photo of Indian woman Garwhal and Kumaon
India glossary










Bilog village, Bhagirathi valley, Uttarkashi


early 1994



Section 1
What is your name and age?
My name is Tegh Singh Mahant and I am 74 years old.

What is the name of your village?
Our revenue village is Kuthaldi, but we live in village Bilog.

Is this your native village or had you settled down later?
Initially we had some land in this village. We too had a house in village Baseth and another in Kuthaldi. It was the king's rule at that time and there was no restriction on cutting the fodder. But when the sudden wave of protecting the pastoral lands came over, the king imposed a rule forbidding the cutting of fodder from the fields. My father, Vanya Singh, supported the act and forbade villagers from violating the rule. But they opposed my father because they had fewer numbers of fields. They forcibly cut the fodder. My wife too belongs to Kuthaldi village. She too raised her voice against those villagers who were violating the rule. Some five or six men resisted it and went on cutting fodder. My wife then complained to the sarpanch (head of the panchayat) Narayan Singh of Chiniyali. When we came to know about the complaint filed by her, my father gave me ten padhas (1 padha = 2kgs) of pulses and two plough shares as a bribe to the sarpanch and asked me to go to his village. I went there and they treated me very well but I felt bad when nobody picked up my dish on which I had my meals. His wife belonged to Srikot village. The dish lay there and we retired to bed.

What could have been the reason behind not taking dish away?
They believed that they are Thokadars and belong to a higher caste. They therefore wanted everybody whosoever had meals in their house, to wash his or her plate. On that night the sarpanch's daughter came to me and said, dada (brother), whosoever comes to our house washes his plate himself after meals. So, you should also clean it yourself. I replied, "See, now this plate is of no use, so I shall wash it tomorrow morning". Then we had no more arguments and I returned to bed. When I returned home, I learnt that they had ploughed our field, which we exchanged with them. My father got very angry and he sued them (the sarpanch's family) in Tehri Court, but the sarpanch produced two false witnesses in court. Both of them belonged to Kuthaldi village itself. At that moment, my father decided not to live in Kuthaldi anymore. After that we shifted to village Baseth. During our stay in this village, somebody clandestinely cut our bhimal tree. My father asked an elderly gentleman about the burglar. The gentleman replied, “Oh, everybody is a bhimal burglar in this village.” This made my father angry and he left village Baseth too. He exchanged his property and finally we came here. We constructed this house three years ago.
Section 2
How many brother and sisters are you, and how many members are there in your family?
We are three brothers and I have two sons. One of my sons resides with me. He looks after his shop. He has a son, and another son is Headmaster of a Junior High School. He lives separately. He has three daughters and one son.

Why did your forefathers settle in Garhwal?
I don't know much but we use to hear that there was a place called Vijay Nagar in Delhi where our ancestors were priests in the temple. Probably they had come here on a pilgrimage and, fascinated by the sanctity of Uttarakhand, they must have planned to settle down here. The place is near Gangotri and Jamnotri and this is the land of Badrinath and Kedarnath. The religious importance of the place could have been one of the reasons.

What are the ages of your family members?
My elder son is nearly 44-45 years and the younger one is around 41-42 years. The elder daughter-in-law must be around 41-42 years. The younger daughter-in-law is about 37-38 years.

Could you please tell me about the source of income of your family?
The main source of income is agriculture.

Do you think that the yield is sufficient for your family or do you look for other resources too?
Well, wheat and rice are sufficient but the yields of vegetables and pulses are not.

Tell me about the education of your children.
My elder son is a graduate but the younger son failed in High School.

Please explain some rituals performed from birth to death.
In the old days, on the occasion of childbirth in well-off families, the drumbeaters used to play on drums. A lump of jaggery (unrefined sugar), weighing 2.5-5 kg would be broken into pieces and distributed. On the wedding of a boy, only five or seven people would go to the bride’s place. A shawl was used to cover the bride and she was brought under the canopy of the shawl to the bridegroom's place. During that period, only people of good repute and strong character used to go to the bride's place where they would enjoy tremendous respect and hospitality. The rest of the ceremonies like pheras (moving around the sacred fire by the bride and bridegroom) were performed at the groom's place after the arrival of the bride.

For how many years did this custom prevail?
It prevailed for many years, say, till 30-35 years ago.

