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Identification. "Pahari" can refer to any mountain-dwelling people, but in north India it generally designates the Indo-European-speaking peoples of the Himalayas who, however, generally prefer regional ethnic designations. In India these include, among many others (from west to east) : Churachi, Gaddi, Kinnaura, Sirmuri (all in Himachal Pradesh); Jaunsari, Garhwali, Kumauni (all in Uttar Pradesh); etc. Crosscutting these are terms distinguishing religions (e.g., Hindu, Muslim), caste categories (e.g., for low castes: Dom, Kilta, Shilpkar; for high castes: Khas, Khasiya), and specific castes (e.g., for low castes: Bajgi, Lohar, Mochi, etc.; for high castes: Brahman, Baman, Rajput, Chhetri, Thakur). There are also terms associated with specific noncaste ethnic groups and livelihoods, such as Gujjar (transhumant cattle herders, some groups of which are Hindu, others Muslim). In Nepal distinctions among Paharis are more often reported to refer to caste than to region: that is, the high-caste category, Khas, and the low-caste category, Dom or Damai, with their specific caste names. These caste names distinguish them from Tibeto-Burman-speaking neighbors whom they identify by ethnic terms (e.g., Magars, Gurungs). The term, "Pahari" comes from the Hindi word pahar, meaning "mountain," and so literally it means "of the mountains."

Location. The Pahari occupy the outer, lower ranges of the Himalayasgenerally between about 600 and 2,100 meters above sea leveladjacent to the Indo-Gangetic Plain, in a 1,600-kilometer crescent not more than 80 kilometers wide, stretching from Kashmir in the northwest to central Nepal in the southeast. These geologically young mountains are the result of the Indian tectonic plate pushing under the Asian one. This upthrust results in frequent landslides and rapid erosion, creating precipitous topography with sharp peaks and V-shaped ravines rather than alluvial valleys or lakes. The massive scarp, which even the lower Himalayas present to the flat Indo-Gangetic Plain, forces the northward-moving summer monsoon clouds abruptly upward, generating heavy precipitation each year and ensuring a rich postmonsoon harvest. Winters tend to be cold with moderate to slight snowfalls at the upper limits of Pahari habitation (at 1,800 to 2,400 meters) and comparable rainfall at lower elevations.

Demography. Reliable population figures on Pahari speakers are not available, but my estimate is in the neighborhood of 17 million: 6 million in Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, 6 million in Uttar Pradesh, and 5 million in Nepal. Their population density is not great, perhaps 58 persons per square kilometer, but the annual growth must be around 2.5 percent.

Linguistic Affiliation. The people of the outer Himalayas are culturally and linguistically distinct from their plainsdwelling Hindi-, Punjabi-, and Urdu-speaking Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim neighbors to the south and from the higher-elevation-dwelling Tibetan-speaking Bhuddist Bhotias to the north. G. A. Grierson, in his classic Linguistic Survey of India, labeled their Indo-European language "Pahari" and identified its main sections: Western Pahari, found west of the Jumna River (i.e, now Himachal Pradesh) and into Kashmir; Central Pahari, between the Jumna and the Maha Kali rivers (i.e., in Garhwal and Kumaon, now comprising the Himalayan Districts of Uttar Pradesh State; and Eastern Pahari (generally called Nepali), extending from Nepal's western border (the Maha Kali) into central Nepal. Less sharply drawn than the northern and southern linguistic boundaries are those to the east, where Pahari gives way to Tibeto-Burman, and to the west, where it meets Dardic languages, mainly Kashmiri. Also, along the southern border of the eastern half of the Pahari domain, in the terai (the narrow band where the Himalayas meet the plains), live the tribal Tharu with their distinctive language.

