photo of Indian woman Garwhal and Kumaon
India glossary


(INDIA 34)








Dharwal village, Bhagirathi valley, Tehri Garhwal


April 1994



Section 1
What is the name of your village?
Dharwal village.

What is your name?

What is your age?
70 years.

How many children do you have?
I have a daughter, her name is Suridevi. She is the eldest. My older son is a teacher. His name is Pratap Singh. Younger than him is Mahipal Singh. He is 38 years old. Buddhi Singh is younger than him and he is 35 years old. He is a doctor. And the youngest son is 27 years old. Buddhi Singh is a Major in the Army.

Is your daughter also literate?
No. [Indicates with a negative nod]

All your sons are literate, why did she not study?
There was a lot of agricultural work to do and I was all alone. There was no one to help me in farming. Therefore she did not study. She used to work with me.

Were any other village girls studying at that time?
No, there were no other girls studying at that time. They all used to work.

Do you know how to read and write?
No, I am not literate. Had I been, I would not have been like this. I would have remembered something.

What is your livelihood?
I do farming. We get grains and vegetables from our own fields. I do not purchase grains from the shop.

All men stay away from the house. Then how do you do the farming?
I work in the fields by myself. My sons stay away. They buy from the shops and eat.
Section 2
In your time what was the reason for women being illiterate?
No one used to teach the girls. All of them were taught farming because farming was the main occupation. This was the reason of being illiterate. At that time, people never paid much attention to jobs/services.

In your opinion what kind of education should girls have?
In the present times, everyone should study.

Because this is the era of education; the world belongs to the well-read people. No one thinks about agriculture. Everyone thinks about jobs. People think more about staying outside [in cities or where they work] and less about the village. They pay more attention to money and less to farming.

All the boys of the village have gone away. They do not do farming. How do you feel about this?
How do I feel? You are asking me? What can I say? If they do not do farming, then what can we do? We are still doing it according to our capability. Now the times have changed, nobody listens to anybody. The illiterates or those who do not have any jobs are the only ones who do farming. Those who got jobs have left farming.

All your sons stay away. Why don't you live with them?
I don't like cities at all. So I don't go.

We have spent all our life in these mountains, in our village. We like it here. We like neither the language nor the food of the cities. We cannot understand the language. In food, take rice for example, they eat rotten rice and we eat fresh rice which is tastier.

For how long have you stayed outside?
This time I stayed away [in Allahabad] for a month. Earlier also I stayed away, sometimes for a few days.

What did you do there?
I used to cook food, eat and stay inside the house. Sometimes we used to go out to the Sangam (the confluence of the river Ganga and Yamuna). I came back after a month. I used to keep sitting there, did not speak to anyone, did not give anything to anyone, just kept sitting (ie lived a suffocating life). In our home, we live in an open atmosphere in the village. We talk to the people of the village and live a happy life. We all have good family ties and don't feel lonely. As long as I have the strength to live alone, I will stay here in the village. The day I become weak I will go to my sons. I will have to go then. But I would like to live independently for now.

In your times, how was the relationship between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law?
Many mothers and daughter-in-laws used to fight. Some were nice also. It all depends upon the nature of the person. People with good natures do not harass anyone. Some daughter-in-laws were also very sharp. Some devranis (husband's younger brother's wife) and jethanis (husband's elder brother's wife) also used to fight. But both of us, devrani and jethani, live like real sisters till today. Some people can call it self-praise as well. But it is true. The sweetness in relations depends upon the nature of the people living in the society. I had a cow. It was with me until December. My devrani and I both used to go together to get fodder. When I went to Allahabad, my devrani looked after the cow. Now the cow has been sold. Even now there are both good and bad people in the [village] society. But the good ones are more in number.
Section 3
You say that some mother and daughter-in-laws had tense relations; in what way? Please explain this to me.
Some mothers did not give enough food to their daughter-in-laws because there was scarcity of food as there were no shops in the village. Now there is a government shop in the village so those who fall short of food buy from there. A millstone that works with electricity has also been put up, so wheat can be ground here. At that time wheat had to be taken to the gharat (water mill) for grinding, which were located far from the houses. So, as soon as the mothers felt the scarcity, they used to control the food limit of the daughters-in-law. They did not starve them but they could not eat to their heart's content.

Did your mother-in-law give you enough food?
No, our food was also cut down. Sometimes when the food was less in the house, we were also given less to eat. We thought if we could get a little more it would be better, but we couldn't get it. They used to eat wheat chapatis (thin flat bread) and gave us barley and millet chapatis to eat. Millet is not used for making chapatis. [It is sown less. Now it is used only in puja (ritual prayer) for havan (sacred fire rituals), or mixed in fodder to make animals, particularly bulls, stronger.] Earlier in bandarkot (water-logged cultivation) only barley was sown. We used to eat barley and millet chapatis whereas the elders of the house and the sons used to eat wheat chapatis.

What is the condition of girls in the village now?
Now the condition of girls is better. People are teaching their daughters to read and write. Some girls are still illiterate. They do farming and look after the earth.

Do the girls who are studying also do farming?
Yes, the girls who are studying in the village are also able to do farming.

Do the boys do farming?
Yes, the boys also farm. They carry the grains from the field to the house on their back. They help their mothers.

Your village has alliances (relationships) up until which place?
Earlier it was up to Tehri and in the nearby villages (around 35-40 km away). But now there are alliances much further, like Pauri, Chamoli (other districts in Garhwal). Both my daughter-in-laws come from there, one belongs to Pauri and another to Chamoli.
Section 4
How many people of your village are in the cities?
Ten to fifteen families stay outside [in cities]. They have settled there. But these people also come home sometimes. They all have jobs.

What is the main festival of your village?
Diwali is the main festival in which we particularly make puri (type of fried bread) and pakodas (vegetables fried in batter made from chickpea) and bhailla (a fire game) is played. [At night the whole village gathers in the field and a fire game is played with burning torches and various tricks are displayed]. Bhailla is tied to a wild creeper and a long length is left at the back so that it is easy to rotate the burning torch. Earlier we used to worship it on the stone and then take it to the village temple beating drums. From there we went towards the fields to play. Another festival is Vaishali in which we mainly prepare papadi (special dish made from rice flour). The second festival is Cholda. It is celebrated the day Baisakh (second month of Hindu calendar; April/May) begins. In this festival chold (deer or stag figures) are made of flour and cooked in oil. These are then given to the children who take them to the wells of their respective villages. There is a banyan tree. Children worship their chold near the water and also the banyan tree and then they eat the chold. This is what specifically happens on this day. It is a children’s festival. All the boys and girls play together.

Is there any legend behind this festival? Why is it celebrated in this manner?
No. We celebrated it in this way and the children also learn it like this. I have not heard any story. I don't know the reason why it is celebrated like this.

Are there other festivals that are celebrated?
Yes, there are many small festivals. One is called Khichadi festival. It is celebrated on the Makar-sankaranti day. This festival is celebrated in Magh (January/February) month on Sankrant day (first day of every Hindu calendar month) in the entire country. Everybody here makes khichadi of urad dal (a variety of pulse) in the morning and eats it. There is a festival of Shri Panchami. It is also called Basant Panchami.

