Rajendra Prasad Paneru, KANCHANPUR: The beautiful and artistic traditional houses of the Tharu people made of wood and thatch are on the verge of disappearance these days.
This situation has arisen as the people of this indigenous community are abandoning the traditional architectural style for the ‘modern’ cement and concrete houses.
The shortage of timber, tiles, the ‘khariya’ grass and the alluvial mud found in ponds, which are used in building the traditional Tharu houses is another reason for the disappearance of the traditional houses, Narendra Prasad Chaudhari said.
He said, “Tharus have also started opting for the brick and cement ‘modern’ type of houses as their economic status improves. They are beginning to build modern houses as the cost of building the traditional houses is almost equal,” he explained.
According to him, people from the community could bring timber from the forest for free and without having to go through all the administrative hassles before. They also need not pay for the mud and the ‘khariya’ grass used for building the houses before. But the situation has changed now after the forests were turned into community forest as all the forest-based construction materials have to be purchased. This has shot up the construction cost.
Similarly, the factories manufacturing the traditional mud tiles and other items have closed down.
Moreover, the Tharu people living in the vicinity of towns and cities have started building the ‘modern’ cement and brick houses. Those in the rural areas have also have started emulating their brethren living in towns and building the cement, concrete and brick houses.
In few places, the Tharu community people have started the home-stay tourism service and have preserved their traditional houses.
Locally available traditional construction materials which also include plants such as bareli, charuwa, bariyani, sarbal, kadi, wooden pillars, tiles, and batta are used in the construction of such homes. Windows are adorned with several sorts of clay-made images which are known as ‘mauka’ in the Tharu language.
An entrance to the house is called ‘priyani’ while the guest room is ‘dehari’, and Bahari serves as a kitchen. Kontis or bedrooms are constructed scientifically.
Dehari does have two doors/exits for a smooth air passage and they are used for an emergency exit during possible fire or other sorts of crisis. Such houses have earthquake resistance features as well, said a local Asharam Chaudhari.
House walls made of ‘khariya’ dried plants are durable as of cemented walls as Tharu women daub such walls regularly in four different ways. It takes from 17-25 days to construct a traditional home. There was a system of exchange of a voluntary labour in the house to construct the house. But, this culture was no more in existence due to changed time.
Now people are busy in their own affairs and have no time to go on such practice. In this context, anyone wishing to build such shelter needs to hire workers and the construction becomes costlier due to paid wages and that’s why the Tharu people have shifted their priority to concrete homes. RSS
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