
Section 8
How was it done during your times?
We extracted oil ourselves - at home. Now it is the reign of my son and daughter-in-law. They can't do it themselves so they send the oil seeds to the oil press.

How did you extract oil?
We extracted oil in a kunali (long rectangular wooded vessel).

What is kunali or kunalya made of?
It was made of deodar (Himalayan cedar) wood. The local village carpenter made it. Food grain was given to them as payment - it was the usual practice for buying many things. We take things from shops and give food grain in exchange. We still practise this system.

After extracting oil, what is done to the oil-cake?
When it is done at the oil machine, the oil-cake is not given back to us but at home til oil-cake is eaten and mustard oil-cake is good fodder for our cattle.

What are the different manure/fertilisers used in agriculture?
Normally cow dung is used, but cattle rearing is on the decline and hence there is insufficient cow dung. So they buy manure (fertiliser) from the government.

Do you also use this manure?
Yes - at times.

Can you name it?
DF Urea.

What is DF Urea?
It's a black coloured manure.

What do you mainly use it for?
For practically all types of cultivation.

Does it increase the yield and produce?
Yes it does.

How do things taste - good or bad?
I do not like the taste of things if the government manure is used. The food grains are tasteless.

What do you feel? In your opinion should it be used or not?
The government manure ruins the land after two or three harvests. Without cow dung the fields get ruined.

Do you have some experience of using it?
Yes. The soil becomes as hard as stone. On digging the soil breaks like pieces of stone. If sufficient quantity of cow dung is used then the quality of the soil remains good.
Section 9
Is cow dung good?
Yes, it is very good.

Do you use only cow dung or sotar (manure made by mixing leaves from the forest and cow dung) also?
Yes - we get sotar from the forest. The leaves are spread on the ground to save the cattle from extreme cold. These days only pine leaves are available and they are used instead of grass. They are used to protect the cattle from cold and act as manure as well. A better manure is obtained from oak and rhododendron leaves. When there is no work, women go to the forest and collect these oak and rhododendron leaves.

What about the irrigation facilities in this village?
It is not good. Water in this area and village is very scarce. My fields are three kms away. There we have sufficient water. Now the pipeline has come but the taps don't have enough water.

In your days, where did you get the water from?
We do have some water, a small reservoir -a natural spring. But it has very little water. There is a long queue of people with long lines of containers for filling water. People take their turn for filling their vessels. Those people who have children staying with them can fill water during the day and the rest do so after getting back from the fields in the evening. For washing clothes we go to the river Yamuna [two and a half kms below].

What do you think is the reason for this village's existence here?
I don't understand why our forefathers chose this area for settling down. In fact, the area where we have our fields is much better. There is no scarcity of wood, grass and water. Here we have water only during Savan and Bhadan months (July to September).

What is the supply point for the pipeline?
Very far away from the village - at a certain height - there is an underground spring of water. That is the water supply point.

At some places, I have noticed that people use ash for washing clothes. What do you use?
You are talking of my times, not these days. Ash was boiled and cooled, and clothes were soaked in it and then washed. We also used choi.

What is choi?
It's the ash obtained by burning wood. This ash was boiled and strained through a basket. This was used for washing clothes as it is clean water.

Do people still use ash for washing clothes?
Yes, some people still use it - poor people.
Section 10
What did you use for bathing?
We used gaunt (cow urine) for bathing. No soaps were available. We used to mix mustard oil-cake, or a little butter milk, or til (sesame) oil-cake with gaunt, and clean ourselves. These days the girls use shikakai (tree pod which can be used to make soap), I hear, for bathing. The girls feel that it's good for their hair. Nothing happened to our hair ever. These days they demand Nirma (a brand of soap) for washing clothes, be it of bad quality. They spend more than what they earn. How can they make both ends meet?

