Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thakurbaba: God to the Tharus

By Pat Kauba
(Courtesy: ECS, Photos: Pat Kauba/ECS)
  
The Ram temple in Bardia National Park adds a touch of mystique to the legend of the Tharubaba

A young boy, no more than seven years, works his way around a small temple in Bardia National Park. He sweeps between the large pillars of the Rajasthani style Ram Temple, far removed from the desert, but in the pre-monsoon season, not so far from its heat. He moves with repetition, confident of his work, repeated too many times to count. A tap fills pales of water, and he commences to strew it left and right, washing walls and paths around the temple’s inner sanctum—before proceeding inside.

Bells hang from the roof, near the door; small, medium and large. Worn beyond identity some ring-out the auspicious Aum and some just clung. The boy moves through the door into the dimly lit room. He begins washing the four-foot statue of Thakurbaba, the local Tharu peoples name for Lord Vishnu, also another incarnation of his is Lord Rama. The statue has a deep, near black hue, aged beyond centuries. Next he moves onto a statue of Lord Hannuman, the monkey formed deity who represents unquestionable devotion through his love for Ram and his wife Sita; the boy repeats his task.

His job done, he moves outside to complete more tasks. In the yard around the temple’s perimeter wall is a duni or religious fire, long decommissioned. Nowadays it is used only during Dashain festivities He moves onto a small white temple to Bolenath (Shiva), proceeding to wash the lingam (phallus) inside.

With few words and no complaints, the boy moves onto his most interesting last task. A pieced together wall of carved stone, only two feet tall and about six across. Pieces of a large statue that fits together, telling a long-lost and unknown story. Only some sections are present, many others have been either lost to time, or uncollected, making the tale incomplete. At the far left side of the wall is a bust of Durga Devi, wife of Lord Shiva in her representation as pure shakti or power. She looks ferocious, wielding a blade above her head, but to strike what; is unknown and lost. The stone shares the same tone as Thakurbaba.

The burning glare
A small matchbox size Durga/Parvati Temple on an adjacent hill doesn’t get the boys attention today. I ask where the pujari (temple priest) is, “My grandfather is away,” he answers, with an indefinite return. His grandmother watches from a hut between the two temples. She wears tulsi beads (basilica seeds used for meditation by those who abstain from meat and alcohol) and an untrusting glare. She is slowly reluctant to share any of the temple’s stories with me. Strangely though, she offers me the kind gesture of staying for dinner, informing me that her husband is the pujari, and he’s a Sitaram baba.

The next day I come to learn the story of how Thakurbaba and the stonewall came to be through locals.

Have I got a story for you
One tourist guide comes visiting the temple with a French couple; he gives his knowledge freely, even too much so. He tells of a jhankri or shaman, who was walking through the park more than 150 years ago. He was on the road to holy Mt. Kailash in southern Tibet, home to Lord Shiva and his wife. These were the days long before immigration officers. Strapped to his back was the large statue of Thakurbaba. He decided to rest next to the park and one of its streams for a day or two. But on the morning he was to continue to Kailash, no force could get the statue back onto his back and moving again. He believed he was meant to keep the statue where it was, and so it remained.

I sat looking at the man, but found his story a little too strange to understand, especially considering the size of Thakurbaba and its sheer weight. And also, how did the wall, with Durga’s image come to be?

Unsatisfied I continued investigating.

Digging around
People filled me with plenty of random knowledge. Most couldn’t tell me how old Thakurbaba was, or where he came from. Most people also dismissed the previous story. They were happy to tell how many years ago the temple owned a large area of land, 12 bigha, and more than 100 cattle. Which anywhere, to anyone, is a vast wealth. But time, depths and tigers took care of all that. Some talked, saddened, how arti puja, the worship of the rising and setting sun was no longer observed, how the duni lay empty and how little ever happened at the temple. But still, nobody could tell me about the wall and statue.

Still unhappy with the answers I had, I was near ready to give up on finding out the tale during my journey into western Nepal’s Tarai flatlands, until, an eventful meeting on my last night. A man with a deep interest in local lore and Hinduism, had heard of my inquiries and wished to share his version of events.

He told me how many centuries ago a farmer was digging down by the river, when he hit upon a lump of rock. So the man dug further around the lump, eventually and to his surprise uncovering a statue. Not knowing what to do, the man ran to the great king (more likely the local chief) who upon hearing about the find, demanded the statue to be dug up and brought to his home. The next day many workers starting digging to bring out the statue for the king, but to no avail. Waters mysteriously rose around both workers and statue. Then the pond became infested with snakes. That night, at a loss of ideas, the king retired for restless sleep.

And so it was
In a deep sleep, the king dreamed that the statue was talking to him. It tells him not to remove the statue from its place or there will be grave consequences for him. In the morning, shaken, the king called for the digging to cease and ordered a temple built on the site for the statue to remain with the Tharu people. And as for the wall of carvings, this turned up in or near the river, piece by piece in the years since, mostly after large rainfall or when fields were ploughed.

I don’t know if the tale is a true account, but for me it was more believable than the statue being carried from India. Personally I always enjoy a bit of the mysterious or unexplainable. But it doesn’t matter, for like most things of this nature, it is all a matter of faith and belief. If you are in the area, go check and ask around for yourself, maybe you can uncover the truth, or even a missing piece of the wall and its puzzle.


Pat Kauba is a freelance writer and photographer with a love for the human spirit and its identities. He can be contacted at patkauba@gmail.com. 

Read the original post at http://ecs.com.np/features/thakurbaba-god-to-the-tharus.


Read another interesting post by the author.

http://ecs.com.np/features/the-tharus-of-the-terai-a-walk-into-their-home

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

किसान नेता राधाकृष्ण थारू

(c) Man Bahadur Chaudhary/Tharuwan.com
कृष्णराज सर्वहारी

राजनीतिलाई कमाइखाने भाँडो बनाउने त धेरै छन् तर राजनीतिमै निष्ठापूर्वक आजीवन लागेर प्राण उत्सर्ग गर्ने राजनेताको कमी छ। बर्दियाका राधाकृष्ण थारू त्यस्तैमध्ये एक थिए, जो भूमिहीन किसान सुकुम्बासीका अगुवा रहे। २०१५ सालमा बर्दिया क्षेत्र नं. ६४ बाट प्रतिनिधि सभामा नेपाली कांगे्रसबाट सांसद भएका राधाकृष्णको त्यहाँका भूमिहीनहरूलाई अधिकार दिलाउनमा ठूलो योगदान छ। 

त्यसताका बीपी कोइरालाले उनलाई मन्त्री मण्डलको सदस्य बनाउन प्रस्ताव गर्दा उनले परशुनारायण चौधरीलाई सिफारिस गर्दै भनेका थिए– परशुबाबु पढे/लेखेका शिक्षित गे्रजुएट छन्। म सामान्य साक्षरभन्दा उहाँ मन्त्री बन्न उपयुक्त छ।

परशुनारायण शिक्षा मन्त्री तत्काल बनाइए पनि। परशुनारायण नेपाली कांगे्रसको महामन्त्रीसम्म रही पछि पञ्चायत प्रवेश गरेर मन्त्री भई सुविधाभोगी राजनीतिमा लागे तर राधाकृष्ण थारू कांगे्रसको राजनीतिक लिकबाट कहिल्यै टसमस भएनन्। वि.सं. १९६७ मा जन्मिएका उनको २०४५ साल मंसिर २५ गते निधन भयो, त्यसबेलासम्म उनी नेपाली कांगे्रस बर्दियाको सभापति थिए। राजा महेन्द्रले लोकतान्त्रिक सरकारलाई २०१७ पुस १ गते 'कु' गरी निरकुंश पञ्चायती व्यवस्था थोपरे। त्यसबेला राधाकृष्णको बर्दियाको कोठिया र रत्नापुर गाउँस्थित घर प्रशासनले सिल गर्यो। पक्राउ पुर्जी जारी गरिएका उनी सपरिवार भारत प्रवास हुन बाध्य भए। पछि सुवर्णशमशेरको वक्तव्यपछि राजाले आममाफीको घोषणा गरेपछि उनी २०२५ सालमा नेपाल आए।

राधाकृष्णको राजनीतिक यात्रा केलाउँदा धार्मिक अभियानबाट सुरु गरेको देखिन्छ। राणाकालमा सभा, भेला गर्न/गराउन पाइँदैनथ्यो। तर २००१ सालमा उनले बर्दियाको मैनापोखरमा थारू भक्त (शाकाहारी) हरूको सम्मेलन गराए। सभामा आफू पनि शाकाहारी भएको घोषणा गरे। उनले रैतीहरूको नाममा जग्गा हुनुपर्ने आवाज उठाए। २००३ सालमा उनले रैतीहरूबाट सही छाप गराएर उनीहरूको नाममा जग्गा हुनुपर्ने भनी विन्तीपत्र चढाउन श्री ३ पद्मशमशेरकहाँ काठमाडौँ गए। व्यवस्था विरोधी कांगे्रसी भएको विरोधीहरूले बात लगाएपछि डिठ्ठा भद्रमान चित्रकारको रक्तकालीस्थित घरमा पाहुना भई बसेका उनलाई आठपहरियाहरूले पक्राउ गरे। उनले श्री ३ समक्ष विन्ती चढाए– हामी व्यवस्था विरोधी होइनौँ। थारू रैतीहरूको वारेस भई उनीहरूको नाममा जग्गा जमिन हुनुपर्यो भनेर विन्ती चढाउन आएका हौं।

त्यसपछि राधाकृष्णले छुटकारा पाए। उनले चढाएको विन्ती पत्रले काम गर्यो। २००४ सालमा बर्दियामा दौडाहा टोली आइपुग्यो। टोलीले १३ हजार विगाहा जग्गा भूमिहीन रैतीहरूको नाममा गरिदियो। तर उनीहरूले सो जग्गा एक वर्ष पनि राम्ररी उपभोग गर्न पाएनन्। राधाकृष्ण थारूले पुनः आन्दोलन चलाए। पछि अधिकार सम्पन्न आयोग बर्दियामा पठाइयो, जसले २५ हजार विगाहा जग्गा भूमिहीनहरूको नाममा गरिदियो। त्यसपछि उनी जमिनदारविरुद्ध अर्थात् बेठबेगारीविरुद्ध अभियानमा पनि लागे।

