What is the genesis of this earth? Who made it and how and when? Nobody has answer to such questions. One popular perception is that the earth came to existence nearly 9 crore years ago. It was very hot initially and slowly over the years, outer crust got cold whereas the core is still very hot. Then life came into existence. First unicellers like amoeba, then marine life followed by animals who could survive both in water and land and finally those living in the land. Evolution of human is popularly based on Darwin theory. Developing present for by shedding the parts, which were not useful. Development of human in its near present form is known to have taken place in pre-Paleolithic era somewhere in Vietnam and then spread all over the world. Authentic history of Uttarakhand about it natives is not available. Different historian have offered their versions without any proof of authenticity. Going by the mythology, Vedas and Puranas are a vast sea of information and knowledge. Practically who wrote them and when, it is difficult to establish but the information contained therein seems to have some authenticity. According to ‘Vayu Purana’ the castes those lived in hills were Gandharva, Yaksh, kinner, Nag, Vidyadhar, Siddh, Danva and Daitya. ‘Varahi Samhita’ describes the northern states and the castes (tribes) living there as Kailash (Mansarovar area), Himvan (Upper Himalayan range), Vasuman giri, Danushman, Kraunch Meru, Uttar Kuru (probably kurukshetra), Kekay (Near Jgelum river), Bhogprastha (Haridwar), Trigart (Kot Kangada), Kashmir, Darad, Vanrashtra (Probably near river Yamuna), Brhmapur (Part of Kumaon), Daruvan, Amarvan, Kirat Rajya, Khasdesh (Kumaon & part of Garhwal), Ek Karna (Nepal), Swarna Bhoomi (Tibbet) and Cheen (China) etc. The natives of these places were Darad, Kashmir, kamboj, Gandhar, Cheen, Shaka, Yawan, Hoon, Nag, Khas, Kirat etc. Renowned Historian and an authority in the history of Kumaon / Garhwal Mr Atkinson writes that Kinner were the Kunaits living in Jaunsar Bhawar and Nahan. Yakhsa described in Puranas were the Khas people living in most parts of uttarakhand. People living in Sindh and Hidukush areas were ‘Vidyadhar’. Nag were living in ‘Nakuri’ area while Danav used to live in ‘Danpur’ area of Kumaon. Daitya were the decoits. From the opinion of various historians, it commonly accepted that original natives of Uttarakhand were Khas (probably a branch of Aryans), Hoon or Huniye (Those came from Tibbet) they are also known as Khampa or lama. Another tribe is Bhotia. Some historians considered them from the descend of Tibbetians while others call them from Mughal or Shaka descend. This apart, there are Rajya – Kirat or Raji people who are few of the original natives and live in Askot, Darma, Vyas and near Jageshwar. Tharu and Bokshas live in Terai bhawar and call themselves the descend of Rajputs of Chittor (Ranas) and pawar Rajputs of Dharanagari. However, the original natives of the whole India including hill area are known to be the shudra who were conquered by Aryans. Mahabharata the epic of Hindus has a strange story about the genesis of various castes including khas. When King Vishwamitra went to the hermitage of Rishi Vasishtha and wanted to take away the Kamdhenu cow forcefully with him. Kamdhenu became very angry with this act of the king and army of various ‘Kshatriya’ came out from her body. Palalva from the tail, Dravid and shaka from the, Shawar army from the back, kirat from the foam she left from the mouth, Yawan, barbar, Khas etc from the stomach and so on. (Mahabharata, Adiparv, sec 176). If the kamdhenu symbolizes the mother earth, it means these castes came from the various parts of the earth and settled there in uttarakhand. Atkinson writes that the Yaksha of the King Ashoka’s time are known as khas. In ancient time they were very powerful with a widespread kingdom of their own. Col Wilford has mentioned that Khas were settled in Kashgar, Kashmir and Kumaon to Khasiya mountain and areas between Sikkim to Tibet. Some historians feel that khas were the previously migrated Aryan. Later Aryans were more developed and advance as compared to previously migrated ones. It is however a commonly accepted fact that khas lived in most parts of Kumaon and Garhwal before the Aryans came there. Dr Rai Pati Ram Bahadur writes, “Earlier, there were mostly khas living in Kumaon and Garhwal. It was said “Kedare khas mandale”. Many of them has now changed themselves to become like Kshatriya. They have started wearing sacred thread (Janeo) also. It is evident from the above that Khas migrated from central asia to settle here. They were brave and well built. They are also Aryans but migrated before Vedic era hence their customs were different from the Aryans. This is evident from the system of ‘ghar jawai’, jethon’ jhantela, sautiya baat, tekua etc. which are still prevailing. RAJI Raji tribe lived in Askot area extending up to Nepal. They call themselves to be the original