“Dedicated to my childhood and to all my fellow pahadis around the world” – Kavita Adhikari
I had the opportunity to see and grow up in different parts of India and my childhood was nothing but happy and colorful. I was born in Majkhali, a small village in the Kumaon region. Born into a modest family of armed forces parents/grandparents, I remember travelling all over India almost every 2 years since the age of 7.
Even though I shifted base every 2 years, and currently living outside of India, my heart belongs to the mountains (the mighty pahads). Today, 30 years later, I still remember my childhood distinctively and lovingly.
This article is dedicated to all those nitty-gritty things that make our beloved mountains special, where living is none less than pure bliss.
Here’s a list of special things that pop out of my memory box and hope that you all can relive them with me.
- I remember fetching water from the village naula, this was the daily chore for all kids after school and a great way to catch up with your friends afterwards.
- I studied few years in the village school and one thing I remember was eating the nutritious sattu as part of the anaganbadi preschool sponsored meals.
- Going to the forest for bringing our cattle back home before sundown and while we waited, we played either gulli-dhanda, pitthu, kanche, gucchi with other kids from the block, who where there for the same chore of fetching the cattle.
- Eating sana hua nimbu under the winter sun used to make our jaded palates water with the tingly spices.
- Remember taking a nap in the afternoon dhoop after a hearty meal of bhaat and bhat ki churkani.
- Eating fresh raw radish with homemade chili-garlic namak and how can I forget bhang ki chutney.
- I remember playing with the neighborhood kids and watching the jhoras.
- Making the ghughut garland for the crows during the popular festival of Ghughuti and signing the “kale kawe aa…”
- Oh! the village ram-leela season was a treat to the eyes.
- That one thing that often crosses my mind was having gud ki chai on a sultry winter morning.
- Watching Chitrahaar and Ramayana on DD national TV on a black and white television which only a few homes were blessed with and all were welcomed with open arms to watch the shows (what a sense of community I witnessed).
Now this one is special and I am going to dedicate more than a bullet point for this. I remember watching my grandma and my mum making aipan on important occasions, especially during festivals and weddings. The distinct smell of wet, fresh aipan takes me back to my roots. As a child, this is my fondest memory and a special link to my hometown.
Aipan, an art form that is truly Pahadi
As they say, art is a stress buster whether you are an artist or an art connoisseur and if you are a true blue Pahadi, you would have seen aipan at some point in your life. Aipan is the traditional art form of Kumaon region, known for its cultural and religious as well as decorative significance. It’s is an age-old tradition, an art form comprising of plain vertical lines, extensive use of dots, geometric patterns, motifs inspired by village life and most amazingly, it’s absolutely free hand. Uttaranchal is home to this beautiful art form.
Made with soaked white rice watery paste delicately designed on a geru canvas (a deep red colored soil is used as a base to create a canvas-like surface to hold the white colored designs). To put this is in context for folks residing outside Uttarakhand, the art of aipan is similar to rangoli in Maharashtra and kolam in South India. It is believed that aipan is a way to pay tribute to nature and especially to the mountain Gods that all pahadis swear by.
Art is a constant reminder of history, of traditions and cultures. That’s why art around the world doesn’t have a set price, and in most cases it is priceless. Same goes for folk art forms like aipan. And as a pahadi, it’s our responsibility to pass this experience, knowledge to the next generation or else like many other things, this too will soon be forgotten. I will leave you with that, if you have never seen aipan or have forgotten how it looks like, google it or ask your parents/grandparents but do check it out.
Naula: an underground spring water drinking water well
Sattu: protein rich flour served as a meal to school children during lunch and sponsored by the government
Anagambadi: village preschool
Gulli-dhanda, pitthu, kanche, gucchi: all names of games played in many rural parts of India
Sana hua nimbu: a sweet and sour salad primarily made from the big lemon pulp
Bhaat and bhat ki churkani: rice with black lentils soup
Bhang ki chutney: chutnery made from wild cannabis seeds growing in Kumaon region Jhoras: a dance performed in a circular formation where everyone holds hands to make it like a ring
Ghughut: crow, the bird
ram-leela: village month long theatre around the Diwali festival
Gud ki chai: tea with jaggery
Chitrahar and Ramayana: popular TV shows in the late 80’s and 90’s
Note: This Article is originally written by Kavita Adhikari