August 29, 2009 at 00:51 #2076
THE ECO-FRIENDLY THARU TRIBE: A STUDY IN SOCIO-CULTURAL DYNAMICS
Subhash Chandra verma
Department of Sociology
Government Post Graduate College
Rudrapur -263153 Uttrakhand ,India
(Affiliated to Kumaun University Nainital INDIA)
Tel. -+91 5944 243474, Mob. – +91 9411195542
The Tharu culture is very Eco-Friendly, all cultural thing and activities of this tribe are deeply related with nature. Their residence, food, cloths, art, religion, economy and many other part of life are based on nature and keep ecological balance. Tharu people worship mainly their tribal Goddess (The Earth) called as ‘Bhumsen’ in their folk language. There is a well family system in this community. Women have high reputation, enough social and economic rights in their family system. This community has paternal family system but women have high position and more rights, this is a mark able fact. Tharu youth like changing so they are struggling for advance ness. There are many other communities existing in Tharu area by Industrialization and Business, so the process of cultural exchange is running in Tharu area. Tharu youth are attracting to new and charming life style. They are ignoring their traditional tribal culture that is why the identity of old Tharu culture is under dangerous. They must have to get advance education, communication, technology etc. But care of old culture is must too for keep their identity.
The Tharu tribe is a most popular tribe of India and Nepal.The Tharu people are indigenous people living in the Terai plains on the border of Nepal and India. The population of Nepal is 28,287,147 (July 2006 est.), of which the Tharu people make up 6.6% A smaller number of Tharus live in India, mostly in Champaran District of Bihar and in Udham Singh Nagar District of Uttrakhand, Kheeri, Pilibhit, Gonda, Balrampur, Gorakhpur, Bahirayach district of Uttar Pradesh. Population of Tharu tribe is 83544 in Uttar Pradesh and 85665 in Uttrakhand state Total Tharu Population is near about 169209 in India. The Tharu are recognized as scheduled tribes by the Government of India. Constitution of India gives many special social, educational and economic rights to these scheduled tribes and casts because they are the primary victims of the backwardness. The Tharus are struggling for their rights and cultural protection.
This study is based on a primary survey using Direct/Participant Observation and Interview methods to arrive at the conclusions. The available secondary resources, however, have also been used. At present author is conducting a research project on Tharu tribe about awareness in youth with financial help of University Grants Commission of India. That is why he has used Primary Survey data of this project. This article is part of underwriting report of this project. The primary information was collected from Nakulia, Sisona, Tharu Tisour and Baghori villages of Tahsil Siatrganj District Udham Singh Nagar State Uttrakhand, India. This work is presented in Exploratory and Analytic research design with help of statistical methods. . Some statements in this study are based on secondary data but maximum results are coming from primary data.
The Tharu is largest and oldest ethnic group of the Terai region, living in villages near dense malaria-infested jungles in regions that were isolated over the millennia, allowing them to develop a unique culture. They work usually as farmers or peddlers. Although physically the Tharu are similar to other peoples in the area, they speak their own language that originated in Sanskrit and is now recognised officially. Recent medical evidence supports the common belief that the Tharu people, having lived in the swampy Terai region for centuries, have developed an innate resistance to malaria that is likely based on an unidentified genetic factor. According to Nepali author Subodh Kumar Singh, a series of invasions by the Rajput kings, eroded the influence of the indigenious Tharus. In 1854 Jung Bahadur, the first Rana prime minister of Nepal, developed the Mulki Ain, a codification of Nepal’s indigenous legal system which divided society into a system of castes. The Tharus were placed at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Their land was taken away, disrupting their community and displacing the people. In the 1950s, World Health Organisation helped the Nepalese government eradicate malaria in the Terai region. This resulted in immigration of people from other areas to claim the fertile land, making the Tharus slaves of the new landowners and developing the kamaiya system of bonding generations of Tharus families to labour.