राणा शासन ढलाउन २००७ सालको सशस्त्र आन्दोलनमा राधाकृष्णकै अगुवाईमा बर्दियाको राजापुर र गुलरिया बजार कब्जा गरिएको थियो। क्रान्तिकारीहरूले बजार कब्जा गरेपछि उनकै अध्यक्षतामा स्थानीय प्रशासन चलाउन स्थानीय क्रान्तिकारी सरकारका रूपमा समितिसमेत गठन गरिएको थियो। राधाकृष्णका दुई भाइ छोरा पनि पछि सभासद भए। २०५६ को प्रतिनिधि सभामा मंगलप्रसाद थारू कांगे्रसबाट सभासद चुनिएका थिए भने अर्का छोरा गोविन्द थारू नेपाल सद्भावना पार्टी (आनन्ददेवी) बाट २०६३ मा आन्तरिक विधायक चुनिएका थिए। यसरी थारू समुदायमा एकै घरका ३ जना सदस्य सभासद चुनिएको राधाकृष्णको परिवारमात्र हो।

मेलमिलापको नीतिपछि स्वदेश फिर्ता भएका राधाकृष्ण थारू अस्वस्थ थिए। तर ४ वर्ष लगातार प्रशासनमा तारेख धाए। पछि केही साथीहरूको सल्लाहमा २०२९ सालमा उपप्रधान पञ्चको उमेदवारी दिएपछि उनलाई प्रशासनले दुःख दिन छाड्यो। प्रशासनलाई लाग्यो, राधाकृष्णले पञ्चायतको समर्थन गर्यो तर उनको मनमा कांगे्रसबाहेक अर्को राजनीतिक आस्थाले स्थान पाएन। २०१७ सालको कुमा जफत गरिएको सेफ प्रशासनले उनको छोरा मंगलप्रसाद २०५६ मा सभासद भएपछि मात्रै फिर्ता गर्यो। अर्को छोरा गोविन्द थारूका अनुसार सेफभित्र आमाको बिहेका कपडाबाहेक अरु केही थिएन। चालीसौँ वर्षसम्म प्रशासनको चौरमा राखिएको सेफ खियाले थोरै खाएको थियो तर राधाकृष्णको परिवारले साँचो फेला नपर्दा, फुटाएर पनि सम्भव नभएपछि सेफ खोलेर हेर्न सकेन।

राधाकृष्ण थारूको सम्मानमा बर्दियाको सदरमुकाम गुलरियाको मुख्य चोकलाई राधाकृष्ण चोक नामाकरण गरिएको छ। चोकमा उनको अर्धकदको शालिक पनि ठड्याइएको छ। भूमिहीनविरुद्ध राधाकृष्ण आजीवन लडे तर बर्दियाका भूमिहीन, मुक्त कमैया भने अझै पनि उनकै शालिक घेरा हालेर अधिकार प्राप्तिका लागि धर्ना दिन बाध्य छन्। आफूले सोचेको सपना पूरा नभएपछि उनको आत्माले पक्कै पनि शान्ति पाएको छैन होला। उनको नाममा राधाकृष्ण थारू जनसेवा केन्द्र संस्थासमेत खोलिएको छ। संस्थाका अध्यक्ष दिनेशप्रसाद श्रेष्ठले राधाकृष्णको नाममा पार्क बनाउने घोषण गरे पनि त्यो गर्भमै छ। सभासद रहिसकेका छोराहरूले समाजसेवामा राधाकृष्णले गरेको लगानीको ब्याज त खाइरहेका छन् तर उनको सपना पूरा गर्ने खाका भने बनाएका छैनन्।

साभारः नागरिक दैनिक

Saturday, December 7, 2013

इतिहासको पानामा गुमनाम परशुनारायण

कृष्णराज सर्वहारी
(c) Tharuwan.com

२०६९ मंसिर २१ गते थारू राजनेता परशुनारायण चौधरी यो धर्तीबाट सदाका लागि अस्ताए। उनको नश्वर चोला विदा भएको ठीक एक बर्ष पूरा भयो। हालैको संविधानसभाको चुनावमा थारू समुदायका कति सभासद विजयी भए? समानुपातिकमा थारू समुदायबाट को को सभासदमा पर्लान्? सर्वत्र चर्चा छ, तर राजनीतिमा थारूहरूलाई संरक्षकको रुपमा डोर्याउने राजनेता परशुनारायणलाई सम्भि्कने फुर्सद कसैलाई छैन।

गएको बर्ष उनको ११ औँ पुण्यतिथिको अवसरमा मैले एक लेखमा विचार पोखेको थिएँ कि उनको नाममा कुनै ट्रष्ट, सम्झना कोष या प्रतिष्ठान खडा होस्। प्रत्येक बर्ष मंसिर २१ गते सम्झना दिन स्वरुप मनाउँदै कुनै पुरस्कार स्थापना गर्न सकिए उनीप्रति सच्चा श्रद्धान्जली ठहरिने थियो। तर यो एक बर्षको अवधीमा परशुनारायणलाई सम्भि्कनलायक कुनै काम न त राजधानीबासी, न त उनका गाउँवासी (गोवरडिहा, देउखर) ले गरेको सुन्नमा आयो। अहिले पहिचानको राजनीतिले ठाउँ पाएको छ। विभिन्न गोत्र, बंशहरूको पनि संगठन खुलेका छन्। परशुनारायण सतगौंवा गोत्रका थिए। देउखुरीमा खड्गनारायण चौधरीको अध्यक्षतामा सतगौंवा थारू समाज गठन गरिएको छ। जिउँदो छँदासम्म उनलाई समाजको संरक्षक बनाइएको थियो, तर मृत्युपछि आफ्नो संरक्षकलाई जीवन्त बनाउन उनको नाममा कुनै कार्यक्रम गर्नु त टाढाको कुरा स्मारिकासम्म प्रकाशित गर्न उचित सम्भि्कएन सतगौंवा समाजले। यो भन्दा विडम्वना अरु के हुन सक्ला।

शायद २०६१ सालमा होला, गायक रेशम चौधरीले परशुनारायण चौधरीलाई नेपालभरिको थारू समुदायको …बरघर’ (अगुवा) चुनेको घोषणा गरेका थिए। माघीको अवसरमा भृकुटीमण्डपमा भएको माघी महोत्सवमा उनलाई बरघरको फेटा बाँधेर सम्मान गरिएको थियो। वास्तवमा परशुनारायण थारू समृदायको बरघरको हकदार त छँदै थिए, नेपाली राजनीतिमा उच्च स्थान बनाएका राजनेता थिए। उनको बराबर अव सायदै कुनै थारू राजनीतिम शिखर चुम्न सक्लान्। तर उनको देहान्तको एकै बर्षको अवधीमा उनलाई सम्भि्कने कोही भएन।

कुनै समय नेपाली काँग्रेसका हस्ती परशुनारायणको पञ्चायत प्रवेश र पछिल्लोपटक राजसभा स्थायी समितिको सभापति पदबारेको चर्चालाई ठाँटी राख्ने हो भने पनि उनी उल्लेख गर्न लायक व्यक्तित्वमा अग्रिम पंक्तिमा पर्छन्। काशी विश्वविद्यालयमा पढ्दा–पढ्दै वीपी कोइरालाको संगतमा लागेका उनी आफ्नो गृहजिल्ला दाङदेउखुरीमा काँग्रेसको मलजल गरे, राणाशासन बिरुद्ध लडे। २०१५ सालको आमनिर्वाचनमा दाङबाट निर्वाचित यी व्यक्तित्व वीपीको प्रधानमन्त्रीत्वमा शिक्षा मन्त्री भए। आफ्नो गाउँ गोवरडिहामा विद्यालय स्थापना गरे। देउखुरी उपत्यकाबाट पुराना पुस्ताका जतिले शिक्षा पाए, सोही विद्यालयमा पढे।

२०१७ साल पुस १ गते राजा महेन्द्रले वीपीको प्रजातान्त्रिक सरकारलाई …कू’ गर्दा परशुनारायण एक बैठकको सिलसिलामा विदेशमा थिए, उतैबाट भारत निर्वासित भए। मेलमिलापको नीतिसँगै ९ वर्षको निर्वासनमा पछि उनी वीपीसँगै २०२५ सालमा नेपाल आएका थिए। उनको लगनशीलताले नेपाली काँग्रेसमा उनले वरिष्ठ महामन्त्रीको पद पाएका थिए। वीपीले बारम्बार भन्ने गरेका थिए– …मेरो शेषपछिको उत्तराधिकारी तपाई नै हो। तर उनी २०३८ सालमा एकाएक पञ्चायत प्रवेश गरे। त्यसबेला वीपीको टिप्पणी थियो– चौधरी सुविधाभोगी राजनीतिमा लहसिए।

पञ्चायत प्रवेशपछि उनी पञ्चायत नढल्दासम्म लगातार मन्त्री बनिरहे। उनको गल्ती छयालीसको आन्दोलन दवाउन प्रतिकार समितिको संयोजक बन्नु रह्यो। तर पञ्चायतमा रजगज गरेका अर्जुननरसिंह केसीहरू काँग्रेसमा प्रवेश गरेर चोखिए। अञ्चलाधीश रहेका सूर्य बहादुर सेन ओलीहरू माओवादीमा छिरेर क्रान्तिकारी भए। छयालिसको आन्दोलनपछि परशुनारायण माउ पार्टी काँग्रेसमा नछिरेका होइनन्। तर २०४८ को चुनावमा उनलाई टिकटबाट वञ्चित गरियो। स्वतन्त्र उमेदवारको पर्चा छापिएर आए पनि बाँडिएन। उनले आफ्नो उमेदवारी फिर्ता लिएको अनौठो समाचार सुन्नमा आयो।

स्वतन्त्र उमेदवारी फिर्तापछि पनि कांग्रेस पार्टीमा उनलाई कुनै स्थान दिइएन। अन्ततः उनी राप्रपामा छिरे, २०५६ मा सोही पार्टीबाट संसदीय चुनाव लडे तर पछारिए। प्रतिद्वन्दीका रुपमा उनकै भतिजा खेमनारायण चौधरी मालेबाट चुनाव लडेका थिए। राजनीतिमा आफू असफल भएको उनलाई लाग्यो। निस्त्रि्कय जीवन बाँचिरहेका उनलाई राजा ज्ञानेन्द्रले राजसभा स्थायी समितिको सभापति बनाएर प्रयोग गरे। उनीमाथि निष्ठाको राजनीति नगरेको आरोप लाग्यो। मण्डलेको आरोपबाट उनी चोखिएनन्। मृत्युवरणपछि उनको माउ पाटीं काँगे्रसले, न त आफूले स्थापना गरेर हुर्काएको नेपालको पहिलो सामाजिक संस्था थारू कल्याणकारिणी सभाले नै शोकको सामान्य विज्ञप्तिसम्म जारी गर्यो।