Do you observe any changes in fairs, functions and rituals today?
Yes. Like nowadays old people seldom go in wedding processions. It has become a merry-making occasion now. In our times there was a proverb in Garhwal, which meant that the basket and the guest are similar in nature. Wherever they have been put down they should not be moved from there.
Section 3
In the old days was there any custom of taking out drums in the wedding procession?
Yes, provided the marriage was performed according to vedic (of the Vedas –Hindu sacred texts) rites, otherwise no. The custom of bride price prevailed at that time and most of the marriages were performed after negotiating the bride price. Normally, 120 silver coins, or more than this amount, was paid to the bride's father.

Was it fashionable to drink alcohol on marriage occasions in that period?
No, that was not so, but a goat was slain on both sides. The goat was not slain for a wedding according to vedic rites. The guests were served with two types of mutton. One was liver with intestinal pieces and the other was the rest of the mutton. There was no limit on ghee (clarified butter) as much was served, as much as one can eat.

What difference do you observe now?
Now there is no custom of serving ghee. That is because in the old days only five or seven guests used to go, but now the number has increased to fifty or sixty. You can have halwa (sweet dish) and other things in wedding feasts.

Have you noticed any change in the Terahveen (ritual performed following the thirteenth day of the death) and Shradh (anniversary of death) ceremonies?
Yes, major changes. Earlier one goat was sacrificed on the occasion of Lingwasa (ritual performed on the 13th day after the death). It would be distributed among all relatives, even those who came uninvited, as it was regarded as auspicious. After distribution of the flesh of a goat, the relatives were considered purified.

What were the remedies that were used for various ailments?
In our times typhoid fevers were very common. There was a peculiar plant, which was used, in normalising fever. Somebody used to dig out the plant and would call out the name of the patient. This was the remedy to normalise the fever.

Do you possess any knowledge about herbs?
Yes, there is a root, I don't know its name, but I can identify it. It is very helpful in arthritis. If you make a paste of it and apply it on the affected portion, the disease will disappear. I myself have healed many patients with this remedy. The priest of Kedarnath, Pandit Tiwari, sent many patients to me. They definitely felt better. The mixture of amla, harda (terminalia chebula, small black fruit used to aid digestion) and baheda (?) helped in curing many diseases. A herb called banaspa was made like tea and was used to normalise fever and cold. There is a milky grass. The paste of its root helps in healing boils. It is applied on different parts of body with different sacred formulas. My grandmother and father treated many people because it was their profession. Some patients would even give a sack full of grains as their fee. There is one hymn used as a sacred formula for any remedy:
Ghilda Siran Kaun Pur Base Raja Shishpal Base
Raja Shishpal Ka Dwee Rani
Dwee Rani Ka Saat Putra
Saat putra Ka Choudoha Phal.
(Who lives in Ghild Siran, King Shishpal lives in Ghilda Siran.
King Shishpal has two queens.
Two queens have seven sons.
Seven sons have fourteen fruits)
Section 4
What difference do you notice in public health and health services?
In our times cholera was a dreaded disease which used to finish off village after village. People have no options at such times, except to worship their gods and goddesses and utter no word. Only mint and onion was given to patients. Now the government has almost controlled the epidemic. Other diseases like chicken pox, measles and malaria are also under control. But now some strange diseases are coming up, which did not exist in our times.

Do you think that people were healthy in your times, or you think that people are better health-wise now?
I think people were healthier in our times.

What could have been the reason?
Milk and ghee were available in sufficient quantity. People were not addicted to any bad habit. No one even used to drink tea. People in those days were very noble and kind.

What are the merits and demerits of the joint and nuclear family system and which of them would you appreciate most?
The nuclear family system is considered appropriate in modern times. But if someone falls ill in a small family, one has to face a lot of difficulties. There is nobody to look after the patient or to take him or her to hospital. Though to some extent, the sense of negligence may be noticed in joint family systems too, but it helps during hard times.

