BIRTH AND DEATH RITES
Pregnant woman can be seen working in the fields, grazing flocks and doing household jobs. However, during pregnancy, the following precautions used to be practiced:
(a) A pregnant woman cannot have a look at Lunar or Solar eclipse. She remains inside the house and can not stitch clothes, cut cloth, cut vegetables, live branches of trees etc.The gaddis firmly believe that any non-compliance of these will bring deformity to the baby expected.
(b) She is not to see the face of a dead man nor to perform the custom of Phera Deena i.e. to around the dead person three times, done by woman only and also not to go to a cremation place.
(c) She must not go to streams, nullahas and forest.
(d) She is not allowed to come out from her house during hours of darkness and to take any journey after sunset.
(e) She avoids the sight of snakes and awe inspiring pictures.
(f) She does not take drinks and eatables declared injurious to her.
(g) A pregnant woman under no circulstances to be contacted or visited by a a woman whose breast fed child has expired.
(h) Ornaments worn by the pregnant woman are not metalled to form other ornaments. And also during pregnancy, the Puja of Kulja(Family Deity), other dieties, worship of Sati, Sat Narayan ki Katha, Hawan or any other precautionary measures as suggested by the family purohit are performed
BIRTH CUSTOMS-DIET OF CHILD AND MOTHER
During confinement local village "Dai" performs the duty of a nurse or doctor. In a very few cases they go to hospitals or qualified nurses for confinement. As they remain busy in their hardwork, they do not feel much trouble at the time of delivery. Even a delivery takes place to a woman in the evening who may have worked in the field few hours ago. Delivery can take place even during migration.
At the time of child birth, the woman, is kept in a seperate room. With her only "Dai " (mid wife) and other woman of the house remain. Under her bed an iron weapon such as knife, drat or axe is placed. Those who touch the woman at the time of delivery must take bath and wash their clothes. When the child is born the umbilical cord cut by the Dai or by some old woman. The mother with a newly born baby is never left alone till Gunter ceremony. In case of the birth of a son, the Dai or a man is sent with Gur, Gram and Drub to the mother's parents who receive her/him cordially and offer the Bhat Hundai, Bhadai and clothes. The child is not allowed to suck mother's milk for about three days. After three days, Jiafal with mothers milk is served. Honey with mothers milk also forms diet for a child. The child is given Purgative known as Ghutti which consists of extracts of small Illaichi, Chhuharas, Ajvain, Kala Zira, Tej patter, Hing and Sugar. After three months Chhuharas are replaced by Bunafsha in Ghutti. Bunafsha mother's milk is the main diet of the infants, normally breast feeding is upto 2 to 4 years. In very few exceptional cases cow/buffalow milk is given in very infancy. However cow's milk being more digestive is preferred.
Bread is not served to the mother for 3 to 5 days, Jaifal with wine, ghee or milk, is served. The mother is served Loogra/lugroo i.e. sweet preparation of rice, sufficient milk with dakh, coconut, chhuharas, almonds and charmagze (prepared in the form of khir). Meat and chicken soup is also served. The soup of Pig (Gural, Cemas goral) Trotters is very useful and energetic. Chhun, preparation of crushed Sund, Almonds Mithi, saunf, Coconut with Kuje-ki-miseri is sprinkled on the boiled rice and ghee is poured on it and given to the mother. Balkan preparation of sund, almonds, dakh, illaichi, coconuts, magha, ajwain, kamarkas, chhuharas, charmagz, nagori goond, kali mirch, Dal Chini are crushed and fried in Ghee is also served daily in small quantity.
The period upto Gunter ceremony during which no purification has taken place is known as "Sutaka-re-din" i.e. days of impurity. The gaddis observe the Gunter ceremony in two stages:
(1) Dai-ra-Gunter (Purification by mid-wife): This is generally observed on the 3rd, 5th and 7th day in case of both female/male child. On the 3rd day of the birth the Purohit is called and he indicates "Lagan" or "Ras" based on the position of stars and planets at the hour and the minutes of the childbirth. He predicts the child's future and if it is to be inauspicious, he indicates the action to be taken to render it auspicious. He also declares child's birth name (Andarali Ras ka Nan) i.e. (Rasi ka Nam). The Purothit is given Dakhsna on this day which he does not take because of "Sutak".
The house is cleaned. All clothes of the mother are washed. The child is dressed in new clothes given by grand-mother or nani. The Dai prepares Gunter sometimes known as "Panch gavia". The mixture of Gunter consists of Gangajal, cow's urine, milk, flowers, drub, dhania, rice and barley in very little quantity which are put together in a plate. The "Dai" holds a bunch of drub with which she serves Gunter firstly to the mother child and father and then to all the Gotries(close commuity people). They sip it and the "Dai" collects the cash which is put by all concerned in the plate after sipping the Gunter. It is sprinkled all over the house. On "Gunter" day the mother and child emerge from the house for the first time and the child also gets first view of the sun. It is after `Gunter ceremony' that the child is kept in Galolu (Rocking Basket).
