A Tale Of Indebtness

Everybody must have heard about the ‘Sagan‘ tradition. where you give a ‘lifafa‘ full of money to the newly weds on the stage. Well, this tradition started so that other people from the neighborhood could help the family at the time of their need and it is also taken as blessings to the newly wed couple. And in return, that family will help in the form of repayment in the same manner.

In parts of Southern Rajasthan, especially in Bhil tribal communities, this common practice is known as ‘Notra’ and here, this tradition does bring worst in people. Just imagine, how someone’s blessings can lead him and you to poverty.

Today, the idea of helping out each other have diverted from its traditional way. Earlier all the giving were in the form of in-kind goods like grains, crops, vegetables, etc which can be utilized in a wedding. If someone have given a handful of wheat to a family where is a wedding, than in return his family would get a bit more than handful from the same family. It can be one and half times or two times or even more times more than the initial gift, depending upon the family status. But it can never be the same amount. This family status is the major reason behind the track change of the cause. Here is a simple mathematics of what happens in this community:

“Ram (R) and Shyaam (S) were two good neighbours. R gave S Rs 100 as a token of blessing for his daughter’s wedding. Rs 100 is what R could afford because his livelihood was primarily based on farming. Whereas S was quite a rich man. He owns a dairy and lives in a well maintained house.

After 2 years, S gave R Rs 500 as a token of blessing for his daughter’s wedding.

As, S does not have any other child and there wont be any other celebration in his house, he decided to throw a dinner get-together for all those families in which he has given his token of blessings, where people can come and have some fun and eat and also, repay their token of blessings to his family. In this crowd, R was also invited and 500 was a huge amount for him to return but he had no choice. So, he borrowed Rs 600 from another source on high interest and gave those 600 to S.

Now we can take this mathematics on large amounts with around 50-60 families.

This is a tradition everybody is bound to follow and a big fat celebration is a must. People give away their lands on mortgage just to gather fame for a few days and then when they are not capable to get their lands back, they think of alternative sources to sustain their livelihoods. Migration is one of them. Because, when you live in a community like this, you don’t really do what needs to be done, you do want your are expected to.

This happens in almost every part of India. Neither I am excluded from this. But if this went on till forever, who is going to bear its cost till then?


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