(Research) : Religious practice of gora village Lalitpur (Uttar Pradesh)
Table of Content :
- Village Cultural Profile
- Folklore of Bundelkhand region
- Religious Beliefs
- Basore Untouchables: A drumbeater
- Commensality and Discrimination
- Caste and Birth
- Son preference
- Health Perspective
- Eating habits which relates to the Culture
- Most Celebrated Festivals
- Some common beliefs among the villagers
This study conducted in Gora village of Lalitpur district, Uttar Pradesh. Bundelkhand is known as a drought prone area, but this region is also famous for its folklores. Despite the problems such as poverty, economic deprivation, hunger; people of this region celebrate each and every festival with proper tradition with enthusiasm. On the other hand the religious beliefs of the people are very strong. This Paper deals with the cultural beliefs and practices of the region particularly in Gora village with special reference to caste perspectives. The ritualistic superiority of the upper castes people is the sole reason for the dominance and discrimination faced by the lower caste people and other tribes in the Gora village. The study reveals that the Gora village is very poor thus presenting a very different and unique picture of the research.
“Culture is the art elevated to a set of beliefs” Thomas Wolfe
In India caste system has become a world’s longest surviving social hierarchy. Caste as a defining feature of Hinduism encompasses a multifarious ordering of social group on the basis of ritual purity. Under these caste phenomena, a person is considered to be a member of this system who is born and remains within the assigned caste until death. Caste may vary among regions and over a period of time. In India, the first literacy of the caste system was found in Rigveda and Pursasukta hymn.
Caste provides a particularly illustrative case of a cultural institution where shared-ness and disparity (as domination and inequality) co-exists with each other in a state of perpetual tension (Dumont, 1980). It is a “live force in modern Indian culture and politics” (Satyanarayana, 2014), which exercises a powerful cultural influence on the Indian politico-economic order (Deshpande, 2001; Fuller, 1996; Micheluti, 2007). There are three interrelated facets of caste are considered central: first one, it is a maker of (single caste) communities; second, also of inter-caste dominance and hierarchy laid down at birth, and third; leadership within intra-caste communities in the form of the caste headman. All these three are the facets of caste. By infusing everyday practice and influence the shaping of social networks, castes as “ethnic groups don’t just experience the world in terms of ‘we-them relations,’ but play a role in producing them” (Reddy, 2005).
Indian culture, as it is popularly known, is like a huge tree with its branches representing various systems of religious thought. Religion, tradition and customary practices are an important part of Indian culture.
Sociologists and anthropologists consider the organization of a society to be a reflection of its culture: an important component of which is cultural beliefs. Cultural beliefs are the ideas and thoughts common to several individuals that govern interaction between people and their gods. In general, cultural beliefs become identical and commonly known through thesocialization process by which culture is unified, maintained and communicated (Davis, 1949). Culture is the bond or tie that keeps people belonging to a particular region or community together. "Culture" refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, actions, customs, beliefs and institutions of racial, ethnic, social, or religious groups (California Endowment, 2003).