छयालीसको आन्दोलनपछि बनेको दोश्रो लोकतान्त्रिक सरकारको अगुवाइ गिरिजाप्रसाद कोइरालाले गरे। धेरैको भनाइ सुनियो– यदि परशुनारायण पञ्चायत प्रवेश नगरेको भए आज उही एउटा थारूको छोरो प्रधानमन्त्री हुन्थ्यो। तर यो आँकलन हावामा तीर हानेझैँ लाग्छ। निश्चय पनि वरिष्ठ महामन्त्रीको हैसियतले उनी त्यसको हकदार हुन्थे तर राजनीतिमा बाहुनवाद हावी भएको वेला उनको के सुनुवाइ हुन्थ्यो र? काँग्रेसमा पछिल्लोपटक सर्वोच्च नेता गणेशमानसिंह र सन्त नेता कृष्णप्रसाद भट्टराईको अवस्था देखिएकै हो, दुवैले पार्टी परित्याग गरे। परशुनारायणले उल्टो दिशाको राजनीति गरे भन्ने कांगे्रसीहरू आज आफै उल्टो दिशामा, यथास्थितिबादको राजनीतिमा कुहिरोको काग भएका छन्, संघीयता उनीहरूलाई पचिरहेेको छैन। अझ भट्टराईले त राजा ज्ञानेन्द्रको कदमको खुलेरै प्रशंसा गरेका थिए, उनको सम्झनामा भक्तपुरको बाँडेगाउँमा आश्रम बन्यो। तर परशुनारायण जीवनको अन्तिम घडीमा पाटन अस्पतालको सामान्य बेडमा मृत्युसँग लडिरहे। सामान्य खोकीको उपचार गराउन बैँकक, अमेरिका धाइरहेका मन्त्री, सरकारको नजर उनको गिर्दो स्वास्थ्यमा पर्दै परेन।

थारू समुदायबाट राजनीति गर्ने जति हस्ती छन्, परशुनारायणको उचाइ लिन शायदै सक्लान्। उनी ७/८ वर्ष मन्त्री भएको, केही समय राजसभा स्थायी समितिको सभापति भएको गणना त सबैले गरे तर उनी दशक बढी निर्वासनमा बिताएको, राणा शासनको खिलाफमा लडेकोमा कसैले दृष्टिगत गरेनन्। पछिल्लो कालमा छोरी, श्रीमती गुमाएका उनी दुवै छोराहरू पनि विदेशिएका कारण नितान्त एक्लो जीवन विताइरहेका थिए।

भलै आर्यघाटको मृत्युशैयामा चीर निन्द्रामा पल्टिएका बेला परशुनारायणको मुहारमा सन्तोषको भाव झल्किन्थ्यो। अन्तिम संस्कारमा उपस्थित नभएका छोराहरूलाई सन्देश पो थियो कि– छोराहरू म आफू बाँचुन्जेल देशकै सेवा गरेर मरें, तिमीहरू पनि स्वदेशमै आउ, म त गुमनाम भएर बितें, तिमीहरूले मेरो नामलाई उचाइमा पुर्याउ। तर उनको परिवार, थारू समाज, यो देशले उनको योगदानको उचित मूल्याङ्कन गर्न कञ्जुस्याइ गरिरहेको छ। उनी अव सदाको लागि गुमनाम हुँदै छन्।

गएको बर्ष परशुनारायण चौधरीको तेह्रौं पुण्यतिथीमा सहभागिता जनाउन उनको निवास भक्तपुरको लोकन्थली जाँदा मैले देशका ठूला भनाउँदाहरू कोही देखिन। जेठो सपरिवार अमेरीका र कान्छो सपरिवार चेक गणतन्त्रमा बस्ने उनका दुवै छोराहरू तेह्रौं पुण्यतिथीमा आएका त थिए तर निकैबेर बस्दा पनि बाबुको सपना साकार पार्ने कुनै खाका उनीहरूले सुनाएनन्। अझ बर्खीको नाममा सेतो टोपी समेत नलगाएका कान्छा छोराको तस्विर लिन खोज्दा उनले मलाई अनुमति नै दिएनन्।

उनको घर परिवारका सदस्यहरूले भलै नसम्भि्कऊन्, थारूहरूको छाता संगठन थारू कल्याणकारिणी सभा लगायत उनका शुभचिन्तकहरूको ध्यान परशुनारायण चौधरी स्मृति प्रतिष्ठान स्यापना गर्नेमा हुनुपर्छ। उनको गाउँ देउखुरी गोवरडिहा गाउँको चौराहामा समेत उनको शालिक ठड्याउन नसक्ने थारू समुदायको ठूलो कमजोरी हो।

साभारः २१ मंसिर, नागरिक दैनिक, पश्चिमेली

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review – The Return of the Mauryas

History is written by the winners and the losers are lost in transition. The book The Return of the Mauryas penned by Subodh Kumar Singh throws light on the glorious history of Tharus. In his book, he claims that the ancestors of Shah Kings descended from the Magar community and the first kings of the Shah dynasty had matrimonial links with the Sen Kings of Nepal, who were actually Tharus.

"The Magar Kings had the tradition of marrying the daughters of Tharu Kings. Prithvi Narayan Shah himself married a Tharu princess called Kaushalyavati," Singh claims.

"During his last days, Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of the Shah dynasty, gathered all his relatives, courtiers and officers around him and advised them on how to conduct their work and themselves. On his death bed, the king said that he was a Magar King."

The Return of the Mauryas sheds light on the Sakya Mauryas of Tharu origin that issued Sakyamuni Buddha and Emperor Ashoka. It elucidates how once again the descendants of the Buddha and Ashoka emerged as the rulers of the entire Terai and Nepalmandala after the fall of Mauryan Empire.

The author says that he found out that the enigmatic Tharus had a great history, but its glorious past was mystified after they converted themselves to Rajput in the seventh and eighth century Christian era.

In the second chapter of the book, he explains about the rise of Rajputs and how the Thervadin Tharus, the classical Kshatriyas, of the ancient past took the title of Singh and Sen in the medieval age. In the third chapter, he talks about the Sen Kings of the Terai, who had matrimonial relation with the Shah Kings of the hills. According to him, the historical facts reveal that the Shah Kings and the Sen Kings had married among themselves right from the inception of the House of Gorkha. He mentions that all the Shah Kings from Darvya Shah to Girvana Yuddha Bikram Shah were born from a Tharu mother.

The book has been reviewed by esteemed newspapers and news agencies. Below are the links to the reviews garnered by the book.

The Times of India

Book flattens Nepal king's divine myth

Zee News

Nepali author demolishes King's blue blood claim

The Rising Nepal

The Return of the Mauryas

Avail a snapshot of the book by clicking the link below.

Prints Asia 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cattle delights in Shukrati

Every dog has his day. It's true in case of cattle, at least, during the Shukrati celebrations. Shukrati is most popularly known as Tihar and Deepawali. Some call it Diya Bati and Hunka Pati in the Eastern Nepal. On the day of Govardhan Pooja the cattle owners colour their cattle, goats and serve them Ayurvedic concoctions.


When I approached a cattle owner, he was grinding a handful of Dulfi (Leucas aspera). After grinding, he filtered the juice with a white piece of cloth. The juice was green and had strong aroma. He told that the juice had healing properties. It keeps the cough, cold and fever at bay.

Dulfi (c) www.itslife.in

Leucas aspera is used in traditional medicine in the Philippines to treat scorpion bites. It is reported to have ability to help reduce fever. The juice of the flower can be extracted and used to treat sinusitis, headaches and intestinal worms in children, as mentioned in Wikipedia.


He then prepared another mixture. A handful of black pepper powder was mixed in mustard oil. The yellowish black mixture is again an anti-dote to cough and cold. In Ayurvedic medicine black pepper has been used to aid digestion, improve the appetite, treat coughs, colds, breathing and heart problems, colic, diabetes, anaemia and piles. Click the link for details.




These concoctions not only cure the animals but also provide them strength to fight. The cattle herders organise a fight at the grazing fields, generally a river bank in Govardhan Pooja. The strongest one takes the hurra, a bale of grass home.

Read in detail about the Shukrati celebrations by clicking the link below. 

http://tharuculture.blogspot.com/2013/07/shukrati-festival-of-lights.html

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nepali versus English: Which to learn after Tharu language?

Connecting the dots
Imagine the egg and chicken conundrum. Tharus were in Nepal since the days of Buddha. It makes at least 2,500 years. Medically it has been proved that Tharus are resistant to malaria. And to be immune to malaria, you need to spend at least some 3,000 years in the marsh along with the Anopheles mosquitoes. This proves Tharus were here for more than 3,000 years ago.

Now imagine scholars claiming Tharus don't have their own language. They have been lamenting that Tharu language is a spin-off of Maithili in the eastern, Bhojpuri in the central and Awadhi in the western Nepal. However, it is a well-known and well-accepted fact that Tharus were here in this part of earth much earlier than the Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi speaking races.

So, were the Tharus dumb before their neighbours speaking Maithili, Bhojpuri and Awadhi entered Nepal? Did they speak in sign language?

Even a blockhead can say no to this false claim. The truth is, Tharus had their own language and their language was marauded, exploited, influenced and colonised by other languages.

Still the roots of Tharu language remain the same. The basic words are same. Only, with the time, and the influence of newer languages, Tharu language turned into what it is today. 

The need to preserve Tharu language
Take the example of "Jhutti" – a bunch of rice sheaves weaved into decorative forms of a cow's beak (kauwatholi), broom's headgear (maur), mat (patiya), comb (kakahi) and so on. To explain the one-word wonder you will need at least 10 words in Nepali and so in other languages.

Likewise, name the fishing equipment – koniya, dhasha, chachh, helka, tapi, dhariya, deli and many others – you need at least a bunch of words to explain them. But the Tharus, they have been using it since ages and no other language can well explain them.

Now come to the food items. Who else can explain hundreds of recipes of fishes and water snails other than Tharus? Similarly, none other than Tharus can explain the ornaments that they have been wearing since ages. The nuances of daily lives lived and experienced by Tharus can be explained only in Tharu language. That's why it is essential to preserve Tharu language. It's similar to saving the Sami language of Norway, Sweden and Finland that has 180 snow and ice related words and as many as 1000 different words for reindeer.

Why Nepali speakers hesitate to learn Tharu language
Now, the quintessential question to the national language speakers residing in Tharuhat, the land of Tharus: Why do they hesitate to learn Tharu language while Tharus have learnt Nepali? Are they still surviving in the days of Manu? Do they still claim to be smarter and more intelligent than their brothers (the relationship they pronounce when they have to relate with Tharus)? Or do they feel ashamed of learning and speaking Tharu language?

