Sunday, June 17, 2012

Glossary of local Himalayan terms

The topography of Himalayas presents them as unique natural monuments. Himalayas have been regarded to be the toughest topography on this planet; still these heavenly mountains have nurtured and preserved, a rich, warm and lively culture. Being isolated from the rest of world, these Himalayan wonderlands still preserves local dialects. 

Difficult to communicate sometimes, however communication barrier can be surmounted by usage of the local terms which will bridge the gap of the modern world with them.

Aari:   Small saw which is operated by single person


Anar/Daru:   Pomegranate (a tropical fruit with many seeds), Punica granatum


Angoori:   Grape vine, Vitis spp.


Angora:  Type of goat


Aonla:  Emblica Officinalis


Arbi:  Colocasia species


Barter system:  A system in which purchase and sale of animals, farm produce and goods is based on exchange basis


Bathu:  A leafy vegetable, Chenopodium album


Belcha:  Spade


Ber:  Zizypus mauritiana (an important fruit tree)


Berka:  Threshing pole


Beul:  Grewia optiva


Bhains:  Salix tetrasperma


Bhang:  Cannabis sativa, a multipurpose narcotic plant


Bharal:  Animal found in cold desert of Himachal Pradesh


Bhera:  Indigenous medicinal plant, Terminalia chebula


Bileha:  Pick axe


Bori:  Sack (Bag)


Buckwheat:  Fagopyrum species  whose grains are used as a food


Chakkala-Belan:  Rolling pin and board used for making chapatis


Chakki:  Hand mill


Changpass:  Changra goats (type of goats) owner


Changthang:  Name of place in Ladakh bordering with Tibet


Cheenee:  A millet crop, Panicum miliaceum


Chhang/Ghanti:  Alcoholic drink made from rice, Avena saliva starch


Chhini:  Chisel


Chikri Khilna:  A kind of spade to dig


Chilgoza Seeds:  of Pinus gerardiana, which considered as valuable dry fruit


Chir pine:  Pinus roxburghii


Chola:   A woollen dress


Chukor:  Partridge found in cold deserts of Himachal Pradesh


Chulai:  Leafy vegetable (Amaranthus viridis)


Chuli:  Prunus armenica, wild apricot


Chullah:  A fire place for cooking


Chum:  Cross breed of yak and cow used for milk


Chutsa:  Chisel


Daach:  Big sickle to cut wood


Dachi:  Sickle to cut grass


Deodar:  Cedrus deodara, timber yielding species of Himalayan forests


Desi:  Indigenous/local


Dhan:  Sheep and goats wealth /paddy


Dhar:  High mountains


Dora:  Rope tied at the waist by both men and women


Gaddis:  Semi-nomadic tribal of Kangra and Chamba districts of HP


Gainti:  Pick axe


Galgal:  A fruit of citrus (Citrus pseudolimon) family


Gandasa:  Sharp blade fitted to wooden handle


Ghasni:  Grass land


Ghee:  Fats made from vegetable and animal's milk


Ghoom:  Hammer


Gur/shakkar:  Crude sugar


Hal:  Wooden plough


Havan:  A religious ceremony


Heeng:  Asafoetida spp. (dried exudate)


Hukka:  Device for smoking tobacco


Jalga:  A perennial wild spice plant, Phytolaca acinosa


Jeth:  Summer month


Jhabbal:  Jumper/Crowbar


Jonks:  Leechs


Kachnar:  Bahaunia variegate


Kail:  Pinus wallichiana (Blue pine)


Kaimal:  Mallotus philipinensis


Klam/Dambu:  Grafting operation used in horticultural crops


Kalijiri:  Centratherum antheminticum


Kanda:  Highest point where cultivable lands are found above the village


Kangoo:  Comb for combing wood


Karnu:  A local tree


Karolari:  Saw


Kasi:  Hoe


Kath:  Pyrus pashia


Katha:  Acacia catechu, Commercial product of khair tree


Kera:  Large sieve


Khads:  Water streams


Khair:  Acacia catechu


Khaliyan:  Courtyard or a small ground used for threshing their field crops


Kharif:  Crop season from May-June to Oct.- Nov., main crops of this season are maize, paddy, pulses etc.


Khasipine:  Pinus kesia


Kassi:  Hoe


Khati: Dugout structure to store rain water


Khatti:  Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) storage pits


Khawaja:  Diety


Khejri:  A multipurpose nitrogen fixing tree (Prosopis cineraria)


Khet:  Fields


Khirak:  Celtis australis


Khurpa/Khurpi:  Hand hoe


Kikar:  Acacia nilotica


Kilni Khilna: A small equipment used for digging 


Kilta:  A wooden container


Kodo:  A millet crop, Paspalum serobiculatum


Kongni:  Millet, Setaria italic


Kudal/Kudali:  Hoe


Kuhal/Kuhl:  Small water channel used for irrigation purposes


Kuldebta:  Village deity


Kunish:  Alnus spp.


Kuth:  Saussurea lappa, a commercial cash crop


Lota:  Container generally used for drinking water and watering plants


Mahotar/dhingri/guchhi:  Edible fungus


Maina:  Name of bird


Mash:  Leguminous crop used as pulse (Vigna radiata)


Masur: Leguminous crop used as pulse (Lense esculanta)


Meryana:  Ulmus leviegata


Methi:  Trigonella foenum graecum, Fenugreek (important spice)


Pudina:  Mint (Mentha spp.)


Moi:  Leveller


Moong:  Leguminous crop used as pulse (Vigna mungo)


Moori:  Concentrated alcoholic drink


Nallah/Nalla/Nallaha:  A mini water stream


Navratras:  A set of auspicious nine days in Hindu religion


Neem:  Azadirachta indica


Nihani:  Chisel


Papiha:  Name of bird / Great Barbet


Pashimna goat:  A special type of goat which produced very soft wool


Pattu:  A woollen blanket


Phafra/Phaphra:  Buckwheat (Phagopyrum spp.)