What is the role of women in the family, in terms of control over things and family affairs?
Oh, in 90 percent families, women enjoy control over household chores and to exercise powers of decision making, like what should be cooked for a guest or how much grain should be given to beggars or others. As far as changes in attire are concerned, forget about women, even men were not allowed to do certain things. In our times, men did not wear shoes or chappals (slippers). My father never allowed me to wear shoes. It is very interesting how I got my first pair of shoes. There was a grinding stone which was to be carried from half a kilometre distance. It was too heavy. I got the contract to fetch the mortar for five rupees for a gentleman who required it. His son and myself were partners and both of us successfully fetched the mortar with the help of a sabal (iron rod). We two persons, his son and I, carried a stone that 40 people had been unable to lift. The gentleman gave five rupees to each of us as a reward, and then I bought a pair of shoes for those five rupees.
Section 5
What changes do you observe in the status of your family?
Yes, some ideas concerning food habits and living style have been changed. When we were in our old village Bareth, for instance, we used to eat millets like jhangora, kauni etc. There was a preparation of wheat, which was called ghinwata. The wheat was pounded first and then cooked like rice with salt. Although these millets contained vitamins they were tasteless. Now everything has changed. Today we use combs, soap, shoes and chappals, which we did not use before.

Please narrate any important incident in your life.
Well, then is one interesting incident, when I had an encounter with a wild bear. I had gone to the jungle (forest) with my mother to collect some fodder. While we were returning, suddenly a wild bear appeared. I took him to be a dog, but he was a beast. I was carrying a bundle of fodder on my back. Without wasting a single minute, I quickly lay down on the ground. The bear came, picked up the fodder from my back and took it away, presuming that he had picked me up too, whereas I had escaped. My mother screamed and became unconscious. When the bear left, she regained consciousness and started wailing loudly. Then people from the village came.
I was born in 1920, and this incident occurred in 1944 - 45. The Maharaja (a ruler of state) sahib (term of respect given to people of importance) of Tehri State put a ban on the trade of bulls outside the state. I had gone to Narendra Nagar with three pairs of bulls. A doctor was posted there for examination and approval of bulls for further sale. People from Ramoli had also come with their bulls. All of us stayed there for eighteen days. There was a check post called Kushali, which then came under Dehra Dun territory. We had to cross the boundary of Tehri State. So we paid a bribe of one hundred rupees to the patwari (functionary in the Revenue Office) He suggested to us to cover the bells of bulls with a cloth, to prevent any ringing sound and suggested that we should cross the boundary at night.
Everything was settled. But I had a bad habit of roaming here and there. Suddenly Rai Bahadur Devendra Raturi spotted me strolling in the grounds of Narendra Nagar courts. He summoned me and asked
“To which area do you belong?”
“Bist Patti”, I replied.
“Have you come here in connection with the sale of bulls?”
“Yes Sir”. I was shivering, but I had to reply.
“See”, he said very calmly, “You people belong to a worthy area of our state. I have received a CID (?) report, which says that some people are violating the rules and are trying to sneak out of the border. Do as I say. Go back to your village with your bulls.”
I did so, and returned home. Other people of Ramoli didn't. Later they were caught in Dehra Dun by the Narendra Nagar Police. They were punished with imprisonment for one year and were charged a penalty of Rs 1000. Another person who somehow sold his bulls received a punishment of three months imprisonment and penalty of five hundred rupees. It was only I who was acquitted without any charges.

Do you remember any tragic incident during war times?
Yes, it is not tragic, but is unforgettable. It was the war of 1962 [with China]. All of us were sitting together and gossiping. I had a newspaper called Karma Bhumi. Sri Bhairav Dutt Dhubia was its editor. Many journalists wrote interesting articles in that newspaper. So, while we were gossiping, my father put some milk on the chulha (stove) to let it boil. I picked up the newspaper and started reciting a heroic poem. Gradually, everybody was engrossed with the feelings expressed in the poem that none of us thought about the milk. It had all evaporated. One of the lines of that poem was:
‘Dhebra Lukda, Bhera Lukda, Veer na Lukda’ which means: cowards always hide themselves, but heroes never do.
There is one more incident, which I can never forget. What happened was that a person belonging to Payana, close to our village, died in the late evening. So, all the villagers had to go guard the dead body for the whole night. All of sudden, somebody noticed the jingling sound of bells and movement of some mule or horse in the courtyard. It seemed that something was moving from one end to another end. Suddenly one man started screaming "Oh it is a ghost ooo!" Another man started trembling, invoking some god. One old lady, who was also trembling, shouted, "Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. It is the mare of Naagraja (Krishna) who has come here to grace us by her divine appearance. Now she has left".
After half an hour, when we came out of the room, we found that there was indeed a mare but it belonged to a grain merchant who, perhaps, had come to the village to buy some grains!
Section 6
What changes have occurred in the primary and middle standard of education? When was the educational system good, and what changes are needed now?
When we were students, education was organised according to the agricultural season. Normally, we used to get admission in school in the month of Kartik (October/November). There was a private teacher who belonged to Pauri Garhwal. He was paid two rupees a month as tuition fee. The school was closed in Falgun (February/March) because of the harvesting season. Importance was given to memorising whatever was taught, preferably by the same evening.

