photo of Indian woman Garwhal and Kumaon
India glossary








tea shop owner/farmer


Sileth, Khadi, Tehri Garhwal


December 1993



Section 1
Your good name?
Kalyan Singh, aged 93 years.

For how long have you been living in this village? And from where did your ancestors come to reside here?
We have had many generations here and it is said that our ancestors came here from Kumaon Mandal.

How many members are there in your family?
In our family there are my four sons, four daughters-in-law and their children.

Do the children study in school?

How far is the school and up to which class is it?
The school is five kilometres away from the village and is from class 1 to 12.

Do boys and girls both go to school?
Yes, now both boys and girls study in school.

But because the school is far away, the children must be going to study at a very late age?
Yes, only after completing nearly eight years children are able to go to school, and because the road is also through jungle (forest).

Is there any facility of balwadi (creche), anganwadi (vocational workshop for women and children) in which the children can receive education at a young age?
No, there is no such facility.

What is the facility for higher education?
At Tehri - approximately 30 -35 kilometres [away].

Who is the most educated in your family? And up to which class?
My grandsons, who are studying in eighth and tenth classes.

In your family, your sons, do all of them live together or...?
My family, that is the families of my four sons, live separately.
Section 2
Do you believe the traditional way of marriage was right or the modern way?
Yes, the modern way is right, because....

At what age did you marry?
At a young age of eight or nine years.

Where is your wife?
She died 23 years ago.

With whom do you live?
I live alone in one room and the arrangement for food is with each of the sons by turn.

You are the head of the family. Does the family run according to you only?
I am the head of the family only in name, now. All the four sons run their families themselves.

Is there a feeling of love among members of the family?
Yes, all the family members live in peace with mutual understanding and each shares the otherís responsibilities.

What are the sources of income for the family?
In the family, the first son does a job and the second after retiring from SSB (Senior Secondary Board) 10-12 years ago, does the household jobs now. The third and fourth ones do house work and cultivation and are also working as labourers, to run the family.

What did you do in your early years? And how did your daily routine go until today?
In my life, I ran a small teashop and brought up my family in a proper way with limited resources.

What type of, and how much, farm land do you posses?
All the land is un-irrigated and in a very limited quantity.

How much and what type of cereals are grown?
Very small quantities of cereals are grown; mainly rice, wheat, til (sesame seeds), mandua and jhangora (varieties of millet). But because of forests, wild animals like monkeys, apes and boars cause harm.

Did you never try to protect the land from them?
Many attempts were made, but unsuccessful.

How many families live in your village?
Around nine or ten families.
Section 3
How many communities of people live [here]?
Only one community - only Hindu Rajput.

Don't the families of Harijan (low caste) or other castes like Dhol (drummers), Bajangi (musicians) live in your village?
No, they live in other villages.

From where do you make arrangements for Dhol, Bajangi for fulfilling your needs (village social necessities)?
From other villages only - by payment.

Did similar arrangements exist before also?
No, earlier people were easily available.

Do blacksmiths, carpenters etc live in the village?

Do all the families live amicably in the village?
Yes, all live normally.

What is the state of gram panchayat (village council) in the village? And how is the working of this organisation different from the traditional one?
The organisation that was there before, that is sarpanch (head of the panchayat). It is not there now and everyone takes decisions also in his own way. The people earlier were a bit wise and used to take right decisions but now some foolish and corrupt people are runners of this organisation who donít take right decisions. For example, the day before yesterday, in our village there was the marriage of a girl, the barat (marriage procession) entered the village but in the meantime an old manís death occurred. And the villagers took out the dead body of the dead man for cremation before sending back the barat. While this kind of act is considered inauspicious. If the earlier wise men were alive and if the present people followed their values today then this kind of inauspicious act would have been prevented and the dead man would have been taken out for cremation after the departure of the marriage party.

During your lifetime in this village, what changes have occurred in the village - organisation, population, etc?
Ever since I have been living in this village, there hasnít been any significant change. Because, even if there is a little increase in the population there is no scope for the expansion of the village. The village is surrounded by the forest boundaries on all sides. And right from the back of the houses, the Uttar Pradesh Boundary Regulatory rules were made because of which the expansion of the village is restricted even if one wanted to expand. There is no possibility for the expansion of farming, because of which the migration of some people from this village to other places is taking place.