What type of dresses did you wear?
It was ghagra (long flared skirt), kurta (loose shirt) and sadari (sleeveless jacket), and a sort of safa (scarf) or headgear, earlier as nowadays too. In our times we grew cotton and processed cotton on an otwa (spinning wheel for sifting cotton from the seeds) we used to spin the cotton on a dhanua (bow-shaped wooden contraption). Nowadays there are machines in Nangaon. We grew cotton and spun it for clothes. We spun and wove cloth at home for ghagras and kurtas.

Do you grow cotton nowadays?
Nowadays people wear only terry-cotton stuff. So why should they grow cotton? If they don't wear cotton clothes why should they cultivate it?

Does it imply that cotton seeds are not available?
No - that's not the point. You do get the seeds, as cotton is required for filling quilts. So it is still grown, but in lesser quantity. You do get the seeds but nobody weaves cloth now.

Were there cotton weavers in your village?
No. Not in this area but there were in Dhari village.

How far is Dhari from here?
It's located slightly higher, near the forest checkpost of Nangaon about 3 kms away from here. Even Rajputs dwelt there. We gave khaltu (certain fixed part of the new harvest given to craftsmen) to these weavers. This had to be given to them in addition to the food grains that were given them when they brought the woollen cloth home. We used to give them food; giving money was not a practice. Now everything has changed. The weaver earlier got 2-4 paya (one paya=2 kgs) or 2-10 kgs of food grain and food. This is the barter system.
Now, everything is different. All our traditional implements - like daranti (sickle), kudali (weeding tool), axe, small axe, dhamalu (big saw) used for cutting tree leaves for goats and sheep - are made on payment only. We rarely exchange food grains.

Bisai (large flat bamboo dish for drying grain), ukhal (implement for beating paddy), dundi (basket for hanging over the arm) for carrying ringal (mountain cane), kurali, duneanda (cane vessels used for measuring grain), etc. Who makes all these?
Rawalaji makes dundi. [Referring to the local villager]
Section 11
Do you get ringal?

How far is the ringal forest?
Very far from here.

Can you tell the approximate distance? Can you cover it in some hours or does it take some days?
The journey to and from takes about one day's time. One leaves in the morning to be back by night.

What is ringal used for?
Ghilde (long conical baskets used for carrying cow dung or grass to the fields). We make dundi and much other kitchenware. Bisai is also made.

Are all these ringal products still in use?
Yes, of course. We use dundi for washing and spinning wool. While travelling from one place to another we carry dundi in hand and while walking or talking - we carry wool in it. With another hand we keep spinning wool.

You rear sheep but those who do not, how and from where do they procure wool?
If not sheep, they rear khadu (male sheep reared for wool) for wool. They use khadu wool for sweater knitting and weaving coat material.

Do you have wool weavers here?
Not here, but there are some in Manjhali and Naugaon villages. Weavers are found in Manjhali village. In Naugaon, Kunauris are found. [The weavers from Himachal are know as Kunauri in Rawai village] They have come from Himachal. Our people have learnt weaving from the people of Himachal. Thus the locals have turned weavers. As children learn reading and writing in schools, in the same way we have learnt weaving from the weavers from Himachal.

Can I find a cotton weaver here?
Yes, you can, but the modern people don't wear cotton clothes. If they don't produce cotton how can they get cotton cloth? Now they wear only terry-cotton clothes.

Which clothes do you like?
I like cotton clothes.

Why? What is so great about it?
The greatest quality of cotton is that it is cool in summer and warm in winter whereas terry-cotton is cold in winter and hot in summer. So I like cotton. We oldies prefer cotton but the younger lot prefers terry-cotton. The old people require food, shelter and clothes.
Section 12
There is beautiful carving on the ceiling. Who has done this woodcarving?
There are two to three good craftsmen here who have done it. They do not belong to the scheduled caste [for craftspeople]; they are Rajputs. My brother also does woodcarving. He can surpass the best of wood carvers. My brother has carved this ceiling. Now my brother owns a shop.

Doesn't he do carving any more?
He has grown old. One has to be physically strong for this work. He has grown very feeble, so he runs a shop.