What do you do on that day?
That day drums are played and puri and pakodas are made in the village. Sweet rice (yellow in colour) is mainly prepared, barley is taken to the fields and Brahmins used to worship it. Now we worship the barley ourselves. Now the Brahmins give us a cotton thread and tell us the direction in which to worship.

Why is the direction given by the Brahmin worshipped?
The members of the house on whose Zodiac sign the Panchami festival falls worship Panchami facing the direction given by the Brahmin. The person who worships takes some cow dung, green barley, a vessel full of yellow coloured water, sweet rice, puris and pakoda with him and worships the four directions in the fields. This prayer is for the fields and this festival is of the fields. Drums are also taken for the prayer and are played. In the villages above ours (at the top of the mountain) people take bulls to the fields and worship them and also the tools that are used in farming are worshipped. This festival is for worshipping the fields.
Section 5
Is there any festival of flowers?
Yes, in the month of Chaitra (March/April) everyday in the morning flowers are strewn in the houses. This festival is completed on the day of Baishaki. The day of Chaitra begins, in the early morning at dawn, children of each locality gather together and go to the fields to get flowers and before sunrise put the flowers on door steps of the houses. Earlier the girls used to stay at their friends’ houses in turn at night so –
that it was not necessary to call them early the next morning. Even now the girls do it, because they are scared to go early in the morning alone. I have no children in my house to put flowers, so my neighbour’s children come and put flowers at my doorstep everyday. Other children put flowers in the houses in which there are no children. Then these children are called on Baishaki day, worshipped and offered food and money according to one’s capacity.

Flowers are put before sunrise, even before sunrise touches the tip of mountains. Why is it so?
They say flowers turn impure. In our times, flowers were put on the doorsteps while it was dark, now it is done even after dawn. Flowers put before sunrise are considered pure.

Do you have a fair here?
There is a fair in Cham. Earlier the fair used to be nice. People never used to drink, so the fair used to be peaceful and celebrated happily. Now there is a fashion of drinking. People have started drinking more; therefore sometimes there is a quarrel now.

Are songs sung in the fair?
No songs are not sung. Some women sit on the giant-wheel, those who do not feel shy. In our times women never used to sit on the giant-wheel. Women who do not feel shy also go for a swing. All men and women keep sitting on it, it does not look good. It is not good for women to sit on the wheel. It goes high up in the sky and then comes down. Then this game does not look good with men or boys.

Are drums played here during a funeral?
No, it was not taken earlier (the drums were not taken with the dead person earlier). But now in some places a dead person is taken with the drums playing.

Didi (respectable term for older women), did you ever go to a fair with uncle?
No, we have never been together to a fair. I used to go to my mother's home with him but he used to be ahead and I at the back. But later sometimes we used to go together. But earlier we never used to go together; it was embarrassing. Such were our times. Going together like people go nowadays was considered a brazen act. It was not a time like this.

What was the dress in your time?
Dhoti (cotton sari), kurta (loose fitting shirt), vasket (waistcoat) were worn. Now sari and blouse are worn, we are also wearing [them]. [But generally in the village, elderly ladies still wear dhoti, kurta and vasket]. We used to walk with bare feet and wore mended clothes at home. But now no one walks even a little without slippers. In our times we used to go to a fair with 4 annas (old currency used during the Raj), eat sweets and even used to wear bangles. Our father-in-law used to give us 4 annas to spend in the fair, sometimes even 12 annas. My father-in-law was also an agriculturist. Sometimes if his son gave us 2 or 4 rupees it used to be totally different. My devarani and I then used to go to the fair together.
Section 6
You are saying his son; that means who?
That means my husband.

What was his name?
They will tell you. [Points towards her son and grand-daughter. They were sitting outside in the courtyard].

Do you not know his name?
Can I take (say) his name? We do not take our husband's name. Taking the husband's name is being disrespectful to him.

Then how did you address him, if he was far?
When I had children, then I used to call him their name, such as, Pratap's father. But earlier we never even used to talk to each other in front of others. In the house we used to call or talk about some work indirectly through the medium of a child. Later when we had children and they grew up then we used to talk a little, but never took the name. But we used to talk to each other in private, not in front of others. I will still not take my husband's name.

Neelam (narrator’s granddaughter) has just told us that uncle's name was Shri Shiv Singh. So when you sing hymns or go to the temple do you not take the name of Shiv (narrator’s husband)?
Now I take [it] while singing hymns or saying the Shiv-Mantra but not earlier. Now Vyasji and Mahatma Ji (saints living in the temple) made me understand that my husband's name is god's name – so there is no sin in taking god's name and it does not mean disrespect of any kind to the husband. Therefore, while singing hymns I say Shiv and even say Lord Shivji. But earlier I used to refer to Shivji by another name.

When were you married?
I was married in my 18th year.

What jewellery did you wear in your marriage?
Golden nath (nose ring), bulak (worn in the centre of the nose), silver khagwali (necklace), silver nuerka worn at the top of the ears, there used to be three or four nuerka in one ear. [The rich and the brahmins wore nuerka made in gold]. Thick silver ghagula (bangles) worn in hands and silver murmak worn in ears with thick silver balls hanging down. At the back of the head used to be sheeshfool (silver ornament worn on the braid). I have lost my sheeshfool. A person’s sheeshfool used to hang over their long plait. Now it is hardly seen. Khagwali and nuerka are also very few now. Now chains, studded nath, tika, ear-rings are in fashion. Bulak has also vanished (gone out of fashion), no one wears it. It was also made of gold.
Section 7
Which jewels do you like?
I like old jewellery. Contemporary jewels are thin and small. They break very easily. If you are careless while farming, you cannot wear these jewels as they are so delicate. Our jewels were made of 3 or 4 tolas (30 or 40 gms: 1 tola=10 gms), in fact more. Nath was 5, 6 or even 7 tola in weight.

What was the system of dowry?
Every person used to give according to his capacity. Panchbadhai (the five important utensils used in the kitchen) was given. Plates, pots, lota, (small round pot), glass and ladle was always given. The village blacksmith used to give a knife for cutting vegetables as well as spade and a sickle [for agricultural use]. It used to be a gift from him. When a marriage takes place in our village, all the people invited bring a sack full of grains to give in the bride's house and if someone has curd or buttermilk they give that also in the bride's home. They also give milk. It is a very common thing. The [bride’s] house in which there is no milk, has no problem of milk or curd on the day of the wedding. Villagers give the girl utensils as gifts. Someone gives clothes. Earlier it was not given as dowry but as a token.

Did the father of the bride, in the early years, take money to let his daughter be married to the groom?
Yes, earlier many people, that is the father of the girl took money but [that] was long back. In my time this custom prevailed, but it is not so now. My friends’ fathers took money to get them married, but my marriage was that of daan (gift marriage); that is my father did not take any money for my marriage, he gave me in marriage.

Last night a lady was saying that girls used to sing songs and remember their father. How did they recollect their fathers in their songs?
The girl whose father had taken money to give her in marriage to his son-in-law - such a girl's in-laws often used to taunt her, saying that they had paid money to her father for her, not brought her for free. Sometimes her husband also used to say the same. Such girls used to sing out the pain in their hearts while cutting grass in the forest or when working alone in the fields. In this way they used to reduce the burden to their father in the song, saying that you are happy but I am suffering a lot of pain. They used to make such songs themselves, but these songs used to fly away in the thick forests, with the wild breeze, and only their friends could hear them. Later this custom of taking money for marriage died.