History and Cultural Relations

The Pahari people probably derive from population movements out of the plains into the mountains. It is widely believed that they have come during the past 3,000 years as refugees from population pressure, plagues, famines, droughts, political oppression, military and civil conflict, and the like. Muslim invasions, from about a.d. 1000 to 1600, may have accelerated such movements, which need not have been characteristically massive but likely included many small-scale, even familial, migrations. Residents of Sirkanda, the Garhwali Village in which I have worked for many years, say that their ancestors began coming some 300 years ago in extended family groups from still-known mountain villages in the Pahari heartland to the northeast in search of new land and pastures. Whatever the sources, it is clear that over time the Pahari population has been geographically mobile and numerically variable. The very name of "Garhwal" suggests this, for it means "land of fortresses"referring to the ruins that are to be found throughout the region (including two in Sirkanda) and that are as much a puzzle as the people who built them. The Eastern and Central Pahari languages form a dialectal continuum, but there is a relatively sharp break in mutual intelligibility between Central and Western Pahari. Other cultural differences between the Eastern/Central and Western speech communities, together with some demographic Evidence, also suggest that long ago there was a frontier, located somewhere between the Jumna and Ganges watersheds. As recently as the first decade of the nineteenth century, the small princely principalities that comprised the Pahari region east of present-day Simla in Himachal Pradesh were conquered by the Nepalese. A decade later the British drove them back, decreed the Maha Kali River to be the western border of Nepal, and laid the foundation for the present administrative subdivisions of the Indian Himalayas.


Throughout most of the Pahari region the population is clustered in small villages, usually of well under 350 people. These are situated adjacent to open hillsides, near pasturage, forested land, and a reliable water sourceeither a stream or a spring. The hillsides are terraced for agriculture, the terraces irrigated where possible from upstream sources through Systems of canals and flumes that also serve to power water mills. Houses are rectangular, of two or occasionally more stories, made of 46-centimeter-thick stone and adobe mortar walls and reinforced by wooden beams (in some regions the upper stories are made largely or entirely of wood), with gabled (but in some areas flat) roofs of slate, heavy wooden shakes, or thatch. They are no more than two rooms deep, but vary greatlyup to six roomsin length. In many regions, as in Sirkanda, they characteristically have a large open central living room (tibari ) or veranda near the middle, on the front (downhill) side, supported by ornamentally carved columns. Doors, door frames, and windowsand often rafters and beams as wellare also likely to be ornately carved and sometimes painted. Next to the living room is a kitchen; other rooms serve as bedrooms and storage rooms. Occupants, comprising an extended family, live on the second floor in anywhere from two to six rooms reached by one or more external stone stairways; livestock live on the ground floor. Within a village houses tend to be arranged along the contour of the land in parallel rows of several houses each.

Many landowning families own additional houses (chaan ) situated near fields or pastures at a distance from the village sufficient to make tending them difficult from there. Chaans are usually of a single story shared by livestock and people, separated by a wooden curb or sometimes a partition. They may be occupied seasonally or year-round depending upon circumstances: often a family will have a higher-elevation chaan for use in summer and a lower-elevation chaan for use in winter. The hills are alive with movement when the seasons change and people, goods, and animals are moved from one location (chaan, village house) to another. Chaans provide a way to separate family members without dividing the family. Clusters of chaans may evolve into villages as population increasesthe names of many villages reveal their former chaan status.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Pahari economy is based on subsistence agriculture, engaged in by landowning high castes (Brahmans and Kshatriyas). Extended joint Families cultivate terraced fields that produce two crops per year. The winter crop, primarily wheat and barley, is planted in October-November and harvested in March-April; the rainy-season crop, primarily millets but also including substantial amounts of amaranth, maize, dry and wet rice (where irrigation permits), and a variety of lentils and vegetables, is planted in April-May and harvested in September-October. Fields are kept productive by intensive fertilizing with animal manure and systematic fallowing. Milk and milk products, along with potatoes, ginger, and some vegetables, are produced for sale as well as for consumption where markets are accessible. Apricots are a cash crop in some areas, and near Kotgarh, north of Simla, apples have also become so. Opium is another, notably in Himachal Pradesh.