4- Social and Cultural Systems and Life Style
The economy of Tharu community is based on Agriculture and forest (Pradhan, 1937 p59). Historically, they were the only ones that were able to reside in the malarial jungles on the Indo-Nepal border. But as mosquito control became available, many others have migrated into this tribe’s areas. They have deep affiliation with forest and river. The population of Tharu tribe is near to one lac in India and in Nepal this figure is 1533879, it is 6.75% of total population of Nepal (Nepal online). This tribal community has many specialties about their culture and socio-economic systems. There are many clans in Tharu tribe those called Kuri in their local language, name s of main clans (Kuri) are as followed Badwayak, Battha, Rawat, birtiya, Mahto, Dahait, Rajia, Bunka, Sansa, Jugia, Buxa, Dhangra, and Rana. All of these Tharu clans are divided in lower and high status (Truner, 1931 p599). The Tharus followed Hindu religion, but after all they purely a tribal community by anthropological point of view. Tharu people worship mainly their tribal Goddess called as Bhuiyan or Bhumsen with other Hindu God & Goddess. Government of India has been accepted this community as a Scheduled Tribe. The fact is that the Tharu themselves did not keep written records and what is known of their early history is derived from passing references in religious texts and etymological evidence. It seems probable that there is not just one origin of the Tharu and that the people arrived in the area from different places at different places at different times. As such there may be truth in all the theories. The Panchayat system (Local Social Council) is very strong in this tribe; head of panchayat is called Padhan in local Tharu language. The Tharus love their folk arts. Tharu Songs, Tharu dance Naach, Tharu tattoos, Tharu wall paintings, Tharu handicrafts, and Tharu magic is very interesting and special. Mark able fact is this that they make handicrafts only for personal use doesn’t for marketing purpose. They like contrast colures in dress and wall paintings for decoration of house (Govila, J.P.1959 p248) Main food of Tharus is Fish and Rice but they also used Roti,Vegetables,Mutton,Chicken,Milk products and more others But since hunting is banded in forest they can not use more non-vegetable food because of poverty they can not afford expensive Mutton and chicken, but they use more and more fishes in their food. Tharus are very host able and they respect their guests very much. They like to serve best and more food dishes for guests. Tharus have very friendly nature, every Tharu people have a best friend in their life, male best friend of male called as Meet or Dilbar and female best friend of female called as Sangan. Tharus treat their best friend as real brother and sister.
Some Tharu live in longhouses, which may hold up to 150 people. The longhouses are built of mud with lattice walls. They grow barley, wheat, maize, and rice, as well as raise animals such as chickens, ducks, pigs, and goats. In the big rivers, they use large nets to fish. Because the Tharu lived in isolation in malarial swamps until the recent use of DDT, they developed a style of decorating the walls, rice containers and other objects in their environment. The Tharu women transform outer walls and verandahs of their homes into colorful paintings dedicated to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity and fertility.
Tharu Village: – The Tharus have small populated villages and generally scattered and are often located at a miner distance. The Tharus are always in search of a good site for founding their villages. A good site in their judgment must be the land on a high level with proximity to river or some water supply yes safe from water-logging and inundation during the rainy season. (Srivastava 1958:19). The Tharus build their houses with enough distance to each other for better life style. The village dose not has bachelor’s dormitories or community houses, menstruation huts, guest houses and special granaries for common use and distribution. The House of Padhan (Chief of Village) is very important place of village. Even a casual to a Tharu Village is impressed by the neat arrangement of the houses, their cleanness in contrast with the congestion of other villages in India. A Tharu village, therefore, represents a closely knit society unites of which have developed a bond of fellowship and corporate life through mutual obligations and co-partnership.
Tharu Houses:- The Tharus are famous for their clean houses. Generally Tharus build their house by Mud, Wood and Grass. The Tharus houses are always cool in summer and hot in winter, it is a specialty of Tharu houses. Each house with its field and a vegetable garden is a detached residence with a narrow or a broad alley separating it forms the adjacent houses. The house must face the east to bring them prosperity, which the other directions of the house do not promise. The Size of the house is depends on size of family. The Than (place of worship) is must in every house. On the side of the main house the well-to-do Tharus build a Bangla (the Rest House). Both the exterior and interior of the Tharu houses present a neat and clean appearance. They are swept twice or thrice a day and the ashes and house-refuse are thrown near the cattle-sed or in fields.
Religion:- Tharus follow Hindu religion because they claim that they are migrated with Rajputs of Rajasthan by blood. This is very interesting fact because they have not any specialty of Rajasthni Rajputs in their Race and Culture but they claim blood relation with them (Kumar,N 1968 p39). Tharus are related with Mongoloid race and Rajputs have different race. Dr. D.N. Majumadar contested the supposed Rajput origin of the Tharus on the basis of blood group tests and the have found that Tharus have Mongoloid race, so they not related with Rajputs (Majumadar 1941:33). The Tharu are adherents of Hinduism, but also held Islamic, Animist and Buddhist beliefs. Small numbers have converted to Buddhism in the recent years. Such syncretic practices have led Tharu to practice folk Hinduism. With the advent of religious freedom, others have converted to Christianity and there are a variety of congregations active in the various districts where Tharus are found.Traditional Tharu worship various gods in the form of animals such as dogs, crow, ox and cows. Such gods are seen in Hinduism. Every village has their own deity, commonly known as Bhuinyar. Tharu in East Nepal call their deity Gor-raja. Most Tharu households own a statue of a traditional god. Family members often offer animal’s blood sacrifices to appease the god. Animals such as pigeons and chickens are used for sacrificial purposes. Milk and silk cloth are also used. Many Tharu would also use the blood of one of the male members in the family for such rituals. Such rituals are conducted through ceremonies, and superficial cuts are made forehead, arms, throat, legs, and/or chest. The gods are believed to have the ability to heal diseases and sickness. According to traditional legend, gods are given a bhakal, a promise of something, on condition that the sickness is cured, in any events of misfortunes, plagues and horror dreams. A relative’s death is an event of great significance among Tharu, and rituals conducted varies in accordance to regions. Tharu would approach shamans as doctors, known as Guruba. Such shamans use Buddhist medicines to cure illness. Shamans will also try to appease gods through incantations, beating drums and offering sacrifices. The Tharu believe sickness comes when the gods are displeased, and the demons are at work. Buddhist converts among the Tharu are found in Saptari, Siraha and Udaypur. Currently it is believed that there are more than one dozen of Buddhist monks and novices among the Tharus. Such practice was possibly based on the fact that they were inspired by the discovery of Lord Buddha as a member of the Tharu tribe.