Was the marriage in which money was given the same as daan marriage?
Earlier it was not so. The girl had to go to the boy's house on foot. Going around the sacred fire seven times also took place inside the room. But later it took place in the same way as any ordinary marriage. Litters were used in everyone's marriage. Girl sat in the doli (sedan chair which four men carry on their shoulders to take the bride to her husband's house) and the groom in the palki (a litter). Now the groom has started coming on the mare. I had come in a doli.
Section 8
What were the musical instruments?
Drums, maski (bagpipes) and other musical instruments were prevalent; they are still used. But now people even get the band. Maski has a very sweet and melodious modulation. We used to like it very much. Times have changed now.

Is there a hospital here?
Yes, there is one in Cham village. It was not there before. When we were sick we used to roast cumin seed and eat or boil it and drink the water. Particularly for fever or stomach ache, cumin seed roasted over a pan was used. Sna (?) leaf was boiled in water and drunk, it used to clean the stomach. The seedpod of guriyal tree, ground with six sna leaves, was also given. It also cleans the stomach. The roots of kadwi were given to children when ill. Kedar kadwi was ground and given to children when sick. When someone had a stomach ache we said that it was worms. There is a bitter grass called hariyal, we used to grind it and give it to the children and they used to recover.

In your view what is the difference in the health of the children before and now?
The health of children was better before. Now there are various types of diseases. But earlier when the children were sick they were treated in the village itself whether they recovered or not, because the hospital was very far, either in Uttarkashi or in Tehri. So who would have taken them so far? There was not enough money as well. It has been many years since then. A hospital has been set up in Cham. In these days everyday some person or the other lands in the hospital. Different types of diseases have evolved.

In your view is the joint family better or a nuclear family?
If there is love amongst each other then joint families are better, and if there is no love for each other then nuclear families are better because then there are no chances of quarrels in the house. It is better to have nuclear family than frequent quarrels in the house. Some families have a lot of love for each other, they live jointly, they have good farming, they are prosperous and happy. Now people separate on quarrelling.

Earlier people liked what kind of family in the village?
Earlier everyone gave respect to parents-in-law and elderly people. So they used to do what was they were told. There was no chance of a quarrel. They listened to their mother and father; now no one listens to the elders. Therefore, families separate because of a small quarrel. Earlier everyone used to like living in a joint family.

Why do you think this happened?
This happens everywhere, in cities as well as here. The times have changed. When the sons get married they take their wives along with them where they are working, even if they are working in a hotel. Earlier, even if a person was in a good service he never took his family with him. Now everyone takes their family with them even if one is working in a hotel and his condition is not good. There might be only a few people who are working outside and their family is here in the village.
Section 9
What do you think about the situation today?
We prefer the old arrangement even today. Sons and daughter-in-laws used to take care [of the elders]. You can see I have four sons. Had it been the old days, the house would have had milk, curd, ghee (clarified butter), butter milk and fresh grains. Now the daughter-in-laws and children are in different places. I am an old lady alone in the house. Today with three daughters-in-law my house would have two or three buffaloes and I would have rested in comfort. But now I don't get buttermilk even if I ask for it. [Generally there is a shortage of milk in the village]. We like it if the daughters-in-law stay in the house. They should do farming and grow crops. I am worried that if there is no one left to do farming, the fields will turn barren and it is a matter of grave concern for us if the fields turn barren. There is no one to even put manure in the fields because I do not even have animals with me anymore. Earlier there was dung in the house. Now since there are no animals there is no manure either. The manure (fertiliser) given by the government is bad. All these diseases are coming because of it. Some manure is very bad.

Do you put government manure (chemical fertiliser) on your fields?
Yes, when I don't have cow dung then I also put some government manure. But dung manure is the best.

What is the difference in grains because of this (the government's) manure?
Government manure has changed the taste of grains. The food is not tasty because of this manure. Food is tastier because of cow dung manure. This manure helps to make good (fertile) soil.

What different crops do you have here?
Wheat, rice, jhangora (barnyard millet), koda (finger millet) and pulses.

What different pulses?
Tur, urad, kulath pulses. We don't have chemi (type of bean) here. In vegetables we have small chemi that are planted in the kitchen garden.

How many kinds of rice do you have here?
Ramjawab is very fine (thin) and has a good aroma. Kumai and chainapuri are thick; bauni is a fine and white coloured rice.

When are these sown?
Chainapuri, is sown at the beginning of the month of Jeth (May/June). It is sown in well-irrigated land and rice of dry fields has already been sown. Such rice is thick and some are red in colour also. In dry fields rooted rice is also sown and that is during the month of Chaitra. Rice sown in dry fields is sown only in the month of Chaitra. I am forgetting the names of some qualities.
Section 10
When is rice transplanted?
Transplantation of chainapuri rice starts at the beginning of Aashad (June/July) month and other rice is transplanted by the end of Aashad till the middle of Savan (July/Aug) month.

When do you sow jhangora and kauni (proso millet)?
In this month of Baisakh. We are sowing them these days.

When is wheat sown?
Wheat is sown in the month of Kartik (October/November), sometimes even in the month of Margsheesh (November/December).

Which crop has the best produce here?
If there is good rain then rice and jhangora give a good produce.

How much land of the villagers is under irrigation?
Our village's irrigated land is below the village near the water tank. The water of this tank is used to irrigate the fields. Our fields are close to the fields of Bandarakot and our personal irrigated fields are 4-5 km away near the bank of Ganga.

How do you manage to do cultivation at such a distance?
We used to do everything earlier. We used to cook food in the morning, bring fodder from the forest and then go to the fields to work. We went there around 11 or 12 o’clock and returned back home in the evening around 7-8 pm and then cooked food for the whole family.

How did you bring home grains and pual (straw) from that distance?
Earlier we used to bring everything from there on our back; we took help from the villagers also. Later we used to bring grains on horses or mules but we used to bring straw on our backs only. In the evening girls also helped us in bringing straw.

Does everyone's cultivation in the village produce enough grains for the whole year?
Our land produces enough; everyone has enough yields. There are some people whose cultivation does not produce enough crops; they do service (take jobs).

What kind of service?
Now we have the jawahar rojgar yojana (government employment scheme) in our village, some people do labour work, some split trees or wood in the forest and some do other kind of work elsewhere.

What work has been done here under the jawahar rojgar yojana?
A canal has been made to irrigate the fields. There is a temple in the middle of the village that has a tap. The village women washed clothes there; as a result the village roads became muddy. Therefore, the canal has been built. Now the water goes straight to the fields. Washing clothes there has been banned because it used to become very muddy. Whoever washes clothes there is fined Rs. 100. So the roads now remain clean.
Section 11
What are the sources of irrigation in your fields?
The water of the village reservoir is used to irrigate the fields. We have made a large cement pond there from which water goes to the fields through the canal. The reservoir has a lot of water.

This village has more irrigated land or dry land?
There is more dry land and less irrigated land. People are now converting dry land into irrigated land by making canals.

What is the ancient custom of protecting the seeds from insects?
We never needed to protect the seeds from insects. Really, we used to clean the seeds, dry them in the sun and kept them in their storage. They were never infected.