The one and only answer to this question is: The state made it mandatory to learn and speak Nepali while it claims that Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-cultural country. That's the sole reason Tharus must learn Nepali in order to survive in Nepal. On the contrary, Nepali speakers living in Tharuhat don't need to learn Tharu language. Because the ones speaking Tharu language are compelled to learn Nepali. Though it is a foreign language for them.

If anybody disagrees to it then ask them to do so without learning English. No Nepali speaker can survive in this global competition without learning English. They are compelled to learn and speak English even though they can express better in their mother tongue Nepali.    

Why not to speak English rather than Nepali
So the question: Why not eliminate the middle-language called Nepali if the Tharus need to compete globally? Obviously, they can follow their Indian counterparts. In India, it isn't compulsory to learn Hindi, the national language. They can learn two languages and survive. One, the mother tongue (Oriya, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi and likes) and the other, English.

Tharus can do the same. The middle-language Nepali can be eliminated so that one doesn't need to slog twice, once for Nepali and then for English. Slogging once will save their time and energy. The saved time can be utilised in other productive works. It's not a hate-relationship with Nepali language but a genuine suggestion to the Tharus to leapfrog in this competitive world.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Why Tharus drink daru

A satire

Ubiquitous bottles of daru. (c) Facebook page
Ponder over the alliteration – Tharu and daru (alcohol). Don't they resemble? Of course, Devanagari, the script imposed on the Tharus has juxtaposed the two letters "थ (tha)" and "द (da)". So, if you go by the script, Tharu is followed by daru. With the passing time, daru has preceded Tharu. Now, wherever daru goes, Tharu follows its footsteps. The gurus (Madhesi Brahmins and Kayasthas) Tharus kept in their homes as tutors etched this as a universal truth in their hearts. They advised, "Reading and writing is not your forte, do what your heart tells." And you know Tharus treat their elders as their Gods. So, how can they disobey the teachings? Thus, began Tharus' love affair with daru.

To make the matter worse, the civil code Muluki Ain attested that Tharus are drinkers. It categorised them as Masinya Matwali (enslavable alcohol drinkers). As if Tharus at that time were not humans and were mere bodies of flesh and bones. So, the once landlords and kings of Terai started considering themselves as slaves and drinkers. This not only lowered their morale, it depressed them and accelerated the consumption of daru. Tharus at that time ran after the crow without checking whether their ears were intact (A popular Nepali adage advises not to run after a crow if somebody tells you that it is flying with your ears). Had Jung Bahadur Rana placed them in such category this day, Tharus would have shut down the Terai, marched to Kathmandu and submerged the Singha Durbar (The administrative helm of Nepal) in daru.  

Flashback: Now let me take you to the ancient times. Tharus brewed daru in their homes and drank during festivals and special occasions. These days every day is special. Haven't you heard? Some wise person rightly said, "Treat each day as if it were your last." If every day needs to be treated as Armageddon, then why not drink daru? And yes, if you buy from others, you propel the local economy. Thinking this, Tharus stopped brewing at their homes, instead started thinking big – spending their forefathers' hard-earned money – to make others rich and alleviate poverty of the migrant settlers (hill dwellers who flocked to Terai after the malaria eradication).

Now zoom back to the present times. The unemployment is rampant in the country and in case of Tharus it's more serious. Neither they have enough qualification (though some are at par with their so-called high caste friends), nor they have somebody up in the echelons to pull the strings. They just remain puppets in the hands of central administration run by some so-called superiors. And to remain true to their forefathers who advised to be happy all the time, they drink daru. At least the grief flies away till the stupor prevails.  
         
To add to the woes (let me call it happiness), the multinationals (and nationals) have launched so many brands in Nepal that even if you go on drinking a different brand every day, you won't be able to guzzle all. With so many choices – beer, whiskey, vodka, gin, brandy, wine, champagne, jand (local rice beer), khoya birke (local whiskey) and the list goes on – Tharus are enthralled. In earlier days, they used to hang a clay pot to a palm tree and collect tari (palm wine). They chopped down the trees, converted the plots into arable land, and gifted it to their friends from hills – as a token of true friendship. Some sold their land at the price of a cowry shell, some exchanged it for a glass of alcohol and some surrendered to the admonition and threats. Now they are more than happy. They don't need to drink the crude alcohol any more. Thanks god, they have international brands within arm's reach. 

Another brick in the wall is lack of decent education. While their Madhesi (people living in plains - Terai/Madhes) and Pahadi (people living in hills) colleagues are busy studying, they are busy playing and loitering around. And as you know, you need fuel to toss a football. The fuel is none other than the favourite daru. After their neighbours complete their Masters, they join high paying jobs and start earning. If you observe the case of Tharus, they are bright as halogen lamps in the school but end up into flickering candles by the time they join college. With no degrees in hand they end up tilling land, labouring for daily wages and even working for their once-friends. To lessen the envy, they drink daru.        

Last but not the least reason is the lax rule of law. The police are hand in glove with the bhattiwallahs and bhattiwalis (the bar owners). While they pay bribes, serve food and beverage to the rule-keepers, they fleece the customers to earn profit. And who else is more fleece-able than a Tharu? Of course, you feel like a prince when you are drunk. Tharus start considering themselves as kings after few sips. Tharus start paying for the drunkards at the surrounding tables, if they praise them [Tharus]. The jamindari (system of keeping huge plots of land) of yesteryears floods back to them and even though they have only few katthas (1 Kattha = 338.57 square metres) of land remaining, they try to be a Babu (respected title). Once you become a Babu, you pay for the daru, let alone the zero earning. As he pays for the daru, he again visits the bhatti (bar) next day thinking that others (who drank daru paid by him) would pay for him. But he again ends up paying for others. The cycle continues and he gets entangled in the vicious circle. And daru becomes the only saviour. Till insolvency.      

(My request to Tharus: Don't drink daru.)
Post by Vivek Chaudhary.
Post by Tharu Community.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Atwaari: When Tharu men fast in honour of Bhim, the strongest Pandava

While the Hindu ladies with their red saris are fasting and celebrating Teej, Tharu men are fasting today in honour of Bhim, the strongest of the Pandavas.

The second biggest festival
Atwaari is considered as the second biggest festival after Maghi in the Western Nepal. Tharus in Banke, Bardia, Kailali, Kanchanpur, Dang and Surkhet districts celebrate it in a big way. It is observed on the Sunday following the Kushe Aunshi (The new moon day celebrated as Father's day in Nepal). 

Ancient connection
The story of Atwaari's origin is connected to the ancient times of Mahabharata. Tharus believe that King Dangisharan and Bhim were best of friends. While the Pandavas and Draupadi were on a visit to Surkhet's Kakrebihar, King Dangisharan's enemies attacked his kingdom.

Learning of the assault, Bhim rushed to the scene, leaving behind the roti (a form of bread baked in oil) being cooked on the pan. He supported Dangisharan and the attacking force was defeated. To celebrate the victory, honour Bhim who fought on a hungry stomach and be a strong man like Bhim, Tharu men keep fast on Atwaari. As it had happened on Aitwaar (Sunday), it was named Atwaari.

( c) Facebook/Tharu Community. A man carrying agraasan
A festival of brothers and sisters
On the first day, the men wake up early in the morning at around 2-3 a.m. and eat mutton, fish, crabs, water snails (ghonghis). The men then keep the fast the whole day. In the evening, they bathe in the rivers nearby, tamp the house with clay and cow-dung and lit fire from a wood called "Ganyari". Different kinds of rotis are prepared and half of the prepared rotis are set aside for sisters. The gift set aside for the sisters is called "Agraasan" and is sent to the married sisters the next day. A little part is pinched from the remaining rotis and fruits and put in the fire to worship Bhim. Then all the family members take the supper.

On the following day, the men again wake up early in the morning and bathe in the nearby rivers, tamp the house, and cook rice and three or seven different kinds of vegetables. Like the previous day, half of each cooked vegetable and rice is set aside. Then a mouthful of each vegetable and rice is taken out and served to Bhim by putting them into the fire. After this, the family members merrily eat their shares.

In their in-laws' homes, the sisters wait for the Agraasan and their brothers. Atwaari ensures that the brothers and sisters meet at least once a year. The festival resembles the Jitiya festival celebrated by the Tharus in the eastern Nepal where the women keep fast instead of men and the brothers visit their sisters' homes to invite them to celebrate Jitiya.   

(With inputs from www.onlinekhabar.com and Santosh Dahit's article in www.tharuwan.com

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Paichhmahi, Birhain and laments of a young married woman

Paichhmahi
Imagine – a young married woman goes to her husband's house, she feels like visiting her parents but is not allowed to leave the place. I captured the feelings of a lass like her in the Paichhamahi sung by Bauwa Lal Thakur. Paichhamahi is a folk song sung during the night time by the Tharus and others in the Eastern Nepal districts. It is also sung during the Dhumra Naach shows.

In Nepal and many South Asian countries, a bride has to leave her parents' house forever after marriage. She becomes a permanent part of the groom's house. The couple visit the bride's house once or twice a year.

When I urged Bauwa Lal, in his late sixties, to sing the song, he enthusiastically started singing. Though I could not make out the meaning of most of the singing at the beginning, rewinding the recording several times, I was able to translate it into English.     

The young lady requests to let her visit her parents, laments and sings. 

Taihiya se piya mora ho
Ho daiba re delakai re sinurawa ho Ram
Taihaya se yaba ho piyawa
Ho piyawa nahira ho sapanama
Abe jaihaya se aba ho piyawa


She says, "Since you put sinur (vermillion), visiting my parents' house has turned into a dream." While marrying, the groom applies vermillion to the bride's forehead.

Are goraha ma lagiyo daiba re
Ho daiba re nanadi ke bhaiyaba ho din chari aba ho piyawa
Ho piyawa jaye de ho naiharawa abe din chari aba ho piyawa


"O my sister-in-law's brother, let me visit my parents' house for four days only," she adds.

Hai sawan bhadob ke daiba re
Ho dhani he umarlai Jamunawaba abe kaise didi aba he dhani
He dhani he jayeba he naiharawa abe kone didi aba he dhani


The groom says, "It's rainy season (August) and the river (Jamuna) is flooded. How will you be able to reach there?"

Abe sikiya me kirikiri
Ho daiba re bunalaho bakhariya wahi chari aba ho piyawa
Ho piyawa ho jaye deho naiharawa abe wohi chari aba ho piyawa


The bride replies, "I will weave a boat of siki (a wild grass used to weave baskets) and cross the river, please let me go."