Are there any social and welfare organisations in your village and what do they do?
Yes, there is an organisation whose functions are prohibition [of alcohol] and so on.
Section 4
Do the young people of today follow the footsteps of the older generations?
No, especially not according to us because we ourselves are incapable of telling them anything.

Do you people like the earlier traditions or the present ones? What is the difference between them?
The previous situation was fine on some issues and the present on some issues. Previously, there was only the monarchy in Tehri [Tehri Garhwal was a princely state till 1948 with a Maharajah at the head], with its forced labour. But its decisions were carried out quickly which was good. The punishment given was according to the nature of crime and the execution was with one person only. In the present day every person is free, but in any dispute there is no strong legal action on the decision and execution. That's why compared to the earlier times, it is not that satisfactory. And the reason for this: the execution of law and order is done by various people.

Are there any practices set for marriage, that is distance, caste, community? What are the changes compared to earlier times?
The marriages take place according to our community only like olden times. If it is written in somebody's fate they will be married far way.

Are the fairs and festivals celebrated in the traditional way only in the villages, or is there any change nowadays?
Yes, the fairs and festivals are perhaps celebrated in the old way except that these days because of the enhancement in economic condition of people, they are celebrated in a colourful and better way.

What is the health situation in the village? Are there physicians or not or the practitioners of traditional medicine? And do you feel a difference in the traditional method and the modern one?
Earlier, we used to believe in the physicians and used to get well with little medicine only. But now there are no physicians or vaids (practitioners of indigenous medicine) and the hospital is very far off [approx. 6-7 kilometres] and this situation is not satisfactory to me. The earlier food habits were such that diseases were very few but today's food habits are adding to the increase in diseases. Earlier there was lots of ghee (clarified butter) and milk but today, people feel lazy to rear buffaloes and cows.

What are the sources of drinking water in the village? What is the situation in comparison to earlier times?
There has always been shortage of water. The main source is not nearby. The water comes from a distance of 15 or 16 kms through pipelines.

A small rivulet is flowing near the village through which water can be brought here. Did you people not make any attempts to bring it here?
We thought about this many times, but the village is not equipped with man power and financial resources on its own and the government does not pay attention to our words. Earlier, when there was no bridge for going to this rivulet from here and there, then may people ended their lives by drowning in it. Now, a bridge has been constructed after many attempts.
Section 5
Are the gods and goddesses worshipped in the traditional way?
Yes, earlier people use to offer animal sacrifice. Now only flowers...

Do people still believe in gods and goddesses like olden times, or is there any loss of faith? And what is the view regarding ghosts in the present?
Yes, the belief in gods and goddess exists today also, and people believe in ghosts also like olden times.

Are any narcotic drugs made, sold in the village?

Can't you produce some commercial crops besides the traditional cultivation?
Due to the excessive prevalence of wild animals here, improving agriculture is very difficult.

Does cultivation of fruits also take place here and of what kind? How do you use them?
In very small quantities - mangoes and lemons. They are or household use only.

What kind of wild animals are present?
Amongst the wild animals mainly boars, cheetah, wild fowl, stags, hare, monkeys, apes etc, are present.

Is there any spinning, weaving activity in the village? What was the situation earlier and what is the possibility in future?
No, there is no such activity since earlier times. And there is no livelihood [from this] in the future also.

What kind of cattle is there in the village?
Only cows and buffaloes.

Aren't goats and sheep reared?
No, they are not reared due to the threat of wild animals.

Are there any varieties of trees in the forest, which may be useful commercially?
Yes, but they are sufficient for the needs of the village. Trees like amla, pine, etc,

Is there no forest-based industry established here?
Yes, there is only a small wooden vessel-making machine from which utensils for making butter from milk, vessels for making curd are made. But the wood for running the factory here is mainly imported from outside. In the village, trees are available only for making small vessels for household use.

Are any restrictions or work done by you or the government to protect the forests?
There is no special scheduled programme. The villagers try a bit from their side.
Section 6
Is the fodder for cattle and fuel for burning available?
Yes, up to now they have been sufficient.

What are the facilities for cattle grazing?
The animals go to the forests for grazing but slowly the forest fodder (grass) is getting destroyed due to the growth and propagation of a special type of grass [possibly black bamboo].

Did you ever have to face a landslide or other natural calamity in this area? And are there any steps taken by the government for their prevention?
No. Neither has such a calamity occurred nor has the government taken any steps for prevention.

Are there any advantages of the forests? Is there any decline compared to the previous time?
Yes, grass, fodder, fuel and construction wood for personal use, etc. Earlier, forests were very dense. But there has been a decline due to the cutting and taking away of timber by outside people.