(2) Brahmana-ra-Gunter (Purification by the family Priest): This ceremony takes place in the 22nd day. The house is cleaned. The child and the mother put on new clothes. The purohit prepares mandal with flour on a place painted with cow dung. Rice, maize, wheat, gun, flowers etc., are placed on the mandal. The child, his mother and father and other relatives gather at the mandal. Purohit sprinkles Ganga jal on the child and others, performs puja and serve Gunter (Mixture of Ganga jal (milk, cow urine, ghee and dahi) to all the members of the family who in turn put some cash in the plate from which Gunter is served. This cash go to prohit. The Prohit is given Dakhshna. Thus the final purification of the family and whole brother-hood is completed. Girls and women sing songs on this auspicious day and khana(feast) is also served. The Purohit is also consulted for pacifying the evil stars if any which are not favourable to the baby or family.
It is practice among Gaddis to put Raddoo made of 5 to 6 metals, prepared by Reharas(a community) round the right ankle of the child. Kangnoo of silver given by grandmother is put round the wrist of the child. Chander-Mangloo (pieces of silver and copper) arranged with thread are attached to the cap of a male child. Matti i.e. Sucha Monga if available is put on the wrist of a male child. The Gaddis believe that all this protects the child against an evil eye.
When the child is about eight months old "Khir" ceremony is held. In this ceremony cereals are given to the child for the first time. Many times child is named on this day. On this day "Khir" is prepared and given to the child. After this the child can take cereals. On this ceremony some articles are kept before child such as agriculture implement, sickle, book etc., and it is observed minutely as to which of the articles is touched by the child first. In this way the aptitude of child is foretold. On this occasion some near relatives and friends are given feast. In case any woman dies at the time of delivery all possible efforts are made to save the life of the baby. Mostly, the grand mother or an aunt rears the child. Sometimes some other woman does breast feeding to the child and in this case the child when attains maturity, has some obligations towards her.
CHILDLESS WOMAN AND WOMAN WHOSE CHILDREN DO NOT SURVIVE
A woman whose child dies, does various things to avoid this bad luck. Similarly childless woman does the same. Woman go to Achhra Kund a water fall and there is also a temple at Bhawan Kangra on Sunday or Tuesday, pass a night, come back next morning after having bathed in the Achhra Kund. When they are returning every one avoids their shadow and they are allowed to go unnoticed.
Chhorele wali Mata (Goddess of Gaddis). The temple of this Goddess is situated on the lot of Sarahi falling within the boundry of Ghadheran. Childless women and other unlucky women whose children do not survive go to that temple. They stay there for 4 to 6 days. The goddess blesses them in the dream by offering fruits. She never favours women practicing some magic. People give Jagra, Jatar and presents charoties, Nagras and sacrifice goats at the alter of the goddess whenever their desire/ambition is fulfilled by the goddess. Another place of such importance is Agojar or Gojar. There is a temple and springs of water. After performance of some mantras by a jogi there women take bath in the nearby springs. The Jogi also give Dories to women which they wear according to his instructions. The bath is taken early in the morning before the crying of a crow. Almost all women of all communities of Kangra have firm faith in this place.
Death is considered the will of Lord Shiva. Gaddis believe that one who has come to this world will have to go at last. They say that one enters the state of Lord Shiva after his death. They describe the death as end of "Aayoo" or "Oomer " or "Abdhi". Gaddis like other Hindus cremate the dead.
DISPOSAL OF DEAD
Before death the dying man's bedding is spread on the ground painted with cow dung, his head faces i North and his relatives give rice, wheat and maize in charity. The cow which is given in charity is called Betarni or Baitan, after the name of a stream, according to Hindu belief. A man's soul has to cross this stream after death and with only help of cow's tail it does. One rupee (Mulka-Coin) is placed or put in his mouth. The dead body is given wash/bath. Then the dead body is wrapped with the winding sheets and placed in the open courtyard. The women of the family go round the dead body three times called "Tarai phere deena". According to Gaddis the dead body is considered as Pittar, completion of three rounds must be offered. The Gaddi women neither go to the cremation place nor do they perform any systematic 'Siapa" (beating of fore head and breast common among communities). They expose their sorrows only by weeping. Then the dead body is placed on the Bier and all the winding sheets brought by the relatives are placed on it. Before the body is taken out smagri (Havan articles) is prepared, balls of barley flour are prepared to be taken to the place of cremation. This is called "Pind Dan", generally done by the eldest son of the deceased. When body is carried out to cremation Ghat(Ground), some cash is thrown over it blowing of counches commence and the mourners keep on chanting "Ram Ram Sat Hai, Jo Bole so Ghat hai. The persons of the "Gotra" of the deceased who are younger than the deceased accompany the Bier with their heads uncovered. On the way the bier is placed on the ground once and "Pind-Dan" is done again. This halting place is known as "Basram-Ghat". This "pind-dan" signifies Bali to evil spirits-Pind to cast away evil spirits. The burning place is first washed with water and some cash is placed on it. Then the body is placed on the funeral pyre. Some valuable winding-sheets are taken off and these are collected by Pandas or some other beggars.