How did you protect the cereals?
These days DDT is rubbed in the cereals, but earlier nothing was done. If there is surplus seed, it is washed and used for eating. Last year a new mustard seed was brought. Some people came from Delhi in their car straight to the village. They gave a sack of mustard seed along with a sack of manure and said that it is good mustard and that we must sow it, it will give a good produce and we also had to put this manure. We sowed the mustard and also put the manure. That mustard produced very tall plants, we also planted peas along with it. That entire mustard crop failed. Perhaps it could not carry its own weight and it ripened very late here, because of which we could not sow the next crop. The yield was almost the same as that of our mustard. So we earned no profit, instead we went into loss. The delay in the ripening of the crop led to delay for the next crop; as a result we could not sow the next crop. Therefore this year we have destroyed that mustard seed. Now we have sown our own mustard, harvested it on time and sown the seeds for the next harvest. We have ample oil for ourselves. The rats had started eating the other mustard [from Delhi] in the fields itself.

Do you have sesame seeds here?
Yes we do; we use its oil for eating. Oil is taken out on the grindstone and its oil cake is given to animals for eating.

I have heard that earlier people used to take a bath with oil cakes. Is it true?
Yes, no one used soap in the village before. When once in a month one took a head bath, the hair would be very dirty. When washed with oil cake the hair became clean and beautiful. The bark of the bhimal tree was ground and used to wash hair. It also made the hair soft and clean. Pratap still washes his hair with bhimal when he is home. Now the village people use soap.

What is the reason behind bathing only once a month?
[Laughs] Child, who has enough time? There was work all 24 hours. There was no time to have a bath every day. Therefore, we bathed once a month, that is, in many days. Now people are quite aware, so they pay attention to bathing; no matter how much work they have, they keep themselves clean.

How much milk is there in the village?
Earlier there was a lot of milk in the village. If someone did not have milk, others gave him/her their own. Earlier people used to drink only milk and buttermilk. They did not drink tea. Tea has now come to the village. They used to give buttermilk also to all the houses [where animals did not give milk] on their own. There was no shortage of milk or buttermilk. These days one cannot get even milk for tea from anywhere. For a month I also bought 250 ml of milk from a lady and gave her Rs. 30. Now people sell their milk in Cham, they keep it only for tea.
Section 12
What is the price of milk here?
Someone sells at Rs.4 per kg; another for Rs.6 a kg. Though sometimes in the village people give milk to each other even today for free [to the person who does not have any milk at his house]. The old custom of the village continues even today; it has not been broken. But the village has changed with the times. Milk is not meant for children, but for selling. There are only four to five families who do not sell milk and have milk, curd, buttermilk, ghee.

What is the price of ghee?
Some sell it for Rs.120 per kg and some for Rs.100 per kg.

Is milk collected here and then sold or does each individual personally go to sell it?
Everyone goes himself or herself to sell their milk at Cham.

What do you feel about the sale of milk?
Not having milk for ourselves and instead selling milk to others feels bad. There is little milk and more water. They earn money selling that “water” (water is mixed in the milk). It has one part milk and one part water. The buyer has no option, so he buys it. If I am buying this water (milk), why won't the people of Cham?

What is the law regarding the partition of fields here?
The fields are divided equally among all the brothers. If there is any dispute between two brothers, they take some village elders for the division of the fields. Some give their elder brother a little more land. It all depends on their love for each other.

Do the villagers use government manure in their fields?
Yes they do. If there is enough rain the produce is good, but if there is shortage of water or less rain, the manure (fertiliser) ruins the entire crop.

What type of soil do you have here?
The soil here is thick and brown and on the other side it is sticky and red in colour. If we put this manure (chemical fertiliser) in the thick brown soil and the rain is scanty, the entire crop is spoilt. The sticky soil gets some water from the canal, so the produce is saved. If it rains well and we put the manure in sticky soil, there is good harvest.

Do the villagers take loans from the bank?
Yes they take loans to buy animals and also for buying mules.

Why do you need mules here?
Some people buy mules to carry rations from a distance and to bring gravel and stones to the village. Their mules are also used to bring grains from the fields below. These mules have been bringing rations to the village shops for a long time. Though there are roads now so the vehicles bring rations, in many villages mules are still used.
Section 13
Roads have reached the village. How beneficial has that been?
It has been beneficial because gravel, stones, rations, everything reaches right inside the village. There has been no other benefit from the road.

“There has been no other benefit from the road”. I don't understand. Kindly explain.
What other benefit? Agriculture has broken down because of this road. Is there any loss greater than the loss of agriculture?

You must have received compensation for the fields. Then what type of loss?
Money is spent easily but fields and houses are permanent properties. Money is not permanent. [She laughs sarcastically about money]. Money belongs to no one. Agriculture is better, isn't it? [addresses me]. “Naukri ki jad aur pathar ki jad kya” (a proverb: “neither stones nor jobs have roots”). If one is thrown out of a job or for some reason the job is lost, then what is the source of income for a person who has no agricultural land? He has nowhere left to go. A person who has his own fields will work hard in them, grow crops and eat and stay in his home. He is not poor or dependent. He does not have to suffer misfortune. Only hard work is needed in the fields. There is no wealth greater than one's own land. It is the greatest wealth.

So you do not like the road in the village?
No, the road should not have come inside the village. The road will bring hooliganism along with it as has happened in Tehri. Thieves and robbers will come in the village. If it gives comfort, it gives equal pain. This road gives equal joy and sorrow. But the pain is terrible, we did not have such suffering in the village before. You tell us, what is the point of this [kind of] happiness? Happiness is that which does not give any pain. Gas has come to the village but it is death for those who do not know how to use it properly. We villagers burn wood, though there is smoke and little inconvenience, but no one dies because of it. There is no fear of getting burnt.

Do you cook in a pressure cooker?
No, I don’t cook in a pressure cooker. I don’t know how to use it properly. What will happen if it bursts? I will get burnt. I bring wood from the forest myself and cook food on the stove in a pot.

What wood do you burn?
I burn pinewood.

Do you get wood in the forest easily?
Some people simply ask the patrol (forest department guards) directly (ie they sell villagers wood illegally), some people get their ramana trees (PD trees, ie legally allotted wood) so they cut the wood for themselves and keep it. The patrol men keep changing, so it is no loss to them. It is our loss, and our forest is damaged. They take bribes for their own profit and ruin our forest. We know when someone has asked the patrol for a tree.
Section 14
How were the forests in your time and how are they now?
Earlier one seldom went to the forest for the wood because there were lots of bushes. People used to cut the bushes and bring their wood for burning. But now all the bushes have vanished. So people have started going to the forest for wood. Earlier very few pine trees were cut down.

What are the different bushes you have here?
There are caraunda, tungulu, kingoda, timru, etc. bushes, and their wood is used for burning in the stove.

I have also seen lantana bushes here. Is that also used for burning?
Women of Bandarkot used to take lantana wood for burning. We used to make fun of them when they took that wood. [It is not wood - these are thin stems which give a lot of smoke when burnt. They are not ideal for burning]. Now, even we bring this bush for burning because all other bushes have vanished. Even if you cut lantana now it will grow back by Bhadan (August/September - within four months). It is a useless bush.

