As much as I’d love to say that I hail from a quaint little village in India, I can’t. I mean the closest my friends and I even get to saying the word village is when we are referring to “Village Cinemas”, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that rural life is right up there in my list of unknowns. Anyway, it had always been a dream of mine to visit a traditional Indian village and I was EXTREMELY excited when we were invited to one by a family friend. And so, after twelve hours of road tripping, five instances of carsickness, multiple complaints of vertigo from the elders and encounters with roads that were really rock filled mud tracks, we arrived in the village slightly bruised and battered. It was all worth it though, because this trip ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. Here’s a few things that I found pretty awesome.
#1 Atithi Devo Bhava- Guest is God
This saying prescribes a dynamic of the host-guest relationship in Indian culture and is taken from the Taittriya Upanishad which claims Matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava ( be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God). I’ve heard of this concept many times before but this trip was the first time I saw it actually being lived out in real life.
I’ll never forget the number of times our hosts called our taxi driver to make sure we were ok on our journey to their place (approx. 28 times), or the amount of food they packed into tiffin carriers for us to take on our drive back. Nor will I forget the time the lady of the house literally jumped up and ran outside to pluck me some flowers when she saw my flower-less braid ( when I exclaimed at how gorgeous the flower she chose was, she winked and said “just like you “)! To top it all off, the members of the house were quick to offer us ANYTHING if we so much as mentioned that something was nice.
One of the most unforgettable moments of my life was how the family took us to their prayer room just before we left, and made the elders sit on a chair. The husband and wife of the household then proceeded to fall at the feet of each elder to take their blessings and then gave us all sarees and gifts. By this point we were all in tears, incredibly touched by the love in the room and extremely heavy-hearted at the thought of leaving. Every time I wear the saree given to me, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling as I fondly recall the love I felt that day.
#2 Keep it Simple!
The most endearing thing about the villagers was how genuine and simple they were. There were no airs and graces to be seen within a 50 mile radius of the place, that’s for sure! The women giggled shyly as if they were newly married brides whenever we praised them for their amazing culinary skills and the men were incredibly modest about their ability to harvest fruits, oils and vegetables across acres and acres of land through manual labour ( “I’m only an agriculturist” said a successful farmer, with his hands folded). Although talented in various arts, the children were softly spoken and very humble about the extent of their talents. One boy claimed that he played “a little tabla” and we soon found out he was a student of a highly esteemed Indian musician after further enquiry. Their humility was definitely something to aspire to.
#3 Men are Treated Like Kings but then, Women are Treated Like Queens.
In recent times especially, there’s been a whole lot of talk about feminism and differences in the way that men and women are treated in Indian Culture. Undeniably, there’s been an abuse of power by many individuals in creating a structure that is patriarchal and abusive to women, but fundamentally, Indian culture sees a man and woman as equal halves. One of the first things that struck me during my trip was that the men in the household were treated like Gods. The women refused to eat until their husbands had eaten and spoke to their husbands with much respect, serving them at every and any point possible. But equally, the men treated their wives with dignity and love, made sure that their wives were not straining themselves too much with the household chores and took care of the household finances. The result? The women were essentially untouched by the stresses of the outside world, which made them emotionally available to take on a nurturing role within the household. The men took on the role of a provider and made sacrifices to keep the household running. I’d say that the real winners in this arrangement are ultimately, the kids brought up in these households who have every opportunity to form secure attachment styles to build their lives upon.
This visit almost seems like a dream now that I’m miles away in Australia, but I’m SO incredibly grateful to the universe and all the Gods that fulfilled my wish to spend a few days in an Indian Village!
I am a 23 year old tradition lover living in Australia. As I have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Parts of this blog are fictional, while others are based on my own experiences. Happy reading! – Divya