This was during my research data collection at a marginalized village in Thuamul Rampur; one of the two areas identified under scheduled areas in Kalahandi district of Odisha.
In most of the cases, a difficult part of itinerary lies in deciding the whereabouts including food, lodging, security, kind of new people to interact. Oh, a lot more! But this time, I had nothing much to worry about these although with some petty frightening jerks before I actually stepped in. I happened to find a suitable accommodation. I did nothing but pleased my moron tired self by sleeping tight.
Uh, vibes of good luck!!
My eyes opened as the dawn blossomed with cool moist breeze outside my window. It was such a pleasing welcome to the day ahead. More so because I had made it to early bed-rising after years...
I left for the village visit to conduct my scheduled interviews. During the interaction and detailed survey at each house, I encountered one common observation. Each of the households were busy preparing sweets; odias fondly call it ‘pithaa‘. Pithaas are generally cooked during festivals or any such special occasion.
I, however, didn’t ask them why they were preparing sweets. As they offered me some, the famished me gladly accepted it.
Why would anyone not? Ahahaha...
The household interview process lasted for around 30 minutes. As I stepped out of the house, I found a lady in her 70s peeling out ripen mangoes to dry them under Sun for around 3 days. The product that forms in the process is really delicious and is used in making spicy dishes, like the one we use for mouth relishing ‘golgappe ka pani’.…
Later, I headed to other houses as well for the interview schedule… As I was on the verge of completing my data collection task, I went to one last house. The house is in fact a hut built with mud and brick. An old lady outside the hut was frying ‘pithaas‘. I could no more resist the curious me and I asked her why is everyone in their respective homes preparing these very pithaas. Was there any special occasion going around?
The lady gladly responded and I really liked her smile and sweet voice. Memories in making, uh! She responded saying that there is a girl coming to their village for the first time after her marriage and that all the households have to cook sweets or ‘pithaas‘ and give her to take back for her in-laws as she returns. These words interested me and I asked her to kindly elaborate.
“Everytime a girl comes to her parent’s home for the first time, after she gets married, she brings with her sweets for the entire village and not just for her family. As she stays for some days and starts to return back to her in-laws home, the entire village prepare pithaas for her in-laws village. Every household remains busy in making this for her. This tradition has been followed since ages. Now, have some pithaas, my girl“. She replied in a very soft tone.
I binged eat some more and got back to my accommodation…
Sometimes, it takes a visit or two to know of places, people, culture. The take-away that such memories give is boundless, cheering, and ever cherishing.
However, as I question my own-self on why are we keeping these tribes so much behind the social frame? They have a great life with their stories, with their own stresses to deal with.
Meanwhile, It just gave me immense joy and astonishment as they narrated that they need just a hundred bucks to maintain the family needs for an entire month. Does money only buy happiness? NO..They also mentioned that there is no reach of government or any of its schemes, despite us having a long list of programmed targeted for their welfare. Do we?
But who cares. That’s the irony.
I have no great points to make or ideas to claim but just that if such stories of the marginally pushed and not so accepted population are not made heard with a range of frequencies by we people; the informed and educated ones, then who will? Who can?