Buffalo and cattle are kept both for the milk they produce and for the manure. In Sirkanda, agricultural Households averaged three to four buffalo and sixteen to eighteen cattle. In villages more remote from markets, fewer of these livestock are kept. Buffalo produce more and richer milk than cows, but they are harder to maintain because they eat more, must be kept well watered and cool, and unlike cattle must be stall-fed and watered because they are regarded as too clumsy to fend for themselves. Most highly prized of all livestock are the small but sturdy Pahari bullocks used as draft animals: there are usually one to three pairs per household (depending upon the size of landholdings). Goats and in some areas sheep are kept largely for sale but also for domestic sacrifice (and subsequent consumption). About half of Sirkanda households keep an average of fifteen of these animals per household. Horses or mules, one or rarely two, are kept by about a third of the landed families in Sirkanda, for transport of products to and from markets.

Industrial Arts. What might be called "industrial arts" are engaged in only for domestic use, not sale or export. Low castes of artisans are to be found in most regions if not in most villages: smiths (blacksmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths), carpenters, lathe turners, masons, weavers, tailors, rope makers, shoemakers. Traditionally they did their work not by the piece and not for cash but in the well-known South Asian jajmani relationship, as clients to a landed patron who compensated them for their service and loyalty with agricultural produce. Where no specialist caste is available to supply a required product or service, another low caste will generally be pressed into service or the high-caste community members will take the job. As transportation has enhanced contact with markets, piecework and cash purchases have impinged on this system, to the advantage of the consumers and the disadvantage of the providers (who are rendered superfluous by the availability of commercial products).

Trade. See preceding subheadings under "Economy."

Division of Labor. The fundamental divisions of Pahari labor are by sex and caste. The high castes are landowning farmers who do all of the work required to grow and process crops and to husband domestic animals. The low castes are their hereditary landless servants. The latter are defined as artisans, as is suggested by their derogatory-descriptive appellation, shilpkar (literally, "handworker"). They include, in addition to the artisan specialties described above, service specialties such as musician, entertainer, and barber. Service castes are required as well to perform any domestic service their patrons may demand of them. Among themselves, they exchange their special products and services. The one highcaste specialty is that of the Brahman priest. Most people of this caste are farmers like their Kshatriya village mates, but some menoften only one in an extended family or in a villagespecialize in priestly activities. These men tend to ritualsannual or periodic rites, life-cycle rites, horoscopes, temple worship, etcfor their fellow high castes in the same jajmani relationship to those they service as is found among the artisan castesexcept that here the Brahman server may be more accurately regarded as the patron and the person served as the client.

The sexual division of labor varies somewhat by caste. High-caste men and women share the agricultural labor, but men alone do the tasks entailing the use of draft animals (plowing, harrowing) and sow the seed, while women prepare the manure to be used as fertilizer, winnow and handmill the grain, and handle all phases in the preparation of food for eating. Men build and maintain houses and other structures and the terraces, transport goods into and out of the village, and handle the trading and all dealings with outsiders. Women care for the children, do the housekeeping, and handle most of the day-to-day maintenance and provisioning of persons and animals that farming households require. Among the service castes, the division of labor is the same except that men do most or all of the activities that their occupational specialty requires (essentially substituting such activities for the exclusively male agricultural activities of the high castes). Low-caste women perform a few special tasks to support their menfolk's caste specialties, but for the most part they have the same tasks and responsibilities as high-caste women: they process and prepare the food, care for the children, keep house, and do much of the care of animals.