Did everyone send their children to school?
No. In the whole of Bist Patti, two or three pupils, including me, were fortunate enough to pass the fourth standard, then called ‘upper’ class, and appear in the fifth standard. There were only two examination centres situated in Tehri and Uttarkashi respectively. The school up to upper standard (4th) was in Dhanpur - a trek of eight kilometres away from here.

What is the difference now?
Children these days neither learn anything nor do teaching. They are just wasting their time. But one thing that may be noticed is that earlier people had profound knowledge of astrology, which is now replaced by science.

What change would you suggest in the educational system?
There should be control over teachers regarding the curriculum. Children should not miss their schools, and parents too, should have an eye on their children's progress.
Section 7
That is so these days. Is there any other suggestion?
Well, the load of books is also one of the problems. Education should be job-oriented. There should be provision for unemployment allowance, so that children can be lured towards education. Journalists too, get allowance. Even an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) is entitled to an allowance for his life, after completion of only a year in office. But there are no funds for educated people.

What are the differences observed by you among the generations in terms of thought and action?
Earlier people were religious, whereas the present generation is more interested in drinking, eating non-vegetarian food, and playing cards. Society is becoming ostentatious. People, not only in their wedding ceremonies, but also on religious occasions, lie and drink, be it a religious discourse of Lord Sathya Narayana. Earlier people's words were their actions. Nowadays people don't act according to their own words.

Can this gap be filled by any means?
Of course. There should be some propaganda by parties of the government, some convention on Gandhian thought should be organised. Such problems can be definitely solved if people with Gandhian ideology come forward.

Did mandans (religious performances) exist in your village, or do they still exist?
Traditionally, there used to be a very strange custom of sacrificing a male buffalo during the navaratras (literally nine nights, precedes festival of Dussehra in October). This custom usually required an army of very strong men. Initially, two lines were made to hold the buffalo down. The chief of the village, the malguzar, had the traditional right to hit the buffalo with a sword or chopper. The wounded buffalo would then be let loose and would charge fiercely causing a stampede. People would run after it to get hold of it, hitting him with stones and rods and finally killing it with a chopper or sword as a sacrifice. The whole scene was supposed to please the goddess. Many rams and goats, in the name of different gods and goddesses like Kali, Drupada etc, were also sacrificed.

Was it supposed to be a form of entertainment?
No. It was a religious affair. Entertainment, actually, would start seven or eight days prior to navaratras. People would come from distant villages and would gather in the panchayati (village council) courtyard. The courtyard used to be a common forum for all religious and non-religious performances. Besides spiritual invocation of some gods and goddesses, the other programmes consisted of songs by bards, mimicries of Nathu Pandit and Banya (typical folk theatre characters like Punch and Judy) by bajis (traditional performers), recital of Mahabharata (ancient religious epic) and the war between Rama and Ravana were also performed.

What was the form of yatra (pilgrimage) thakmas (?) being performed by a family?
It was believed that the curse of god is remitted after paying a sacred visit to abode of a particular deity and the family could please him or her by sacrificing a goat or ram. But, the number of sacrifices have been reduced in comparison to the old days. We too used to make sacrifices to Narasingh and Aghorenath.
Section 8
Does buffalo sacrifice still exist or has it been terminated?
Yes, it came to an end twenty years ago.

Do people still have faith in gods and goddesses and sacrifices?
The religious performance, ghadiyala (dance through which a deity is made to enter a human body) took place in our house, when I was twenty-five years old. Ghadiyala, is normally performed on the ground floor of the house. A vessel made of wood is filled with water and is covered with a plate made of bronze. It is performed by two performers; one who beats the daurira (type of drum) and another plays on a bronze plate. They also recite vartas (lores) of god to possess both men and women. Gradually, possessed men and women start dancing. So, when the divine music of Ghadiyal started, I too felt possessed.