Ha tuti jeto berawa saraki jeto batiya
Ha dhani he dubi marabau wohi majhadar abe dubi maraba he dhani


The groom says, "The boat will capsize and you will get drowned, you will die."

Ha abe Chaitaname tikala girahe
Paradesename piya baithi rahe

Paradesename piya baithi rahe
Hiya amuwa majare jamuwa gujare
Amuwa majare jamuwa gujare
Us baganame koiliya kuke
Us baganame koiliya kuke
Ha piyawa jaye deho naiharawa din chari aba ho piyawa


The bride then talks about the green mangoes in April, mango flowers, blackberries and the cuckoo singing in the orchard. She insists to let her visit her parents' home for at least four days.

Now listen to the song in Bauwa Lal's voice.



Birhain
Like PaichhmahiBirhain is another folk song sung by Tharus during the day time. Though it is sung during the day time, I requested Bauwa Lal to sing it after he sang the Paichhmahi. This song also talks about the feelings of the bride. While the Paichhmahi is about her laments to visit the parents' house, this song is more about how she feels at the groom's house during the day time.    


Re khopawa ye banhala chikan dhani ho
Aba barahe jatan san

Ye wohi khopa lubu dal rasilba ho
Aa khopa ba re bayari bhelai


She talks about doing her hair, making a bun. She says that the same bun has turned into an outsider to her.

Ha re ye sinur
Ha ye pinhala chikan san ho
Aa barahe jatana san

He laye darapan surati niharbai ho
Amurukhi ye murukhi kahatai


She has applied vermillion carefully. Married women wear vermillion in their forehead as a part of make-up and letting people know that they are married. She talks about bringing a mirror and see how she looks so that others don't consider her as a fool.


Ha re ye sasura ke ya yelai ka hutiya ho
Aa dina mare sudin bhelai

Ye maye baap bhelai hai re nirmohiya ho
Aa dina mare firaye gelakai


Her days have changed. Her mother and father have been like outsiders since she came to her husband's house.

Ha re yada gam lage mora leke naihar ho
Aa yada gam ye sasura

Ye kaise kerakhabai duwo kula apan ho
Apa he sare umata bhelai


She remembers her parents' house and ponders how she will be able to keep relations with both the homes.

Hira ek samay ek phoola ke karan
Mai to gaye nandalal ke bari

Hira abe kach kali phoola toraliyai
Us phoola ke karan lakhan gari


Reminiscing the daily happenings, she talks about an incident when she went to her neighbour's garden to pick flowers. She picked a flower bud and had to listen to thousands of bad words for that. 

Now listen to Bauwa Lal rendering his voice to the lady's cause.


I am fascinated with soulful plaintive songs capturing the moods and feelings of a married young woman. I requested Bauwa Lal to sing a Parati which is sung in the morning time. But he said that he can't sing that song during the night as the feel and mood of the song can be captured only in the morning.

Till I catch up with him and record another beautiful song, listen to the Paichhmahi and Birhain, and spread the word.
 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dhumra Naach – the Tharu dance with soulful songs

Men, women and chirpy children wait for the troupe of dancers to arrive. The surrounding is slumbering in pitch darkness – it's a new moon day and the load-shedding is on – the electricity will dazzle only at ten o'clock. Not even a single firefly shows up to light the environs. It is Shukrati or Deepawali, the festival of lights but you can feel the irony. The oil lamps have absorbed all the oil and even the candles have burnt down to the last strand of their wicks. As the clock strikes nine, a beating of mirdang (drum) is heard at a distance. The sleepy eyes of the spectators gleam with delight. Their wait is over – the artistes are coming to perform the Dhumra Naach.

Last year, the baby in the house had fallen ill. He was blue with cold, cough and fever. The couple went to the village community medical assistant (CMA); he administered some medicines but nothing happened. Then they made a vow to the Chora Devta, the mischievous God – if the baby gets well, they would organise a Dhumra Naach show to appease Him. Within hours, the baby started recuperating and returned to normalcy in few days.

In the earlier days, Dhumra Naach was the one and only form of entertainment during marriage, Ghar Dekh (literally observing the house, family and connections – of both the bride and groom – a marriage was consummated only after this ritual) and other occasions of merrymaking. Five to six members comprising a Nyak (leader), Natuwa (dancer), Chugla (clown), and others joining as chorus and musical instrument (Jhail – the cymbals, Mirdang – the drum and harmonium) players form the team. These days even a two membered team including a Natuwa and Mirdang player is rare to be seen. 

The troupe had performed the Naach at three other places before coming to the couple's place. "It is rare to find the Dhumra Naach troupes these days," says Sukhair Chaudhary, the Chairperson of Shani Community Forest Users Group in Saptary district of Eastern Nepal. The young generation enjoy listening to Hindi and Nepali songs and dance to the tunes of Bollywood rather than practising the varying pitches of singing.

The singing is an arduous task with the variations in pitch and long spells of singing dries off the voice of the lead singer, Nyak here. Even the songs for morning, daytime and evening differ in pitch, wordings and feeling.  

Long spells, deep meaning – that’s the special thing about the songs sung during the Dhumra Naach. "The one sung in the morning is called Parati, one sung in the daytime is called Birhain and the ones sung during the night are called Pachhimaihi and Shabad," says Bauwa Lal Thakur, a former Natuwa and an avid singer.

The Nyak starts singing and other members join him. All the members are male, including the Natuwa who has disguised himself as a female. If you are a first timer, you won't be able to differentiate – whether the dancer is a male or a female. The make-up, dress, ornaments and appearance of a Natuwa is so real that you will think he is a girl.

Now-a-days men feel shy to disguise as a girl. Earlier the Natuwa used to wear long hair and even pretended like a female – had all ornaments and dresses of a lady kept carefully in sandook, a wooden box.

While the troupe is singing and dancing, the clown is busy entertaining the crowd with his antics and messing around. The spectators are enjoying the show, however, I am not able to make out what they are singing. I am only enjoying the pitch variations and soulful singing.

All of sudden the whole environment is bathed in light – the much awaited electricity arrives. The artistes get excited and start singing more loudly. It's interesting, almost every adult has a mobile in his hand and many have mobiles with camera. Few start taking pictures and some start filming the show. Unfortunately, I don't have a mobile with high resolution camera. I miss the chance to capture the Dhumra Naach.

In the crowd I once again locate Bauwa Lal, the former Natuwa and singer. He narrates to me the meaning of the song. I am overwhelmed by the profound meaning. I take him to a silent corner and request him to sing few lines for me. He is singing with his soulful voice; I am enjoying and recording the song.     

Till I jot down the next post with the songs Birhain, Pachhimaihi and Shabad, enjoy the below video on Dhumra Naach posted by Subash Chandra Chaudhary in Youtube.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Three delicious Tharu cuisines

Ghonghi (water snails)
Ghonghi is eaten throughout the Terai by Tharus and other indigenous people as a delicacy. It is found in abundance in the ponds, rivers, paddy fields and ditches. It's easy to cook and delicious to eat.  

This is how you can prepare the dish.

Collect the snails from water sources.

Leave the collected snails overnight in a vessel containing to get rid of the soil and waste inside the snail shells. Sprinkle rice (the broken pieces during milling which are not eaten – called khudi). The snails eat the rice pieces and throw away the waste.

Next morning, cut the tails so that when cooked it is easier to suck the meat out of the shell.

Wash and rinse the snails thoroughly.

Boil the snails for almost half an hour.

Rinse the water and cook the snails like other regular curries (Fry onions, chillis and other spices in mustard oil, add the boiled snails and finally add water).

Add ground linseed which not only makes the gravy thicker but also enhances the taste.
Now eat delicacy with rice.

If you want to get rid of sucking the meat out of the shells, take out the meat from the shell after boiling with the help of forceps or a toothpick. Fry the meat in mustard oil, add onions, spices and your dish is ready to be eaten with puffed rice.

For more information on snail and its nutritional value read the below article.
http://tharuculture.blogspot.com/2011/12/excuse-me-its-escargot.html

Bagiya (rice flour dumplings)
Bagiya is a healthy and delicious dish eaten during the Shukrati (Deepawali) festival in eastern Terai of Nepal. You don't need to wait for the festival of lights to savour the taste of bagiya. You will just need some rice flour, lentils, spices and a pot of boiling water to prepare it. Follow the steps below and your dish is ready.  

Soak the rice is soaked in water and mill it in a dheki, the traditional rice milling machine. The taste of the flour ground in a dheki is many times better than the one ground in a rice mill.

Sift the flour and fry it in an iron cauldron (Don't add oil and keep in mind not to burn the flour).

Mix warm water to the flour and knead enough to prepare a tender dough.

Steam lentils and add spices, ginger, mustard oil and salt to it.

Make round dumplings out of the dough. Bore a hole, put the mixture of lentils and spice and flatten it with the palms at the middle and leave both the ends protruding out.

Steam the dumplings over a clay pot of boiling water.

Serve the steamed bagiya with chutney or vegetable curry.

While Tharus in the Eastern Nepal prefer flat bagiya with lentils, the Tharus in the Western Nepal prepare bagiya of tubular shape, without lentils in it. To read more about bagiya, click the link below.
http://www.tharuculture.blogspot.com/2012/12/bagiya-rice-flour-dumplings-made-tharu.html
  
Sidhara (taro, turmeric and dried fishes)
Sidhara is prepared from taro stem, turmeric, and dried fishes. The aroma is pungent, the taste is bitter and still it is one of the delicacies eaten by the Terai dwellers especially indigenous peoples like the Tharus, Danuwars, Musahars and others.

This is how you can prepare the dish.

Gather the Dedhna and Ponthi varieties of fish. Both the varieties are found in abundance in the paddy fields and public water sources.

Dry the fishes on sun. It will take few days to dry perfectly.

Gather Kachu (taro – Colocasia) stems and cut them into small pieces. Wash them thoroughly.

Grind or mill the dried fishes, together with the colocasia stem and turmeric, and make small cakes.

Leave the cakes to dry on the sun for 10-15 days and after that store it in a dry place for future use. Your sidhara is then ready to cook and eat. 

To cook the sidhara, crumple and break the cakes into tiny crumbs. Fry the pieces of sidhara in mustard oil together with onion, green chillies, radish and spices. Add water and salt to taste.

Garnish the dish with green coriander leaves and serve with puffed and beaten rice. 

If you want to know more about sidhara, read the below article.
http://tharuculture.blogspot.com/2011/12/sidhara-colocasia-concoction.html

Friday, July 26, 2013

Three mouth-watering Tharu dishes

Kakhod ke chutney (crab chutney)
Crabs can be found crawling in paddy fields during the June-September period. They are also found in ponds, rivers and canals. While the crab is filled with protein, you will need to take care while eating it. Firstly, look whether the crab is from a clean water source or not. And if you want to catch the crab on your own, make sure that you grab the pincers first. Otherwise, the crab can bite you and you might end up hurting your fingers and hand.

