Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Evil eyes

An outsider will probably be amazed to see the black and white dots and circles painted on an earthen pot hanging to a tree. If you visit the Terai and take a tour of villages, you will find lot many winnowing trays woven from bamboo culms and broken clay pots – bearing black and white dots and circles – resembling the eye and iris. They are either hung to a fruiting tree or kept among the growing vegetables in the fields, kitchen garden and thatched roofs.

Surrounded by superstitions
The Terai is surrounded by superstitions. Ridiculous practices like using a water snail smeared with vermilion to harm others (by witches), avoiding sneezing while leaving a place, not asking someone directly where s/he is going, hanging the snake moult skin on the door, hanging horse-shoe at the entrance, travelling westwards only on Tuesdays and Saturdays and so on are widely popular here.

Among the stack of superstitions, people in Terai hang the winnowing trays or broken clay pots with black and white dots and circles to ward off the evils or bad luck caused by the envious or ill-wishing looks. These days it has become a common practice among the people to safeguard their vegetables and fruits from the envious eyes.

The black and white dots and circles represent the eye and iris. They are called “Dain Jogin” meaning the witch and hermit. People here believe that the evil eyes save the bearer (fruit trees and vegetables) from the ill-wishing looks of witches and envious people.

Practised widely around the world
The practice of hanging evil eyes is not only limited to the Terai of Nepal. The evil eye is believed by many cultures around the world to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. The term also refers to the power attributed to certain persons of inflicting injury or bad luck by such an envious or ill-wishing look.

The evil eye belief exists in India, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Scandinavian countries, Britain, North Africa and many other countries. The indigenous people in Latin America also believe in evil eyes and the belief has also extended to North America, Australia and New Zealand.

When I asked an old Tharu lady about the evil eyes, she just smiled, “It’s been practised since ages and if I stop putting the dain jogin who will take care of the envious eyes harming the growth and fruition of my vegetables and fruits?”

However, the evil eyes are a visual delight to someone from outside. And of course it frightens away the little birds and crows which come to peck at the buds, flowers, young fruits and vegetables. So, next time you are in the Terai look for the evil eyes hung to the fruit trees and vegetable gardens!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Tharu Pumpkin Man

Posted on 29 August, 2011 by Jo in http://www.soundrelated.com/
Republished with Jo's permission

Returning to the Holiday Safari Jungle Lodge after my recording trip to the Elephant Breeding Centre (read about that adventure here), I am told by our leader, Greg Simmons, that we are to go in search of “the man who plays the pumpkin”. I’m not exactly sure what he means by this but I assume it is some form of musical instrument we can record, so I’m keen! It’s the morning of December 31st, 2010 and as those of us who are interested pack into a nearby troop carrier, my mind starts to wonder exactly what it is that awaits me, “how do you play a pumpkin?” I ponder.

We make our way through the streets of Sauraha, bumping along in the troop carrier as we enter the Tharu village. The long dirt roads are lined with simple mud huts, their roofs covered in dried palm fronds. Kids are playing with balls and sticks; goats and chickens scavenge about for grass and seed. We pull up and everyone piles out of the dusty vehicle as nearby villagers watch on with interest. Greg and our guide, Dill, approach some of the locals and begin to ask where we could find this mystical pumpkin man. Soon enough, they find someone who knows what they’re talking about and are lead away into the village.

The Tharu Pumpkin Man.

A few short moments later they return, followed by a familiar face carrying a strange stringed instrument (you may remember him playing the drum and singing with the Tharu Stick Dancers). Looking closer, the instrument he carries reminds me of an Erhu, the ‘Chinese violin’, but instead of a small resonator body it has a large pumpkin! My curiosity is growing as I wonder what it will sound like and how it is played, there doesn’t seem to be a bow in sight.

Friend of the Pumpkin man.
 Sitting on a woven cane stool by one of the mud huts, the Pumpkin Man is joined by a friend (See picture to the right) who takes a seat next to him in the dirt. They wait patiently, the pumpkin man tuning his instrument and pulling out a pair of wooden clappers which he wears on his left hand. While they wait I go about setting up my rig, mounting my Schoeps M/S pair atop a Manfrotto stand. I set the stand about a meter back from the two seated men, roughly forming an equilateral triangle between them all, and raise it to just above their head height. I angle the mics down towards them, fire up my Sound Devices 702 recorder and throw on my cans for a listen.

