Not everybody knows that there is a unique pageant called ‘Ghasyari Queen’ held in the Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, in which women are required to cut the maximum grass within 2 minutes. Shockingly, in two minutes even our instant cook noodles, who claim to be readily made and served aren’t prepared.
In order to highlight the contribution of hill women to ecology, the Ghasyari competition was held on January 5, 2016, by ‘Chetna Andolan’ in a tiny hamlet called Chamilyala in Bhilangna Tehsil about 170 km from Dehradun district of Uttarakhand.
The women were required to compete with their counterparts and do their level best to become the ‘Ghasyari Queen’ which literally suggests ‘Fodder Queen’.
Around 30 petite women from 112 villages participated in the Ghasyari Queen competition. The women were geared to compete in the contest and were required to cut maximum grass in just two minutes, earning 10 points for each kilogram of fodder. The winner was judged on the amount, quality, knowledge of medicinal herbs for the livestock and the various uses of its by-products. The contestants were disqualified if green leaves or shrubs were found in their collection. Mrs. Raija Devi of Amarsar, Basar grabbed the title of Ghasyari Queen, Mrs. Yamuna Devi of Mald, Naelchami was the 1st runner up and Mrs. Abbali Devi of Alwa, Argarh became the 2nd runner up.
The convener of Chetna Andolan, Trepan Singh Chauhan said, “The ghasyaris ensure sustainable removal of weeds from the forests while ensuring no harm to the trees. But with increasing downhill migration and changing mindsets, their ecological services are being unnoticed”. He further stated, “We want to recognise their contribution and change the mindset of outsiders and locals towards their work”.
In an exclusive interview with HT, Saita Devi one of the finalists from Khola village said, “For centuries, the women of the mountains have been an essential part of conserving the hill ecology. Finally, we got our long overdue credit”.