Back to their roots

by Sarita Brara
Shimla district, Himachal Pradesh

Layakram working on his land with others_Sarita Brar

The practice of ‘Buari’, a tradition that was once followed in most villages in Himachal Pradesh, has been disappearing from the state over the years. The tradition is based on the spirit of cooperation. According to its norms, if someone had to harvest their crop, the entire village would come together to lend a hand and finish the job. It extends beyond farming too, and was often followed for chores and construction work that villagers had to carry out. However, as villagers started looking for better livelihood options in other towns and cities, the tradition began to disappear.

With villagers coming back home due to the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Buari is making a comeback as well.

“Back in my village due to the lockdown, I decided to cultivate part of my land. The villagers helped me make it cultivable again. Lands lying barren for years are now being tilled by the people who have returned,” says Layakram from Shill village, Shimla district. His wife, Meenakshi recalls how Buari also applied to other time-consuming work and drudgery, such as taking out pomegranate seeds (anardaana). The couple is hopeful that the tradition will help those who have come back reconnect with their roots.

People like Yashpaul Sharma, however, are sceptical. Working as a hotel general manager in a nearby tourist town in Shimla, he says, “No doubt we are enjoying the benefits of a joint family, with all members of the family working in the field together and carrying out household chores. But for how long? Moreover, with the spread of virus, we are not even sure that the vegetables that we are growing will fetch good prices.”

Sarita Brara is an independent development journalist from Himachal Pradesh. The original story was published by Charkha Features.

Know more: Read more about people’s fears and aspirations in times of COVID-19.

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