It is important to note that the position of women in Pahari society is distinctly superior to the position of women in plains society. Both women and men are aware and proud of this feature of their society. Pahari women play an essential and recognized role in almost all aspects of the economy. They are not secluded, they are not limited in their movements within and around the village, and they participate fully in ritual and religious activities, except those reserved for priests and those which take place outside the village in which they live. They also participate fully in recreational activities including traditional dancing. Their marriage brings a bride-price to their family rather than costing a dowry. They can divorce and remarry as easily as men. Widows are not constrained by widowhood and routinely remarry. Pahari women are noticeably more outspoken and self-confident in the presence of others, including strangers, as compared to women of the plains. As the culture of the politically, Economically, educationally, and numerically dominant plains society increasingly impinges upon Pahari people, their worldview is inevitably affected. Sanskritic standards of the plains distort or replace Pahari customs, to the point that not only plainspeople but expatriate Paharis as well become critical, even ashamed, of Pahari traditions. Thus traditional Pahari religious and ritual activities, which are matters of pride for many, have become matters of shame and denial for those seeking the approval of plainspeople. Among such customs are animal (especially buffalo) sacrifice, bride-price, Marriage, female-initiated divorce, widow and divorcée remarriage, polygyny, polyandry (where it occurs), female singing and dancing in publicin fact, almost all expressions of female freedom of action, options, participation, and assertiveness in social life. Division of labor by age and familial status (e.g., daughter vs. daughter-in-law) also exists but harbors few surprises for those familiar with Indian society, and in any case it cannot be examined within the limitations of this space.

Land Tenure. This topic is too complex to discuss in detail here. Suffice it to repeat that traditionally only the highcaste (Brahman and Kshatriya) categories were allowed to own land. Independent India has abolished this rule, and efforts have been made to provide land to the landless, but the overwhelming preponderance of low-caste people still own very little and very poor land, if any at all. The problem of bonded labor and "debt slavery" among low castes remains endemic in many Pahari areas.

In the vicinity of my research, there is very little in the way of sharecropping, renting, absentee landlordism, and the like. These are true extended joint-family subsistence farms, worked by the members of the owner families with the assistance of artisan castes and an occasional hired servant. But in other Pahari regions one can discover instances of virtually every conceivable alternative system of ownership and subsidiary rights to the land, as well as every manifestation of subinfeudation and exploitation.


Kin Groups and Descent. As with most South Asian societies, Pahari society is composed of named, ranked castes, membership in which is determined by birth (i.e., by ancestry). Castes are with few exceptions endogamous, and Therefore they comprise very extended kin groups. Each caste is made up of exogamous patrilineal, patrilocal sibs (or clans). Each sib is made up of numerous extended joint families, Usually including two generations but ranging from one to as many as three or even four. Brothers are expected to keep the family and its patrimony intact, but even if they succeed in doing so, upon their deaths their children, who are cousins, generally divide it up.

Kinship Terminology. Kinship terminology reflects this social structure: there are detailed terminological distinctions on the basis of affinity and consanguinity, of seniority (Generation, birth order, and age of self or husband), etc. But cousins are not terminologically distinguished from siblings, nor first from second cousins, etc. (i.e., all are regarded as Siblings). Therefore, it is a system employing standard Hawaiian-type cousin terms. In short, Pahari kinship organization and terminology are typical of those found throughout north India.

Marriage and Family

Marriage and Domestic Unit. Marriage must be within the caste and outside the patrilineal sib (clan). It is ceremonialized in a way well within the range of variation found through north India except that, unlike that of most high castes elsewhere, it does not entail a dowry. Rather, it entails a bride-price, which in fact is the traditional necessary component of a valid marriage. Polygyny is permitted (most often occasioned by the levirate), with an incidence of about 15 percent in the region of my work; about 20 percent of polygynous unions are sororal. Unmarried men never marry previously married women (although unceremonialized elopement occasionally occurs). Any subsequent marriage is ceremonialized only if the woman has not been previously married. Divorce, initiated by husband or wife, is easy and frequent, requiring only the return of the bride-price (by the wife's family or new husband). Children, however, belong to and stay with their father and his family, a major deterrent to divorce for women with children.

A major distinctive feature of the Western Pahari area is that fraternal polyandrystrictly prohibited in the Central and Eastern Pahari areasis permitted and in fact is the preferred form of marriage in some regions such as Jaunsar Bawar and scattered localities in Himachal Pradesh.

Throughout the Pahari area, postmarital residence is prescriptively patrilocal (virilocal). Exceptions occur for Economic reasons, but some stigma is attached to them.