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture are like a tree without roots.” Marcus Garvey
Village Cultural Profile :
The lifestyle of villagers, their religious beliefs value and perception of caste are very different from others. Their life style is surrounding within their boundaries, they live in a midst of natural surrounding with the charm of nature which justifies the remark of famous English poet Cowper that “God made the country and man made a town”. The villagers live a healthy and peaceful life with no smoke and noise of the city factories. They live a simple life and also their desires are less and they are satisfied also with what they have and they usually never dream out of their comfort zone which makes them happier. The main occupation of village people is agriculture, their life is more depended on crops and field; they are mainly farmers. They do farming in the nearby lands in the neighborhood of the village. In spite of this, some people keep shops and keep the necessities of life of the villagers. Other works like pottery, carpentry etc. are also the sources of livelihood in villages. The good thing about villagers is that they are socially bonded together. In a town or city, no one care of each other but in villages each villager is familiar even with the family histories of the other villagers. By the evening they collectively assemble in the village chopal (the center point of the village) with their hukkas (cigars) and gossiping with each other which goes on till late night. With this simple life villages have some drawbacks also, for example, most of them are extremely poor living in one room which is called ‘kacchaghar’ or mud houses which often fall off to the ground in the heavy rainfall. In spite of their hard work they are not able to earn sufficient to provide themselves with a proper life or one day meal, they are not saving for their future betterment or not able to educate their children, Whenever they need money they have to borrow from the village moneylender with interest and debt which they are often never able to return. Bichumuttathara said in his article on Indian farmer that 'He is
born in debt, lives in debt and dies in debt', and also their crops are at the mercy of rains. Besidethis their perception of caste are very strong in today's time it has been decreasing for a while due to increase of education and more awareness among people but in spite of that the untouchables are considered polluting and are therefore kept at a distance in today's world also. They have to live separate and can't share such common village amenities, for example, well. Those caste who are considered to clean up, deal with dead animals or use their meat for making their dhol are ritually unclean and beyond the pale and couldn't be accepted by the higher caste people. Most of the lower caste people are actually engaged in the agricultural labor. With this perception of caste, people are more dominated by the religious or cultural belief, they are much influenced by the religion and culture, all their work and life is surrounded and based on these beliefs from birth to death, they have rituals ceremonies according to their community and culture.
To relate with the perception of caste to the cultural belief of the people, Bundelkhand has emerged as a powerful culture with full of diverse songs, dances, art, rituals, ceremonies, traditions etc. People of this region are more culturally oriented. Here, people have blind faith, taboos, and beliefs on different gods in different form. As per their beliefs, there are certain location where god situates and if one wishes something, his wish generally comes true (Kreelaki Mata, Jatasankar, Deva Mata, Rakhpanchampur, DasavatarMandir, Chitrakoot, Orchaetc).These are some places which are considered to be the most sacred places according to the people of this region. In spite of this, there are some popular dance form and songs also famous in Bundelkhand region which are performed in various festivals and also while celebrating as rituals and traditions.
Diwari, Ravala, Badhaiya, Rai are the famous dance form in Bundelkhand region; popular dances also include Pahunai, Horse dance, Kachhiaayi. The region of Bundelkhand has got many popular folk songs as well. Some of the very popular folk songs are: Faag, Alha, Dadreand Gari, Lamtera(call of god). Despite of being a small region in between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh matches to the standards of Indian culture and has set an impeccable example in terms of art and culture.
Figure 1: A Group of male and female performing a dance form called Badhaiya.
Figure 2: A Group of females performing a Folk dance form called RAI.
Figure 3: A Dance form called Diwari.
Folklore of Bundelkhand region :
- Hori or Phag is sung in the spring and is appropriately romantic and sensual
- Kajri is sung in the monsoons
- Sohar is sung on the occasion of the birth of a child
- Rai dance is performed by women dancers as well as men during Dushera
- Diwari dances are performed during Diwali by acrobatic male groups holding long poles and dressed in very colourful and unusual attire.
- Achri, a folk song form performed in honor of mother goddesses especially during Navratri Devi puja
- Alha, these songs celebrating the heroic exploits of mythologized historical figures Alha and Udal, who fought on the side of the Chandelas in the war against Prithiviraj Chauhan
- Lamtera songs sung in honour of Ganesh and Shakti
- Pahunai song and dance performed to welcome guests
- Got (pronounced as 'goat'), a song form with a strange rhythm sung through the night to seek good health for all cattle in the village
- Kacchiyahi, song and dance performed by women and men of the backward Kacchi caste
- Kahri songs sung to welcome the rains
- Khayal, a competitive form of singing performed by two groups of singers
- Tambura Bhajans, which are songs usually sung to Kabir's lyrics, celebrating a nirguni (formless) godhead, and
- Kolhai song and dance peculiar to the Koltribals of the Patha region.
These are the dance and songs which are famous in Bundelkhand region and also used in many festivals considering rituals which are still alive in some areas and celebrated with full of joy and systematic way.