5- Status of Awareness Environment and Pollution
Historically The Tharu culture is very Eco-Friendly, all cultural thing and activities of this tribe are deeply related with nature. Their residence, food, cloths, art, religion, economy and many other part of life are based on nature and keep ecological balance. Tharu people worship mainly their tribal Goddess (The Earth) called as ‘Bhumsen’ in their folk language. The old generation of Tharu community is more aware about nature and environment than new generation. According to S. K. Srivastava (a famous Indian Anthropologist) in the year 1930 the Social Reform Movment which is popularly known as Jati Sudhar (reforms in cast) among the Tharus was initiated by a handful of educated Tharus. (Srivastava 1958:105) Main some Rules of this movement are as following (which are showing the care ness of old Tharu generation)-
1-Women in their menstrual period never to enter into the kitchen or cook meals.
2-Women must clean their hearths and put on clean cloths before cooking meals.
3-All rubbish of the house and refuse of the cattle must be thrown in a ditch outside the village or in fields and not on the path.
4-No liquor and meat to be served at any ceremony.
Traditional Tharu houses making system, Agriculture system, cooking system are based on a natural law that is why the environmental valance never disordered in past. But at present there are many other communities existing in Tharu area by Industrialization and Business, so the process of cultural exchange is running in Tharu area. Tharu youth are attracting to new and charming life style. They are ignoring their traditional tribal culture that is why the identity of old Tharu culture is under dangerous. They must have to get advance education, communication, technology etc. But care of old culture is must too for keep their identity. Main problem of Tharus youth is that they want new life style but they do not know about new and current environmental issues. Table-8 is showing this fact that there are only 6.03 % youth know about green house effects and 9.48 % know about Environmental Laws & all types of pollution. Thinkable and shock full fact is this that 90.51 % youth do not know about environmental issues and they also do not care about it. They like using all type of modern thing (which make pollution) without care of environment. This is situation of highly educated youth than we can easily imaging the status of other general Tharu youth.
Status of Awareness Environment and Pollution in Thru People
Number of People
1 Know about Environmental laws 08 03 11 9.48
2 Know about Green House affect 04 03 07 6.03
3 Know about all types of Pollution 08 03 11 9.48
4 Those like Modern Things & Don’t care About Environment 60 45 105 90.51
(Source- primary Servey)
The culture of Tharu tribe is really Eco-friendly and represents a good social life system. The Tharus respect and care the natural resources like forest, rivers etc. The concept of women empowerment is not needed in this community because the Tharu women have already high status and enough rights in their own society. The old generation of Tharu tribe is more aware about environment than new generation. After all at present the Tharu tribe is suffering from Social and Cultural dynamics.
I am especially thankful Tharu people Srikrishna and Hari singh of Nakulia and Baghori village those help me a lot in visit of Tharu villages and arranged all possible things for observation. I am also thankful of University Grants Commission of India for providing grants for my Research Project about Tribal Youth.
Govila, J. P. ‘The Tharu of Terai and Bhabar’, Indian Folklore.-2, 1959,
Kumar, N. 1968, ‘A genetic survey among the Rana Tharus of Nainital District in Uttar Pradesh’, Journal of the Indian Anthropological Society- 3(1-2)
Majumadar, D.N., 1941, ‘The tharus and Their Blodd Group’-Journal of Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. VIII No.1
Nepal now online, http://www.hariyaliclub.org/museum.php
Pradhan, H. Dev, ‘Social economy in the Terai (the Tharus)’, Journal of the United Provinces Historical Society -10, 1937
Srivastav, S.K., 1958, The Tharus: A Study In Culture Dynamics, Agra University Press Agra
Turner, A.C., 1931, Census Report of United Provinces of India, Vol. XVIII
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.