Saturday, August 17, 2013

Traditional Social collective actions



It refers to an action undertaken in a relatively spontaneous way by a large number of people within the community or within the same village.  Such social collective actions generally result from internal or through natural processes, with no apparent external influence in response to the specific need of the community that ultimately gets ingrained as useful societal mechanisms. And, I’m sure we have many such social collective actions in our country.
Provision of the list of these social collective actions along with brief write-ups was one of the pre-requisites while applying for a training programme on Participatory Local Social Development (which I’m currently attending) offered by Chubu International Center of JICA, Nagoya, Japan. Therefore, drawing experiences from my own village, Banjar in Mongar Dzongkhag I managed to list down at least some of them here. The explanations provided against each of them are solely based on my personal experience and understanding gained during my childhood days.
Tshogchang – whenever government officials or Lamas visited the village or when civil servants from that village came on holidays, one member from each household with a Palang of ara (home brewed wine) would gather at the house where the visitors are hosted. This normally happened in the evenings after people returned from their fields. When the attendance of all members are confirmed, these Palangs are presented before the guests and then the host lady serves ara, first to the guest and then to all who are by then seated in circular fashion. Most often, this drink session is accompanied with the offering of few rounds of traditional Boedra dances too. After the session, the guests in return would provide some cash or gifts against each Palang. This is how people of Banjar village welcome their guests.
Dulang – whenever village gets information about the visits of government officials, the Peerpon (a village representative also known as Chupon) goes around household to household collecting grocery items such as rice, kharang, eggs, butter, cheese, vegetables, salt etc. The amount and numbers of collection from each household would be based on the expected duration of stay of the guests and number of guests.
Dungzan – This term is same as picnic in English. During the lean season, people would organize among themselves and decide to go on a picnic. This usually happened among the younger generations of the village. In this case, each member or each family would contribute items based on their capability and availability within the family.
Boling – This refers to an individual effort and therefore, does not find relevance here however, I prefer to write it down here, together with others before I forget it. Sometimes, an individual or two would take up an independent farming activity on their barren agriculture land and reap the harvests independently. This is known as Boling in local dialect. This practice was prevalent among where there existed joint family.
Similarly, there are different forms of community labour contribution that village people observe.
Zhabto Lemi (Zhabto – voluntary; Lemi – labour) – This refers to voluntary labour contribution from the people towards certain communal activities of the village. In the past, activities such as maintenance of routes and water source management used to be carried out through this mechanism. A member each from the household would come forward and join rest of the members to take up communal activity. This at times appeared synonymous with the Gungdrang woola. These days, people still provide Zhabto Lemi during construction of Lhakhangs in the village or in the neighbourhood.
Gungdrang woola (Gung – household; woola – labour) – This used to be practiced widely in the past and this sure should have a standard definition already. But for now, I would simply define it as a compulsory labour contribution from each household. While this has been abolished long ago, its practice still continues in the village through mutual consent of the members in taking up important communal activities like lhakhang construction.
Danpa – This form of labour contribution or labour mobilization is commonly practiced in taking up farm activities or during house constructions within the village. In this particular case, a household or a family would go around the village and hire required number of labour force based on their time availability. Once the labour force is confirmed, it becomes the responsibility of the host to serve them adequate meals from the breakfast till dinner accompanied with liquor. The day ends with a grand dinner and a plenty of drinks.
Laktsab – In this form of labour contribution we can see a bond developed between the two – the person who hires and the hired. If today, I hire my neighbor for my work I’m required to go for his work next time when he requires my service. On the other hand, if today my neighbor do not come to work for me, it is likely that I may not want to go and work for him when he seeks.

(I’ll keep on adding as and when I come across such other forms of social collective actions)

These may appear outdated to some while most would have their own experiences to share like mine. But, I'm now beginning to understand what it actually means lot for a community and its harmonious existence. And more so, the PLSD concept recognizes it as one of the main assets of the community that's required for successful implementation of any development projects at the grassroots level. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow... nice! I can relate to some of the listed "collective actions". Keep updating the list. These are wonderful 'actions' we might soon lose forever in the face of modernity.

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