I have heard that this bush does not belong to Garhwal. Is it true?
Yes, people from somewhere outside have brought it here. It was never here before but these days it is reigning everywhere. Fruits of caraunda bush are very delicious; fruits of tungulu are very small like grains. Children eat them also. The wood from both of them is also very good. Animals eat the leaves of tungulu and the manure of its leaves is very useful for farming. Children fill their pockets with blue fruits of caraunda [they are also small like grains] and bring them home. We also used to eat caraunda fruit when going to get grass. Now people have started going to the forest, so the forest is not as dense as it used to be but still our forest is all right.

You went to get the grass alone or in a group?
We used to go in a group, not alone.

Did you take breakfast along?
No our forest is not very far. We used to come back home early.

How many hours did you take to bring fodder?
We used to bring it in about three or four hours. The forest now is not very dense. The bushes have finished and it has affected the forest. Wood is now brought straight from the forest and then cutting started in the forest.

Who did the cutting?
People from outside. Villagers did not do it. Perhaps the government had sent those people for cutting.

So didn’t the villagers stop those people from cutting the forest?
No, they did not stop them because those people were from the government. But since then there has not been such felling in the forest again. That felling of trees has also thinned our forest.
Section 15
Is there a midwife in the village?
Yes, there is a girl her name is Puma. She has done her training in the hospital.

Is she educated?
No, she has just undergone the training and learnt.

Is there an old midwife here?
Yes there are. They were successful in their work and are even today. If someone giving birth has bad luck then she dies, though no one has ever died.

Did they also learn from someone?
No, no one ever gave them any training.

When did you get electricity here?
It has been many years. It has been at least 15 years. There is an electric mill here to grind wheat and to take out (press) oil.

Is there a watermill here?
Yes there was. It was far away. We (women of the house) had never been there because one had to go at night (4-5 o'clock) so that one could get a chance to grind the wheat and also return home quickly. It was very crowded at the watermill. Earlier our father-in-law used to go but later even we started going. It was 4-5 km away from here. People used to get lot of flour made during rains because the watermill would not work if the water level decreased in the smallest rivers. The flour from the watermill was tasty but the flour from electric mills does not have much taste. Even rice pounded in a mortar tastes good. There is no taste in rice pounded in the mill. People of this village now even give jhangora in the mill for grinding. Some people even today pound paddy and jhangora in the mortar.

Where do you get the mortar?
People cut thick stones themselves and make mortars. My devar (husband’s younger brother) made a mortar over many months, after cutting the stone from the middle. We have 8-10 public mortar stones in one place. People used to pound paddy together. My mortar is also there. I told my son to bring it here; it will be easy for me to pound if it is in our compound. He did not bring it.

Have you seen animals in the forest?
Yes, we have seen deer. There are tigers also. But deer are not seen anymore.

Where have they gone?
They have gone to a higher altitude farther away. I don't know why. Perhaps many people had started going to forest, therefore they moved to the denser forest.

Do you have a panchayati (collective) forest?
We all have a combined forest. The area and grass around one's fields are one's own. That is our forest for grass. There are pine trees there also. We sell grass worth Rs. 650.00, for protecting the forest. All people collectively hire a watchman. He is then paid for keeping watch.
Section 16
Is there any forest fire?
There has been none so far this year but they used to be very frequent earlier. Resin is extracted from the trees and it is because of this that fire spreads rapidly in the forest.

You are saying that resin is extracted from the trees. How many wounds (the cuts to extract resin) are there on a tree?
One wound on one tree but on some there are two wounds also.

Do the trees become weak because of it?
Yes they become weak. Why wouldn't the tree become weak if its trunk becomes weak from the middle? Trees are run down because of rain and wind. But now the government has put up a forest there, with different kinds of trees; there's a wall all around. But sometimes the animals break in. The government has now banned the cutting of trees.

The ban has been implemented for how many years?
Around 15 years perhaps.

Do people go to put out the forest fire?
Yes they go now but they did not go earlier.

Your water reservoir is the same one that I have seen or is there any other?
It's the same, there is no other. [There is lot of water in that reservoir].

There is tap in the village. Where does the water come from?
From the forest water source. It is quite far and very high.

Is the consumption of liquor in vogue in the village?
Yes, many people drink now. No one from my family has drunk till today; even my father-in-law never drank. We only hear the noise of other people who sometimes quarrel after drinking.

Doesn't anyone oppose liquor?
No. He (her son Pratap Singh) opposed it once. First he told them not to make liquor but they did not listen. Then another boy, his name is Uttar Singh, and [Pratap] called the police. The police threw away liquor cans and took those people away. They even threw away the utensils used for making liquor. Those people were fined, then they returned home. They abused both these boys. That is why I tell him not to do such things. When our own family does not listen to us, that is, if our relatives don't listen, then how can the whole village listen to what one says? No one listens; there is no point in telling them. One only gets to hear curses. Earlier people were different, they used to listen to others, and no one could do any wrong.

What is the reason that people are changing in the village?
Every person thinks that he is superior. If all are supervisors then there is no subordinate left to listen. Now no one tolerates the other. So I scolded him - why do you tell them things? Let them go to hell. Don't make much noise, maintain good conduct, and don’t teach people when they don't want to listen. Keep your heart clean. The time has come for the world to end; that is why such things are happening. If you tell someone something nice he feels bad. Such are the times of disaster.
Section 17
Do monkeys come here?
Yes, many. We keep a watchman to protect the crops in the fields from the monkeys.

Do you pay him money?
No, we give him grains. Every family gives him 1 kg and some give 2 kg food.

How is the climate?
It is not the same climate as before. It used to rain heavily earlier, now it rains less. And if the rain these days had come in the month of Chaitra (March-April) then there would have been a good wheat crop. Now the climate is changing the rainfall pattern, which is not favourable for the crop. The wheat in which government manure was applied has finished. Only a little bit of the cow dung manure harvest remains. Had it rained on time the produce would have been good.

Why do you think this has happened?
I don't know why this has happened, I cannot understand. God is doing this. If the man has changed, so has God. This is kalyug (the age of Kali – a distressing time - there are four ages, each with certain characteristics). Ramayan says that in kalyug if you sow lot of grains, you will reap very little. So this is that time, this is kalyug. My devar used to read us the Ramayan, even my father-in-law went wherever katha (reading of religious stories) was read, and we used to listen. Now I ask my son to read it to me but he does not do so.

What is the arrangement for grass in winter?
We collect and store grass. We first dry it and then store it on trees. We call this stored grass purelda.

If we want to plant trees in the forest, then which trees would you suggest?
We have come of age now but for the coming generation I would suggest tun [for good wood], walnut [for both fruit and wood], sheesham (broad leaved deciduous hardwood) and guriyal, dankan, bhimal, etc. for fodder. The flowers and buds of guriyal are used for making vegetables, which is delicious and pickle is also made of its buds. Bhimal leaves are used as fodder and the fibre from its branches is used for making rope, dava (thick double rope) for tying animals and kharcha (floor to floor mats), etc. The branches from which the fibre has been removed are best for burning. The thin and soft branches (or stems) of bhimal are used to make baskets. This tree is very useful.

What fruits do you have here?
We have walnuts, banana and chulu (apricot).

