Life in the mountains can be tough, living amidst the rocky terrain and the ruthless weather. A lot of Garhwali youngsters leave their homes and join the army, claiming it is a better life than living in the severe conditions. Others, however, come to cities such as Mumbai and settle into urban lifestyles.
In 2008, the Uttarakhand Kauthig Samiti (UKS) organised its first Kauthig Festival, hoping to bring the pahari youth in Mumbai closer to their culture and roots. “Most youngsters don’t care about their community. We want to encourage them to appreciate their pahari customs,” says Dr Yogeshwar Sharma, president of UKS.
What started as a two-day event in 2008 will be an extensive affair over five days this year. At Kauthig 2012, over 100 artistes will perform traditional dances called Choliya and Jhora, while there will be a display of woollens, bags, handicrafts and traditional foods. Renowned singer Gajendra Rana will sing 25 Garhwali, Kumaoni and Jaunsar Bhagar geet. Get set to feast on the famous Uttarakhand dal — the bhatt — a variety made using soyabean.
Among the lentils, you can taste badis (a thick-salted porridge preparation made of urad dal), kandalee (poison ivy) ka saag, gulgula (flour mixed with jaggery), and arsa (traditional sweet made during weddings). Those with a sweet tooth can gorge on kesar halwa, bal mithai (a pahari version of chocolate made from mawa). Other specialities like chani (aloo curry where potatoes are smashed with a pestle before they are cooked), kachmuli (a pahari style spicy kachumber salad), kathyalo (raw mango chutney) and railo (raita made of boiled pumpkin) will also be available. So, if you want to catch a glimpse of the unique culture of the paharis, head to Nerul this Sunday.
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