Phanani:  A bow shaped device used for combing wool


Phawara:  Spade


Rabi crop:  Crops like wheat, mustard etc. grown during the months of Oct.-Nov. to April-May


Rajmash:  A pulse crop (Phaseolus vulgaris)


Safeda:  Eucalyptus spp.


Sarkanda grass: A wild long grass used for thatching houses (Saccharum spontaneous)


Sarson:  Mustard (Brassica compastris)


Soolini Mela:  Local fair of Soolini deity


Sua:  Wooden pin


Taklu:  A special spindle device


Tambaku:  Tobacco (Nicotiana tobaccum)


Tatihari:  Name of bird


Thali:   Plate


Titar:   Partridge


Tokra:   A big wooden container


Tokru:   A small wooden container


Toon:   Toona ciliate


Toot:  Moms alba


Tor:   A multiple wild plant, Bauhinia vahilii


Urd:  Leguminous crop, Vigna radiata


Zira:  Cumin (important spice)


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

C W De Russet

French sadhu of Shimla
C W De Russet had moved from France to India in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. He was a deft tailor but when he started visiting Shimla with his friend T. Reincke in 1850s, he was so impressed by the natural beauty of the town that he switched over to camera-clicking and then to commercial photography that brought Shimla, along with other metropolis of the country, as a top centre of marketable photography.
When Shepherd and Robertson moved from Agra to Shimla in 1864 and established themselves as photographers of merit, De Russet withdrew from camera work and established himself as general contractor. Charles de Russet was his son and Old Cottanian Association Record shows that he was in the Bishop Cotton School in 1872. Charles de Russet had developed interest in Indian asceticism and mysticism immediately after he completed his school education. He came in contact with Baba (probably Mangal Das) of Jakhu temple and impressed by his preaching embraced the life of a Sadhu in 1880s.
He rejected his European uprising and abandoned Christianity for Hinduism. He bequeathed the property that he had inherited to his sisters keeping nothing to himself and led a life of disciple of the Baba of Jakhu. He would sleep outside in the open and take food that was given to him by his devotees. Because he was a foreigner embracing their religion, the local Hindus held him in high esteem. He then shifted to a temple near Annandale ground in Kaithu and started donning a leopard skin and wore matted hair.
Meanwhile, John Campbell Oman, born in Kolkata to Scot tea-planters, who rose to be professor of natural sciences in Government College Lahore was collecting material for his book ‘The Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India’ happened to meet this French Sadhu in 1894.
Professor Oman has done extensive touring throughout the length and breadth of this country, interviewing many saints and has written scholarly books on Hinduism, Brahmanism and the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana.
When he met the French Sadhu here, he found him disinclined to talk about the reasons for abandoning Christianity in favour of Hinduism.
He found out that Charles De Russet ‘did not regret the step he had taken, and that he was well satisfied with his condition and mode of life as a Hindu devotee, a sanyasi.
The professor had in one of his books quoted a passage from Sir Monier Williams’s Indian poetry that appeared fitting into the mindset of Charles, “the performance of penances was like making deposits in the bank of Heaven. By degrees an enormous credit was accumulated, which enabled the depositor to draw on the amount of his savings, without fear of his drafts being refused payment. The power gained in this way by weak mortals was so enormous that gods, as well as men, were equally at the mercy of these all but omnipotent ascetics” prof. Oman wrote that Charles commanded the highest respect from natives though he found him to be of mediocre intelligence.
He used to live idly, happy and contended, even when it snowed heavy in the mountains. Discoursing about the virtues and vices, Charles had told the professor that it was not necessary to be a Christian in order to lead a virtuous life. O.C. Sud writes that this Baba left Shimla in the company of sadhus after this and was never heard of but suddenly returned here in 1926 as Baba Must Ram and took over the charge of Jakhu temple. He had, by this time, mastered the Hindu scriptures and the people were awed by his knowledge. According to Sud, he died on the December 27, 1927 and was cremated on Jakhu peak.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The story of Simla  

  • The distance from Kalka railway station to Shimla by cart is 58 miles.

  • It is surrounded by the territories of thirty minor independent chiefs.

  • In recent years it has extended from one end to the other fully six miles in length. The officer gazette describes Shimla as “exquisite.”

  • The journal of the Tour through the part of Himalaya Mountains by James Baillie, published in 1820, describes the account of the war in which Gurkhas and British were engaged in 1815. To revenge the uprising in the area between Sutlej and Yamuna, British gave a tough defeat to them.

  • Among other place where Gurkha retained their military posts by Ochterlony were Sabathu and Kotgarh.
  • Gerard brothers’ diary dated August 30th, 1817, ran: “Shimla a middling sized village where a fakir is situated to give water to travellers.”

  • A writer describes road to Jakhoo: “the road was steep and rocky in several places, and through kelo and oak trees very thick undergrowth which is full of bears and hogs.”

  • In 1831, a talented French traveller describing Shimla said it was “the resort of rich, idle and invalid. Now there are over 60 houses scattered on various Hills.”
  • A journal from year 1834 tells us that the road leading from club to Chota Shimla was then called ‘Combermere road’ and that to Elysium Hill, ‘Bentinck road.’ 
  •  The original site for, the half timbered building of the General Post Office was completed on 3rd July 1883 and originally exhibited both Neo-Tudor and Swiss-Bavarian architectural forms with decorative wooden work. In 1972, a fire damaged the exterior of the building, which was then repaired retaining some essential elements of the facade.