Thursday, 10 January 2013

The beginner's buck

The Bomdo village is located close to the Siang river, the river half-circumambulates around the village owing to the terrain. The village area extends till an area the Bomdians call Arbo, located below the Ganging Mouling peak towards the south-west and the right bank of the Angong river that originates from this peak towards north-west. The eastern boundary of the village is the Siang river across which are found Pugging, Gette, Likkor and Palang villages. But this not all. Being the oldest village in the landscape; the nucleus of norther villages like Migging, Pango and Ningging all the way till Tuting, Bomdo also owns hunting territories close to the northernmost frontier with Tibet west of the Siang river. This area, that is approached from the Sirapateng or the Siggong river is called Bandhi and is accessed once a year by the Adis in Bomdo for takin-hunting.

The access is not simple: one does NOT go alone, one goes in a group of 10 – 15, the group books a vehicle till the point where the Sirapateng meets the road to Tuting, close to the Pango village and then walks for three days to reach the camp where they stay for close to a week. One also carries enough rice for 15 days, alcohol, food supplies: rice cakes called Ettings and dried meat; a headload of about 20 – 25 kilogrammes. A boy is considered a man once he undertakes the journey to Bandhi and hunts a takin. An old man in the Bomdo village inspects the chicken-liver before the takin hunting group leaves. He would have predictions, most or some of which may come true. This year, it was mostly boys who went to Bandhi. With his clairvoyance, he predicted few things, five of which were to come true.

The boys with a couple older men had left mid-December. The village was a little empty without them, for, they were all active folks, most of them played volleyball and one-up conversations in the evenings. Christmas passed and while we were planning how to celebrate the new years' eve, 'waiting night' as it is called in these parts, we did not know whether to include the boys who had left for Bandhi. The boys were back on the 29th. Three of them had got their first takins: this also had important collateral obligations. Anyone in the village who goes to Bandhi and hunts their first takin has to treat the entire village a pig. Two big pigs where slaughtered in the Naamghar, the community hall and the entire village was feasting on pig meat and millet beer to wash it down. Every male in the village; young or old would receive a cane basket full of cooked rice and slices of pig meat and fat to take back to their homes to feed their families. This rice is collected from the villagers themselves, but is cooked in the Naamghar. Also cooked is blood-bellyfat-rice which one could even call Puliyogare!

Everyone is all smiles; its a feast!

Mostly fat, a little meat and a LOT of rice!
And yes, the old man who inspected the chicken-liver got five things right: the group that went did hunt seven individuals; well six were takin and one serow, one of them did hunt a takin with a single horn, one of the takins did fall in the water after being shot, one person did get injured in the journey to Bandhi and one of the takins did get shot close to their camp! So much from a chicken-liver inspected at least 40 km beeline distance away!