Socialization. Children are nursed to the age of 3 or 4 and are given the breast occasionally up to age 5 or 6. Socialization is permissive and relaxed, especially in the early years. Boys are socialized together with girls, in a largely female environment, up to the age of 7 or 8, at which time they begin to interact mainly with males. Never are the sexes as segregated as in the plains, however. Girls assume household responsibilities earlier and these are more taxing than for boysin short, boys are indulged more than girls. Not until puberty are caste distinctions and restrictions rigorously enforced. The marriage ceremony may take place at an early age (8 to 10) but nowadays usually not until later, and in any case the couple does not begin to live together until puberty has been attained: girls by about age 13 or later, boys by age 16 or later. Schooling is a recent phenomenon, restricted primarily to high-caste boys from prosperous families and usually not pursued beyond the first three to five years. Learning for both sexes and all castes is by participation, in effect by apprenticeship.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Most features of social organization have been covered above under the headings "Division of Labor," "Kinship," and "Marriage and Family." The remaining point requiring explanation is the Pahari system of caste categories. The pan-Indian system of castes and caste categories comprises innumerable localized castes (jati ), Hierarchically ranked according to their inborn purity. Castes, in turn, are grouped into five ranked categories called varnas: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra, and Achut. The first three are called "twice-born," indicating a higher order of ritual purity than the other two, while the Sudra, in turn, are purer than the Achut, who are regarded as woefully polluted (achut literally means "untouchable") and in fact are scriptually described as outside of the varna system, although structurally they comprise a fifth varna. Brahmans are traditionally the priestly castes; Kshatriyas are the royal, administrative, and warrior castes; Vaisyas are the yeoman farmer castes (who in historic times have come to be identified primarily as mercantile castes); Sudras are the "clean" artisan and service castes; and Achut are the castes that perform the most polluting tasks (e.g., scavengers, latrine cleaners, leatherworkers). In Pahari society, by contrast, generally only three varnas are representedBrahman, Kshatriya, and Achut. Proportions in each category vary locally and regionally, but 75 to 90 percent of the Pahari population is Kshatriya. The Pahari social Organization can be understood, in a rough way, by saying that there are no Vaisya castes, and all of those castes that in most of India are Sudra are in Pahari society classified as Achut, creating in effect a tripartite varna system. But Indigenous terminology, at least in the Central Pahari region, suggests that the varna system is or in origin was in fact binary, comprising simply "twice-born" and "untouchable" categories. Pahari Brahmans and Kshatriyas are often collectively termed "Khas" or "Khasiya"; Pahari low castes are collectively termed "Dom." The social reality of this seems confirmed by the fact that marriage between Pahari Brahmans and Kshatriyas is tolerated (although reluctantly and without Ceremony) , something that plains society does not countenance, and marriage among low castes is similarly allowed.

Political Organization, Social Control, Conflict. At the village level, each caste is organized to handle internal conflicts and transgressions. However, heads of high-caste households (or some of them) traditionally constitute a council that decides matters of policy and social control for the village at large and intervenes as well in low-caste disputes or transgressions. Since independence, various kinds of Councils have been established by the national governments of the nations in which Paharis live. In India, these are elected bodies, with an elected headman and with seats reserved for women and members of Achut castes. Their actual powers, however, tend to be limited to official matters, while social control remains with the traditional high-caste councils. As is true throughout India, low-caste individuals and collectivities are subject to stern measures, including violent physical sanctions of the most dire sort, to enforce the constraints placed on them by the high castes.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Because the overwhelming preponderance of Paharis are Hindus, only that religion is described here. There are also Muslim Paharis, but they have been little described in the literature. Presumably their Islamic religion is that of the rest of South Asia, with a distinctly Pahari cast to it, notably as a result of beliefs and practices, pervasive in Pahari culture, that are neither identifiably Islamic nor Hindu in origin.