The eldest son with the assistant of Purohit completes Pind-dan ceremony. Havan is also performed towards the head of the deceased. And then the son or in his absence the nearest heir sets fire (called "Dag-Dina") first that part of the pyre which contains the head and then he lights up the pile of wood at the feet of deceased. People then throw pieces of sandal wood into the pyre and pay their last respect (This is called "Lakri-Pana") which is considered as a sacred thing.
The following are decided in consultation with the Purohit at the cremation Ghat/Ground or thereafter:
(a) The sog/Arsa is fixed after 11th day and generally performed on the 13th day.
(b) Vaar(feast for relatives) generally fixed on 5th and 7th day after the day. Generally majority of ladies come for condolance with the breaved family. Khana also arranged for them (called Makan).
(c) The day on which ashes are taken and sent to Haridwar in the Ganga. The people come back, take bath, Ganga jal is sprinkled on them. For nine days "Pind-Dan" is done and near relatives sleep on the ground, take only one meal during the day. A earthen lamp is also kept burning during the day and night for ten days, within ten days all those younger to the deceased must shave their heads (shaving of head and face is called-Bhadar or Bhadra)
On the 10th day `Daspindi' or `Kapar-Dhuai'(Washing clothes) takes place, the house is swept, men and women of the brotherhood wash their clothes and those remaining younger than the deceased have head and face shaved (called Bhadra) while the rest do an ordinary shave. This day is the day of the last "Pind-dan" and conclusion of "Katha" if arranged. The earthen lamps burning does not continue. The Purohit is given his due for this ceremony.
The following are prohibited upto the sog or Arsa.
(i) Eating of Meat.
(ii) Eating of onion and garlic.
(iii) Singing and entertainment activities are not allowed
(iv) Spining is not allowed.
(v) Nothing can be fried on the frying pan.
(vi) Use of liquor of all kinds.
(vii) Use of Hing
(viii)No member of the bereaved family can visit any place of interest, temples or fairs nor any marriages.
On the day of Sog/Arsa, friends, neighbours, relatives pour in and they bring a goat or sheep along with them which are made to shiver at the exact spot of the house where died. Then the goats or sheep are sacrificed and the blood is sprinkled there. Their All the relatives belonging to the gotra of the deceased sit down and a Kudam(Relative) serves to which they eat. This is called "Kani-Khulam". This is the termination of "Sutak". serve liquor which is allowed after taking of "Kani". All forbidden things can be taken. Hing is used in the Khana prepared for the visitors. Chandan is placed on the forehead to take "Kani".
DISPOSAL OF DEAD LEPER
Leprosy is known as "Kushat Rog" among gaddis. Leper is kept at an isolated purposely. Whenever a leper dies, he is never cremated but he is buried. The grave is dig by men. The dead leper is wrapped in the winding-sheets and his wife carries him on grave. In the absence of wife, the nearest relative does the same. She puts him in the grave and puts earth on the dead body with earth, thereafter all those present offer earth on the grave, at last the grave is covered, against any damage by the wild animals. When time permits the nearest who has carried him on her back to the grave go to Muttan (a religious place) in Kas Pandas assist the mourner in burning effigy of the deceased leper, which is made of mourner is made to perform a short termed Kirya, This is the final and the last ritual of the deceased leper.
Lepers are not cremated as, it is believed that history of a leper who was cremated and the formed "Pind-dan" ceremony at the cremation Ghat and set the dead body on the suffered from leprosy after 3 years and with in ten years two other family members, that is why the Gaddis do not cremate lepers as their disease of leprosy brings calamity.
MUSIC ON DEATH
Sometimes when a very old person dies, the bier is decorated and carried to place. The musicians play funeral music on their musical instruments such as Shehnai(Pipe) of big Drums and Daflis. Conch shells are blown and sometimes bells are rung upto the cremation ground.
DEATH DURING PANCHAK
If a person dies between the starts Dhanishta and Revati Nachhataras, the Dhanishta Panchak. According to Gaddis if steps are not taken to change the pattern deaths will occur in the family circle. To avoid this for each additional Nachhatar one Dummy body is prepared out of cloth (called Guddi) is cremated with the 4 Guddis (Dolls) of cloth will be cremated along with the dead body.
The stars are:
(i) Dhanishta; (ii) Sata Bhish; (iii) Poorva Bhad; (iv) Uttra Bhadar.Pad; and (v) Revati Nachhatar'.