Do people in your village help others in constructing houses?
Yes, they do. It is called giving beedh (helping others). When people construct their houses, everyone brings bamboo [used as a support in the centre of the housetops] from the forests. Special broad and flat pieces of stones, called padhale, used for roofing, are also collectively brought by all the villagers, and also all other construction materials.

Do the modern, young people also have a feeling of beedh?
These days people are jealous of each other.

What do you feel is the reason for this?
I can't understand why it is so. People of our generation had no such feeling. But these people are different. We try to make them understand but they refuse to. When they reply - "You keep quiet. Would you like some money to keep quiet?" We keep quiet without asking for money. These boys neither do their own work nor help others if need be. They believe in getting things done by paying money to others. They refuse point blank and neither help in getting padhale nor bamboo.

What are the main festivals in your village?
It is Jater (a fair with the deity) in Aashadh (June/July). It's held in the forest of Dyorada.

What is Dyorada?
Dyorada is a forest of deodar (Himalayan cedar). There is a fair in honour of Lord Lodeshwar. There is a palanquin for the deity. [The palanquin is closed and inside is the idol of the lord.]

Can you see the face of the lord in the palanquin?
No. During the festival in the month of Savan, one can see the idol.

What is this fair like?
We have guests; everybody is visited by guests. When all meet each other, it is called a fair -it's not made possible by sitting separately. People sing and dance but I can't even move out of the house.

What is the theme of the song?
I don't remember, my child, now.
Section 13
What are the dances like? Is it individual dancing or dancing in a group?
It's a dance in the style of jhopti: people hold hands and form a circle and there is fixed step for the dance. Young men and women take part, not old ones. This is because the dance, though it is slow in the beginning, involves lot of fast running and jumping towards the end. So the old people do not participate in it at all.

Is there a separate dance for the older people?
Yes, it is called raas. It's a slow dance form.

You have told me that for 12 months you have 12 festivals. Why is it so?
It's basically to enjoy good meals. We peasants get no leisure. So for entertainment we have fairs - for socialising. Then we are fresh to re-start our tough routine. These fairs fill us with joy and ecstasy in one day's time, and that's the reason we have these festivals.

Do you celebrate Vasant Panchami (Spring festival) also in the same manner?
No. It's a traditional festival, involving lots of ceremonies. It's a festival connected to our fields, our profession. It tells us that it's time we plough the fields. On Vasant Panchami morning khichdi (rice and lentils cooked together) is prepared, it being a special dish for the day. Puris (type of fried bread) are made in the evening. Houses are decorated with flowers.

Do you decorate the doors, everyday, with flowers?
That's a practice during the full month of Chaitra (March/April). Before sunrise, flowers are spread on the thresholds of each and every house.

Do you have a village deity?
Yes, it is called Posu deity. We have a little enclosure.

Do you worship him daily?
No, the village deity is worshipped only when our wishes are fulfilled or on an auspicious occasion, otherwise he is not worshipped. We say, "Oh Lord, if I succeed in doing this, or achieving that, then I'll worship you". If it is done, the deity is worshipped.

Do you have a family god?
Yes, goddess Devi is our family god.

Do you worship Devi once a month or once a year?
No, the Devi is worshipped on Ashtami (eight days preceding full moon, and in this case the festival of Dussehra) of Asooj month and on Ashtami of Chaitra month.

What is the name of the Devi?
Durga Devi.

Do you have electricity in the village?
Section 14
Do you have the supply daily?
No, it's not daily.

How many times in a week?
Normally we get it on every day of the week but during winters when it snows on the Radi hill then the electric wires get snapped, the trees also fall down, this results in a break in supply of electric current. We get the supply from Uttarkashi, mainly when the sky is clear.

In your days what was the arrangement for light?
Chilke (made from the dried bark of pine or bhimal wood) were used for light. In fact all one work was done with chilke. You all have kerosene oil, electricity and gas cylinders.

Do people use gas cylinders for cooking?
No, in villages no. But those who have left the village do use it. Here we still have the chulti (hearth).

How and from how far away do you get firewood?
From very far, we spend the whole day.

Do you carry some refreshment?