Isn't it merely superstition?
No, not at all. You know, something happens inside your body. It starts shivering and trembling. I must tell you an incident that happened with me. One day I was cleaning cow dung. We were in Baseth village. The bard was playing on the drum in panchayati courtyard. The divine drum belonged to goddess Renuka Devi. I really don't know what happened, but people said that when I reached the panchayati courtyard the divine drum was tied around my neck. The divine drum then took me to to Berethi - Hitara village near the Ganga. The place was 3 - 4 kms away from the panchayati chowk (central meeting place for panchayat). People followed me to the river Ganga. The divine drum had a holy bath. We too had a sacred dip in the river when we returned back people gave away the drum to the band but again it was seen around my neck. Finally, we kept that divine drum in Murgi village and came back. That day I felt that perhaps Naagraja is invoked in me. So I gave up eating goat flesh.
Meanwhile I had gone to Rampur in connection with some shopping with some of my friends. They bought a goat and killed it. I said I wouldn't eat, but they insisted that whether you eat or not but you have to pay the share price. It was six rupees. I was in a fix. I had a dream that night. I heard somebody saying that there is no harm in eating flesh in this area. So I started eating meat. I regretted it. I shouldn't have done so. But a Terahveen took place in our village. I again made the same mistake and ate meat over there. After that, I gave it up completely.

What is the state of education for women?
Girls are good in education, but few people are interested in educating girls.

What could be the reason?
It is due to discrimination. People feel that one day the daughter has to go to her in-law's house. If she is educated she may not do household chores like working on fields or cutting the fodder. Formal education is just for name's sake. Otherwise it is necessary to educate women.
Section 9
Does migration still occur? What is its impact?
Yes, people are still leaving in this place. One of my nephews has also left. Two years have passed, we are not aware of his whereabouts. Nobody knows where he is. There is no earning member in his family. We too don't have any source of income. Though I have a flourmill, people prefer to go to Barethi because of the attraction of the market. The same applies to migration. However, we have three types of land in the hills. First, the land of the valleys which is highly productive. Second, the land at mid height, which is totally unproductive, and thirdly the high altitude land, which is ideal for horticulture.

What measures should be taken to prevent migration?
Obviously, job-oriented measures, like promotion of small-scale industries or programmes for vegetable growing, provision of pesticides etc could help in preventing migration.

Do you get all the things required in agriculture at home on you have to get them from outside?
Earlier, cotton was produced here and villagers themselves spun material sufficient to meet their own requirements. Each family would make 10-12 thans (standard measurement) of cloth. In some places the whole family was into this profession. Now it has been replaced by wool and woollen garments.

What is the state of availability of agricultural equipment?
Well, scarcity of wood is first and foremost a problem. Most of the equipment is made of banj (oak) which is available 20-30 kms away from here. Some small equipment is being made of sandan (a hard wood) and bhimal (fodder tree).

From where do you get the sil (grinding stone), wooden rods and vessels for churning [curd]?
Grinding slabs are available near by, but some things have to be arranged from Haridwar, etc.

Do you purchase items by paying money or does the exchange system still prevail?
No, we buy mostly with money.

Would you narrate something about natural calamities and their tragic consequences?
Yes, I remember a devastating flood which took place in Samvat in 1981 (according to the Hindu calendar), caused by excessive rain. It caused a lot of damage. Fields near hill streams or rivers were completely washed away. A hailstorm also struck in 1934-35, taking the life of two or three people.

What is the role of money in the society?
It does matter. Money has a great role.

What is your opinion about the rise in crime?
I think personal disputes have increased. People play politics on small issues like the commencement of a basic school in the village. When the proposal for donating the land was made nobody came forward, but when it came to compensation, everybody agreed. It's very difficult to reform the people. Crime has increased due to enhancement of education and awareness.
Section 10
So, how can crime be controlled?
There should be prohibition on liquor and other drugs. Extensive propaganda against liquor and drugs can be one of the measures to control crime.

What difference do you observe in our old culture? What has happened to our traditional in musical instruments?
Traditional performances, like observance of navaratras, folk songs, folk dances, singing of auspicious songs by women etc, are vanishing rapidly. As far as musical instruments are concerned, they too are disappearing. Earlier instruments like drums, Nagara, Ranasinghas, Damarus, etc, were kept in a place called Jajal. Whoever went to Rishikesh would first pay a visit to Jajal, and play on instruments and dance. But there is nothing like that now.

How can we save the tradition?
Obviously by means of promotion and encouragement.

