A Village Homestay with a Difference with The Folk Tales
The dire weather warnings were, as it happened, a storm in a teacup, and whilst there was some rain, the arrival into Kathgodam was a cool relief from the heat of the plains.
My hosts for the two nights were the wonder Lalit and family – staying in their Anglo-Kumaoni style farm house, with an impressive 100 acres of farmland, a river to take a walk past, a herd of about 18 cows (all of them part of the family and lovingly looked after) and the friendly Blackie the Dog who, when not following us on our walks, was busy chasing off the Black-Faced Langurs who were there to eat the mangoes which were ripening in the trees above us.
What was lovely about this stay was not only the close interaction with the family, and the quick bond that grew between us, but that the stay on the farm was also quite immersive – thy set me to work! Tending the tomato plants, helping make the curd, whipping up some lassi, making fresh mint and ginger chutney, and even milking the cows (I may have grown up next to a farm in Wales, but this was my very first time milking by hand!).
We were very privileged to be able to hear local musicians perform a part of the Jagar Ritual, which is a form of ancestor spirit worship practiced in the hills of Uttarakhand. The ritual is conducted to commune with the gods, and is done so through the medium of music and the singer will enter a trance like state during the chanting in order to communicate with the gods, and in turn it is believed that they communicate through him. This is not a performance for tourists, as it is a cultural and spiritual ritual which is taken very seriously in the hills, and so we were indeed very lucky to be able to witness just a small part of the ceremony.
The location is breathtaking, slow paced Kumaon village life, starts early and sunrise, with a cup of chai watching the kids make their way to the village school, and ends with a bonfire under the starry sky. In between there were plenty of walks (amazing how much you can do in a day if you start the day off at 6am!) and plentiful and delicious Kumaoni home cooked food.
It was an absolute privilege to spend time with Lalit and his warm and welcoming family – an experience which I hope will not be my first and last with The Folk Tales – Discover Rural India
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