Living in the city, for sure, has a lot of benefits. The nightlife, state of the art amenities, a huge palate of varied cuisines, the list is endless. What it doesn’t have is the simple zest of village life.
I have been living in Delhi for more than 13 years now and I have come to love this city as my own, but it will never be as close as my love for my own hometown.
This emotion can only be understood by people who are living away from their birth city. I was born in Dehradun, and even though we had to take transfers a lot of times, we still managed to take a lot of long trips, in my childhood to this beautiful valley of Uttarakhand.
The obvious thing I miss about my village is the scenery, the comforting weather, damp roads with vines and flowers around and a lot to go on about, but this can be experienced by a tourist too. I will use this article to tell you some inside elements of a garhwali lifestyle that I surely miss.
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The Out Of The World Pooja
Every year in my hometown, around June, our family hosts a big pooja for 3 days. This is a common thing in every household of Uttarakhand. The days of pooja are nothing less than a dramatic movie.
The basic element is obviously a goat sacrifice, an all-night-long jaagran followed by a morning of feast and departure, but it is more than this.
The whole thing is set up in deep forests which totally builds up an eerie atmosphere and with all the people telling you real ghost stories, you are bound to see one too.
In our poojas, people are possessed by devtas and they bless us, by giving us insights about the future, telling us our faults, etc. Imagine getting a hug by a possessed person who keeps burning coal on their tongue! Always fun.
Usually, in the morning all the chores are taken up head on. We don’t have breakfast. After waking up, we enjoy the cold morning with tea and Kode Ki Roti (Ragi bread) and get on with work like picking fruits and vegetables from farms, cleaning, getting wood for the fire, etc.
It is the afternoon, around 3 to 5, when we unwind and have snacks. All the kids and grown-ups, take out the mattress and spread them all over the terrace so that it becomes a giant bed and soak up the rays of the sun. It is a must-to-do thing, here.
Heaps and heaps of pakore are made for everyone to enjoy while playing cards at this time.
What I miss the most is the fruit Kaaphal (Bay Berry) and Malta (a citrus fruit). During the season they are easily available in the market in bulk, but it is nothing compared to the experience of picking them directly from the trees.
Women and kids from every household scrounge for them in the nearby woods or sometimes from their own farms. The best thing is that they make a dish from these fruits, called Khatai. There is a famous paste of spices made in every house of Uttarakhand that is used here (the recipe of which I can’t disclose.)
It is mixed with these fruits and served. The taste of this dish is heavenly, a perfect combination of salty, spicy and sweet. If you ever visit any garhwali’s home, then I suggest that you should ask them to make this dish for you.
It has been a long time since I last visited Uttarakhand and maybe it is time that I make a trip back home.
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