Just in front of my rig, Greg has set up a pair of DPA 4023 compact cardioid microphones in an XY configuration (see top picture), running through his Nagra V recorder. Glancing up from the recorder he ask the two men to play a little for us so we can set our levels. They kindly oblige and begin to sing and play. I listen intently and shift my mic placement slightly, moving it forward and angling it slightly higher towards the musician’s mouths. I boost my gain level and sit back, happy with the sound I’m hearing.

I look to Greg, who has now finished his adjustments, placing a foam wind sock around the DPA mics to shield any breeze that may blow past the mud hut where we are seated. The musicians have stopped playing now and again wait patiently for us. Just to my right, Jarad is making the final adjustments on his camera as I nod to Greg, signalling to him that I’m ready to roll. Greg smiles back then turns to the musicians and kindly tells them they may begin. I hit record…

Playing away, one of the village children join us.
Like many of the recordings I made on this trip, I love this one for its rawness and soul. It has an honesty that you don’t get from most western musicians when recording them. This is just two guys sitting together, jammin’ on a song. Once the song really picks up momentum, the men really start to get into it, singing their hearts out. I love when their voices break and really start to bellow. The balance between instrument and voice is good, while still maintaining a very dynamic performance. The image is great, capturing the perfect balance of ensemble without being too direct or distant. I like the way the two men alternate lines in the song and how their positions are captured in the stereo image, neither being perfectly centred. …

I watch intently as the men play. The pumpkin man is holding his instrument with his right hand, using his right index finger to pluck the single string that stretches along its length. He is only playing a single note the whole time! In his left hand he claps and shakes his percussion sticks, their small gold cymbals jingling away. One of the village children wearing an orange track suit wanders over to sit with them (see picture above). The child doesn’t seem overly interested in what is going on with all our microphones and cameras, just standing by the men, listening to them sing, gazing at us occasionally. I can’t help but smile as the men play on unfazed.

The two men, smiling as we thank them.
 The song comes to a close and the men sit in silence before we begin to clap and thank them for their great performance, a smile spreading across their faces. I’m a little surprised that the pumpkin instrument only played a single note, especially after the man tuned it so carefully! But it was quite cool none the less. The two men stand and thank us before wandering back into the village to go about their daily routines and I go about packing up my rig, happy with the recording I’ve made.

We all pile into the troop carrier and head back to our hotel to pack our things. I’m a little sad to be leaving Sauraha, it’s been an amazing time here but tonight we are crossing the boarder into India. The next chapter of my journey awaits!

- All photos courtesy of Jarad Avnell, Michaël Carrere Caceres and Jo.
- The recording of this performance has not changed Jo's dislike of pumpkin.
-To listen to the audio clips visit the original post at http://soundrelated.com/the-tharu-pumpkin-man

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Tharu Stick Dancers of Sauraha

Posted on 1 August, 2011 by Jo in www.soundrelated.com
Republished with Jo's permission 

It’s December 30th, 2010 and I’m in the Nepali village of Sauraha, on the border of the Chitwan National Park. Today, after an Elephant ride through the jungles of the park (more on that next time…), we have gathered at the banks of the Rapti River to record the Tharu Stick Dancers.

Having watched the dancers perform a couple of nights before, to a packed out and energetic (read: mic stand kicking) audience at the local cultural centre, I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. I had attempted to record the stick dancers on this night but it was quite fruitless due to the overly echoing room, their use of a PA, audience ‘participation’, etc. But today shall be different, I am prepared!

A few of the buffaloes, stopping for a drink.
Arriving at our location I am greeted by the lush green beauty of the jungle and smooth flowing river waters, shining under the bright warm sun. Nearby a group of local villagers are herding a gang of buffalo across the river (see picture above). Not wanting to miss a golden opportunity, and also having a strange love of the sound of water, I grab my Kata pack and walk to the bank of the river. With the pack in ‘sling’ position, I throw on my cans (see picture above, again), pull out my Schoeps MS pair and fire up my Sound Devices 702. Holding the pistol grip of my Rycote Windjammer, I aim the mics towards the buffalo making their way across the river, set my gain level and hit record…

This recording really takes me back to the scene depicted in the first picture above. The width of the stereo image is really amazing, particularly when the man starts calling out to the left. I love the sound of the flowing water and the grunting buffalo crossing the river, shame about the motorbike that comes in at the end though!