Do people go alone or in a group?
They go in a group because one feels very scared going alone so far into the forest.

Do boys and girls both help alike in farming?
Yes, they all do, but the boys don't work as well as they used to earlier. Girls still can. Boys plough the fields. My son, who is a student of class XII gets up at 5 o' clock in the morning, ploughs the fields, comes back, has his breakfast and gets ready to go to school.

What was the arrangement for education in your times? Were there schools?
There was nothing.

How did the educated get their education?
They used to go to Rajgarhi, far from Naugaon. There was a school, as people say, we never saw it.

Are there any educated woman of your age?
No, nobody.

Do villagers educate their daughters?
Yes, whether a person has four or six or one, all the girls are getting education.

What type of education is suitable for girls, in your opinion?
I feel that girls should not be educated.
Section 15
If they have to slog, cut grass, till the earth, then what use is education? Moreover, they earn a bad name - then why educate them?

What bad name?
When in school only the girls had two abortions. Do you think it is proper? Is it education? If this is what the girl does, why educate her?

Who makes your ukhal?
We can't make stone ukhals. For this masons are called from outside. But we can make wooden ukhals. At times when the masons themselves come from other villages then we get the stone ukhal made by them.

Do you have an electric mill?
No. We beat the paddy in the ukhal but some people who have ponies or horses do carry paddy to the flour mill [in Naugaon]. We beat it by hand - just have a look - I have got small dangs (fissures on the palms) because of this. Even grass cutting causes these.

What jewellery did you put on for your wedding?
Nowadays hardly any jewellery is to be found. Only jimanya (a necklace) and earrings are the present day items of jewellery.

What were the ornaments in your days?
We had gold and silver ornaments. A nath (nose-ring) of 4 or 5 tolas (one tola =10 gms) - big ones. I had a nath of 4 tolas, bulak (ring worn in the centre of the nose) of 1 tola. For ears - big ear rings - jhumkas. For the upper portion of the ear were murkis, 4-8 of them; kanthi for the neck, and khajali, ghagula, chura, all of silver, for the hands. Some had kantha - it had a dangling chupka (a big hanging bunch) towards the back made of silver. It could be worn as a necklace too. For the feet were pajeb and ikyuri, which had a tinkling, sounds. These were also made of silver. When we went to the village fairs bedecked in these ornaments dunat and punat (musical sounds made by the jewellery) could be heard very distinctly.

What are dunat and punat?
Oh! As you can hear the bells of the pony, similarly our ornaments also produced a tinkling sound. [Interviewer has heard this music of ornaments in her childhood.]

Did you wear these daily?
No. They were worn for going to the fairs. For daily wear we had a necklace - having 9 coins - looking like a rupee coin - and a moong mala kandudi (coral necklace), and for ears and nose we had earrings and nose-pins - not to be removed, ever.
Section 16
When you wore so many ornaments, was there no fear of thieves?
There were no thieves. There were no vehicles, so no thieves. Thieves came along with vehicles.

When did you see vehicles around here?
At the time of my son's birth. He is around 29/28 years old. So vehicles came at about that time. First came jeeps, bigger vehicles came much later.

How did you go out before that?
I never went out earlier. Recently I did when I fell ill. I was taken to Saharanpur. I was suffering from pairava (?). When I turned very serious I was taken to Bajat (Naugaon) on a dandi (stretcher). I fell unconscious. I could not get treatment here. From there we travelled by bus.

Now there is an education facility. Do you think children are utilising it properly?
No, it is not going on well. No studies are going on. They take their pay, give instructions, that's all. In intermediate colleges education is a failure. Schools do open everyday but the gents and lady teachers are only busy talking. Good teachers don't come here. They don't teach full-time.

Why? Don't you all tell them to teach properly?
No, we don't. We also send our children out for grazing cattle. We tell them to miss school. Even we are careless, not serious. We tell our children to miss the day's school. Children love to play. Even parents go to school and get leave sanctioned so that they work instead of getting an education.

