The unique culture of the Tharu tribe living in the villages adjacent to the Nepal border of the Terai region is its identity. If we talk about their culture, then different traditions, food, costumes, religious events and social rites make it unique. Their mesmerizing folk dances are especially famous. Earlier, the people of this tribe, who were dependent only on agriculture, are now becoming self-reliant by joining the mainstream of the society. Due to living in the middle of the forest for centuries, these people are now completely immersed in the wildlife.
The people of Tharu Community consider themselves to be the descendants of Maharana Pratap. It is said that they are residents of Thar in Rajasthan. During the invasion of the Mughals, Rajput women from there migrated from Rajasthan with the servants and settled in the forests of the foothills of the Himalayas for security. Even after a long wait, when the men of his family could not return, they carried on their lineage by forming a relationship with her servants. In this way their breed was prepared, it got the name of Tharu tribe. This tribe has been given the status of the main tribe in Nepal. In Tharu tribe, other sub-castes including Choudhary, Kusmi, Mahto, Danuwar, Rana, Kumal, Kathariya come.
In the era of modernity, Tharu culture is now visible only on festivals
Tharu society has its own distinct culture. From their living style, language, dialect to dress, everything is different. Tharu men wore high dhoti and fatuhi while women wore ghagra, cholia and uniya. The mirrors are fixed in the Ghagra-choli. Women embroider themselves in clothes and make them beautiful, but gradually their dress changed. Tharu society has also become modern in the wind of modernity. Although many festivals including festivals still give a glimpse of the old culture of Tharu society.
In Tharu society, pulses, rice, snails, fish, pork are very much liked. If we talk about it, the people here eat fish and rice with great fervor. Along with this, they also consume alcohol made from barley and herbs. This wine is called Jad.
Tharu follows Hinduism
Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of the new year of Tharu society. Here the festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi festival, which is the biggest festival in Tharu society. From this day itself begins the new year of Tharu society and all new and auspicious work starts. Along with the rest of Krishna Janmashtami, Navratri, Tijiya, the festival of Charai is celebrated on the big Sunday. It is celebrated in the month of Chaitra. On this day fish, wine, sweet rice and curd etc. are made in the house.
Krishna celebrates with pomp on the Sunday that falls 16 days after Janmashtami. On this day these people worship the deities established in the house. Sakhari make food or prasad. Holi is also their special festival. People of Tharu tribe celebrate Holi for several days. During this evening, Tharu women and men dance fiercely in their traditional clothes.
The social structure of Tharus is very strong
The social process of Tharu society is very strong. Tharu society is a matriarchal society. The decision of women in the house remains paramount. The people of the society settle the fight, quarrel or any kind of dispute through Panchayat in the village itself. The head of the Panchayat is called Padhana. His decision is acceptable to all. There is also a goodness in the village, which in a way plays the role of opposition. Apart from this, there is a Bharra in every village, which treats from humans to animals through herbs. Not only this, he also does the work of sweeping. Whether it is grain production or animal hunting, first of all, they offer food to their totem. After that have food. The people of this society are very simple and honest.
By relying on agriculture, now learned to become self-reliant
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people of Tharu society. Along with farming, they also rear cows, buffaloes, pigs, goats and chickens. In this wind of modernity, now Tharu society is also becoming modern. The handicrafts of the women of Tharu society have made their mark in the whole country. Tharu handicrafts is also selected in one district one product. Tourists visiting Dudhwa Tiger Reserve are eager to see Tharu folk dance and beautify their home by buying handicraft items.
Tharus fight for survival in Dudhwa
Even though it has been 74 years since the country got independence and the Forest Rights Act, which recognizes the rights of the tribal forest dependent communities living in the forests, was passed in the Parliament long ago, but the tribals who have protected the forest for generations living in the forest areas. Freedom for the communities is still a distant dream.
In order to get rid of the chains of these slavery, on July 31, 2013, more than 3,000 women from 17 villages out of 46 villages of Tharu tribe settled in Dudhwa National Park and Tiger Reserve area of Uttar Pradesh gave forest rights in the Rules Amendment-2012. Presented their collective claim of right to resources in a unique way before the officers by performing traditional Hori dance.
In fact, under the above law, the people here have the right of access to collect forest resources, the right to transport their means of transport, use of all the minor forest produce obtained from the forest and the formation of cooperative societies. For this the right to sell it in the market has to be recognized. But it hasn’t landed on the ground yet. However, in areas where people have become vocal, strong forces like the Forest Department and so-called wildlife lovers working for private interests are becoming a hindrance.
It is to be noted that in 1978, when this forest area was notified as Dudhwa National Park, then the village Soorma falling in its core zone and village Golbozhi falling in the buffer zone were given displacement orders. The people of Soorma village filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court in 1980, but in the judgment that came after 23 years, the court also gave the seal of displacement.
Not only this, a 2003 Supreme Court order displacing people from Park-Century areas also added salt to the wounds of villages like Soorma. But the people did not leave the path of struggle and they stood in their places.
This movement got more strength when Tharu tribals of Dudhwa region started uniting on the issue of displacement. After the introduction of the Forest Rights Act in December 2006, the agitators started fighting for their rights under the law, due to which the scope of the movement expanded to other villages as well.
Although due to grassroots and political efforts, Soorma, Golbozhi, Kheri and Devipur were recognized with individual rights charters on April 8, 2011, but the fight was still pending.
The Forest Department used to collect one quintal of paddy, 50 kg of wheat, 25 kg of mustard and cash per family per year from Tharu tribal families only in the name of collection of firewood and thatch. At the same time, they also used to give ‘punishments’ like fines ranging from 10 to 50 thousand rupees, brutally beating and sent to jail by imposing sections of hunting and cutting trees on going to the forest.
Not only this, under the Forest Rights Act implemented on January 1, 2008, people could not submit their claims, for this, the Forest Department used to do many tricks. As a result, people intensified the movement to get their rights under the Forest Rights Act.
However, this movement led by Tharu tribal women is in the third phase today. Today, they are not only demanding community rights over forest resources recognized under the law, but are also taking steps to implement them if they are not implemented by the government.
Therefore, the domination of profit making forces under the vested interests in the forest department and the forest area here is almost certain to end. In such a situation, it can be said that the day is not far, when an officially protected area like Dudhwa National Park and Tiger Reserve will be the first such national park in the country, where community self-government will be established and which will follow the basic spirit of the Forest Rights Act. will be protected and promoted.
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