(c) Vivek Chaudhary

Secondly, clean the crab and nail it so that it doesn't bite. For that break one if its limbs and use it as a nail to lock the pincer. Once you put it like a peg, the crab won't be able to move its pincer. Do the same with the second pincer. Now, the crab is at your mercy. Open its abdomen and look for any parasites. If you find any, then remove them and clean it. It's better to rip off the abdomen.

Thirdly, break all the limbs. If you want to munch the legs, keep it aside and wash them properly. Then break the pincers and wash them properly. Now you can remove the locking pegs. The pincers are juicy and tasty, so put it aside to roast them separately.

Thirdly, prepare a fire to roast the crab. If possible fetch goitha (dung cake). A crab gets roasted uniformly on a burning goitha. If it is not available, go for coals or logs. Put the crab and pincers in the embers. In case of burning goitha, put the crab and pincers on it and cover them with another piece of goitha.       

Keep on checking so that they don't get burnt. After few minutes of roasting, take them out from the fire and wash off the burnt parts and charcoals. Remove the crust off the crab and set aside the roasted flesh. Add minced onions, chillies, turmeric powder, salt to taste and mustard oil, and mix well.

Now your dish is ready to be eaten with puffed rice, beaten rice or chapatis. The Tharus call it kankhod ke chutney and make sure they have it during the paddy season. You can munch the roasted pincer without further processing. It's juicy and delicious.

Chita roti (Tharu pancake)
Pancakes are a common dish among communities throughout Nepal. However, the Tharus have their own unique pancakes – they call it chita roti.

To prepare it you will need wheat flour, mustard oil and salt or sugar to your taste. The preparing process is very simple. Mix water to the flour and make a watery mixture. According to your taste, add either salt or sugar to the mixture. If you are adding salt, then make sure to add a pinch of turmeric powder to it.

Now spread mustard oil on a frying pan. You can also use a cauldron. Once the oil is hot, pour the mixture on the pan slowly and make the shape of a roti. With the help of spatula, spread the flour mixture.

After few minutes, turn over the roti and let the other side also cook well. Now you can serve the roti with chutney or curry. It's not mandatory to use mustard oil. You can try using clarified butter as well.

Airkanchan (Taro leaf cakes)
Taro is generally considered a second grade vegetable. However, if you cook it well and your cookery is innovative, you can prepare a mouth-watering dish out of it. The Tharus in the eastern Nepal love eating taro leaves (kachu) and they have their own method of cooking it. They call it airkanchan. If you haven't eaten it, try next time you are in the Terai or cook it in your own kitchen following the below steps.

Pick broad taro leaves and wash them. Put it on sun for half an hour, so that the leaves become softer. Prepare a paste of rice flour adding turmeric powder and salt to taste. Spread the leaves on the back of a Nanglo (sifter) or any other flat surface. Now apply a thin layer of the turmeric powder and rice flour paste to it. Put another layer of taro leaves and again apply the paste. Spread another layer of leaves on it and apply the paste. You can go for two or three layers.

Now fold the spread of leaves into a tubular shape. While folding, apply the paste to keep the leaves intact, so that you get the desired shape. Now cut it into pieces – you will get round shaped leaf cakes.

Spread mustard oil or clarified butter on a cauldron and fry the leaf cakes, turning over and frying both sides. Once your leaf cakes are fried, prepare a mixture of curd and water. Fry the sliced onions, chillies and spices along with turmeric powder in mustard oil and pour the curd-water mixture. Cook it for a while and once it starts boiling, add the fried leaf cakes. Leave the cakes to be cooked well, but make sure that the leaves don't peel off. Now your dish is ready and you can serve it with rice and other curries. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

गुमनाम शहिद गुम्रा थारु: (आज ५४ औ गुम्रा स्मृति दिवस )

Republished from Facebook page of Tharu Community with Mr Dilli Malla's permission.

Written by Dilli Malla (dillimalla@gmail.com) 2010.
(c) Facebook/Tharu Community and Dilli Malla


‘यस्तै-यस्तै बेला थियो’- उनले एकपटक पश्चिम आकाशतिर हेरे । सूर्य बिस्तारै पश्चिमी क्षितिजतिर ओरालो झर्दै थियो ।

आज बिहानैदेखि उनी सिस्नेखोलाको किनारमा छन् दुइटा गोरुका साथमा । उसो त जीवनका झण्डै आठ दशक यही खोलाको किनारमा गोठालो र खेतीपाती गर्दागर्दै बितिसकेको छ उनको । छेउमै सिस्ने खोला बगिरहेछ, सँगसँगै बगिरहेछ उनको जीवन पनि सिस्ने खोलाजस्तै- कहिले उर्लिदै, गड्गडाउँदै त कहिले सुस्त-सुस्त सुस्साउँदै ।

उनी अर्थात् कालुप्रसाद चौधरी । दाङ वेलुवा बञ्जाडी हत्याकाण्डका घाइतेमध्ये हालसम्म जीवित एकमात्र योद्धा ।

ठीक ५० वर्षअघि, सत्र साल साउन छ गते कुन बार थियो उनलाई याद भएन । बर्खामास भएपनि पानी परेको थिएन त्यतिबेला । ‘जम्मै गाउँलेहरु खेतमा काम गरिरहेका थिए । कोही जोत्दै थिए, कोही खेतमा आली लगाउँदै त कोही खन्दै थिए ।’ उनले लामो सास फेरे एकपटक । ‘दिउँसो त्यस्तै दुई तीन बजेको हुँदो हो जमिन्दारले पुलिस ल्याएर खेतमै आइपुगे ।’ फेरि आकाशतिर हेरे उनले । सायद उनको घडी त्यही आकाश हो । उमेरसँगै आँखालाई पनि बुढेसकाल लागिसकेछ क्यारे । ‘नजिक मात्र देख्छु, टाढा त तिरीमिरी मात्रै । त्यस्तै चार/साढे चार बीस नाघे हुँला’- उनलाई आफ्नै उमेरको पनि एकिन छैन । नागरिकता ? ‘हाम्रा जमाना किन चाहियो नागरिकता ? के जन्म दर्ता, के नागरिकता, के पढाइ लेखाइ ? जमिन्दारको जग्गा जोते पो अन्न आउँथ्यो ।’ बुढेसकाले आँखामा बाह्य संसार धुमिल-धुमिल जस्तो लागेपनि जवान छँदाको सत्र साले काण्ड भने अझैँ झल्झली देखिन्छ रे भर्खरजस्तै । भन्छन्- ‘वर्गद्ववा, बञ्जाडी हुँदै खेतमै आएका पुलिस र जमिन्दारसँग केहीछिन भनाभन भयो किसानहरुको । एकैछिनपछि पुलिसले भटाभट गोली चलायो । अनि त खैँ के भन्नु र ?”मामा (गुम्रा) खेतमै ढले, त्यसपछि रत्नलाई गोली लाग्यो, म भर्खर भाग्न खोज्दै थिए मेरो खुट्टामा पनि लागिहाल्यो ।’ गोली लागेको कालो खत अझैँ प्रष्टै चिनिदो रहेछ उनको देब्रे खुट्टामा । कालुप्रसाद गुम्राका भाञ्जा रहेछन् साइनोले ।

दिउँसो गाउँमा मान्छे नै भेटिन्नन् सबै खोला र खेततिर । किसानहरु खेतीपातीमा कसिएका छन् । खनजोत, रोपाई, गोडमेल शुरु भइसकेको छ । ‘यस्तै रमाइलो थियो त्यतिबेला पनि । विगत कोट्याउँछन् उनी ।
‘गाउँलेभरि सबै सँगसँगै खेतमै थियौँ । अहिलेका मानिसहरु एक्लाएक्लै काम गर्छन्, हामी त गाउँभरिका सबैले सबैको काम पालैपालो गथ्र्यौँ । तर, खैँ के भो ? जुन दिन मामा (गुम्रा) मारिए, त्यसदिनदेखि खेतमा काम गरिरहेका मान्छे देख्नेबित्तिकै त्यही घटनाको याद आउन थाल्छ । आँखा वरिपरि उही तस्वीर नाच्न थाल्छ ।’गुम्रा थारु, नाम सम्झिने बित्तिकै मन झसङ्ग हुन्छ । एकपछि अर्को सबै घटनाक्रमहरु दोहोरिन्छन् उनको बुढो दिमागमा । मन चरक्क चिरिएर आउँछ । दुःख, पीडा, आक्रोश, घृणा र वदलाभाव सबैले एकैपटक थिचेर ल्याउँछ । ‘खैँ कहिले पाउला र उनको आत्माले न्याय ?’ उनी भन्छन्- ‘जबसम्म जोत्नेकै नाममा जमीन हुँदैन् तबसम्म गुम्राको आत्माले न्याय पाउने छैन ।’

कहिले जन्मिए होलान् गुम्रा ? तिथिमिति कसैलाई थाहा छैन । गुम्राका भतिजा ठाकुर भन्छन्- ‘म पन्ध्र वर्षको थिए त्यतिबेला उनी हाम्रै उमेरका जस्तो लाग्थ्यो, जतिबेला माइला काकालाई जमिन्दारहरुले मारे’- पचास वर्ष नाघिसकेका गुम्राका भतिजा ठाकुरप्रसादको कुराले त्यस्तै वि.सं.१९६५-१९७५ को बीचमा लालु चौधरीका माइला छोराको रुपमा जन्मिएका थिए गुम्रा थारु । विवाहपछि एकमात्र छोरी जन्मिएकी थिइन् उनकी- चेर्र्या चौधरी । अहिले उनी जीवित छिन् वा छैनन् थाहा छैन । सानैमा उनको ब्रुहान (बर्दिया)तिर विवाह भएको थियो । ’माइला काका (गुम्रा) कति रमाइला मान्छे थिए’- बाल्यकालको यादले मन रोमाञ्चित हुन्छ ठाकुरप्रसादको । ‘केटाकेटीमा हामीलाई उनले कत्ति माया गर्थे कत्ति ? सायद मायाको मापन गर्ने कुनै त्यस्तो साधन हुन्थ्यो भने उनले नापेर नै देखाइदिन्थे गुम्राको माया । कुरा गर्दागर्दै उनी मलीन देखिए- बादलले छोपेको जुनेली रातजस्तो ।

ठाकुरप्रसाद गुम्राका दाजु प्रदेशी थारुका माइला छोरा हुन् । गुम्राको आफ्नै सन्तान नभएपनि उनका दाजु प्रदेशी र भाई ढाँठुका सन्तानहरु अहिले पनि त्यही खेत जोतिरहेका छन् अधियाँमा- जहाँ गुम्रा ढलेका थिए । ‘जमिन्दार भने पहिलेका छैनन्’- ठाकुरले बताए ।

आखिर किन मारियो गुम्रालाई ? उनले जमिन्दारको के बिगारेका थिए ? प्रहरी प्रशासनले किसानहरुलाई किन दमन गर्यो सत्र सालमा ? के किसानहरु नै दोषी थिए उक्त घटनामा ? के थियो घटनाको निहुँ ?