What do you keep doing once the fieldwork is over?
A farmer's work never ends - it's never ending. If there is no work in the fields then we get firewood, store it for winter season. Everyday we go to get firewood for cooking. We beat and clean the paddy. In winter we have lot of work of washing wool, carding it, some make the puni (skein). [All the family members are busy doing various jobs of weaving wool. This carries on round the clock in winter.] In the evening, the women, daughters and daughters-in-law clean the wool, and the men-folk spin it. The older lot carries on narrating long tales. All this work is done sitting around the hearth.

Do the village children wear woollen clothes?
Yes, they wear coats of red [brown], white or black colour according to their choice. This is home made wool.

What dresses do you like?
I like the traditional single dress. [Ghagri kurta, safa and sadri for the head. The older women wear red and purple woollen gath (cloth wrapped around the waist) or long belts.] This is the dress in the villages.

How do you save seeds from insects?
We don't use any medicine. We dry the grains very well in sunlight. Then it is kept in closed containers. We don't touch it nor allow anyone to touch it.
Section 17
Do you have any special containers for keeping seeds?

I have seen wheat being destroyed by insects. Does it not happen here?
We dry it properly and put in some walnut leaves as a medicine.

How do you preserve kauni, fauda (?)?
These are not eaten away by insects. They remain safe under all conditions.

What are the vegetables of this area?
Lauki (bottle gourd) godri (variety of gourd, used as a body scrub when dried), chachenda (snake gourd), rai (mustard), palak (spinach), kadoo (pumpkin), onion, brinjal (aubergine), charkakdi (cucumber), capsicum, etc.

Do you have any women's association in the village?
Yes, we have meetings twice a month. Pratima is the secretary.

What are the activities of the Mahila Mangal Dal (rural women’s council)?
They say that we should do our farming properly and do not violate any rules, and so on.

Do you have any other organisation like jawahar rojgar yojna (government employment scheme)?
I have no idea.

Do the villagers follow the joint family system?
The joint family system is better.

In difficult times nuclear families suffer greatly as their entire work comes to a standstill. There is nobody to look after agriculture or the household chores for that matter. Whereas in a family which is joint, the work goes on smoothly in adverse times too. Agriculture, jungle, house, cattle, all the related activities go on as usual. For example, if a member of the joint family falls sick, in that case one person does the looking after and the others carry on with the other jobs. This is why a joint family is better off.

Do you rear sheep?

You need green leaves to feed them. Where do you get it from?
We feed them on bhimal leaves.
Section 18
Which other leaves are used as fodder?
Thokaryam (?) and khadik are the other trees. Their leaves are also used. No other leaves.

If we start a tree plantation in your villages, which are the trees that you want us to plant?
I would like banj and buranjh (rhododendron) trees.

Would you like us to plant fruit-bearing trees?
Please listen to these people. I don't know all these people who plant trees, plant a particular type of tree, I don't know the name. [Narrator points to tree plantation but is unable to explain]. They do plant trees but their leaves can't be fed to cattle. Yet the trees that they plant do need proper care and looking after. They plant trees and go, never to come back. Is this the way trees are planted? Care of trees is very essential. These people take good pay from the government. But they do not work properly. For protecting trees - they have to be reared like small babies. As a small baby has to be fed milk, bathed and looked after in other ways, exactly in the same manner a small sapling needs to be looked after. These people don't even enclose the trees that they plant, leave aside taking care of them. There is no grass there. They have ruined our forest.

Do oak and rhododendron trees flourish here?
Yes. How is it that they are found in Dakhiyat village? These villagers have themselves planted these trees. Now there is a good forest in that area. Nobody can say that this forest has been specially created or planted. We have come to know that the villagers of Dakhiyat have themselves planted these trees.

You people can also make a similar effort in your village, can't you?
The youth of this village should have done it but they are not making any such attempt. Why don't the people who come for planting trees plant these species? It's their job. Is money making the only job left? People in Dakhiyat village are very sensible. That's why they have succeeded in growing such a forest.

