Rightly said by A.L Tennyson as “Old older Changeth yielding place to new, it is very apt in the changing cultural and traditional scenario of old India and New India. Several traditions are now by bygone and new generation is not well acquainted with them. In this blog I try to ponder over the old Indian traditions, their importance in the present context.
Old Indian Traditions of Sarai with Well
In ancient India, most of the roads were mud roads but were having facilities of Sarai. This concept of Sarai was similar to modern midway restaurants or toll plazas. These taverns were equipped with the facilities of rest house, well, buckets, rope, living rooms, and a small shop. Thus the travelers who were tired of walking used to pass their nights. This system of Sarai was an old tradition and went on up to the English time. Later during the British era, Dak Chowkees ( Postal check posts) were started after certain miles. They were having horses and their feeding place and the postal carriages used to change the horses.
System of community Pyau
In the medieval and ancient times, another old Indian tradition was of pyau. The rich people used to make the wells on the roadsides and other important places. These seths (tradesmen) or the nobles also used to establish a community water supply system (Pyau) in certain places in the months of summer. Most of the people used to plant trees and used to consider Peepal, Neem, and Banyan trees as holy on account of their medicinal usages.
Pastures-old Indian tradition
In the accent India we used to respect animal liberty. The large grassy lands were left for the animals and the Charwahas (cowherd Master) used to gear up in the meaning, used to take the animals from their pegs at dawn with his solo breakfast wrapped in a piece of cloth. The charwahas used to indulge in fun & frolic while grazing the animals. They used to sing and play musical instruments as Bansuri and used to cut Jokes.
As these pastures were located close to the water bodies, these charwahas used to drink water by sinking small pits what they used to call chua (Leaking spot)
Rare Means of Irrigation
The means of irrigating the fields were very limited nearly 70 years back in India. The mere sources were the wells, ponds and rivers. The facility of bore wells were absent and people used to irrigate the fields by putting Persian wheel ( Rehant) on the wells. The bulls used to fetch well water by using a pully. Another method was swing basket ( Dhenkuli) in which a wooden log was fused on the edge of a well or pond and to the other side of the log a rope was tied with bucket or earthen pot. Thus with less effort water was dragged up for irrigation. Using pur was another means of irrigation in which a leather bag was used to lift up water.
The old Indian tradition of clothing
In the old times people mainly used cotton clothes known as Khadi. They used to spin the yarn on charkha for their domestic usage. Men used to wear Dhoti and women saris. The sewing machine was absent, thus they mainly used needle to sew and for embroidery and Croatia work . People used to give the cotton yarn to the weavers (Julaha Community) and after the weaved pieces were given to the Rangrez (who used to dye the fabrics).
Crops of old India
Many people think that the present food habits are same as 50 years back. I disagree with this. As I hail from the rural India and has seen the time while there was the abundance of pulses, like maize, barley. The wheat was found very less. The common people used to survive on pearl millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. After the green revolution initiated by Norman Borlog there came a drastic change in the increase of wheat production. Earlier India used to import wheat from U.S. A, Canada and Australia but with the high yealing variety seads, proper irrigation and facilities, now we are in a position of bumper crops and storing food grains in one larders for 10 years.
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Animal Husbandry major source of Income
Few decades back rearing of animals was the main occupation of the villagers besides agriculture cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep were domesticated for milk, meet wood and many other things. Many tribes were following such vocations based on animals.
Absence of plastic goods
In the present century we see all the goods wrapped in plastic or poly bags. If we go for milk, oil, butter or any other object, it is all packed in sachets. You name the articles and find their home delivery whether eatables or other necessary items you find their instant delivery in thermocol and plastic.
In the ancient times this means of plastic was absent. This is the challenge of 21st century and special in India where thousands of hungry animals swallows the plastic begs every year and die.
Old Indian tradition of Joint Families
We are living in the age of flat culture and nuclear families. Remember 50 year back at least 3 generations in the villages were living under one roof, with a common health and kitchen facilities. The headman many be the grandpa was liable for all expenditure and income. After the grandfather, the father of the families used to get the charge of credit and debit and all social and worldly response blitzes
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Arrange Marriage- Remember the time when lover marriages were soil of fairy tall and the love birding was a sort of social taboo. Going back to the couple of cantinas back nearly 99% marriages were arranged marriages with the consort of family members. People used to believe in the ethos that the matches are fired in the heaven. In the present times unlike the old traditions we have more liberty and the choice of the groom and the bride prevails.
