Who are the Tharu tribals of the UP terai whose home and land the govt wants to open to tourists

Tharu Tribals of UP terai

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Tharu Tribals of UP terai
Tharu Tribals of UP terai

In News:

  • The Uttar Pradesh government is working on a scheme to take the unique culture of its ethnic Tharu tribe across the world.

News Summary:

  • Tharus are the biggest tribe in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP).
  • Recently, the UP government also launched a “Tharu Arts and Crafts Complex” in Dudhwa, Lakhimpur district with a museum to generate interest in Tharu culture and generate employment opportunities for them.
  • Now, the Uttar Pradesh Government is working out a plan to connect Tharu villages with the home-stay scheme of the UP Forest department.

About the home-stay scheme:

  • The idea behind the scheme is to offer both domestic and international tourists an opportunity to experience the Tharu tribal culture in natural Tharu habitat.
  • The plan is for the homeowners to offer home-stay accommodation and homemade food.
    • Tharu traditional huts made of grass collected by them from the forests and enjoy their indigenous cuisine.
  • With the scheme, the state aims to bring about economic independence of Tharu through participation in eco-tourism and consequently reduce dependence on forest land.
  • For this, the state government is working to connect Tharu villages in a few districts like Lakhimpur and Pilibhit, and train the homeowners on communication and interaction as well  cleanliness, safety and hygiene.

About: Tharu tribe

  • The ‘Tharu’ community belongs to the Terai lowlands, amid the Shivaliks or lower Himalayas, in both India and Nepal.
  • In the Indian Terai lowlands, they are mostly found in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • Most of them are forest dwellers, and some practice agriculture.
  • The Government of India classifies the Tharus as Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Religion:
  • The word ‘tharu’ is believed to be derived from ‘sthavir’, meaning followers of Theravada Buddhism.
  • However, most of them are followers of Hinduism.
  • Tharus worship Lord Shiva as Mahadev, and call their supreme being “Narayan”, who they believe is the provider of sunshine, rain, and harvests.
Language:
  • They speak various dialects of Tharu, a language of the Indo-Aryan subgroup.
  • They speak variants of Hindi, Urdu and Awadhi in India.
  • In Nepal, they speak variants of Bhojpuri and Maithali.
Culture:
  • They are a patrilineal society.
  • Their women enjoy empowered position, and have strong property rights.
  • In marriage, the bride and groom are evaluated on their capabilities to provide manual labour rather than the economic status.
  • The Tharus, particularly those of west Champaran district in Bihar, celebrate the ‘Barna’ festival during the Month of Shravan (July-August) every year.
    • During this festival, they observe a sixty hour lockdown period, where all remain indoors and nobody is allowed inside the villages so that plants are not trampled upon.
Note: Prime Minister Modi in the August 2020 edition of ‘Mann ki Baat’ praised the tribe’s ‘Barna festival’ and the 60 hour lockdown period, which shows their love and commitment towards conservation of nature.
  • The ‘Barkhan’ or peepal tree is worshipped and it marks the importance of natural resources and forest produce in the lives of these people.
Dietary Habits:
  • Standard meal of Tharu consists of bagiya or dhikri, which is a steamed dish of rice flour served with chutney or curry as well as ghongi, whichis an edible snail cooked in curry.
  • They also survive on wheat, corn and vegetables while majority live off the forest.

Also Read: Ecological Concerns: (Biggest Tribal Movement)

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