Reblogged: Weekend in the Village (Part 2 – Getting Up-close and Personal)

Reblogged is a series of blog posts on my life in India coming from the weblogs I set-up. It’s an attempt to put the stories all in one place! The post Weekend in the Village (Part 2 – Getting Up-close and Personal) was originally posted on May 20, 2012 via the Project365: Volunteers for Change weblog I set-up with my VSO volunteer batch. I spent a weekend with the family of my colleague and friend Charu at her mother’s hometown in Taloshi, Mahad, Maharashtra. This is a two-part story for the events and scenes from May 4-8.

You’ve already read/seen how a day in an Indian village goes by. Well, it’s kind of a special day with the festival and all but still, it would look something like that. More or less. 🙂

That said, this post focuses on other aspects of Indian life, not just in a village but also in a bigger picture. Are you ready to get Indianised? :p

Water

Everyone needs water. Some more than most. Especially during a festival when everyone seems to have remembered where they came from and decided to pay homage to their roots. It’s an almost non-stop sight–women queuing for wells and tap areas and walking about with one or two jars on their head. Some include one for the side/hips too!
Queuing for Water. Young, middle-aged and old women (I’ve seen a couple or so men too) fill their water jars (tin and copper) to keep a steady supply at home (I guess for cooking and drinking)

I probably saw a man for every ten woman doing this household chore. Correct me if I’m wrong but back in Philippines, the water duty is expected for men right?!

Something New. Charu’s family (joint) lives at Kharghar where there is a steady 24-hour water supply. Here, Adi enjoys filling-up jars and vessels for the main tank (usually for T&B purposes)
Charu’s ancestral house is one of the few in the village that actually has a water tap system. Let me just share a story, with the water tap system playing an instrumental part:

There was a time when a guy got invited to attend an event in a village. Sitting on a “judge’s table” for a competition, he caught sight of a girl who had him in a heartbeat. The guy would not rest until he finds the girl. A friend in the village noticed his restlessness and asked what was the matter. After he told him the story, they came up with a plan: Since all the girls go to the well to fetch water, they can sit at a safe distance and wait for the girl to show up. Clever, right? Only, the girl did not show up. The guy thought all was lost. But he was mistaken. See, during that time, there was only one house with a water tap system–ergo, the girls did not need to go to the well. They went over to that house, professed his love and devotion to the woman he intends to marry, and had the approval of her parents. Of course, she didn’t want to marry him in the beginning but her parents has approved, and she was convinced to give this guy the chance of a lifetime. Whether it was an arranged marriage or a love marriage, who cares as long as they lived happily ever after?!

Food

Indians love to eat. A lot. And in the village, where everything is as fresh as it could be, there’s no stopping one’s self from gluttony. Well, at least that was true in my case. Unless the food is really spicy that is.
Old School Cooking. This is  a traditional kitchen/stove, located in the corner of the room (neighbor). The space around it, I believe, is the dining area (Indians usually sit on the floor while eating at home)
Plateful to make the tummy full (Pet bhargaya). This is the food served at the forest during one of the festival’s activities. Rice, bathed in dal, papad, aloo gobi curry, beans, breaaded aloo and aam (mango). Not in photo was the poori, chapati and two dessert samplers!
Never before. Remember the woman in green dress grinding rice? That was what’s used to make this bread called bhakri. The dish is a non-veg one: small (cuts of?) dried fish and flowers. Yep, first timer. White flowers picked from the afternoon walkabout the day before was used for this dish.
Homemade luvin. Chiwda is a homemade snack (well, even breakfast) or finger food. It’s made of nuts, corn, chilis, some leaves, and rice paper.