…As the herding party moves on up the river I hit stop and make my way back to the main group where the Stick Dancers have arrived. A number of the local villagers appear to have abandoned the buffalo and are hanging back to watch what we’re doing. We never fail to draw an audience it seems!

First recording of the Stick Dancers. 
Looking to where everyone is now setting up, I find that Greg Simmons has decided to record the dancers using a spaced pair of DPA 4041 omnidirectional microphones into his Nagra V location recorder. He has positioned his rather tall mic stand in the centre of the performance space, with the mics raised high and pointing straight down (see picture on right). The dancers will then form a circle around him as they perform.

I decide to take a different approach and set up my MS pair behind the musicians which are accompanying the dancers (see picture on right, again). Aiming the mics back towards the performance space and Greg’s set up, I am hoping to focus in on the Stick Dancers and use the off axis positioning of the musicians to balance their louder level. It doesn’t work very well. The image is horrible and unbalanced, and with the dancers moving around so much, often quite a distance from my mics, their relative level is all over the place. I stop and take a moment to reconsider my mic placement.

After a moments consideration, I pick up my Manfrotto stand and walk it into the centre of the space, placing it next to Greg’s setup. I’ve decided that it will be impossible to record the stick dancers perfectly with my MS pair (the spaced omnis Greg is using are much closer to ideal for this situation), so instead I will focus on the musicians. I extend my mics into the air as high as they will go and angle them down towards the four percussionists. With this placement, the musicians will be the centre of the image and the dancers will move around it but remain the same distance from the mics at all times. The only problem now, will be the dancers moving to the rear of the mics where the null point occurs (I use a cardioid mid microphone in my MS setup), but what can I do, right?!

Things are sounding a lot better with the new mic placement, so I take a seat on the grass next to Greg, shoo away a few small spiders that have decided to climb my jeans, enjoy the sun shining down on me and hit record…

Tharu Stick Dancers of Sauraha from Joseph Dutaillis on Vimeo.
Above is a quick video of the stick dancers in action. The audio here is just off the camera (so it’s average at best) but it gives you an idea of my final mic placement and how the dancers perform. Directly below is the recording I made.

I’m fairly happy with how this recording turned out in the end. The musicians sound great and you get a good sense of movement from the Stick Dancers without it being too distracting or all over the place. Considering the limitations of my MS pair, I don’t think it could have come out much better! As for the performance itself; it is much more of a visual thing (being a dance and all…) so you don’t really get a sense of the awesomeness of it from the audio alone. But I do enjoy the beats and rhythms of it.

One of the local buffalo herders enjoying the afternoon sun.
…As the dancers trail off and the pounding drums come to a silence I hit stop on my recorder and smile to Greg, happy with the recording I have captured. Watching the dance, seated in the very centre of the performance space was very cool, no better way to feel part of the action than actually being in the middle of it. And now it’s time to eat!

Some members of the Holiday Safari Jungle Lodge, where we are staying whilst in Sauraha, have brought us fried rice for lunch. Everyone gathers around quickly and fills their white paper plates with mountains of delicious food. The Stick Dancers and musicians join us as well, indulging in the feast.

A few tasty minutes pass before I shovel the last few morsels of rice down and lay back on the soft green grass to soak in some more of the afternoon sun. Around me the other GE-OS members are indulging themselves in similar activities and chatting with the local Tharu people. Life is pretty sweet.

The Tharu Stick Dancers singing for us.
After a while I sit up to find the Stick Dancers have gathered together with the musicians to perform for us again. But this time, instead of their usual dance, they will be singing some impromptu songs. I quickly jump to my feet and grab my recording rig, unpacking it and throwing on my headphones as I walk over. The dancers have assembled in a rough line, with the musicians in the centre of the group (see picture to the right) and, with limited preparation time, I decide to use the hand held approach I took earlier when recording the buffalo herd. Positioning myself in the centre of the line, roughly 5m back, I point my mics directly towards the percussionists and, not knowing what to expect, hit record…

I love these two recordings. At times they remind me of an American drum line, with the sharp attack and rhythms of the drums. They actually achieve that sound by tying paddle pop sticks to their fingers to hit the drum skin! The call and response style, particularly of the second song below, is also very cool. At times the recording seems to be a tad left heavy, unfortunately, that was due to the louder voices of the singers on the left and some of the boys on the right not singing at all! You can’t do a lot in situations like this without ruining the raw flavour of the whole thing, so best to go with what you have.