Do you make chulu oil here?
Yes we make chulu oil. We use chulu oil for preparing food. Vegetable from the plant of chota marsa (variety of amaranthus) is seasoned in chulu oil.
Section 18
Do you have your own pasture?
Yes, there was a pasture earlier. It has now become the Block's (administration unit, the level above village). Mulberry trees have now been planted there. They say worms are bred on those trees, which yield silk. Children eat the fruits of the mulberry tree. Now there are no pastures.

Is there a panchayat (village council) here?
It settles trivial matters of the village. Earlier the elders of a house settled their own disputes; no one went to the panchayat. But now they go to the panchayat.

People of every class go to the panchayat?
Yes people of every class go to it.

Are there any women in the panchayat?
No they are not.

Do women have a role in household decisions?
It happens but they are included in a decision on the basis of their intelligence.

What was the role of a mother in her daughter's marriage?
Sometimes if the mother disapproved of the proposal, the father said: you get her married; I shall not take her responsibility. So in the end she had to give consent to her husband's decision, and she would agree. Now the girls are asked, how do you like it? But earlier they were never asked. What was seen was only how much agricultural land the boy has, whether the land is near the home or not. Everyone was happy if there was ample agricultural land near the home and felt that the girl was going to a good home. She would be comfortable there - and also whether the forest was near or not. These days only the boy's service is seen. Parents-in-law, farming, nothing is seen. We used to see everything. Where there were fields and parents in-law, we said that the girl has gone to a prosperous family.

Where do you get other things that you need?
We purchase everything from outside, only the blacksmith is from our village. Mortar is made in the village; blacksmith makes the spade, sickle etc. Parotha (cylindrical wooden vessel for churning curd) etc comes from outside. The pestle or club used for pounding paddy are made of wood; these also come from the village outside and silbatta (pestle and mortar) for grinding spices is also brought from outside.

Are all the people original residents of this place?
Yes all are original residents of this place - only the Ramola and Sagvan caste have come from outside and settled here. They are now 4-5 families.

Do you do collective work in the village?
Yes, we give padiyali (specific time for mutual aid and collective work among village groups; one or two members of each family go and help another family in farming), but it has reduced now. Earlier people used to go and help even that person who had no one else at home, but now it is not so. Like my sons do not stay in the village so no one comes to help them because they are not able to help others in their work. In the earlier times it was done. Now the old times are gone, it is not the same as before.
Section 19
You liked the earlier clothes or contemporary ones?
We like simple clothes and also the earlier clothes, the whole body is covered in them. We never kept our head uncovered, we kept a scarf on the head and also kept the head covered as a mark of respect to our parents-in-law and elders of the family. These days girls keep their head uncovered, so we old women say that she keeps her head uncovered even in front of her parents- in-law, does not respect the elders. Daughters and daughters-in-law in the village keep their heads covered even today. They wear the vasket, blouses are small, vasket covers the whole body. It is easy to work. Keeping the head uncovered here is not considered good.

Do you have Mahila Mangal Dal (rural women’s council) here?
Yes there was one, but it has ended now. I don't know what it used to be for.

What happens in the Mahila Mangal Dal?
I heard they used to give some groundnuts etc. Villagers told me to become the head of Mahila Mangal Dal, but I did not become [it]. What happens if you become the head? You get to hear a lot of bickering if you go even a little against their wishes. Why should I lose my peace for these abuses, little groundnuts and other things? I said I neither know this work nor do I want to become a member of this. People later call those women ridawa - that is women who wander around uselessly - and mock them. I heard that lot of things had come in it like big parat (a circular metal dish used for kneading dough), pans etc. but don't know where those things have gone now. People used these things in their homes during Shradh (anniversary of death), marriage or other big occasions.

What is Shradh?
When a person dies, Terahveen (rites performed on the 13th day after death) is performed 13 days after the death [for the peace of his soul]; then every month a pandit (priest) is made to offer prayers in his name and in the end, after a year, annual prayers are offered around the same date when the person had died. This is also done for the peace of the departed soul. For this occasion all the villagers and relatives are invited for food and pandits and married girls are given dakshina (a gift which carries a blessing). But in the present times people do this on the 13th day itself. A lot of wood is required in this; so all the villagers used to go to the forest and bring wood collectively and gave it to the person. But now it is not so, there are very few people of this kind. So it is a little difficult now, therefore, people invite only one member from each family or send some food home as prasad (offering to a deity). Times have changed.

Any incident in your life, which you always remember?
There is one incident - before my mother died, she fell sick. We all lived in a joint family and both my parents-in-law were alive then. My sister and her children were in another village. We were only two sisters, no brother. My father-in-law went there. My mamiji (maternal uncle's wife) told my father-in-law that my jithauji (husband's elder sister) is very ill, so please send my niece home. My father-in-law reached home and told me in the evening that she has improved a little, whereas my mother died the next day. The day when my mother died I was working 4-5 km away in the fields, my elder daughter was with me and I was five to six months pregnant. My father-in-law did not allow me to go so I didn't, but while working in the fields around 4-5 pm I felt desperate to go to my mother, I started feeling restless, but I couldn't do anything because my father-in-law did not give me permission. But I don't know how my heart knew that mother was not well, that is why I was so restless. The next day I came to know that mother had died, I had a fit of madness. I cried and ran towards my mother's house, but then these people pulled me and brought me back, my mother-in-law brought me home. Then I had no courage to go because she had pulled me and got me back. There was so much fear of in-laws that I had no courage to go to my mother’s house without their permission.
I was called to the Terahveen also, my father-in-law did not allow me go to home again. On the 11th day my husband took four to five puris to my house for the custom of tel chuvai [when someone dies in a family, the in-laws of the married daughter of that house offer oil on the 11th day to the members of her family, this is known as tel chuvai.] Oil is not eaten before that, boiled food (cereals, vegetables) is eaten, ghee is put separately in the food, and turmeric is not eaten. On the 11th day oil is used in the food. My husband took puris made in oil for my family and I kept looking at him helplessly, did not say anything because of fear. Had I said anything my father-in-law would have cursed me. But on that day, I don't know how, I lost my patience and started insisting with my father-in-law to send me home, but he refused. I said what will people say, she (mother) had only two daughters and none of them came. God knows whether she has been able to come or not.
I went running and crying, my father-in-law was not at home then, he was in the forest. His father (pointing to son, meaning her husband) was ahead of me. It was the month of Savan and was drizzling. On our way the water in the river was high, the bridge was broken, I was in a fix, what to do, how do I go? His father (her husband) had crossed the river. There was a tree to cross the river but I did not have the guts to walk over it; it was there and the water was flowing just below it. His father asked me to return home otherwise it would be too late, I would also get late because of you, but I started thinking that I had been able to come today with a lot of difficulty and courage, what will happen now? But I cannot forget, I still remember that man who was coming behind me, who helped me. I still pray to god for him that may he be hale and hearty and his family be healthy and happy in all generations. He was also a traveller. He called my husband and said that this girl will hold my umbrella from here and you come from that side and give her your umbrella to hold, this way we can get her to cross the river. With the help of the umbrella I moved ahead from this side, he was holding the umbrella at the other end. From the other side his father (her husband) handed the umbrella to me, I held it with the other hand and in this way I crossed the river. I have not forgotten that man even today. Whenever I remember that incident I pray for him that may his roots be deep and firm and leaves spread high and wide. This way I reached my home.
Next day I was sent back to my in-laws, his father (her husband) said that fodder had to be brought for the animals. I stayed there just one night. I have borne this tragedy, but I could never forget it even if I want to. My mother died waiting for me, she must have died remembering me. I could not even see her face when she died. You would be surprised to know, I was crying when I heard about my mother's death, and in sheer pain these words really came out of my mouth that “your children should also cry the way I am crying for my mother. My mother died without seeing her children, you must also not be able to see your children like my mother. Only then you will realise how it feels when you are not able to see your children”. And really when she (her mother-in-law) died none of her sons were in the house. When my father-in-law died only Pratap's father was home, my devar was not home. My father-in-law was fond of my devar. He did not like his father (her husband, Pratap's father).
Section 21
He was a social worker. He left the job and came back home. [He was patwari –a registrar during the time of the king - but left the job because of a difference of opinion and came back.] Then he opened a school in the village. My devar also returned home when my father-in-law called him. His wish was fulfilled. He was a vaid (practitioner of indigenous medicine) so he started practising in the village.

