Summers always remind me of the vacations I took at my Grandparents’ house. I remember when the electricity would go out in the small town of Ghaziabad, my cousins and I would climb up to our roof with our mattresses, and machar daani (mosquito net) – I don’t think odomos was in the picture back then – and listen to the unending anecdotes reminisced by our nana-nani. My nani in-fact grew up in a small village in Rajasthan and it was through her that I understood a tad bit about the village life.
Growing up in cities, rural life seems alien to most of us, and with such rapid urbanization, I’m afraid the essence of a traditional lifestyle is being winnowed away.
We often box our understanding of the rural life in just one word: Farming. While that is in fact the major livelihood of villagers, there is still so much one needs to know to be able to comprehend the villagers’ lifestyle.
Source of entertainment
When we talk about entertainment today in the cities, social media seems to be a go-to answer for everyone. Facebook, WhatsApp, the Internet itself has opened thousands and millions of options to keep an individual busy and entertained! What about small villages that still struggle to get a few hours of electricity every day? What is their source of entertainment?
You’ll often notice men playing cards under peepal ka ped (Banyan tree) somewhere in the village while squealing with laughter as their friends just lose in gambling. A common square, or locally known as chaupal, would usually be the first go-to spot of the day post dawn to get some conversation and gossip going for the day. This is not a rare sight if you’ve visited any villages.
You’ll also be fascinated at how a local water body like a lake can turn into a kitty party for the ladies! Geeta and Phulan chatting about their mothers-in-law who can’t seem to end the list of chores, or how their husbands have been working too much on the land, or the latest gossip of who was seen with whom…
For villagers, this is as exciting as it gets and I’m sure they definitely do not get anxiety attacks waiting for HBO to announce GOT’s season premier.
Unlike cities, villages often have a strong connection to religion and its traditions. You’ll notice that even in the architecture of the house – Many Hindu houses will have a big courtyard with a tulsi planted right in the middle. Every morning it will be watered while a small prayer is hymned.
According to some old texts, planting a tulsi in the house means ensuring that the family is kept safe from the perils of the world.
The day starts early for everyone in the gaon and you’ll see that as dawn strikes, the elders will wash up and bath, the women will often be seen going on short walks to pluck flowers for the morning pooja rituals…and the kids will be getting ready to attend the local government school. These are the simple acts, which make up for a normal day in their lives; just as for us checking our phone in the morning makes for a normal ritual.
You will still find those now rare sights of a kucha house where every day the women clean the floors by using a cow dung paste, which surprisingly has no smell (in case you were wondering)! You will still find them draw rangoli (art) in front of the gate and the walls to give it an aesthetic look, and you’ll be amazed to see how much physical work these women actually do throughout the day!
Change is definitely good, especially when it means development for all, but when we lose touch of our history and where we come from, the change will only remain temporary. We may be thriving in urbanization today, but how far are some of these developments going to lead us?
By- Sukanya Sharma