Nature’s Produce – Not For Sale

In the Warli mythology it is said that when God was creating mankind, he gave the Warli communities a plough, therefore, they became the ‘Kulambi-farmers’. This belief seems to run true for the people of Jawhar Talika’s Wangadpada village who devote their time and energy in cultivating crops for their survival.

Toor cultivation at Wangadpada village.
Toor cultivation at Wangadpada village.

Harvested straight from the bounty of nature, their self-cultivated grains, legumes and vegetables mark the centre of their authentic tribal cuisine. Crops like rice, jowar, nachni, tuvar and groundnuts grow in their small farm plots in abundance. Their cultivation largely depends on monsoon and each member of this indigenous tribe predicts the advent of seasons with the help of nature itself.

The time the sun rises and sets… the cries of birds that indicate the onset or end of a specific season… all these elements act as indicators of the period of plenty and cause for joy and happiness within this Wangadpada based community.

The first rain of the season in June announces the start of a new cycle. The seeds are sown and the first seedling that sprouts is regarded as a gift from Mother Nature and is celebrated with a ritual called Koli- Kane (Koli is a type of new born plant and khane means to eat). The seedling is cooked into a curry and enjoyed by the Warli families here. After this rite has been performed, transplanting of these seeds take place.

During the period from June to September these Wangads manage water, protect their crops from animals and insects, and cut grass required as fodder for their cattle. Their hard work then pays off as stalks of green stand tall with healthy grains and legumes sprouting at their heads. These families ring in the harvest season by coming together to celebrate by drinking, singing, dancing and enjoying as a family before harvesting their new yield. Their celebrations continue with the veneration of ‘Vaghyadev’ (The Tiger God), “Kansari”(The corn Goddess) and a host of other Gods and Goddess and harvest is then threshed and the new grain is brought home and stored in a ‘Kangi’. Unlike most farmers in rural regions, these Wangads don’t sell their produce.

harvested toor that can be eaten raw as well.
harvested toor that can be eaten raw as well. 

Elaborating on their self-sufficiency, Shankar Wangad, a Warli resident of the Wangadpada village, said, “We don’t sell our crop. We grow enough for our families and community, and consume it ourselves. We grow rice, varai, tur, vegetables, groundnuts, cucumbers, etc which are sufficient for a balanced diet. Our crops are pest free, nutritious and thus provide us with energy to carry on with our hard work and everyday tasks. Sometimes we exchange some of our crop for other necessities.”

As their food expenses are taken care of by nature and they don’t have to rely on a set occupation for their basic needs. For other expenses like clothing and buying things like television or radio many go to nearby cities like Mumbai and Thane and work at construction sites as labourers. They earn around Rs.350 to 400 per day for a few months and return home to their community and family in time for the farming season.

When the earners of households have to go to town for longer period of time, they take their families along and stay together wherever they go and come back together when work is done. However, Jayashri Wangad says that they prefer to stay at their village more than the city because it is more peaceful and is their home. The people of Wangadpada are content with the produce of nature. They have no wants and their needs are minimal. They have no anxiety of tomorrow and live peacefully in the present, earning money as and when they need to while being utterly grateful and devoted to nature.

Ananya Endow

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