त्यसबेला थारु किसानहरुले जोत्दै आएको जमीनका मालिक बासुदेव घिमिरे, भागु, मेदिनीलगायतका जमिन्दारहरुले २०१६ साल माघमा तोरी भित्र्याउने बेला परम्परादेखि चल्दै आएको चौकुर प्रथा (उत्पादनको ३ भाग किसान र १ भाग जमिन्दारलाई बुझाउने नियम) लाई बदलेर अधियाँ (आधा-आधा) हुनुपर्ने प्रस्ताव राखे तर त्यो प्रस्ताव किसानहरुलाई मान्य भएन । त्यही निहुँबाट विवाद शुरु भयो । घटनाका प्रत्यक्षदर्शी/पीडित कालु, कुनुवा र ठाकुरका अनुसार विवाद बढ्न थालेपछि जमिन्दारले कहिले हलो जुवा काटिदिने, कहिले गोरु चुट्ने, कहिले जोत्न नदिनेजस्ता क्रियाकलाप गर्दै किसानहरुलाई दिनहुँ दुःख दिन थाले । जमिन्दारहरु चाहन्थे- पुस्तौदेखि चलि आएको चौकुर प्रथा बदलेर अधियाँ लागू गर्न र किसानहरुको श्रममा रजाई गर्न । तर, सोझा इमान्दार र स्वाभीमानी थारु किसानहरुलाई जमिन्दारको अत्याचार सह्य भएन र विरोध गरे । परिणामतः गुम्रा मारिए, कालु र रत्नप्रसाद घाइते बनाइए र तीन चार महिनासम्म उपचारको अभावमा अस्पतालकै शैयामा छट्पटाउनु पर्यो । थुप्रै किसानहरुले तत्कालिन ‘प्रजातान्त्रिक’ काँग्रेसी सरकार र प्रहरी प्रशासनको हिरासत र जेलका चिसा छिडीमा महिनौँसम्म यातना भोग्नुपर्यो । अन्ततः जमिन्दारकै पक्षमा फैसला भयो र सोझा किसानहरुले काम नगर्ने जमिन्दारलाई अधियाँ बुझाउनुपर्ने भयो ।

गुम्रा मारिएको ठीक ५० वर्ष पूरा भएछ अहिले । यो बीचमा पञ्चायत, बहुदल हुँदै देशमा राजतन्त्रको अन्त्य र गणतन्त्रको घोषणा समेत भइसकेको छ । तर, जमिन्दार र किसानहरु बीचको लडाई सकिएको छैन बरु अझैँ चर्किदैछ । जमिन्दारहरु कहिल्यै पनि जमीन जोत्दैनन् तर उनीहरु नै दिन दुगुणा रात चौगुणा धनी हुँदैछन्, तिनै बनेका छन् दशौँ विघा जग्गाका मालिक । जो पुस्तौँ पुस्तादेखि आँसु, पसिना र रगत बगाएर दिन रात जमीनसँग कठोर संघर्ष गरिरहेछन्, तिनै थारु किसानहरु खाना नपाएर भोकभोकै मरिरहेछन् । यहाँसम्म कि बाँचुञ्जेल पाइला टेक्ने र मरेपछि लास गाड्ने एक टुक्रा जमीनसमेत उनीहरुसँग छैन । आखिर यो विभेद कहिलेसम्म ? राज्यले यसको जवाफ खोज्ने दिन कहिले आउला ?

उसो त साँचो श्रद्धाको रुपमा भन्दा लोकपि्रयताको आसमा गुम्रालाई सहिदको उपमा दिएको पाइयो कतै-कतै । घोराहीमै उनको प्रतिमा पनि बनाइएको छ तर प्रतिमा निर्माणको सवालमा भतिजा ठाकुरप्रसादले असन्तुष्टि जनाए- ‘जे बनाए पनि इतिहास राख्नु छ भने जहाँ काका मारिए र गाडिए त्यही ठाउँमा बनाउनुपर्छ भन्ने मेरो विचार हो तर नेताहरुले मानेनन्, पहिला चौघेरा भन्थे पछि घोराही बनाएछन् ।’

जमिन्दारको असह्य अत्याचार, थारु किसानहरुको अथाह पीडा र राज्यको चरम उदासिनताले उब्जाएका प्रश्नै प्रश्नले पिरोलिदै म सिस्नेखोलाबाट घटना भएको खेततिर लागे, जहाँ ५० वर्ष पहिले गुम्राको रगतले जुन माटो भिजेको थियो । मैले त्यहाँ देखे, वरपरको जमीनमा खेतीपाती गरिएको छ । तर, जहाँ उनी ढले र उनको शवलाई गाडियो त्यो जमीन अझैँ पनि बाँझो थियो ।

बिहानैदेखि लागेको बादल अझैँ पनि फाटेको थिएन । खोलामा धमिलो बाढी उर्लिरहेकै थियो । म भने सिस्नेखोला र वेलुवा बञ्जाडी छोडेर गन्तव्यतिर लागिसकेको थिए । तर, पछि-पछिसम्म एउटा बुढो-पाको आवाज भने कानमा गुञ्जिरह्यो- ‘बाबु हो, जबसम्म जमीन जोत्नेहरुको हातमा आउँदैन् तबसम्म गुम्राको आत्माले न्याय पाउनेछैन ।’

२०६७ साउन

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Shukrati – the festival of lights

The evolution, devolution and oblivion of cultures, rites, and rituals depend upon their popularity, the followers and their willingness to follow. I wonder how within a span of a decade the “Shukrati” has transformed into “Tihar” and “Deepawali”.

As globalisation is making roads to even the remotest villages through the ubiquitous television sets, radios and newly introduced mobile phones, many festivals are being transformed into a homogenous set of rites and rituals being practised alike in different parts of the globe. In a way it is creating a similarity in the thinking, but in the meantime some of the interesting facets of the festivals are losing face to the new found amazement in celebrations.

When I was a kid, almost 25 years ago, we had a kind of excitement to celebrate “Shukrati” and not the “Tihar” or “Deepawali”.
Santhi is used to make hunka pati.
Days before the start of the festival we were busy collecting jute stalks (santhi), sabai (Eulaliopsis binata) and bamboo barks. Meanwhile our mothers were busy cleaning small bottles (to use as lamps), making clay lamps, grinding rice flour for the cakes (bagiya), and collecting and crushing castor oil beans to extract oil for lighting lamps.

The herders were busy locating dulfi (Leucas indica) in the fields so that they can feed its juice to their cattle. They in advance bought the red and green colours from the market to adorn their cattle with.

On the day of Shukrati or Diya Bati that’s what the Tharus in the Eastern Nepal call it, they make staffs (hunka pati) out of santhi, sabai and barhni (broom). The houses and surroundings are cleaned and tamped with cow dung and white clay.

As the dusk nears, the house and its surrounding are illuminated with oil lamps. These days the oil lamps have been replaced by candles in the cities. In some rural places still castor oil is used to light the lamps but mustard oil is used most commonly. The darkness of the new moon day is tore apart by the little lamps brightening the environs.

The male members of the house collect their individual staffs at the sacred corner of the devta ghar (the house of Gods), put a paste of rice flour and vermillion on them in order to purify them and pay obeisance to their Gods.

The staffs are then lit with the fire from the oil lamps offered to the Gods and the male members chant “Dhan Laxmi bhitar yaa, bhoot dalidar bahar jo (May the wealth come to us and the evil spirits leave the place)”.

After lighting the staff, they run to a nearby open field. Generally, in this season the farmers ready the fields to sow mustard and wheat. Gathering at a place, the men and children start playing with the staffs in flames. The sight is a delight to watch. As they play with the fire, they chant “Aai hunke hunkar bihan bagiya (Today is the festival lights and tomorrow the day to eat rice dumplings)”.      

As the staffs burn, they collect them at a place and take their turns to jump over the burning fire. While returning home, they bring back the leftovers (jute sticks and broom grass untouched by fire) and put them at the roots of vegetables and on the thatched roofs of the houses. It is believed that the vegetables bear more fruit after that. 

The next day female members are busy preparing bagiya (the rice flour dumplings) from early morning. The bagiya are of various shapes and sizes, with and without lentils and potatoes inside. The morning is spent eating bagiya and cleaning the tools and equipment. (Read about bagiya by clicking the link  http://www.tharuculture.blogspot.com/2012/12/bagiya-rice-flour-dumplings-made-tharu.html)

Har, kodair, tarju (the plough, spade and scales) and other agriculture tools are washed in a nearby pond or well and displayed in the yard. Even the doors are detached and washed thoroughly. Then mustard oil is applied on them and rice flour paste and vermillion are applied to purify them. This is done to pay respect and homage to the tools and equipment which help them till the land and grow food to eat throughout the year.

Then as the day advances, the herders go from house to house with a bale of grass called hurra collecting rice and money. The herders and the cattle owners wash their cattle, decorate them by painting with red, green and other colours, putting oil and vermillion on their horns and adorning them with bells. They prepare juice of dulfi and make the cattle drink the sweet smelling drink. It is believed to intoxicate the cattle and provide strength to fight.

The cows, buffaloes and goats – all are taken to the grazing plot (generally a river bank) and then starts the real competition between the strongest ones. The herders organise fights between the bulls and the strongest one takes the hurra home. In earlier days, the men too used to wrestle and declare the strongest man in the whole village.  

Then in the evening, they make godaha/godahaini (of human form) from the cow dung and leave it for the night in the gahli, the cowshed. The next day, the godaha/godahaini is made into a chipri (dung cake), dried and stored in a safe place.

The same chipri is used to light fire and cook the first grain harvested from the field and offered to the home deity. The ritual is called Neman. It is celebrated in honour of the new harvest and is celebrated in the month of November. Only after celebrating Neman, the Tharus consume the newly harvested grain. (Read about the significance of dung cakes in Tharu culture by clicking the link http://tharuculture.blogspot.com/2012/01/gorha-dung-cake-and-its-significance.html )

These days I long to see and play hunke hukar and hurra. The modernisation and amalgamation of cultures has brought with it some good practices. However, some exciting and entertaining rites and rituals are vanishing. It is the need of the moment to conserve the unique traditions and the young generation must take the responsibility.   