Pahari Hinduism shares most of its content with pan-Indian Hinduism, including some degree of belief in dharma (intrinsic individual and collective duty or "right behavior"), karma (just desserts contingent on fulfillment of dharma), samsara (reincarnation in accord with karma), maya (the illusory nature of existence), nirvana or samadhi (ultimate escape, if karma permits, from the wheel of reincarnation into oneness with the universe). Similarly there is an awareness of the scriptures, the great deities of Hinduism, the holy places, the holy days, the periodic and life-cycle rituals, the values, the prescriptions and proscriptions enjoined upon the faithful, etc. But there are also distinctive Pahari traditions regarded by their practitioners as the consequence of social and environmental circumstances of their alpine existence. In contrast to villages of the plains, there is little systematic difference among Pahari castes in religious belief and practice. In the eyes of outsiders, expatriates, and sophisticates, these traditions are often seen as rustic and therefore embarrassingly unorthodox and in need of reform. The dominant aspect of this rusticity is a lack of rigor in following the behavioral injunctions of Sanskritic Hinduism: dietary restrictions are virtually ignored, except for the taboo on beef; many of the great deities of Hinduism and the rituals associated with them are overlooked; niceties in the expression and maintenance of ritual purity are treated casually; most Sanskritic restrictions on high-caste women are not observed; and Lifecycle rites and periodic rituals are understood and observed in a distinctly Pahari manner.

Supernaturals are of many types and innumerable manifestationsas suggested by the frequently quoted description of Hinduism as a "religion of 330 million gods." Deities (or gods) are the most powerful of supernaturals and must be placated to avoid their destructive wrath. Placation takes the form of honoring them with worship, especially by making offerings to them (prominently through animal sacrifice). In Sirkanda a number of household deities (associated with, affecting, and therefore worshiped by household members) are worshiped by each family at shrines in the dwelling. In addition, there are village deities, worshiped by most villagers on ritual occasions at a shrine in or near the village. Among the latter deities are the five Pandava brothers, known to every Hindu as heroic warriors of the Mahabharata epic, but to my knowledge worshiped as major deities only, and universally, by Paharis. Polyandrous Western Pahari societies cite the polyandrous Panduvas as the precedent for their own Marriage rules. There are in addition a variety of other categories of supernaturals: ancestral spirits, ghosts or demons, sprites or fairies, etc. As with deities, each of these has dangerous powers that must be avoided, warded off, or properly attended to. Various diviners, exorcists, curers, and other specialists capable of dealing with the malevolence of such supernaturals are to be found in every locality.

Religious Practitioners. Pahari religious practitioners, as throughout Hindu society, are of two major types. The first type includes those of the priestly (Brahman) caste, exclusively entitled by birth to their profession, whose responsibilities are to convey, oversee, perpetuate, and perform the scripturally prescribed aspects of Hinduism necessary to the long-term maintenance of relations between the faithful and the supernatural. The second type includes the individually gifted and supernaturally inspired practitioners of folk traditions, who, while not incompatible with Hinduism and in fact universally associated with it, are not enjoined by it: namely, the shamans (called baki in the Central Pahari region, and bhagat in the north Indian plains), diviners, exorcists, curers, and a variety of other practitionersmost often of low caste but potentially of any caste and either sexwho serve the immediate, pragmatic needs of people by dealing via the supernatural with the fateful, unpredictable aspects of their lives.

Ceremonies. Ceremonies are numerous and often complex. They honor and placate deities and ancestors, celebrate or ward off the effects of astrological concordances, memorialize and celebrate life-cycle events, protect and perpetuate the well-being of individuals and groups, etc. Among several peculiar to the Pahari region (all well within the range of Hindu ceremonies) is the famous rope-sliding ceremony. Too complex to describe adequately hereand now outlawedit is worth mentioning because it incorporates the features of all Hindu ceremonies in a unique and spectacular Pahari idiom. Basically, it is an attempt to appease the wrath of the most powerful deity of the region, who has wrought dire and persistent misfortune on a village, by offering him a magnificent and expensive entertainment accompanied by many subsidiary sacrifices and supplications carried out by scores of priests, shamans, and other specialists before hundreds of worshipful participants and spectators. The climactic event occurs when a ritually prepared low-caste man who has been secured to a saddle astride a gigantic oil-soaked rope that is stretched between a tree at the top of a cliff and another at a distance below to form a steep incline, is released to careen down the rope, smoke streaming behind, to an uncertain fate at the end of his ride. If the spectacle is successful, the rider survives, the god is pleased, the community is relieved of its misfortune, the many who contributed to the event are benefited in proportion to their material or financial contribution, and everyone who witnessed it is blessed.