…As the last slap of the drums come to an abrupt halt, we all clap and cheer as the performers bow graciously. Everyone is smiling, and why wouldn’t you be! It’s been a “fantastic”1 day. Now to head back to one of the river side resorts for a ‘special’ lassi (more on that next time as well…)!

1 Greg Simmons, every single day of the GE-OS trip, 2010/2011.
- All photos and video courtesy of Greg Simmons, Jarad Avnell and Carlos Rudzats.

To listen to the recordings visit the original post at

Basanti – the poor man’s auto cart

If you are a movie buff and follow Bollywood, then you must have watched the movie Sholay. The heroine of the movie is a feisty village girl who drives a horse-cart and one of the heroes repeatedly asks her name – “Tumhara nam kya hai Basanti?” (What is your name Basanti?). While Basanti drives the tanga (horse-cart), people in Nepal’s Eastern Terai drive an auto-cart called Basanti.

Airy and spacious journey
The cart is a modified version of a horse-cart or bullock cart. Instead of a horse or bullock pulling the cart, an engine rotates the rear wheels with the help of a belt. The only problem the cart faces is the falling off of the belt which stops the cart. In that case, the helper puts on the belt and pushes the cart to start the engine.

The cart is open and spacious with a tarpaulin overhead to save from rain and sun. It can carry upto 10 passengers at a time and in rush hour some more can join hanging at the back! As the cart contains just a wooden base and a mat on it, the journey is airy, windy, hot, humid or cold depending on the weather – basically it’s an open cart.

Locally made basic structure
When I first travelled in a Basanti, I was fascinated by the idea of the inventor of such a simple vehicle. It has nothing – just three tyres, one engine, a wooden base, few iron rods to hold the tarpaulin overhead and a steering handle – that’s it.

Asking the driver about the machine, I got to know that it was assembled in nearby Sunsari district. The mechanics copied the idea from the bordering town in India. The cart is not expensive, you can buy a second hand cart at a price of one hundred thousand Nepali Rupees (1 USD = 80 Nepali Rupees).

Assembled from stolen bikes
I was curious to know from where the mechanics brought the engine, as it was the only part which could not be made by the local mechanics. The driver had a simple reply – the engines are from the stolen bikes, especially of the brand Pulsar. The engines of stolen bikes are also used in assembling water pumps. The bikes stolen from the urban areas are disassembled and the engines end up in the Terai – to be used in water pumps and of course in Basantis.

Hot during the haats
The Basanti is a much used public vehicle besides tempos and jeeps in the Eastern Terai. It can travel on bumpy roads, gravel roads and even the village streets. In the Terai, at major village junctions, twice a week make-shift markets called haat are organised, where people from nearby villages come to sell and buy the objects of daily need. Especially, during the haat days, the Basantis are full of passengers, most of the times overloaded!

When I asked the driver, why they called the cart Basanti, he just smiled and said, “Go watch the movie Sholay and you will know why we call it Basanti.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

They just need a chance to perform

When Nepal won the semi-finals of the ACC U-19 Women’s Cricket Championship, the environment was festive in the small town of Lahan in Nepal. The locals lit lamps throughout the town to celebrate the victory. As the Nepali team won the finals, beating Thailand by six wickets, one of the last girls standing in the crease was Mamta Chaudhary from Lahan. She together with her Captain Rubina Chhetri scored 56 runs to hand the hat trick victory to Nepal. The joy of people from Lahan knew no bounds. The whole town and surrounding was drenched in the victory – made possible by five local girls, Kavita Gautam, Santoshi Chaudhary, Mamta Chaudhary, Anuradha Chaudhary and Saraswati Chaudhary. All five in a way or another contributed throughout the tournament to win the trophy for the third time in a row.

Out of the five, four Tharu girls come from the same village Singarahi near Lahan. Their parents broke the tradition of sending the girls to graze goats. Instead their parents were happy to send their daughters to school and let them play cricket which is still new for the girls in this part of Nepal. In the Terai, till this day the girls are awarded the duty to graze goats while boys are sent to school. In addition, the girls then have to complete all the domestic chores. “With the trend set by these local girls, the situation and thinking of the parents will change,” says Chandra Kishore Kalyan, the President of Tharu Welfare Society Siraha.