native of Kumaon who came first in this land and others came later. As the Raji word itself refers to those who live in jungles, they live mostly in jungles. According to their myth, the following story is tells about their past. There were two brothers who were to rule the earth. The elder one was very fond of hunting hence, mostly remained in jungles. Therefore, the younger brother was chosen to rule. Later, he asked his brother to remain in the jungles with the authority of the king of the jungles. And thus his descendent were called Raji. Keeping with the traditions which were compulsions in earlier days, fruits, flowers, roots, chicken, port and meat of buffaloe and monkey was their food. They used to wear ‘buckle’ in place of clothings. Worship nature as God apart from Mahadev, Devi & Ganges. They also worship ‘bhoot’ and ‘masan’. According to Atkinson, Raji were the ‘Kirats’ described in puranas. Bow & arrow are their main arms. They considered lower caste people as untouchable. If some lower caste person came inside their house, they would bring water from 22 different sources and wash their house with it. Raji Women wear veil. Extra- marital / pre-marital relationship and theft was forbidden / offence in their society. They do not marry within their family tree for three generations but marital relations were permitted thereafter. They do not spend money in wedding celebrations. Rajis do not like to solute anyone other then the king as they consider themselves from the royal clan. They used to call ‘Bhau’ (Younger brother) to the king, ‘Nabbari’ (Bahu) to the queen and like it to be called ‘dajyu’ elder brother (of king). Those Rajis living beyond Brahmadevmandi were called ‘Lool’ and those living in ‘Chhakhata’ (presently known as Nainital / Udhamsinghnagar were called raut or rawat. Lools wear ‘Janeo’ (Sacred thread) but raut do not wear it but both call themselves as ‘Rajputs’. Gradually Rajis started farming and leading a civilized life. Most of the Raji tribe has now merged with the rajputs and lost their Raji identity. Their place Askot is still famous for wooden pottery, grinding wheels for panchakki and sil – batta (domestic grinding stone). Hoon or Hooniye (Lama / Khampa) Those living near the Him or Himalaya were called hooniye or Bhotiya. The local name of Tibbet is ‘Bodh’ meaning the country of Buddhists which seems to changed to ‘bhot’ from ‘bodh’ and those living in ‘bhot’ were called ‘bhotiya’. The part of Tibbet towards India was known as ‘bhot’. In kumaon, ‘Bhotias’ were called ‘Hooniye’ and their countryside was called ‘Hoondesh’. Mr Moorcraft, who visited Tibbet in 1812, consider the genesis of ‘Hoon’ to ‘Oon Desh’ (The Country of Wool) whereas his co-traveller Mr Wilson thought it ‘Hyu’ (Snow in Kumaoni) + Desh. World Encyclopedia describes “They came to Europe and India simultaneously in 4th Century. They were also called ‘turk’ . These people were horrible fighters. King Altila and Balamir were their head in Europe. They were known as Balmir or Balambar which seems to be the indianised name of these head tribesman. Those Hoons in India (Tibbet) initially lived in the western part of China who were pushed down to south – western part of China by Chinese. During the pre-Ramayan Period, in the kingdom of ‘Raghu’, they came to the banks of Indus. In Sanskrit literature, Hoon word has been referred at various places. The noun of Hun seems to refer to the Huniye or the Lama. The great poet of Sanskrit Kalidas has referred ‘Hoon’ while describing the ‘Digvijay Abhiyan’ of King Raghu (Forefather of Lord Rama). In 425 the Persian King defeated Hoons but later they defeated his son Firoz in a fierce battle. Then they marched toward China / India. Their clan moved in a large group. Kumarguta, the king of Gupt dynasty was killed by them. In 499, Torman or Turmanshah established his kingdom in western India. His son Mihikul was very cruel and unjust king who was defeated in a war by King Narsingh Gupt and again by king of Malawa Yashodharman. After defeat, he run away to Himalayan region and his descendent spread to that area including some part of Kumaon where they used to come for business through the Himalayan passes. Hooniye or lama are also known as ‘Khampa’. They were very mysterious tribe. Mostly they are Budhist. Several brother can own one women as their wife. They were also known to be expert in magic. Many Lamas remain inside the ‘Math’ waving a magical artifact in the air reciting “Oi mani padme hoom” and some secret mantras. They could continue their ‘tapasya’ for years together. Some of the lamas involved in black magic used to drink blood in the human skull and engage in cult dance as their self-strengthening ritual. With the time, Huniye have changed themselves and most of them are now leading normal life like any other tribe. They have started doing business and services. However, life in Math is still known to be carrying their age old traditions. NAG There are