MAGAZINE Voices Anand Neelakantan Utkarsh Amitabh Sheila Kumar Shinie Antony Dinesh Singh Mata Amritanandamayi Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI february 5 2023 SUNDAY PAGES 12 I Pastoral Postcards magine a place that is overflowing with milk, but there is not a drop to sell. Then there is the rural community named after its manufacturing business. An outpost prides itself in sending its youth to guard India’s borders. One village stresses the importance of the girl child by practising eco-feminism. In another part of India, a quiet hamlet wakes up only long after the rest of the country is up, and calls it a day while the sun is still high elsewhere. There is the settlement where people answer not to a name, but to a song; in another corner, it’s the unusual that becomes a name. From the kaleidoscopic land that is India, the idyll never stops surprising us. K o n g t h o n g , M e g h a l aya A Song of One’s Own T o receive a gift that lasts for life is a unique blessing, and a village in Northeast India offers just that. In Kongthong—three hours from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong—every child is assigned an exclusive tune at birth by the mother. Known as jingrwai iawbei (song in honour of the root ancestor), this tradition has been alive for centuries. The melody, which resembles whistling, becomes the identity of the person. The child gets a name too, but it’s meant for official records and for use outside Kongthong. The unique choon—its duration is between a few seconds and 30 seconds at most—is believed to come to the mother when she gives birth, and becomes a manifestation of her love. “In the matrilineal Khasi culture, it’s a mother’s love song to her child. And just like no two loves are alike, no two tunes are the same,” says Rothell Khongsit, chairman of the village development committee and the state’s rural cooperative federation. —Shikha Tripathi Piplantri, Rajasthan Planting Feminism S hyam Sunder Paliwal, a resident and former mukhiya of Piplantri village in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, says he believes God made humans intelligent so that they could save the environment, its creatures and those who are less fortunate. Over the last 17 years, the 58-year-old and the people of the village have almost miraculously transformed its barrenness to fertile land, through simple yet effective measures. By 2000, excessive mining led to deforestation and acute water shortage in this area. The latter caused the untimely demise of Paliwal’s daughter Kiran, who was 16 when she died of ‘ulti-dast’ (dehydration). Distraught, he proposed that every time a girl is born, the villagers would plant 111 trees in her name. Since then, over four lakh trees have been planted—neem, sheesham, mango, Indian gooseberry, banyan, peepal and bamboo. Additionally, they would collect `21,000 from community members for the education and welfare of the girls in the village, who are never viewed as a burden on the family Water-harvesting measures were also adopted to . help with afforestation. Today, Piplantri is a model village, where trees protect its residents, and its daughters walk with their heads held high. Paliwal, a Padma Shri awardee, says, “The upliftment of beti, pani, ped, gotra bhumi (daughters, water, trees and ancestral land), is my tapasya (penance).” —Noor Anand Chawla Turn to page 2 CELEBRATE DEVIS E��������� I����� I�������� Presents February 8, 2023; 5.30 pm. ITC Grand Chola, Chennai Kiran Bedi, Former Lt Governor, Puducherry will be presenting the awards DEVI AWARDS Ta m i l Na d u WOMEN’S AWARDS FOR DYNAMISM & INNOVATION Associate Partner Gifting Partner
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