What is special about banj and buranjh?
They give water. Then roots retain water. The water of a banj buranjh forest is very cool. The manure of its leaves is very good for agricultural purposes. Sheep and goats also eat the leaves. These trees are good. How can we get water without these trees? Trees are very necessary for retaining water of the soil. The manure of these leaves is much better and superior compared to the government manure.

Do you have a panchayati (belonging to the village) forest?
We graze our cattle. There are no trees.

Can the cattle not be grazed anywhere else?
If you leave the cattle anywhere then they eat away even the crops. If the cattle eat away the crops in others' fields, then we get abuse from the field owners. In addition we have to pay some fine also. Had we got only abuse we would feel quite happy [narrator remarks jokingly], but we have to pay as much money as is asked.
Section 19
How much fine are you made to pay?
As much as the panchayat (village council) wishes.

Do you obey the panchayat decisions?
Yes, we do.

Do women take part in panchayat work?
Ujad panchayat (council responsible for the harvest) consists of women only. Cattle rearing is also the women's responsibility. Therefore anything related to this, and the disputes, are settled by the women's panchayat. They pass the verdict, which has to be obeyed.

Is there a panchayat to sort out family disputes?
Yes, but it is a men's panchayat only. Their decision is final.

Are Harijans (low caste) members of the panchayat?
Yes, but we have only one Harijan family in the village. That is our paswan - we call it pari.

What do you mean by paswan?
Paswan means one who gathers everyone for meetings and calls everybody.

Who beats the drum?
The drum beater, whom we call jhomarya, comes from Mora village. There is a common jhomarya for four to five villages.

Do you pay him something?
We give him food grains. At the time of the reaping of the harvest every family gives him a fixed portion out of the new harvest.

Are the implements used for agriculture made in the village itself?
No, we buy our implements from the neighbouring villages. They also get a fixed portion of the harvest in return. Bisai (a vessel for drying food grains) is made by people from Bhandarsu. It is very far from here. These people make tin bisais. The people who make ringal (baskets) come from further up, ie. Syalanu Sukanu. They charge money. A ringal nowadays costs 60 to 70 rupees but it was only 5 rupees in our days.

Can you tell us some event in your life, which is unforgettable and keeps haunting you?
I don't get you. What are you hinting at?

Any happy or unhappy event in your life which is difficult to forget.
If I tell you all that, it will take nine days and nine nights to finish the narration! You can't find anyone in the whole of India who can be unhappier than I am. There is a reason for that. I had a husband who was not of my age, I had no brother, but why tell others about it? It is better to keep it to oneself. “Silence is sweeter than gur (unrefined sugar).” I was the only child of my father. I lost my mother at the age of five. My father also expired early, after my marriage. My father re-married. I had a stepmother but as the saying goes, "No one cares for the dead of the other family." I could not get love and affection from the stepmother. Again, as the proverb goes, "Only the mother who gives birth feel the pain, or the children of the mother feel the difficulties of the mother." Strangers can't be your well wishers.
Section 20
Do you get kaleva (food gift from natal family)?
I don't get it as I have no brothers. Those who have, get it twice a year, once in the month of Magh and then Chaitra. In the month of Chaitra they send puri, akhan (a vessel filled with gifts) and arsa (traditional sweet dish). Arsa is made of rice flour. We slaughter goats in the month of Magh. It's a festival so they send kaleva of roti (bread) and meat.

For how long is the kaleva sent?
For the whole of lifetime. As long as we are alive, kaleva comes twice a year from parents.

What is the time to visit the parents’ place?
Sending kaleva is a message and indication that they should visit the parents. So they visit according to their convenience.

Do women get full respect in families and society?
Yes, they do.

While talking to you I gathered that you were very young at the time of your marriage. What was the approximate age for marriage?
It is early marriage, generally. In Jaunsar and Manjheti they still have very early marriages. But now we do not have early marriages.

Have the marriage customs and traditions changed?
Yes, videocassettes are very common and you can see a few photographs displayed.

Do you like the old traditional ornaments or the new types?
I have never been fond of them. I had a big nath which I hardly wore. I had all other ornaments, but I wore only earrings.