Overnight the girls have turned teen idols and national heroes. As reported by Bharat Jarghamagar in the Kathmandu Post daily, Ghuran Chaudhary, the proud father of Saraswati says, “She, not only remained my daughter, but became the daughter of whole country now.” They are famous not only in Singarahi village, Lahan and Siraha district from where they hail, but also throughout Nepal now. Tharus throughout Nepal are sending them compliments and best wishes for their future career.

Their exploits in Kuwait where the tournament was held, have not only inspired many young girls in the area to study and play, but have also influenced the parents to treat their daughters equally and provide them with equal opportunities as their sons.

The four girls have proved that given a chance, they can perform well at all levels. They have broken the shackles of belonging to a society which has always ignored their identity, belonging to a marginalised community that was always kept on margins by the state and being a girl who has always been disregarded by her parents. Kudos to the bravehearts!
Photo courtesy: The Kathmandu Post

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wear tattoos – they will accompany you to the next world

Tattoos have become a fashion statement these days. The multicolour tattoos with modern motifs are a rage among the young generation. Tattoo studios are mushrooming up in urban areas and the tattooing technique is becoming safer, quicker and easier with the advance of technology. Once practised by tribals and indigenous people, and hated by the nobles – tattoos have earned a reputation of beautifying the wearer.

There are records of Polynesians, Samoans, Filipinos, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Northern European tribes wearing tattoos. Researchers have even dug out mummies with tattoos and explored ancient clay figures with tattoos which date back the tradition to prehistoric times.

Tattooing – a popular Tharu culture
Tharus, the indigenous people living in the southern plains of Nepal, have been wearing tattoos since time immemorial. Tattooing was quite popular among Tharu women. They used to get tattoos on their arms, legs and chests to make them more beautiful. The tattoo is called Godna in Tharu language and the tattooers, usually old women, are called Tikaniya.

When I asked an old Tharu lady why she got tattooed all over her body, she had a short and simple reply – when she will die, nobody will accompany her to the next world – but the tattoo will. She also explained that it is a form of permanent jewelry, which can neither be stolen nor erased and that she felt more beautiful with the tattoos on her body.

Once tattooing was compulsory for married Tharu women and they used to get tattooed on their legs prior to marrying, generally in the month of March (the months Falgun – Chaitra in the Bikram Sambat calendar).

Motifs inspired by nature
The tattoos in Tharu culture are inspired by nature. The most common motifs to be tattooed are lines, dots, crosses and several other natural elements. The most common and complicated tattoo that I have observed is that of a peacock, called Mejoor in the Tharu language. While many other motifs are drawn by the experienced tattooers, all of them follow some natural pattern – some modified, some designed to resemble the objects in the vicinity.

Tattooing is painful and gruesome, if done the traditional way. The Tikaniya uses tattooing needles and natural black ink obtained from the soot gathered from a mustard lamp – the process is slow and sometimes the tattoee even faints. The part to be tattooed is rubbed with cow dung and later washed well with water. After drying, mustard oil is applied to make the surface soft. Then begins the painful process of marking the designs and pricking with the tattooing needles.

Declining interest among youngsters
The rigorous and painful process of tattooing was always one of the restraining factors. However, to remain being an active part of the society, the Tharu women in the past used to get tattooed. Having no other means of beautification, tattoos were really popular among the Tharu women.

However, once considered an act of beautification has turned into a vanishing tradition with the modernisation. Now the young generation has many alternatives to enhance their beauty. They don’t need the permanent black motifs all over their bodies to look beautiful anymore.

The influx of people from the hills and North India has influenced the Tharu culture, tradition and rituals. Nowadays the practice of having tattoos of traditional motifs has nearly disappeared. The old experienced Tikaniyas are no more found in the villages nor are there any takers who can steer forward this age long tradition.

Need to modernise the tattooing
The tradition of tattooing is on the verge of vanishing. However, looking at the popularity of modern tattoos among the young generation, there is an imminent need to record the age old motifs used by the Tikaniyas. The motifs need to be modified to suit to the taste of the young generation. The black ink from lamp soot needs to be replaced by multicolour inks. The tattooing needles need to be replaced by the modern tattooing machines. The painful and gruesome practice of tattooing needs to be changed to a pleasurable experience by using the modern methods. However, the Tharus need to stick to the basic designs of the motifs. This will lead to saving the age old tradition being kept alive by few handful Tharu ladies.