Does the custom of sowing hariyali (sacred shoots of barley) still prevail? Is there any scientific significance to it?
Yes, the custom still prevails, but the significance is entirely religious.

Do you observe any rise or fall in mutual understanding and brotherhood among masses in recent time?
No. People have become more selfish and shrewd nowadays. One can observe a decline in mutual relationships compared to earlier times.

What should be done to maintain love and brotherhood?
It can be reformed only by propaganda.

How was agricultural work undertaken in the earlier period and what were the products?
Nothing has changed in the system of farming, but major changes occurred when the facility of fertilisers and seeds was introduced by the government. Nowadays production of millets like jhangora and mandua (barnyard and finger millet) has decreased. People are interested in growing paddy.

What type of land do you posses, irrigated or un-irrigated?
Irrigated land is very nominal here. I have 10-15 nalis of irrigated land and approximately 60-70 nalis of un-irrigated land.

What are the products?
Almost all crops, like wheat, paddy, pulses, millets, jhangora, mandua, tur, masoor (types of lentil) etc.

Do you produce sufficient grains for yourself?
Yes, paddy and millets like jhangora grow in sufficient quantity, but we have to buy pulses and oilseeds from outside.
Section 11
How do you meet these requirements?
For some part of the year, people do other jobs also as labourer’s etc. So money comes in.

What kind of manure and seeds are used in farming and what are the new measures adopted in agriculture?
The use of fertiliser in farming has increased, but farmers still use cow dung as manure. [There is] nothing special about the new measures. Ploughing is done in the same conventional way. Similarly, seeds are sown by the spreading method, not in lines as per the new measures.

What is the livestock possessed by you and how do you use the milk?
I have a pair of bulls and a buffalo. Normally milk is not sold much. Mostly ghee is prepared and is sold for hundred rupees a kilogram.

How many members of your family are involved in agricultural work?
Three or four are doing farming.

Why do you like farming and what would you like to grow?
Yes, I am a farmer and I like farming too. Well, if the quality of land is suitable and it is well-irrigated then crops like ginger, turmeric, cumin seed, carrot, onion etc. can be produced. But if the irrigated land is far away, somewhere near hill streams, then it is difficult to cultivate any thing because of inability to take care of the crop.

What are the sources of water for drinking and irrigation?
Earlier there was no provision for water. That is why people didn't settle here. When I was forty years old, then we managed to bring water throughout our personal efforts. Owing to scarcity of water, our irrigated land is far away. The paddy crop therefore is cultivated only once in a year. Now, there is a scheme to make the water available in village through the Jal Nigam from 4 kms away. The department has recruited locals as fitters, but they are not paying proper attention to the job, but doing their individual work.

Which are the different resources for earning money other than agriculture?
If possible, a fibre industry can be promoted, because bhimal is available in abundant quantity and it has not been used properly. Once in 1960, the District Magistrate, Dr Ushapati Bhatt sent me to Punjab for fibre training. But when I arrived there I found that the unit where I was sent was a manufacturing unit of machines, not fibre. I stayed there for 10-12 days. Then, I was sent to a place called Khanna. There was a fibre unit, but it had been closed for two years. Finally, I bought one carding machine and a spinning machine and came back. But these machines, too, didn't prove useful. Of course, something can be done with raambans (sisal) also, because the fibre is very strong and it is easily available.

Is there any effort by the government relating to this industry?
Yes, I had gone to Kotdwara also, but the resource person was out of town.
Section 12
What are the other things, which could prove useful?
The skin of plums can be used. There should be provision for a cold storage. Once I had planted 300 orange trees but, due to the lack of marketing, I had to cut them all. Oranges take time in ripening and nobody buys them during winters.

What is the state of traditional industries?
The Lohars (blacksmiths) make small agricultural equipment like the kudali (weeding tool), daranti (sickle) etc, even now. But the state of other industries, like making woollen shawls and weaving baskets etc, is deteriorating.

Do you think that traditional industries should remain?
Yes, the government should promote them.

What is the state of agro-based industries?
Earlier, people used to make their clothes, even quilts by themselves, but the cottage industries have declined due to industrialisation.

Do you think that the subsidy provided by the government is used properly?
No. Only a small percentage is utilised.

Why has it not been utilised properly? Does the beneficiary get the full amount?
No, he doesn't. First of all, whoever fills the form for the beneficiary takes his share. For example, BDO, ADO, Gramsevak, or Bank manager and officers in industry department. Everybody is given his share from the granted amount.