Do you think your curse, which you made in great pain and sorrow, found its mark (was successful)?
Who am I to curse, I was sobbing uncontrollably and just said [it]. I was not aware of what I was saying? I was crying for my mother. God gives the decision. He is the judge.

There was strict command over daughter-in-laws?
Yes there was but some people were nice even then.

Who is the deity of your family?
Nagraj and Narsinh devta.

How do you worship them?
We do not worship them in a special manner. When the sons come back home or when a son is born at home then we offer sacrifice to Lord Narsinh. Earlier a goat was offered for sacrifice. Now a sriphal (coconut) is offered, like when Mahipal Singh came home I offered a coconut.

Is there a village deity?
Yes there is. It is Kedari Narsinh. All families worship him themselves.

Is naurat (the ritual of beating drums in the temple everyday in the morning at 4 am) played here?
No, not now but it used to be played before.

Do you believe in devis (goddesses) and devtas (deities)?
No, I believe only in God, villagers believe in them. I believe in our kuldevta (deity of the family).

Are there ghosts?
I don't believe there are, but villagers do. When a ghost comes into someone, my devar, Chatar Singhji removes it.
Section 22
How does he remove the ghost?
He reads (recites) Hanuman Chalisa (sacred scripture about Hanuman (the monkey god), recited). He has learnt the entire verse.

Does the person who plays drums stay here?
Yes, he stays but generally he stays in the other village which is over Syasu. On every Sankrant day he comes and plays drums in the temple and in front of the houses. Also on the occasion of a marriage and when someone dies, during his funeral. [On every occasion the beats of the drum are different.] We give him dadwar (fixed amount of grain given in exchange for work).

How much dadwar do you give him?
Every family gives 4-5 patha (1 patha = 2 kgs). The whole village gives this.

Do you believe in ghosts and spirits?
I don't believe but villagers do. When they feel that a ghost has come into someone, they come to my devar, Chatar Singh. They say along with being a doctor, he knows how to get rid of ghosts.

How does he get rid of ghosts?
He has learnt the entire Hanuman Chalisa and also has some powers. They say he sings [Hanuman Chalisa] in front of the person with the ghost and chants mantras and the ghost goes away. I have neither seen nor known a ghost. God also comes into (enters) many people in the village. They also get rid of ghosts.

How does God dance?
The person or child in whom the ghost comes starts talking rubbish; people then understand that it is a ghost, which they call God. God comes to know of his antics and starts dancing. He removes the ghost from that person. He slaps that person and scolds him and the ghost runs away. My devar asks [the ghost] have you gone? God also asks the same way, so the ghost says I have gone or I am going. He says who he is when asked, like when someone falls in the gorge and dies, he says that I had fallen in the gorge and I have not got peace.

Did someone fall in the gorge and die?
Yes a girl died. She had gone to cut grass on a mountain, which was very steep, she slipped and fell down below in it and died. It is near our water reservoir. [Water is far below the village. That area is of the jungle and below it are flat fields.] This mountain is straight and upright (steep). Our forest above is not so mountainous and steep. That area has slopes, no one has died there. But our forest near the reservoir is straight (steep). We have to descend steeply and while coming back the climb is straight up. We used to bring water from there. I still drink water from there, everyday I bring water from there; this tap water is not worth drinking.

What are mantaan and ghadiyala (religious performances)?
In mantaan, devis and devatas dance. The person who does not become a ghost after death, sometimes wants to be worshipped. They are members of a family and dance with the members of their own family. They do not disturb others. When the people who have died on the steep mountain, or in an accident, want to be worshipped then ghadiyala is sung for them. In ghadiyala there is only one special person who knows how to dance to it. He plays a damru (little drum) and a bronze plate. Bronze plate is a special instrument in this, and then everyone dances. We call them devatas also. Those who have not attained spiritual freedom (the ghosts) come and dance in the ghadiyala. They don’t trouble anyone. In mantaan, devis and devatas dance, all deities of the house dance. Ghadiyala is played in the owra (lower storey of the house); it is not played outside, only inside the room. And mantaan is performed in the upper storey of the house. Drums and instruments are played during it, the dancers are given food, there is a special person who sings mantaan.
Section 23
You live in the village, you belong to this place. Why don’t you believe in God?
When we have never worshipped any God or Goddess in particular it means that we don’t believe in them. There was the custom of sacrificing a goat for the God here. We never make Gods dance in mantaan. So according to the tradition of the village it means that I do not believe in God. The girls who are with their in-laws sacrifice a goat for this God when a son is born to them. In our house Pratap refused to sacrifice a goat. He explained to the villagers [it was best] not to sacrifice a goat but to offer coconut; God will be pleased even then. Villagers don’t agree to it but many people agree to it now. But married girls come here to sacrifice a goat on some happy occasion. But we and other members of our family offer our deity coconut on every auspicious occasion.

Jagar (night long religious rituals) used to be sung here. What is that?
It is sung in praise of God. One of the drummers has the knowledge of jagar. He is known as devta ka bhanta. He plays the drum himself and sings songs for God.

I would like to talk to you once again regarding the forest. A few days back in Jyudan village above Ghansali, women revolted against cutting of forest and are still doing so. Does no one here speak against cutting of even stolen trees?
No, not in this village. It is good that they are trying to save the forest but nothing can be done alone. Once they had opposed cutting of trees in the forest two or three years back. People used to bring pinewood home to put their vegetable creepers over it, they used to cut and bring small tall and thin trees for making marriage sheds. Now the whole village started cutting small tall and thin trees for their vegetable creepers. Then he said don’t cut young trees and expressed opposition, he went to the forest and sat on hunger strike. Now at least people don’t cut young trees. He kept sitting in the forest hungry for 36 hours [laughs]. Then all villagers went to the forest, they were worried because he was hungry, and then they brought him back and promised not to cut trees. Now they bring long branches of trees. Some people abuse even then.
Section 24
What are the wild fruits?
Tadal is a kind of tuber found below the earth. It looks like potato but is larger that the potato. When cooked it makes a delicious dish and people eat it on the day of fast as falhar [falhar is a light meal, usually of fruits or vegetables high in carbohydrates, eaten on days of fasting. It is particularly eaten on the day of Shivratri.] There are kafal, hinsar, kingoda, fedu, mol, etc. Bhamora is also a fruit. Kafal is found in dense forests at greater height. It is a sweet fruit like small grains. It is also used for making pickles. Karonda fruit is available in both the month of Falgun (February/March) and Aashadh. Fedu is available for eating only once, during Aashadh and Savan and hinsar during the month of Chaitra. This fruit is also tasty. Kingoda is found in Aashadh guriyal in Falgun and Chaitra, and timla in Baisakh. People make a vegetable from it. It ripens in Aashadh and tastes good while eating. It takes many years for tadal to grow. It does not ripen early.

