Studying another face of Paddar

Mandeep Chauhan
Among all the human tendencies, to know what is true and clarity of thought has always been a top priority and most rewarding to human intellect. A conundrum to a layman that from a surrounding environment, daily comes in terms with, and still oblivious of the veracity, is most distressing. A conundrum soothes to linguists’ only.
Similarly, the gestation of the word ‘Paddar’ qualifies all the provisions of a conundrum and has given birth to numerous theories espoused by respective researchers and men of wisdom from the nativity, suggesting variegated connotations to the origin of the word ‘Paddar’.These obscure origins & complicated developments have put in motion the aspiring minds from the region to settle at a common theory but as Albert Einstein had said that one thing is different for different people, it is still in debate and recapitulating the ‘500 Paddar Theory’, Paa Theory, Paldar Theory (associated with Buddhists) Padhêr Theory etc. which holds capacity to answer the questions e.g Who was/were the first Paddari/es? Which was the first among hamlets? How Kodo Millet(Ragi) became the most preferred staple food? But this article will not touch upon any of the aforementioned theories. It will deal with question e.g How a deserted area which was abundant of natural resources was made compatibly habitable combatting natural hazards? Who were attracted first? What attracted them to stay here for the rest of their life? Was this stay a temporary? It will not acknowledge all the questions and intended to brim more inquests into your mind. Domestication and habitation, both the phenomenon have set up a populous Paddar. Humans came here as a forager and panned out as a community.
Domestication of foragers:- “We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us”
These are the remarks of an Israelian Author and Historian Prof. Yuval Noah Harari. In context to this, ‘Foraging in Paddar’ can be an antidote to settle the issue, the habitation of the region due to migrations versus domestication of foragers, at rest. Unfortunately, no anthropological and archaeological surveys have been conducted on the historical remnants in any part of the region. The role of native species, vegetables, and other staples like Kichrordh (fiddlehead) Pabeyrd, Dhanrshag (which itself has an interesting story to be narrated) Yauw etc., are almost nonexistent, can not be denied. In case of Paddar ‘Pabeyrd and Dhanrshag were used by foragers during their initial visits to Paddar as both these wild plants still can not be grown in fields and are mainly found in hilly areas, then and now. During famines in Paddar when the weather was not suitable for crop cultivation due to untimely snow or rain or occurrence of some natural catastrophe, bringing to naught the crop, so people used to store Pabeyrd, Dhanrshag for eventuality. These wild plants were used by foragers for their survival during famines especially in winters. Political turbulences throughout the country had made people uncertain about their life and hence in order to avoid conflicts, ensure security and survival they decided to settle at locations which were far, beyond the reach of political turmoil affecting them.
Habitation by foragers:- This story, is from before Paddar became Paddar, was happening at the time when Paddar was a barren land and humans were not visible far and wide here. Isn’t it interesting, how some wild plants and vegetables attracted some nomads and gave them the doggage to live? Now, it was a period when these foragers were settling themselves to countenance natures’ every devastating blow, calculated seasons and ended up farming. This was the time when the foragers were enthusiastic about the lush green meadows, forests, new herbs, shrubs and gutsy about inhabiting the region. Foragers were mainly the herdsmen of ethnic group Gujjar and Bakarwal. The major hilly pasture lands are still registered in the name of these ethnic group. They still come along with their domesticated livestocks during summer but they are hardly left with any genesis in Paddar. The foragers had had started observing the climatic conditions conducive to farming.
Later on, people across the Northern Belt reached here through Himachal route. Ancestors from the region evidences migrations from Ladakh, Himachal &Kumaon of Uttranchal Area and it can be true because we share some phonological, semantic and phonetical commonalities. This is how the foundation stone of today’s Paddar was being laid. All thanks to their habitation.
Conclusion: As it has already been researched that Paddar is not a recent origin. Its origin is traced back to Mahabharata times. Those who are unaware of the geography of the region must know that it has a very feeble cultural propinquity with Kishtwar and Bhaderwah because there were no track for movement to adjoining regions at that point of time. It is believed that they were foragers from Himachal & Ladakh who made Paddar their stopover. The culture and cuisines are not distinct, is ample to prove it. Kodo Millet or Koda is a staple food of Himachal and it is extensively used in Paddar till now. Fiddlehead( lingad in Himachal and Kichrordh in Paddar), Dhanrshag and Yauw etc. These wild edibles were available to herdsmen. These grow in craggy jungles and alpines only. So, apart from all the established theories this is also a face of Paddar. A major front of Paddar is recondite, esoteric and need to be garnered with a detailed dug up. Unfortunately post modernisms’ advent have made people to loose touch with their ethnic pest.
(The author is a Student of English Literature from Jammu University)