People

Do you know the concept of people watching? Well, if you don’t, let me tell you. It’s pretty simple and it’s definitely not rocket science. It’s basically either 1) you sit/stand somewhere and you just watch people passing you by OR 2) you walk around and observe the people around you. Let’s just say I did a lot of people watching that day. And picture-taking too!
Heritage. These two women are the oldest I’ve seen. They both don’t know their age. The dadi (granma) on the left is a widow (red bangles) and walks completely bending. The gran on the right is so thin it breaks your heart to watch her fetch water.
Bonded. They seem to be the closest among the sisters. Maybe because they’re the closest in order of birth (Auntie Shubangi then Auntie Shela)
The Bearded and the Beautiful (chos!). Charu’s Uncles in Law
She’s happy, seriously! We were telling Auntie to smile but since she didn’t, Uncle did it for him–with the hand!
Understanding the Jewelry. Green bangles and gold plus black necklaces for married women. Gold is a sign of wealth. See her earrings? It covers the entire length of the ear! Nose rings are common too, especially for married women as it is usually part of the wedding ceremony)
Understanding the Fashion. This is a traditional, Puja-ish saree which is three yards longer than the usual and is somewhat tied/tucked at the back. The bangles, earrings and neckalaces are there. I dunno what this special nose ring is called. Will update! (video below shows more)
Understanding the Children. Well, you can’t really understand the children. Hehe. Anyway, on the left is a boy from the village and on right is Adi, Charu’s boy, pretending to be a village man.

Household

On the second day, we were just chilling by the balcony/terrace/foyer (or however else you’d call the space outside the house). Then, I noticed the neighbor across the house pouring something muddy to their outside flooring. I thought they were just adding more mud. Until, someone explained it’s actually cow dung. I’m like…wow. MUST. GET. CAMERA. Everyone told me so too!
View from the top. Next door neighbor, cleaning and adding to their flooring (broomstick is used)
Auntie, the Saree and the Dung. Charu’s aunt-in-law is heading back to their house with a basin-full of cow dung to be applied to their backyard flooring (Auntie still looks pretty and happy as always!)
Sisters’ Act. Charu’s Mom, Auntie Shubangi, and Mausi (Auntie Shela) prepare the flooring mixture (side note: see Auntie’s bangle? That’s gold!)

Applying cow dung mixture is believed to be a blessing, especially during the festival time. The neighbor is kinda hard core coz they apply it in the house as well. It’s believed to be healthy, living in this environment. I am not sure whether I should believe or dispute that. 🙂

Labor of Faith. The neighbor uses her hands to apply the dung mixture flooring in the house (side note: she’s also wearing gold bangles! the toe ring also means married woman. the anklet is common to most girls and women, married or unmarried)

Religion

During the lunch in the forest, Prathamesh pointed an area where there is also another temple of some sort, dedicated to the goddess that protects the village. According to google and bing search, it’s called Rangumata Devstan.
Goddess in a Tree. Worshipers flock to the Rangumata Devstan Mandir for offerings, say their prayers and ask the goddess to grant their wishes
The goddess was a normal person, a human being. A 16- or 17-year-old-girl before she became a goddess. Prathamesh can’t tell me the story of her transformation though. Nevertheless, Prathamesh believes that she is so powerful and she really protects the village. In addition, it is said that she can make your wishes come true–within two to three years mostly. The catch is, if you make a wish and it comes true, you should return to the village to pay your respects. Otherwise, you’d suffer from bad karma.
Wish upon a goddess. Auntie Shela offers coconut, flowers and incense with her son Prathamesh and her nephew Sagar.
NOT FOR SALE. A token of gratitude from the wishers to the powerful goddess.
Another catch of wishing and having it come true, although more like a thank you gift, is the putting up of sarees around the temple area from those who’s wishes were fulfilled. There’s lots and lots of sarees in every color, design and shade you can imagine. So, I’m guessing the goddess really do grant wishes of her devotees.
Puja. A family (as in family tree kind of family gathering) performs a Puja ritual/ceremony

 

A short clip of the Puja. I felt I was being a bit intrusive so I tried to make it as short as possible. Sorry about that.
Anyway, at the end, Auntie Shela called her sister to show me the traditional 9-yard saree. And to take a photo.
I only understood the part where she was calling Charu to describe what’s happening in English (bolti = speak)
All in all, the experience at Charu’s village is really something for the books. Well, in this matter, for the blog. I had a great time and I learned a couple of new things I otherwise wouldn’t have known while in the city. The reception from the people was so warm that it felt like I am part of the community and not some stranger who’s just snapping away. I hope I get the chance to return someday, perhaps in the rainy season when it’s all green and fresh. Paging, Charu! hahaha. 🙂
Anyway, to cap it off, just before we left, a bull fight went on at the nearby open field. I wouldn’t miss it for the world of course, even if I had to run like crazy after they started charging and I realised I was wearing my red kurta! Hahaha 🙂
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