Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Ladakh - First Aryans and Nomands

Smiles from Dha village
Photo by Inga Urbonaviciute

A little bit about what is left from Ladakh past. For Lithuanian version press here

In Dha village
As I mentioned in previous post, Ladakh was inhabited already on neolithic times. It is thought that first Indo-European tribes, Mons and Dards, settled exactly in this area. It is still possible to meet their descendants in Ladakh, Leh market selling vegetables or in Dha and Hanu villages. Poorly, but Dard language is still alive. It is believed that this is protolanguage of Vedic Sanskrit, which means is protolanguage of all Indo-European languages. Unfortunately, younger generation cannot talk this language anymore. Ladaki, Urdu and Hindi - these are the languages children learn in school. Dards still has distinct face features, which visually differs them from other Ladakies and proves that they didn't reach Ladakh from Tibet side. They still preserve some old traditions from ancient animistic believes. Unfortunately, mostly of Dards already practise other religions, Islam or Buddhism. Recently the monastery was built next to Dha and Hanu villages to prove Buddhism victory over animistic traditions. Well, monastery still doesn't look very active, but, I guess, it is a matter of time. Dards still decorate their heads with decorations made from dried flowers on special days and festivals and sometimes to expose their identity. Anyway, we are lucky to have possibility to witness the existence of this tribe. People of Dards are moving out from their remote villages to Leh or other bigger Indian towns and cities. They create family with local Ladakhis, Indians or even foreigners. Their language, traditions, and distinct physical features dissolve into  space of multicultural world and their ancient culture will remain in the form of entertainment for tourists.

Me with the kids from Dha village
Photo by Nomeda Baranauskiene

Girl of Dards with school uniform
Photo by Inga Urbonaviciute

Girl of Dards going from school to her village
Photo by Inga Urbonaviciute

The old Dardian lady with traditional dried flower
Photo by Inga Urbonaviciute

The other exotic lifestyle in Ladakh is nomads. Lots of them you can find in plains of Changthang. These people usually make living from nomadic pastoralism. They rear cattle, produce milk products and wool (sheep, yak). Because of severe climate of Ladakh, the shepherds have to move from one place to another. This lifestyle is also about to be changed with next generation. Indian government opened Puga valley boarding school for nomadic kids. Children, who stays in school all the time, do not take over traditions and most important knowledge form nomadic parents. Instead, they are keen to choose different, settled lifestyle in bigger village or Leh city. We shouldn't judge them everybody wants to live better. If you want to experience their lifestyle, be ready for a walk! Usually, they stay off-route.

Making butter
Photo by Inga Urbonaviciute

Goats milking
Photo by Inga Urbonaviciute

The children for Puga valley school
Photo by Inga Urbonaviciute

Thanks, India Miles, for help!

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