Old Banking System of India
The old banking system in India was very strong. Though there were not modern bank like facility but the richmen used to do the job of a banker at the village and town level. They used to give loans, rent on a lease, and the money was paid back in installments. The system of interest, hardly and Rahan was prevalent. People used to give security loans like modern time gold security and thus it was a problem for the poor man to repay. Sometimes interest used to be more than the principal and the many carving generations of the borrowers were clanged to the interest cobwebs.
Fasting- Old Indian Traditions
Fasting has great importance in the old Indian tradition. It was linked with the same major festivals and became a part of religion. Modern-day research proved that fasting is very good for digestion and the immune system. Even by fasting and naturopathy, one can help in killing cancerous cells in the body.
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Presence of Dacoits & Thieves
Almost a century back there was much uproar on thieves and even a few decades back turmoil on the issue of dacoits of Chambal and Banda. The stories of famous dacoits have been the themes for various Bollywood movies like Bandit Queen, Pan Singh Tomar, etc. The famous dacoits like Man Singh, Chhabiram, Phoolan Devi, Dadua,, Beerappan have striken terror among the masses in the river villages, the ravines, and the dense forests.
Similarly the things of Varanasi have been infamous over time. Captain Sleeman in the English period crushed this menace.
The old Indian traditions of Holding stick and Bearing Turban
Since Immemorial stick or Lathihas had been a very useful weapon to mankind. The importance of lather has been mentioned by Kaka Hathrasi in his poetry. It was a formidable weapon for the villagers for their safety from theirs, snakes, wild avenues, and the robbers.
In old age, people used to fight with lathies and used to arrange competitions. Thus they used to make powerful lathis gilt with iron rings and doing massage it with oil. Not only the Arayan race but the tribal society in India also has the tradition of putting on turbans. This has long been ever before the advent of Sikhism in India. Turban was considered a prestige issue and different castes of the society used to have their respective way of putting on turbans like the Sikhs, Rajputs, Jats, Brahmans, tradesmen, and the tribal.
Chaupal & Hooka
Chaupal, Khanp Panchayat, and Hooka traditions have been prevalent in entire North India. In the old Indian traditions, people used to sit together on Chowpals and involve in storytelling, gossip-mongering on the fumes of hooka. They also used to put hubble bubble (Hooka) and all used to share together. Similarly in the winters people used to the lit bonfire and used to sit around the fire eating peanuts.
LandLord and Rai Sab
During the feudal era and even the English times, the landlords and Rai Sab, and other such persons swayed in power and feel and led the life in Sheer luxuries like riding baggies, servants shadowing under the umbrella.
The old Indian traditions of Pilgrimage
In early India, people feared to cross the ocean and they found a blessing to visit the Ganges or doing Chardham yatra, Ganga Sagar yatra. After crossing the age of Banprastha Ashram the rural folk used to go on a group pilgrimage.
Old India Traditions of making houses
The houses in the old Indian villagers were mainly needed houses. Those who could afford were also making Havelies (big mansion) out of pucca bricks. Normally the floor of the houses was muddy and cow during was applied to make it clean.
The houses were painted with bright colors and the front of the houses with nice Rangolis. Cow during played an important role in the houses as it was also used for making patties to burn as guel and to make compost as manure also.
The old Indian traditions of Countryside games
In the villagers, people in the early times were fond of outdoor games such as Volleyball, Cobbiddie, guli danda, wrestlings, etc in indoor games they used to play cards, chess, and hide and seek, etc.
The old Indian traditions of timekeeping
In the old-time, there were no watches. Only at the city centers, there were clock towers or Ghanta ghars. So that people can know the time. Normally people took the help of shadow to count the time. Thus the old calculation of time was done in Ghari, Prahara, lagra etc.
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House flour Mill & Sil Batta- Old Indian Traditions
While there were no modern flow mills or Ata chakkis. Ladies used to grind the cereals early morning in the chakiyas which used to have a pivot of and two grinding wheels. This was a good exercise for the ladies in the villagers. Thus ladies were limited to the hearth, Chakki, and needle.
Similarly the spice and onion were grinded on sil batta( A red sand stone slab with hammer) you can grind coconut, chutn ey and make paste for the curries.
In the rural parts in early times people were practicing of defecating outside in the fields rather into the toilets. Some of the people despite having toilets preferred going outside to use the toilets in the fields. Thus they were facing problems – social and hygienic. Recently the Government of India under Modi Ji initiated a program to provide clean toilets to all.
Interdependence of Persons
People of different casts and vocations were having symbiotic relations. A farmer used to pay to the others in food grains in lien of their services. Water carriers called as Bhistis were bringing water in the musk. The weavers were weaving the fabrics and the iron smith sharpening the furrows.