Religious Beliefs :
When we talk about religious belief in study area then we can observe that the religious belief of the people of Gora village is very strong. For every single thing, they can relate to religion. When the researcher did her fieldwork to know about their cultural patterns with some questions
in mind, it was found that these people are very close to their deities and are very sensitive toward deities. Accordingly people of this village relate religion with their food habits, marriage, festivals or heath for example after one day of Diwali festival every household of this village make rice and Besan1 with Kheer2. It can be also said that they have a kind of fear of god. And the noticeable thing here is that caste plays an important role to form a patterned culture, in which different caste of people role within it. As I mentioned in the previous chapter that in this village there have a number of Devi- Devtas3 also called Babaju which should not be countable because people of this village have this notion that the number of gods should not be calculated. But one of them told that around 36 deities are here. The most interesting thing is that, those deities which are worshipped by lower caste people are called as evil or bad devtas by dominant caste group’s people. So, upper caste people and lower caste people have their own differentiation and definition of worshiping deities or Devi devtas. In this village, dominant caste has their own deity’schabutara4 for worshipping. However, a main temple of the village has no rules, any caste group people can enter in the temple but for that, there are some rules that they enter the temple directly. Lower caste people have to take a round and take the entrance from the behind. This indicates that upper caste people can enter in to the temple directly but lower caste people cannot enter directly. Sometime when some bad thing does happen with both lower and upper caste people or if any problem comes into their home, they relate it with deities and say that, “look, this year we did not go to this god for worshiping, so they have cursed us”. Then soon after they will go to the deity’s place and make food their (dal bati or kheer puri) and worship them and pray that their problem is solved. There are different gods for different treatments for example:
• One god called BHAINSASUR is famous for treatment of animals
• One god called KHANCH KE BABAJU is famous for cure of someone bitten by a snake
• One god called JAMUNAYA KE BABAJU is famous for that if someone bite by scorpion
• One god called ATAI KE BABAJU is famous for treatment if some person is burnt with the fire than they will help to cure them
• One god called NAT BABBA is famous for if snowfall happen and it will effect the crop than people go to the local deity in village for saving their crop.
If people are happy they usually go to the temple and if they are suffering from any problem then they believe that God is not happy with their deeds so God is teaching a lesson.
During the Navaratri season5, people bring devimata’s statue at home for worship. They worship it for nine days. They have some mythological beliefs that Devi’s soul enters someone’s body after that she will predict people’s future and will also solve their problems providing solution in the form of Pooja- path6 and Dan- punya7. The devotees follow mataji’s advices very carefully because they have blind faith on her.
Basore Untouchables: A drumbeater :
In this village, one thing related to caste is also famous that a man who belongs to basore community (scheduled caste) do one important work in this village or other nearby villages; his hereditary work is to play drum (dhapla or dhol)8 in marriages, festivals and some rituals or ceremonies. Apart from it, the act of drumbeating is associated with dissemination of message, but he is also doing the work of a messenger of village, for example some places are there where villagers have to go collectively and make food for worshiping the rain deity for better monsoon for good crop. They do worship there collectively, so this person a day before, in the night when all people are present in their houses, takes a round to the village with his dhol and alert people by informing about these dates and give other information also, it’s called (minadi pitna9). This happens in the form as he goes to the village in 8 to 10 places first he pitted his dhol 4 to 5 times so people get alerted that some information is about to came then he start shouting, for example, sabailogan se vintihaikekalkhanchkebabju no roti banbe jane so kouapneite roti naibanawe , sbutaichlwe(this is to inform everyone that tomorrow we will have to go tokhanchkebabajuso don’t make food in your home, make your food there only). And this informationand dates about when all villagers go for worshiping, has been decided by Pradhan of the villageor the people of village panchayat. This person belongs to scheduled caste and this work is done by his family member and their primary survival work is beating drum. People who belong to upper caste give him money and food for this work. This is the only things for survival of these caste people.
Author & Courtesy: ANJANA RAJPOOT, JNU Delhi