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sun re Siyaram! – Ode to the Kamlaris by Shrawan Mukarung

While the kamlaris were fighting for their rights on the streets of Kathmandu, Shrawan Mukarung’s ode dedicated to the kamlaris gained popularity in the mainstream media. Shrawan is famous for his creations, revealing the inequalities in the society and supporting the underdogs. His Bise Nagarchiko Bayan earned him laurels for his empathy towards the Dalits.

In his poem Sun re Siyaram, a kamlari sets off for a city leaving behind her love Siyaram. She says, “Listen Siyaram, I won’t wait for you now, I won’t return to the countryside again.”

“When I urged to follow me to the city, you wept and didn’t listen to me,” she says. “You never had an idea to elope together to a far-away place.”     

He describes the moment when the kamlari is boarding the cart. She complains that Siyaram didn’t pull her back when she gave her hand for the last time, because the peepal (a religious tree) in the village was dearer to him. In her anguish she tells him to plough the fields and fish alone, without her.

He describes her grief by using the metaphor “a well of tears” collected to show her true love. She is still happy in spite of being pregnant with her master’s baby. Here, the poet has illustrated how the kamlaris are sexually exploited by their masters.     

She is naive and innocent. “Now I will go to the police station, now I will appear in the court,” she says. “This is the city where government dwells, I’m confident I will win.” However, she doesn’t know the ways of the city and its treatment towards the unprivileged. 

She tells Siyaram to collect water snails and celebrate Maghi (the biggest festival of Tharus) all by himself. She repeats she won’t wait for him anymore; she won’t return to the countryside again.

If you know Nepali, you can savour the rhythm and melody of the poem in its original form. 

सुन रे सियाराम !
सुन रे सियाराम !
सुन रे सियाराम !!
अब म तँलाई पर्खन्न
अब म देहात फर्कन्न
सुन रे सियाराम !
सुन रे सियाराम !!
 
सँगै सहर जाउँ भन्दा
रोएर मान्दै मानिनस् ।
भगाई दूर देश लैजान
तैंले कहिल्यै जानिनस् । 
 
जब म चढेँ गाडामा
अन्तिम पल्ट दिएँ हात ।
तँलाई पिपल प्यारो भो
मलाई तान्दै तानिनस् ।

अब तँ एक्लै खेत खन्
अब तँ एक्लै माछा मार् । 
अब म तँलाई पर्खन्न
अब म देहात फर्कन्न ।

आँसुको इनार जमे नि
प्यार मेरो सच्चा छ ।
जीवन मेरो अच्छा छ
पेटमेँ मालिकको बच्चा छ ।
अब म जान्छु थानामा
अब म जान्छु अदालत ।
सरकार बस्ने सहर हो यो
मैल्यै जित्ने पक्का छ ।
अब तँ एक्लै घुँघी टिप्
अब तँ एक्लै माघी मान् ।
अब म तँलाई पर्खन्न
अब म देहात पर्खन्न ।
सुन रे सियाराम !
सुन रे सियाराम !!

(Poem courtesy: Nagarik and Setopati)

Watch the poet reciting the poem “Sun re Siyaram”.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Guffadi's satire on state's apathy towards the plight of kamlaris

As of now, the government has inked a deal with the former kamlaris to put an end to the 10 day long protest and Terai bandh. While the state and the so-called human rights and women activists turned deaf ears, the kamlaris chanted slogans on the streets, were hit hard by the police batons and boots, and eventually survived to protect their rights.

However, a section of Kathmanduites showed their solidarity with the kamlari's movement. A regular contributor to The Kathmandu Post, the blogger Guffadi captured the plight of kamlaris and jotted this brilliant piece of satire.

Republished with Guffadi's permission

Heads and tales: The losers strike again 


Protesting kamlaris (c) The Kathmandu Post


The Losers of the Week award goes to our men in blue who have once again shown us that they are nothing but a bunch of savages. It seems like the only job for those who have sworn to protect the public is to prey on them instead. Our successive governments have failed to prioritise police reform and have instead used our chor-police to attack common citizens.

Once again our police wallahs have made us proud by not discriminating against anyone. They will not leave anyone from Tibetan refugees to former Kamlaris alone. It doesn’t matter if the protestors are young or old or bold or beautiful or whether they are wearing Prabal Gurung or a Britney Spears t-shirt from the street hawker in Sundhara.

The Nepal Police have become loyal servants of those in power since the beginning of time. Maybe our IGP saheb should change the training manual before he retires. The existing manual must have chapters on how to use foul language, harass common citizens verbally and physically, and ways to rob and rape vulnerable women.

Our bideshi donors should send their overpaid consultants to train our chor-police on handling protestors. Where are our naari organisations when we need them? What happened to great dames like Arzoo Didi and Bandana Didi? Them ladies seem to get lots of funding from the kuireys to fight violence against women but I guess they are busy attending conferences around the world. Instead of  going on foreign junkets and telling the bideshis how our women are oppressed, why not take to the streets and help the real women to fight oppression?

And where are our ‘Occupy Baluwatar’ people, for that matter? Standing around, waving placards will not compel our incompetent government to listen to our demands. Shutting down the highways will only make it worse. We must ask our mothers and sisters to join the Kamlaris and arm themselves with brooms, sticks and whatever they can get. It’s time to fight back police brutality.

It’s a shame that our police wallahs were so aggressive towards our former Kamlaris and some were even molested and robbed. Where were our women police wallahs? If Nepal Police doesn’t have enough women personnel then this would be the good time to recruit a thousand more so that we don’t have to watch the men in blue lay their hands on women protestors. Where is the @#$!ing outrage? Where is Khilly Dai and his bunch of incompetent bureaucrats?

All of our political parties have their women organisations. Where are our women leaders? Maybe they are busy working on their speeches for the next convention. Our netri-nis like Sujata and Bidhya Didis have done nothing to help women in this country. They have only helped themselves to the all-you-can-eat buffets while they were heading ministries.

Our clowns are still fighting over how many buffoons can enjoy the buffet in the new Constituent Assembly. We wasted billions of rupees on 601 good-for-nothing lazy bums. Now, the Kangaroos and Unidentified Moronic Losers want to downsize to 491 freeloaders. Well, that would at least save us a few millions. When will we have competent folks who will refuse to take a dime for their time from the state coffer? Instead of writing the constitution, our buffoons were selling their own diplomatic passports and what not.

Our Foreign Ministry wants Rs 750 million to buy luxury vehicles for them big-wigs for the SAARC Summit. Yes, we will be hosting them sharks sometime in 2014 and all them neighbourhood leaders will need to ride around in bullet-proof Mercedes Benz. We should go green and save millions by getting rickshaws. Instead of purchasing bullet-proof vehicles, why not ask them VIPs to bring their own bullet-proof vests and full-body armour? 

Maybe we could save all that money if we hosted the summit during the monsoon season. We can then take them heads of states around the city on boats. We have failed to become the next Singapore or Switzerland. Maybe, we can try to be the next Venice.

Baidya uncle and his crew have decided to halt their protest programmes during the monsoon season. They do not want the farmers to suffer or maybe they just don’t have enough funds to buy enough gumboots and raincoats for their cadres. The angry birds have been having a tough time collecting money and muscles for their protest programs. They could do us a favour if they gathered all their cadres and armed them with buckets. And when it rains and our streets are flooded, they can jump into action and clear the paths. That would certainly win the hearts and minds of Valley residents. Then we wouldn’t mind pitching in a rupee or two for their chiya-paan karyakrams. But no shutting down the country, please!

Guffadi is a grumpy old man who blogs at www.guffadi.blogspot.com. You may contact him at maguffadi@gmail.com

(Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post. Click the link http://ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2013/06/07/onsaturday/heads-and-tales--the-losers-strike-again/249697.html to read the original post.)

Before you wrap up, listen to this song of sorrow, sadness and pain by a former kamlari Suma Tharu. She opened the third annual Women in the World Summit at the Lincoln Centre with this poignant song about her time as an indentured servant in Nepal

http://tharuculture.blogspot.com/2012/03/suma-sings-for-kamlaris.html

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Unique enclosures for domestic birds designed by Tharus

Domesticated birds make an important part of Tharu households. Depending upon the location, you will find pigeons, chickens, ducks, and even geese in the house premises. The method of keeping the birds and design of enclosures were unique in the days of yore.   

With the passage of time, I have been observing that the traditional enclosures for domesticated birds are being replaced with modernised versions. The influx of ideas from neighbouring communities has largely been responsible for the change.

However, some uniquely designed enclosures are still in use. Few months ago I was in the Eastern Nepal and Rana Tharu villages in Kailali district of Far Western Nepal. It was interesting to see different types of cages and coops for domesticated birds there. 


Lohoda
Lohoda is a beautiful coop mostly made of clay mixed with hay and cow dung. It has two parts – the base and the cover with openings for air. There is enough space for a rooster inside. The coop is cleaned, the hay kept as litter on the base is changed every day and the enclosure is tamped from time to time.
Jhauwa
Jhauwa is made of cane/rattan and is usually large enough for half a dozen roosters. It can be easily moved around and is generally used as a temporary means of keeping the birds safe from cats and other predators. Besides, it prevents the birds from moving around the house, dirtying and nibbling vegetables in the kitchen garden. 




Khudela
Khudela is an earthen enclosure, large enough for a pair of birds. Generally, lids woven out of bamboo culms are used to cover these coops. They are hung at a height so that dogs and other animals don’t reach and harm the birds. I have seen these arrangements in Eastern Nepal as well where the whole room is used to keep domestic animals and birds together. The goats occupy the base of the room and the birds are kept in these enclosures hung at a height.


Khop is a temporary cage made of bamboo culms. It is generally used to pair pigeons. The pigeons are kept in the cage for almost a fortnight until they bond well and form an inseparable pair. After that they are transferred to the permanent mud enclosures. It is also used to take birds to markets to sell.  
 
Perwa ghar is a permanent mud house for pigeons. They are kept at a height so that other animals don’t reach the pigeons. It has many compartments with each having enough space for a pair. It’s a common sight in Tharu households throughout Nepal.   


Called dhok or khop, it is a wooden coop mainly for ducks and roosters. They have wooden doors and are big enough to hold at least half a dozen birds.

So, next time you enter a Tharu household, ask for the traditional enclosures for domesticated birds. And if you come across any interesting and unique design, add it to this list.