What is the condition of horticulture?
It is more or less good. I planted about one hundred walnut trees. Out of them fifty or sixty trees are now yielding fruits. But due to the distance I have difficulty in protecting them from monkeys and children.

Don't you think that the walnut tree is useful as timber also?
Yes, wild walnut is an important and useful timber, particularly for furniture. Wild walnut trees are very large. But there is no provision for protecting them or for marketing the yield. Yields of chulu (apricot) and walnut are too much. Even we don't consider them as fruits.

Are there any wild fruits?
Yes, there are wild berries called hinsar, kigod, etc. A wild fruit kafal is found at high altitude. But there is no provision for storage and marketing of fruits. Middlemen exploit growers by paying them low prices.

What do you do when you are free from agricultural work?
If some labourer's job is available, I do it. If not, just sit and relax.
Section 13
Is there any midwife who helps in natal cases?
Yes, one midwife is in Kuthaloli village and she is good at her work.

What is the impact of new inventions like television, stove, cooking gas, pressure cooker etc?
These inventions have granted convenience, but the food cooked in a pressure cooker over a gas stove is not tasty. The dal (lentils) cooked in a bhadd (traditional round cooking vessel) or roti (bread) roasted over the chulha are far tastier.

What has been the impact of television?
It's all right, but children do not pay attention to their studies.

What about electricity?
It is also good. It has brought in lots of facilities. But we do not have a regular supply.

Tell me something about handmade items, which are still in use.
Yes. There is the tatpatti (jute strips) karcha (?), and miskas (muzzles used to lock a bull's mouth) are made by hand.

Compared to earlier days, what difference do you observe in the status of women?
There are tremendous changes. Earlier women used to wear ghagra (long flared skirt), then they started wearing dhoti (cotton sari) and now they are wearing sari-blouses. As far as shoes or chappals are concerned, even men never used to wear chappals so how could women? Their food habits have changed. Now they eat chapati (thin flat bread), rice, pulses and vegetables, instead of the boring and tasteless preparation of millets of olden times.

What was used for bedding and to cover the body?
We used to make a mat to spread out, called mureta. It was woven with long leaves of wild turmeric and was used as bedding too. Men used to wear mirzai (long coats).

Would you like to suggest something for the progress and development of your village and area?
Yes. There should be development of small-scale industries. Training for stitching and embroidery should be provided for villagers. The marketing of manufactured goods should be handed over to agencies like Khadi Gramodyog, etc.

What should be the means for obtaining facilities for water and irrigation?
The department of horticulture should encourage villagers to grow more vegetables, fruits, chillies and spices and the government should take responsibility for purchasing the yield.

Can you suggest something to brighten the future of the children?
If the government provides resources for entertainment, tourism and communication, it would be helpful. Migration can be prevented and the economic condition can be changed. Students should also be given training for small-scale industries.
Section 14
How can we maintain the culture of our Garhwal region?
We should have an organisation like Akashwani, (All India Radio) comprising 15-20 villages, which can be a source of entertainment and training in musical instruments like tabla (Indian percussion instrument) etc.

Do you think that children should do farming and should serve their parents by living in the hills only, or you think that they should migrate in search of jobs?
It is better to migrate if the job is good. It is worth it if one of them becomes famous or renowned in field of sports or in the Army, otherwise farming is the best. People should pay attention to agriculture.

You have seen the period of the Raj (literally, king’s rule). What were the merits of that period?
During the Raj, administration was excellent. Orders from Rajah were abided by properly. Nowadays there is no co-ordination in words and actions of people, but it is good in terms of development.

Were the orders from Rajah obeyed happily or was it a matter of compulsion?
True, the orders were not obeyed happily. The behaviour of the work-agents of the Rajah, was very bad. For instance, a sepoy (Indian soldier in European service) came in Bamandali village to collect bara (ration). In one household only there was an old lady. She was doing other household chores like cooking besides looking after her grand daughter. The sepoy was irked and shouted, Why don't you throw this girl down on the ground? She is not Sita. There won't be any fire if you put her on the ground. Go and fetch ghee for me.” So, there were some faults in Rajshahi (king’s rule - of Garhwal) otherwise, noble persons enjoyed great respect and those who were at fault were punished in those times.