a number of references to ‘Nag’ in Puranas. These people were the worshiper of Snakes, particularly ‘Mai Dhari Sarp’. They lived both in hills and plans. The King of Nag peole “Takshak” opposed construction of Indraprastha and Pandava defeated them in the battle. It is said that Nag people were from the other side of himalaya who has Nag as their national emblem. In puranas, nag are described as human being sometime whereas at some places they are also described as snakes. Hindus made many attempts to destroy Nag tribe. A large number of Nag were killed in ‘Khandav Van”. Pandava defeated them in Magadh. King Janmejay is said to have performed a ‘Yagna’ giving the ‘ahuti’ of nags. Lond Krishna chased them from the banks of Yamuna and made thm to hide in the Uttarakhand. Powerful Aryans sometime made ‘Gandharva Vivah’ with the young girls of nag clan. In Mahabharata, Arjun performed gandharva vivah with a nag girl named ‘Ulomi’. There is a Lake near Kathmandu which is known as Naghrid. There lived the king of nag clan ‘Rajkotak’. An annual fair is still organized there. Some of the Tibetans call themselves as descendent of Nags and their language nagbhasha. Initially Nag and Aryan were at war but later with the efforts of Bothisatva Arya Balokiteshwar, a treaty of peace was materialized. Later some of the traditions of each religions were adopted by others due to co-existence which are still apparent. Snakes are worshiped in Hindu religion also. The festival of ‘Nagpachami’ is the proof of a inter – religion adaptations. In Garhwal, Nag used to live at the banks of Alakhnanda in Nagpur patti and Urgam areas. That is why ‘Sheshnag’ is still worshiped at Pandukeshwar. Bhikhal Nag is worshiped in Ratgaon, Sangal Nag in Talore, Banapa Nag in Margaon, Lohandev Nag in Jilam and Pushkar Nag is worshiped in Nagnath. Nagsiddh or Nagachal parvat is in the memory of Baman Nag. In Garhwal, there are still some ‘Nagvanshi Thakur’ which could be their descendents. There are many Nag temples in Kumaon also. Sheshnag temple is at Bastarhi village of meharpatti. Berinag and Pungarao patti have 8 nags as follows which are worshiped there– 1. Beni Nag 2. Kali Nag 3. Feni Nag 4. Dhaul Nag 5. Karkotak Nag 6. Pingal Nag 7. Kharhari Nag 8. Athguli Nag There in Karkotak Nag temple in Pandeygaon (Nainital district) an in Danpur there is Basuki Nag. In Kumaon Nag lived in the area between Patalbhuwaneshar and Nakuri. However, there are no descendent of Nags existing the modern society of Kumaon and they are known to have merged with ‘Khas’ people. THARU Tharu are habitat of Terai areas of Kumaon and Nepal. They are spread in Kchchha, Khatima, Rampura, Sitarganj, Kilpuri, Nanakmatta and Banbasa etc. According to Elliot, Tharu cal themselves a migrant from Chittor. Local perception about them is durng the war with Mughal, when Ranas of Chittor sent their queens and princess’ with their confident servants in hiding to Terai area to save them from the insult of Muslims. Rana wa defeated and their kingdom was lost. The queens and Princess’ married their servants over a period of time and their descendents are called Tharhu or Tharu. Perhaps this is the reason for being Tharus as a Women centric society. They are also divided into gharana or gotra which they call ‘kuri’. Main kuris are Badvayak, Battha, Rawat, Britiya, Mehato and Dahait. Tharus keep their houses very clean. Every house has a ‘chaupal’ or ‘Bangala’, a place for guests. They do not allow outsiders inside their house. The place to keep the foodgrains is called ‘Kotiya’. The place to keep drinking water is called ‘Ata’. They do not let anybody touch it. Women are called ‘Bayyarbani’ and girls ‘Lalli’. Rituals like Namkarna, Janeo or upnayan are not prevailing in their society. Marriages arearranged by parents in the childhood itself which is performed in the following four steps – 1. Apana - Paraya: It is like engagement ceremony. The family of boy goes to the house of girl and offer them some gur or sweets and fishes. If the father of the girl accepts it and says “Ram – Ram Samdhi”, them the proposal is accepted and gur is distributed amongst near and dears. 2. Bat Kahi : When the boy and girl are grown up, The family members of the boy goes to the house of girl again which in normally 10 –15 days before the marriage. It is normally on Sunday or Thursday. Sweets etc are gifted and wine is served with dinner. This ritual is also known as Pichhaucha. 3. Vivah : It is generally performed on the Sunday or Thursday of the Hindu month of ‘Magh’. They neither call a Brahmin or worship any god in the marriage. A basket containing five cloths, Fish, Curd and a pot of water and a lamp (Diya) is kept at a place and the couple take seven rounds. After marriage, the bride goes to the house of groom for one day and returns back to her parents. 4. Chala : After a few monthe of marrage i.e. either in Chaitra or Baisakh, the bride goes to her husbands place.
Article by : BC Joshi @ UWW