Do the women have any benefits of the forest? And what is the workload on them?
Yes, women only have many benefits of the forest. They donít have to go far for fodder and fuel. And the workload is less due to the forests.

What is the condition of small industries like water run mills and electric mills for cutting, milling and grinding?
The water run mill is at a distance of two km near the village, which has been in working condition. And for cutting and milling an electric facility is there 5 km away.

What is your opinion on the Tehri Dam. Would there be any advantage of the scheme, once made?
I don't have the right information about this but once made, it will definitely be useful.

What is the prevailing traditional practice of cremation in your village? Has there been any change from the traditional practice in the present?
In the village, the cremation is done in the nearby water outlet itself. And the ashes and the remains are taken to Haridwar or Rishikesh for immersing in the Ganga. This practice is there from early days. All the people from the village and those around participate according to their will. Terahveen after 13 days, and Shradh (anniversary of death) after one year is performed.

Are there any religious sites, temples etc, in the village and what is their significance?
Yes there is a small Shiva (major Hindu god) temple where prayers and worship are done. But its structure is still traditional; no restoration has been done.

Is the worship of gods and goddesses carried out in the traditional way or is there any change? And which gods are there?
Yes, everybody celebrates together in the traditional way: perform prayers and worship mainly of Nagraj and Lord Narasimha. Earlier, the gods to be worshipped were offered animal sacrifices to please them. But this practice is not there now. Now, only rote prasad (sacred bread) and sriphal (coconut) are used for worshipping. And the gods are propitiated by beating bronze plates and drums. But earlier a goat used to come for 7 or 8 rupees. [The cost of the coconut today is more than a goat used to be]. The practice of animal sacrifice has been stopped after the mutual agreement of the villagers.
Section 7
What are your views on family planning? Why won't people take advantage of this now that it is available?
Yes, family planning is good. But due to the constant increase in the first-borns being girls and a desire for boys, this is not possible. Because even today, the birth of a son is considered essential for the redemption of the ancestral obligations.

Do you people like working outside the village or any occupation, agriculture or others?
Due to poor financial conditions, occupations cannot be managed in a right way so mostly people like to go out and work.

Would you tell how in your times, business, occupations, etc used to be run and in what way? What is the position now?
In our times, people used to take as profit a limited and small amount while doing business or occupation, by quoting right prices and telling the right things. But in the present times, people want to earn more profit with a limited effort by telling lies. Meaning, nobody reveals the right position. For example, in Narendra Nagar, one has seen the statues of three monkeys. The ears are closed in one, eyes are closed in the second, and eyes and ears are closed in the third. They are kept with their heads down. The first one signifies that I don't listen, the second, I don't see any thing and the third one means I don't see nor do I hear, and I also don't speak. This is the situation today. All work with their mouths shut on purpose.
In our times, we have purchased 5kg of oil for 1 rupee and 5 annas (old currency). And during the financial difficulties faced while bringing up the families, we used to buy food items by selling grass for 6 annas and buying 40kg of rice at 5 rupees per maund (approx. 40kg). We used to get wheat at 3 or 4 rupees per maund. But the rice being absolutely clear and of good quality, we used to buy more of rice. So, according to me, in this matter nowadays injustice is being done.

How long ago was this?
Around 24 years ago.

What was the state of markets when the roads weren't near the village?
Earlier we used to get the food ration items, jaggery (unrefined sugar), salt, oil, etc, from Rishikesh, by walking 50-55 kms and carrying them on our back.

In the present time, do you find any advantages after the roads have been built? And the role of roads in employment?
The distances have decreased due to the building of roads and there is no employment-related importance. Rather, even the village here is shaken by the blasts on the road.
Section 8
Can you narrate a story, or sing a song or ballad of your times?
[The narrator sings]

Do you want live for some more years?
No. Now whenever I have to get up and go out for toilet, etc, I feel incapable. That is why, death is better.

According to your experience, can you suggest some economically progressive ways, which can bring financial growth?
Yes, firstly if the government could do something for the expansion of land. Because, for the expansion of village and farming there is Uttar Pradesh Government's forest land around the village due to which the expansion is restricted.

Besides this, any other development scheme which you want, like education, about health?
Yes, if all the facilities are near by, small children can go to the school and on falling sick can go to the hospital.
At this point the narrator expressed his inability to answer further questions.