Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why farmers strike watch-towers with sticks before climbing up

The story about the watch-tower (mach) [Slightly edited for clarity]

A watch-tower. (C) Ulrike Mueller-Boeker

During the Golden Age (satjug) a farmer went to his watch-tower (mach) to sleep. As usual, he first knocked his stick against the gedahi (one of the crosspieces) in order to awaken the mach. Then he climbed up into the blind and went to sleep.

In Terai, people keep a vigil on their crops from a watch-tower. Watch-towers are built high enough so that the wild animals don’t climb up and harm the farmers. The watch-tower is built of eight crosspieces of bamboo or wood.

One day a tiger came and wanted to kill the farmer. The lachar, the eight brothers of the mach, thought: 'The tiger is going to eat our master!' The tiger wanted to jump up into the mach, but the latter ducked.

When the tiger jumped at a spot lower down the mach, the latter stretched itself. This went on a number of times, until the mach managed to trap the neck of the tiger in a fork in one of the pieces of wood and killed it.

The next morning the farmer woke up and spotted the dead tiger, and said, 'Oh, the tiger is dead. If I hadn't awakened the mach, the tiger would surely have killed me.'

Since that time, every farmer, before climbing up into the mach, strikes the gedahi with a stick in order to awaken the mach so that it will protect him and his fields from the wild animals.

Narrated by: Buddhi Ram Mahato, Chitwan district
Collected by: Ulrike Mueller-Boeker
Courtesy: The Chitwan Tharus in Southern Nepal
Used with permission from Ulrike Mueller-Boeker

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