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People


Village Scenes 

 
The village is the lynch-pin of the state's economy. An assorted, shapeless cluster of mud huts, roofed with thatch or khaprail (earthen tiles) with hardly any sanitation, drainage or lighting arrangements and only narrow footpaths leading to the outside world constitute a typical Uttar Pradesh village. 

Times has had little effect on the shape or architecture of the Uttar Pradesh village. Near cities, signs of prosperity increase. Houses belonging to the prosperous farmers was plastered with cement and reinforced brick-work roofs or arched doors and windows. 

Land is the status symbol in the village while the landowners generally are from the higher castes, it is their position as land owners which gives them status and power rather than their caste affiliation. Dire poverty and pressure on land impelled the lower caste people of eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh towards the end of the nineteenth century to migrate to distant lands and forced people into deviations from the traditional norms.

Since Independence, the concept of welfare state, Zamindari abolition, the latest result of science and technology has benefited the village. Some well-placed educated city-dwellers have taken to the land. All this has changed the traditional concept of village as a self-sufficient unit where the requisite complement of occupational caste workers was always available to meet the needs of the villagers from birth to death. In a survey in the mid-Gangetic valley it was found that no single caste occurred in all the villages surveyed. Chamars, Ahirs, Brahmins, Nai, Lohars, Telis, Dhobis, Kurmis, Kumhars and Baniyas were found in the villages.

The Nai (barber) is a journeyman who goes from door to door and village to village and can minister to the wants of more than one village. Dhobis are scarce because they cater primarily to the upper castes. Baniyas are as sparely scattered as the Dhobis because a single Baniya can finance operations within a radius of 10 to 20 miles or more. It is not only the lower castes that have abandoned their jajmani (Its a system where services are returned in goods or reciprocal services) obligations. The Brahmins have also done so.  They formerly used to officiate at marriages and other ceremonies at the homes of their jajmans and received the traditional offerings in money and goods.  The village Brahmins have given up some of their traditional functions.  They regard as demeaning the practice of accepting food and charity or settling marriages, cooking food at wedding and officiating as priests.  Some of the Brahmins have taken to cultivation and other occupations, such as tailoring and shop-keeping. The exploitative situations exists in other areas where the jajmani system still prevails.

 


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