(Thanks to the photographers posting the above images in the internet)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Walking the Tharu Heritage Trail – Ghodaghodi Lake

Driving westwards from Nepalgunj in the Western Nepal, you will come across the beautiful Ghodaghodi Lake adjacent to the East West Highway. The lake is one of the nine wetlands of international importance in Nepal, enlisted as a Ramsar site. Other eight are Jagadishpur Reservoir, Beeshazari Lake (Twenty Thousand Lake) and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in the Terai; Gokyo Lake series, Gosaikunda, Rara Lake and Phoksundo Lake in the Himalayas; and recently enlisted Maipokhari in the mid hills.

The lake is of around 10 sq. km and covers three Village Development Committees of the Kailali district. The lake comprises nine different lakes, namely, Ghodaghodi, Ojhuwa, Purbi Ojhuwa, Chaitya, Baishawa, Sunpokhari, Nakhrodi, Budhi Nakhrodi and Ramphal, all of various shapes and sizes separated by marshes. Of the nine-sister lakes, Ghodaghodi is the largest and a concrete dam regulates its outlet.

The myths surrounding Ghodaghodi Lake
Ghodaghodi literally means male and female horse. It is believed that the lake took its name from the clay horses offered by the Tharus to the Goddess at the bank of the lake. One popular belief says that a sage cursed Shiva and Parvati turning them to horses. As the pair circled round the lake, the lake got its name. Another belief is that the lake was too big for a horse to cross the whole distance in a day, so the lake was awarded the name.

On my way to Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, I met Sukhram Das Tharu, the head priest of Ghodaghodi Lake and Tularam from Deukhar. They told me a totally different story of the Ghodaghodi Lake and Temple.

“Many years ago the consort of the Sun God Surya Narayan, Savitri descended to Patal Lok (the world beneath the earth) in disguise of a mare. Following her, the Sun God also went to Patal in search of Savitri. As the Sun went underneath earth, it was dark everywhere. All the Gods then went to Brahma, the Creator for help. Together they went to Vishnu to seek help. Vishnu disappeared while searching them. The Gods in despair then went to Mahadev, the God of Gods. He also disappeared. Finally, they went to Gauri Mata, who meditated and found out about all disappeared Gods. With her might and power, she was able to summon all disappeared Gods near Ghodaghodi Lake.

She then announced that whoever will offer her horses, elephants, tigers made from clay at the Ghodaghodi Lake will get their wishes fulfilled. The Tharus from the area have followed this tradition till today. Chamari Geruwa was the first Tharu priest who could get inside the lake, bring out the offerings and distributed to farmers who used to stay there whole night praying the Goddess. Then the farmers used to take those offerings and establish in their houses. Shitla Geruwa was the second successor, but he was not able to get inside the water. Then Prerna Geruwa from Bakloi succeeded him. All of them were Tharus. Till this day Sukhram Das is continuing the tradition of worshipping the Ghodaghodi Mata, one of the disguises of Gauri.”

You will still find clay horses and tigers offered to the Goddess in the temple. The Tharus gather and worship here in large numbers during the Agahan Panchami and Maghi festivals. They also perform marriage and other rituals here.

Conservation – the need of the moment
Ghodaghodi Lake is an important prime habitat for migrating and resident birds. Around 140 species of different birds can be sighted around this wetland, some birds migrating from as far as Siberia and Mongolia during the winter season. The lake is home to different species of fishes, reptiles, mammals and amphibians. The lake area also houses unique flora and fauna.

People of this area have been depending on the lake and the surrounding area for fishing, irrigation, grazing livestock, collecting fodder, fuelwood, wild fruits and vegetables, and for recreation. Adding to the woes of the lake and surrounding area, hill people from the adjacent hill districts have migrated to this area in search of better opportunities. The large influx of people has resulted into haphazard grazing, unsustainable fishing and illegal logging besides collecting firewood, fodder and wild mushrooms. The rampant use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides has led to the percolation of chemicals into the lake waters posing threats to the biodiversity. The lake also faces the potential danger of eutrophication.

Looking at the possible perils to the lake, it is the need of the moment to join hands and save the Ghodaghodi Lake and its associated lakes and ponds - not only to save the biodiversity of the area but also to save one of the pearls in the Tharu Heritage Trail. And of course, the age old Tharu tradition of offering clay horses to the Goddess Ghodaghodi.