What were the other demerits?
Yes, the custom of begar (forced labour) was really an atrocity on the public during the Raja's rule. For instance, if some officer or worker of the durbar (kings’ court) would visit a village, the peon of the concerned visitor would send 10 or 12 persons to carry the luggage. It was forced labour. If a person could not accomplish the task he would be charged a penalty. Even my father paid a hundred rupees on account of not joining begar.

Do you believe in superstitions, like somebody sneezing? Also, in superstitious relating to gods and goddesses?
There is some truth in it. It is believed that you will not succeed in your work if some one sneezes while going out for certain work, or if a cat intercepts your way. The goddess Bhagwati Renuka Devi is worshipped in this area. Religious performance like sowing of hariyali and yagya (sacrificial fire ritual) also takes place in this area. People may be getting the rewards of worship, but it is not obvious to us.
Section 15
Please narrate any poem, song, or idiom.
1. A task accomplished in time fetches good benefits.
2. A beautiful daughter with a bad name is like a beautiful house with a hay roof.
3. What is the use of scattering paddy over a women dead of hunger?
4. Just born but talks of ages (very clever).
5. There is no mandua at home for food and he wants to adorn the body with good clothes.
6. One who has authority, possesses everything.
7. Gabbu will get the same as everybody will get (equality).
8. Without adequate knowledge, false propaganda is not fair.
9. Everybody has to do according to villagers in the village.
10. To obtain everything in hurry brings nothing.
11. One has nothing to eat, and another searches for the choicest things.
12. Who digs a trench for others falls in it himself.

Would you please say something about herbs?
Yes, there is a herb called kakarsinghi. It looks like bean and is a very useful medicine. It costs around 100 rupees per kg, but it is of no use here as we are not allowed to collect it. I too, practised in medicinal herbs. So I have some knowledge about it.

Which are the things that go to waste?
Skins of walnut, and amla plums are produced here in abundance but all go to waste.

Is there anything else you would like to tell me about this?
The government has recognised some medical institutions, which function under the Forest Department. They supply medicines to co-operatives where things again get into the hands of officers. The government has appointed a few people in sectors for training people in the village, but then, the loan is sanctioned for some other person, and a third person would get the contract to extract herbs. They are really exploiting the treasures of our jungle. There is a kind of wild mushroom, which is called mungrya, which costs a thousand rupees per kg.

You were talking about the kakarsinghi. Is it true that the tree has to be cut to get the kakarsinghi?
No. No, only pods are used.

So why is the restriction on taking the pods, when there is no harm to the tree?
It is due to the restriction on all medicinal herbs. But there are people who clandestinely take the herbs away.

Those who are granted permission are not restricted?
Even then, there is ban on some herbs. The skin of the walnut is used in making tooth powder or roots of kingand which are used in eye medicine are very costly in Punjab. But there is a law against taking those herbs away.
Section 16
What should be done to procure medicinal herbs without harming the environment?
Those who are given training and loans should be allowed to extract herbs, and of course it should be controlled by the government, otherwise there are chances of pilferage.

Which were the things that produced in the jungles here? Do these forests still remain dense or were they denser earlier?
Yes. There were trees of oak, burans (rhododendron) and moru (variety of oak found at higher altitudes), which were very dense but the forests of oak and burans are vanishing now. Nowadays chir pine is more popular. Oak is very useful for agricultural purposes along with sandan and guriyal. These are used as fuel and fodder too. Chir pine is not so useful.

What about wildlife? What animals were found here earlier?
Earlier ghold, kakar (types of deer) bagh (leopard), reech (bear) were found in the jungles but their number has decreased now. The government has brought some animals here. A leopard just sits near the village.

Did villagers co-operate in the afforestation programme?
Yes, villagers did plantation in an area called Bhumi Dhar comprising 15-20 acres of land. They also helped in extinguishing fires in the jungle.

Do forests have any effect on water?
Yes, more water is obtained from a dense forest.

How can soil-erosion be prevented?
It can be prevented by planting the trees, contouring, and other conservation methods.

What are the reasons for deforestation?
If someone is granted one tree in the jungle, he tries to cut more trees by bribing the forest staff. After all, the jungle provides us with fuel and fodder.

What are the means for curbing the fashion of drinking liquor?
It does not prevail much here. The Mahila Mangal Dals (rural women’s council) and Yuvak Mangal Dals (village youth organisations) were formed but they could not do anything specific. If social workers come forward in every sphere of life, then the problem of liquor can be solved.