Wednesday, August 14, 2019

These phrases and idioms show the relationship between Tharus and their cattle

Monochrome bull in alley photo by Adam Sherez ( mr_sherez) on Unsplash

No doubt, Tharus have been tilling the earth for centuries. And their partners have been none other than the oxen. While the oxen have been treated as mere animals and have been the origin of the metaphor ‘goru’ in Nepali for morons, the Tharus have had deep respect for these animals. Have a look at few phrases and idioms in Tharu language that further establishes this fact. These idioms also showcase the Tharu way of life.

Bahaut maugi me marad upas, bahut marad me barad upas

This idiom means ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. It says: “If you have too many women [in the house], a man has to remain hungry; if you have too many men [in the house], an ox has to remain hungry.” Although sexist, the idiom shows how the household chores including cooking was assigned to women while other outdoor activities were taken care of by men including feeding and grazing the cattle.

Mangni barad ke dant dekhe gelai kahi

I haven’t come across an English idiom equivalent to this one. This idiom means you need to have money with you if you’re willing to buy something. It says: “Why to undertake seeing the teeth of an ox, if you don’t have money [in your pockets]?” Buying and selling oxen was common between farmers and traders, and while buying oxen it was mandatory to have a look at the pair of teeth the animals had. So as to ascertain the age of the oxen!

Har ne barad dhodhai marad

This idiom is about people who brag a lot. It says: “[Some people] brag a lot though they don’t even have a plough and oxen.” Have you ever heard the Chinese proverb “Great boast, small roast”? This exactly matches in meaning with the Tharu idiom.

Jau dekhi barad maina, ta ladi yahai par se dyadi baina

This idiom means leap at the opportunity (to do something). It says: “If you see a suitable ox (for ploughing or pulling a cart), give the advance from the river bank [where you’re standing].” It shows the urgency and says “don’t even think of crossing the river to get to the seller or the ox, just hand over the advance to seal the deal.”

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