This blog-post is dedicated to Ratna Devi Tharu. She was a wonderful host to us on our recent visit to her village in Goigada, Province 1. The village which is rich in Saptariya Tharu (Purweli Tharu) culture, language, arts and way of life is about 90 minutes’ drive from Biratnagar airport and is a site of childhood memories for my friends. That is also one of the reason why we dropped by to visit.
I had heard about the beautiful butta painting that is often seen on the walls of the homes in Goigada from my friend and seized the opportunity to ask didi to show us around. Known as “mokha” or makha, these beautiful art work can be seen on the outer walls, alongside the main door to the house in the homes in Goigada. The artwork is done by hand with the use of suitable mud, dung and natural colours. The artwork is colourful and some have stories to tell. The many that we saw had beautiful floral patterns and peacocks too!
According to researchers, many Tharus believe that if they spot a peacock when they first step out of their home, they will be favoured with good luck that day. The Tharu communities of the East also use mokha to showcase goddess Laxmi, ahead of Tihar (Diwali) – festival of light. Sadly, Ratna devi didi mentioned that it is slowly becoming less common to find homes with these beautiful artwork.
Like millions of families across Nepal, many folks have also left Goigada in search of work opportunities overseas. Didi also shared that it has been just over a year since her son went to the Middle East. They’ve been keeping in touch through messenger. Rapidly emptying communities is becoming more and more common across the country. This results in children having to grow up without the support of both parents and the lone parent often having to face increased responsibilities. The families in Goigada live off the land and many have their own livestock ranging from ducks, chicken, cows and ox.
As we walked across the different homes and met many of Ratna Devi didi’s relatives and friends, we also saw unique indigenous Tharu tattoos. Known as ‘godna’, this practice of Tharu women wearing the tattoos on their bodies has been continuing from centuries. Didi mentioned that the process of getting these tattoos often resulted in a very bloody experience. That may very well be one of the reasons why younger Tharu people do not seem to be adopting this practice.
Just before we left, didi and friends asked if we wanted to try on their traditional clothing. We couldn’t refuse. I think my orange pink shirt went very well! I’ve shared a few photos from our brief visit to didi’s village for your viewing. There will most probably be a reel on my social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok), so do head over to view! I’ll try my best to add it here too. Hope you enjoyed the posts and feel free to share any interesting information, reads and videos about the Saptariya Tharu community.