MUSSOORIE, March 11
It was turn of Aalia, Shraddha, the two goats along with curly haired Kanga the Sheep dressed in colorful bridal dress, to choose their suitor in a keenly contested goat wedding (Bakri Swayamvar) held at Pantwadi Village in Jaunpur development block of district Tehri for the second year in row, on Sunday.
Last year, three goats namely Katrina, Deepika and Priyanka goats were the ones who selected their suitors during goat wedding.
Around ten Goats and five Sheeps (Male) from villages participated in the Swayamvar.
They were bathed according to the tradition with turmeric, flour, rice, curd paste, and Ganga Jal as done during the Haldi Hath and Mangal Snan rituals at the school located at the other side of the market.
Around noon, the groom side accompanied by the villagers danced their way through the main market amid the beating of traditional drums along with the goats and sheep’s specially selected for the occasion. The chief guest eminent Folk Singer from Garhwal Narendar Singh Negi and Om Badhani from Uttarkashi were welcomed by the piped Army band members.
In a society where arranged marriage is norm the Swayamvar, of goats was seen as spreading message of women empowerment with Aalia the goat entering the arena to chose Dillu the goat out of other suitors in contest. The owner of Dillu the goat Khajan Singh from Mogi Village was elated when he was declared the winner.
Shraddha’s choice was Sonu the goat owned by Jamfar Singh from Pantwadi village and Kangna the Sheep bleated her heart out for Bablu owned by Bharat Singh from Baanda Sari village.
Following that the trio tied nuptial knots amid the chanting of vedic hymns and havan performed by the local priest solemnised performed rituals in accordance o the local tradition.
The local villagers made merry and danced along dressed in traditional attire.
For tourists Brody and Niklas from Canada and Julia and Lucia from Germany, it was a memorable experience. The tourists commended the efforts of the organisers and said that was a crazy experience the indigenous hilly culture while watching the goat wedding here.
The event being termed as unique social reality show of its kind was organised by Green people Kisan Vikas Samiti in association with Youth foundation and the local level village farmers unit with an objective to create awareness towards animal husbandry and mitigating the problem of inbreeding among the goats and sheeps.
The area is being promoted as an important tourist hub to generate employment locally. Eminent folk artist Narendar Singh Negi said that what he has understood here is that the Swayamvar was a unique marketing ploy to attract people towards villages and an attempt to improve the livelihood of people.
Rupesh Rai the coordinator of the Green People goat village project said that the event was being organised to inculcate sense of self-esteem among the villagers practicing animal husbandry and to create awareness towards the malpractice of inbreeding among the animals.
He said due to inbreeding the quality of goats was being affected with decrease in their milk producing capacity.
He appealed to the people to take advise from scientific experts while taking to sheep and goat rearing.
Rupesh said that this particular area is blessed with important trekking route to Nag Tibba top which is more than 9000 feet high. Three years back only 1200 people use to visit the place but after the innovative marketing techniques by the experts, the footfall has risen to around 40 thousand people and this is the reason that the villagers now have faith in the project. He said that the idea of Goat people germinated during his Kedarnath visit where he witnessed the devastation to the area. It was during the discussion with Col Ajay Kothiyal, the principal Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, the Army officer behind Kedarnath restoration. Rupesh said that there is a need to create eco- system practiced in Bhutan that is preserving ecology by limiting tourism but enhanced revenue generation. He said we should focus on sustainable integrated models where priority is agriculture and culture and if this happens tourism will grow by default. He said that the villagers have switched back to traditional crops and a local brand with the name Bakri chap is being marketed using innovating packaging practices. “ We are trying to blend public private partnership without government interference. The effort is to as become nodal point for protecting micro cultures of the region added Rupesh Rai.
Subash Ramola the local leader commended the efforts of goat people and said that this experiment here was providing employment to the people locally which was commendable. He said that more people should join this movement so that migration from the hills can be stopped permanently.