Change is the law of nature.With the change in times, there is bound to be a change in old traditions, mores, beliefs etc.giving place to new ones.Of late, there has been a sea change in the people about their traditions, beliefs and customs.Like all other people of our country, there has been a remarkable change in the customs, beliefs, mores, norms etc of Dogras.For instance,the dresses that they used to wear about, say 50 yrs ago have changed a lot and replaced by new items.They used to wear Dhoti, ghattana, kurta but now they wear pants, trousers, half pants and the like..At that time, the girls and women could not even think of wearing pants, jeans and halfpants but now these dresses are quite common among women and girls not only in cities but also in towns and villages, which testify to a great social change.Then there has been a seachange in Dogra cuisine.At that time, Dogras lived a hard life doing hard work in fields, extracting rice from paddy by using pestle and mortar, getting flour by using chakkis or going to water mills, which would consume a lot of their time and energy.But as a result of mechanisation and modern methods in agriculture,high yielding seeds, insecticides and pesticides etc. their life has become better and comfortable. They now get more produce by doing less physical work.Those were the days when the foods prepared at home such as keurs, pronthes, kheer, khamires etc were relished and savoured on the eve of festivals and important days but now the children are fond of fast food such as kulcha, noodles, burger and a large number of fast food restaurants have opened to cater to their taste. The items served to the guests in functions such as marriages, retirement parties etc are also much different than those served in the past.The Dogra’s beliefs have also underwent a great change over the last few decades. At the same time, they would get up early, take bath and go the temples every day. Those were the times when a large number of people would remember the days of Full moon and new moon, keep fast on those days.They would take their breakfast after offering prayers but the youth of today are usually late risers.
It is not that there was everything good in the ‘good old days’. In those days, people used to believe in supernatural things like jarian, black magic, ghosts, witches etc and attributed everything to the supernatural forces as a result of which some unscruplous people claiming supernatural powers lived a lavish life by befooling the people. Now in the midst of scientific advancements and social change coupled with rise in the literacy rate, people believe in logic and not in superstitions. They are more aware about the need for vaccination, sanitation, personal and community hygiene than their predecessors. But at the same time old values have crumbled and new values are emerging.Fairs and festivals used to be celebrated with great enthusiasm and were eagerly awaited for months together. People would converge on ocassions such as Chinjj, marriage functions, fairs, folklores such as jaatars, gaseitans, Ram Leelas etc and intermingle with eachother.They generally lived in mud houses but had strong interpersonal bonds.Children would play games such as Gulli Danda, marbles, santolia,staapu, geetian etc and derived real enjoyment and developed strong social skills.On hot summer nights, people, especially the young boys would sleep on the rooftops sharing stories, jokes, epidodes and counting bats and shooting stars.Thus, they would fill their nights with joy and enjoyment. But these days children are so busy in video games, mobiles and computers that they have little craze for these activities and festivals. Even marriages and other functions were eagerly awaited for months together but now there is little craze for these functions. Most of the agricultural activities have been mechanised and the crop production has increased.But the sad aspect of modern change is that the young boys avoid working in the fields. The result is that vast fields of land remain uncultivated.Interpersonal relations of the past have been replaced by formal relations. People have no time to talk to each other unless they have some purpose.Gone are the days when people had sufficient time at their disposal to interact with their relatives and friends as they met on the way, greet them politely and inquire about their families.They would sit together under the banyan trees or by bowlies and share their joys and sorrows.They lived a simple but contented life without any affectation.Now everybody is busy in browsing mobiles and texting messages and have little time for physical interaction.The rural games such as guulli danda, santolia, chor sipahi, kabaddi, playing marbles, stapu etc which were a great source of entertainment and amusement in the days gone by ,are losing charm with the young generation.
Consequently, the social skills and other qualities that these skills developed in the children at an early age are fast vanishing. There has been a remarkable change in rituals and traditions. The marrriage rituals such as jagrana, taking bride in the palanquin and groom in the’ bangla’have almost vanished and replaced by new ones. The folklores of yesterdays have almost vanished and there is little craze of the youth towards folklores such as gagail, kaaraks,barraans, geetrus etc and Dogri songs.Unless measures are taken by the society, cultural organisations, NGOs etc to preserve the Dogra culture, time will come when posterity will hold us responsible for passing this rich heritage into oblivion.
(The writer is serving as lecturer in English in Govt.Hr Sec. School, Thial (Udhampur)