Have you been on a pilgrimage?
Yes, I have. First I went to Yamunotri, Gangotri then after two years I went to Agastmuni and Kedarnath. I had gone alone. My husband and I, both had gone to Haridwar together. There is a place near Kankhal, we had gone there to attend Satpal Maharaj Ji’s discourse. I have travelled by bus on this pilgrimage.

I have heard that earlier people went on foot?
Yes, all the people of the village used to go together. The pilgrims were sent off with pomp and fanfare, and people escorted them till the village outskirts. Drummers also accompanied them. People used to eat only once a day. They took such an oath. They bathed everyday while on the pilgrimage. When they returned from the pilgrimage they used to do katha at home, worshipped God and called all the villagers for food. They also left [behind] one bad habit in the name of God such as eating non-vegetarian or drinking. Since women don’t drink they give up eating meat; men gave up drinking. This used to happen and even now village people who go for such pilgrimage give up one bad habit. All pilgrims can do this and should do this; it will benefit them. If pilgrims who travel by bus also leave one bad habit it will not do them any harm, no? But the times have changed now. The young people now travel by bus. Pilgrimage means giving up vices also.

In your entire lifetime what main change do you find in the society?
There has been a lot of change. Everyone listened to the elders, did farming, gave respect to parents-in-law, now it is not so. Now take health for example, it has changed. People before were healthy, they had milk, curd, buttermilk, now there are 50 types of diseases. Each individual is unhealthy in some manner or another. In our times there were no such diseases. Only once in a while someone had a disease that could not be treated in the village, but it was almost unheard of - otherwise all were healthy by the village treatment.
Section 25
A dam is being constructed in Tehri in which many villages will be submerged; those villages are being resettled outside. If your village comes in the situation of being submerged, would you like to leave the village?
No, we like our village; we would not like to leave our village. This should not happen, but if we are pressurised, we will have to go.

People are getting land in other places. What would you like?
We would like that all people should settle together in one place again. In the new place our people should stay with us, the lifestyle of other people is not of our liking. We will not feel lonely living amidst our own people; the fear of thieves and robbers and other fears would be less. That is why the whole village should be settled together, not separately. The tradition and culture of Garhwal will finish if settled outside.

What would you prefer for youths: service or agriculture?
Though the youth of the new generation do service but they should not leave farming, it is the best work. They should do good jobs but never give up farming. It is necessary for self-sustenance.

The king's time was better or the current time?
The king's time was also good. Because of fear, people used to do the right thing (discipline was good). There was fear of the king; there were no thefts and robberies. Now all are independent (free), quarrels have increased between nations. No one listens to the other. The king's reign was bad in some matters. Sometimes the king committed a lot of atrocities, he used to call people [to carry the loads of his employees] and never paid for the labour, instead villagers had to give bara (ration) to them (families had to provide rations for the king's employees, which was fixed differently for each family and included milk and curd). The king's soldiers were given food when they came to the village. Villages had their turns to give baru. It was very bad, now it is not so. The poorest of the poor also had to give baru even if he had to take loan for it.

What was the condition of Harijans (low caste)?
They were in a bad condition before. Everyone feared the King but they also feared the Svarnas (other upper castes). There was double control on them. They could not go to the temple. They were not permitted. There was a separate arrangement for water for them. The water tank was divided into two parts; from one side these people filled water and from the other side Dalits filled water. But see these days these people rule everywhere. They are on top everywhere. They are given a chance first in service and in other places. No one considers qualifications anymore. I can see in the village that people compare themselves to us. It does not look good. People can go to the temple because God is everyone's, but allow us to get separate water. They touch our water many times. Untouchability prevailed in the village but now there is only one water tank, everyone gets water from the same tap. Now these people even sit in our verandahs. It does not matter but they shouldn't touch the water. I don't like this. These are our instincts; they can't change. The government is giving them various facilities, which is very good. They should also rise, they have been suppressed too long, but a deserving person should not be put behind. It is nice if these people prosper and it should happen.
Section 26
You must know aukhara (sayings/metaphors). Let us hear some.
These aukhara come to the mind easily when talking but I cannot think of any special one right now.

Has there been a terrible catastrophe in your time?
There was an earthquake once but not the kind as in Uttarkashi. There were cracks in the houses, some houses broke down but there was no accident (casualty). In our times when someone fell sick we fenced his house from all sides. [If a person had smallpox, a thorny bush was put around all sides of his house. No one used to go there. They believed this way the disease would not affect others].

Please sing me a song.
[The song has been paraphrased]. This song is sung in the fair of Sem Mukhem. It can be called a eulogy. The legend behind this song is that once Lord Krishna went to Sem in disguise. There was a rich man who was called King by the people. He was from Ramola caste. He had a brother called Dhanasi. Lord Krishna asked him for a place to stay for the night. He did not give him shelter and said that my rooms are full (of riches, animals, family members). He was very proud of his wealth but since God was in disguise he never knew that it was God. He did not give him shelter for the night. God went away but the moment he went out of the village all his wealth turned into stone and mud. It looked as though everything immersed into the sea. Then he realised that it was God. He cried and pleaded. God then spoke to him from heaven and asked him to make his temple and worship him. Only then would he bless him with children because his family had also turned into stone. Then he built a temple and worshipped God for years, and ultimately was blessed with twins later. It is said that they died later when they turned very old.
Worshipping Lord Krishna in Sem Mukhem has become an event, the word spread around and people started coming. Earlier people sacrificed a goat in the name of Ramola. There is a temple of Nagraja, Lord Krishna is in the form of Nagraja in the temple. We have seen footsteps of animals and horses there. [People say those prints can be clearly seen.] People come from far, even from cities. It is considered as a pilgrimage in our hills. Jagar is sung for God in this fair. I have been there thrice. There is a field and forest over the temple. Jagar begins with these words – “O Krishna, your horse is white whereas you are black” and this jagar which I was singing is also sung. The fair takes place on the 11th of November. Earlier a goat was sacrificed and offered to God in the fair, but now coconut and dry fruits are offered.

You have a TV at home, do you watch it?
Yes I have, but I don't like it. Children leave their studies aside and watch TV. Children earlier used to burn lamps and study; there was no electricity. They used to work as well as study. Children turn bad watching movies and programmes on TV. Only Ramayan and Mahabharat serials were good.

Do you have gas here?
Yes, but I don't like food cooked on gas. Cereal cooked in pots is better than one cooked in the pressure cooker. It has a different taste altogether… Daughter, now this is enough, please put this off (the tape recorder).