Arts. Pahari artisan castes are the artists of this society, best known for wood carving of doors, windows, columns, rafters, etc. and ornamental stone carving. Carpenters and masons are noted for their architectural achievements through ingenious and beautiful use of wood and stone. The artistry of gold- and silversmiths, expressed primarily in Women's jewelry, is also notable. Tailors and shoemakers are responsible for the colorful traditional Pahari clothing. The distinctive Pahari music has recently been selectively adapted to a popular idiom without entirely losing its traditional qualities, and it has achieved popular attention and commercial success in India. This music derives from folksongs known to all elements of Pahari society, rendered and preserved by the musician castes.

Medicine. Traditional practitioners employ a wide variety of herbal and ritual treatments for illnesses, injuries, and discomforts. In every village there are specialists known for their success in healing: herbalists, masseuses, curers of pustular diseases, bone setters, laceration healers, midwives, shamans, exorcists, etc. Elements of conventional Ayurvedic medical belief and practice are discernible but do not generally form a tightly organized system in rural villages. Government programs have brought medical personnelemploying variously Ayurvedic, Unani, and scientific medical treatmentsto many villages and health clinics to many regions. Hospitals are available in major centers. Still, however, most treatment is by traditional, indigenous practitioners. When medicines are sought from outside they are almost always patent Remedies rather than prescribed medicines. Mortality, especially infant mortality, remains extremely high in the Pahari areas.

Death and Afterlife. Among Hindu Paharis, death and afterlife are understood and dealt with in characteristically Hindu fashion. (Muslims bury their dead and attend to death in ways prescribed by Islam, but here I am able only to discuss Hindu customs in the matter.) Among Hindus, small Children are buried, as are those who die of particular virulent diseases and the rare holy individual who has achieved samadhi. Others are cremated, preferably by the side of a stream, with the remains being committed to the water. The ceremonies attending death, cremation, and the postcremation period are complex but not notably different from those prescribed in Hinduism. Women do not attend the funeral cremation, but they, like all relatives, participate in mourning according to the closeness of their kinship to the deceased. It is believed that the station of one's next life in the cycle of reincarnationone's karmais a consequence of fulfillment of one's dharmathe donation to charities, the performance of austerities, etc.

See also Nepali; Tharu


Berreman, Gerald D. (1972). Hindus of the Himalayas: Ethnography and Change. 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Grierson, G. A. (1916). Linguistic Survey of India. Vol. 9, pt. 4, 1. Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing.

Majumdar, D. N. (1972). Himalayan Polyandry: Structure, Functioning, and Culture Change, a Field-Study of Jaunsar Bawar. New York: Asia Publishing House.

Newell, William H. (1967). Census of India, 1961. Vol. 20, Himachal Pradesh, pt. 5-B, The Gaddi and Affiliated Castes in the Western Himalayas, Report on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Delhi: Manager of Publications.

Parry, Jonathan P. (1979). Caste and Kinship in Kangra. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Raha, Manis Kumar, ed. (1987). The Himalayan Heritage. Delhi: Gian Publishing House.

Raha, Manis Kumar, and Satya Narayan Mahato (1985). The Kinnaurese of the Himalayas. Memoirs of the Anthropological Survey of India, no. 63. Calcutta.


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Pahari (pəhä´rē), languages or dialects of the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. See Indo-Iranian languages.

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