Does your village have a goldsmith?
No. We got one ornament made in a village called Bagasu. It's a village of goldsmiths only. We also got ukhal of popular from outside.

What do you use for making buttermilk?
We make it in a parotha (wooden vessel for churning curd).

Do you make it here?
No, we buy it. The price varies from size to size. We get them ranging from 100 to 200 or 400 to 500 rupees.
Section 21
What wood is used for making it?
Sheesham (a broadleaf hardwood) and sandan (a deciduous hardwood) wood is used.

Do you have sheesham here?

Do you believe in ghosts and witches?
To a very great extent. We believe in dain (ghost/evil spirit), jogan (witch), everything.

Do you have faith in dain and ghosts?
I do. When we go to the forest many people fall prey to evil spirits. Then they dance, and the person who is under this spell is beaten and the evil spirit runs away.

Do people get fully cured?

Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, as a village saying goes, your beliefs are in accordance with the place in which you live. When you go to the plains, there are no ghosts and people do not believe in all this.

How do dain and ghosts look?
[Laughs loudly] I could tell you, had I been a dain myself.

Then how can you make out that a person has fallen prey to an evil spirit?
Well, for instance, I go out somewhere and a woman tells me that I am looking very pretty. I return home and fall sick. That is how we get to know that the woman is a dain and that she has an evil eye and has seized me. We also have veer (legendary courageous people born in the mountains) like a dain, and when he captures someone then the person takes ill. Then the deity dances and says that it is because of the veer. The veer leaves alone those people whose goats are sacrificed. To save one life another life is sacrificed. Then the veer goes away.

Do you get sufficient rainfall?
For the last four to five years it has not been raining properly. Drought conditions are prevailing. Earlier it used to rain a lot.

What is the reason for this decline?
I can't understand what it is due to - without rain nothing grows in this village.

Does it snow here?
Yes, in winter it snows but it melts fast.
Section 22
How long did it last when you were young?
For at least one whole day. It never lasted very long, though.

Did you wear shoes earlier?
Very rarely. Whatever shoes the shoemaker produced we wore only those.

Were there shoemakers?
Yes, there were earlier. They used to go from one village to another selling shoes. The shoe soles were made by the cobblers and then the upper part was knitted in coloured wool. We wore those shoes. Mainly the men-folk wore shoes. The women roamed around barefoot. Nobody bothered about the women catching a chill!

Do you think the women were better off earlier or in the modern times?
The modern days are better for women but bad for men. These days men earn money so that the families get their meals, or else they starve. Earlier on, whether he remained idle or worked with randa (implement used for cutting wood) he earned money. In the old days men also worked with women as they were illiterate slaves. They had no option but to work. Agriculture was the be all and end all.

Did you ever experience an earthquake?
Yes, but of very light intensity. It was not so severe here as it was in Jamak village.
[Maneri, where there is a weir for a run off river project on the Bhagirathi, and Jamak village are near Uttarkashi. Both places suffered severe damage and loss of life during the 1991 earthquake in Garhwal.]
Our house walls cracked and the slates of the roof fell down. We had to put them back.

Did you get the cracks repaired?
No. My house is too big and I'll have to remove the entire plaster to do that. I don't have so much money.

Didn't you get any aid from the government?

The four-storey houses were not damaged?
The houses, having jod (joints), were not damaged because in wooden houses wood is joined and then fitted. Therefore there is no fear of collapse. The houses made of stone and clay break. My house is huge. Wherever stone and clay has been used, it has cracked. Otherwise there is no damage.

Is your village connected with by road?
Yes, it is being done now, but the road construction is not yet complete.

Will it benefit you?
Not me, but it will my children. It is going to take that long, I suppose. I will be dead by then. Right now they have just destroyed our fields and chopped down trees.

Did you get any compensation money for losing the land?
Yes, but money comes and is spent fast. The land for agriculture stays. We should have got the land. The road may come anytime but we always need our land and field, which look after us.
Section 23
Can you recollect any anecdote from the princely time?
No. I can't.

Thank you for sparing your precious time.