Rural India snapshots
On a recent trip to the country we visited some areas around the small town of Kamshet in western Maharashtra. Kamshet itself is about 110 km from Mumbai, 85 kilometers from Pune, and is near Khandala and Lonavala. Driving through the country-side was a treat even though the roads were not very good as the the area is very scenic. It wasn’t the absolute hinterland ofcourse.
While the scenery was picturesque, as always I found the people the most interesting. The area was dotted with tiny villages. Here are some snapshots of the people we saw along the way and they give us a good idea as to how they live.
The Maharashtra State Road Transportation buses were available even on the narrow country roads, but there were more private vans which operated as mini-buses. Motorbikes and cycles were frequently seen, but the most common means of transport was the bailgadi (cart drawn with bullocks). The bailgadi is useful for carrying large loads.
These people are very hardy and walk huge distances almost everyday.
The young woman in a blue saree below is performing a pooja at the sacred Vata or Vada tree (Banyan). Hindus consider the Vada tree as an immortal tree. Buddhists worship a tree from the same family (Fig) and Lord Buddha is said to have attained Nirvana under a Vata Vriksha pipal tree. In the month of May-June traditional Maharashtrian and Gujarati women worship this tree. They are supposed to fast for the entire day and perform a pooja to this tree (this day is called Vata Purnima), all for the sake of their their husband’s long life and prosperity. Some states in North India have a variant of this festival which takes places in October. It is called Karva Chauth but the way it is celebrated and the legends surrounding it are entirely different. Another difference is that Vata Purnima is not followed as religiously in Maharashtra as Karva Chauth is in the north of India.
Another thing I noticed was the number of little girls who worked. Most of the boys I saw were playing. I guess it was the holiday season, for the boys.
The villages were clean and so were the roads. Apparently, the houses all had toilets. The photograph below shows that some sort of campaign is on to keep the villages clean as we saw many such boards along the way. The wall painting below is an example. Loosely translated from Marathi it means that for good health one needs to keep cleanliness (first line) and that this is the message that that should be spread from door to door (second line).
This sign below made me smile. It says that the village that is free from people shitting, is a village where good health will spread. The word “Hagandari” is a new Marathi word that I learnt. I knew of the word “Hagne” which means shitting but not “Hagandari,” which has no direct translation in English but what it means is the public shitting habit ground.
(All photographs are copyrighted to me.)