Gorkhatimes

A Gorkha weblog which intends to keeps you updated about everything and bring together all Gorkhali community

Brushing up on hill history with the governor

Posted by Ramesh Khati on October 13, 2009

Gandhi at a stall at the exhibition on Monday.

Gandhi at a stall at the exhibition on Monday.

Darjeeling, Oct. 12(The Telegraph): The Lepchas did not have any firearms to drive away marauding animals hundreds of years ago, but the community members had a solution in the suthong soat.

The frame of this small indigenous weapon had a bow and arrow attached to it complete with a trigger mechanism to scare animals away. “If the animals were ferocious, we made a bigger suthong soat and there were provisions to tie a domesticated animal as bait. The weapon hardly fails to hit the target,” said Topden Lepcha, a member of the community.

Sadyer long prit, a Lepcha axe, which probably had been used to skin animals, was also on display as were hundreds of items that have been forgotten even by the oldest living community members at the Cultural Heritage of Darjeeling. The exhibition jointly organised by the state information and cultural department and Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta, provided a glimpse of the history of 17 ethnic communities of the hills.

Handkerchiefs were not as easily available as today but the Sunwar community had their own rumal that was woven extensively with fibres from prickly nettles — a shrub commonly found in the high altitudes.

“These nettles which we call bhagua sishnu were extensively used by our community. From the small shrub our forefathers had enough patience to roll out quite thread even to make daura surawal (a traditional Gorkha dress),” said G.D. Mukhia, the secretary of Sunwar-Mukhia Sewa Samaj, Kalimpong.

If nettles were for handkerchiefs, hay and dried maize leaves were used to make footwear. The Mukhias called it kusul while the Thamis knew it as punnai. The two communities shared very close style statements.

The Gymkhana Hall where the three-day exhibition started today also had a food stall where the Thamis had prepared a delicacy from aacarra — a poisonous plant found in the hills.

“If prepared without the method used by the Thamis, the food is life threatening,” a community member said. He was, however, willing to share how the plant had been made” poison-less”, although warning against doing it without a Thami supervision.

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who inaugurated the stall, summed up the show when he said: “You will not get a place like Darjeeling.”

He said the hills must show “how an integrated community can be an ideal model community”.

In his message, Gandhi said: “The administrators must provide infrastructure, law and order and development but people must not expect everything from the sarkar(government).”

He expressed satisfaction with the seriousness with which the state, Centre and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha were trying to solve the Gorkhaland issue through tripartite negotiations.

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