Sunday, January 29, 2012

Debt Of Meat

People have easy access to variety of meat in city and town. Freshly slaughtered goat and buffalo can be seen in meat shops where customers could purchase required quantity. Consumption of processed meat is also increasing among the city dwellers.

But people in remote villages do not have such opportunity. You could not find even small grocery shops in most hill villages. They all rush down to nearest town for buying or selling things.

Villagers raise chicken for their own use because it (usually black cockerel) is necessary for conducting traditional rituals: puja (worshiping) and jharphuk (ritual performed by jhakri, witch doctor, to treat patient). Whatever the purpose of ritual is, chicken ultimately goes to human palate. They show their respect to visiting relatives or guests by offering millet rakshi (locally brewed alcohol) and chicken meat. They employ traditional practice of sharing meat when they feel like to consume buffalo meat.
Brewing rakshi
The price of buffalo is fixed by Jamani. Jamani is person who will be responsible for collecting money from customers and pay the price of buffalo to its owner. Jamani get certain time duration (bhaka), generally two months from the date of kill, to pay the price. There are normally 3, 4 jamani depending on the size/quantity of buffalo and they also do the all the work of slaughtering, dividing, distributing and keeping account. Of course, villagers and customers also help them. They informed the villagers about the deal (price of buffalo and bhaka) and forthcoming date and place of slaughtering.
After killing buffalo, meat is equally divided such that each share (bhag) values NPR 1000. For example, if the price of buffalo is NPR 30,000, there will be 30 shares. Jamani will distribute the shares to customers. But customers do not have to pay the price of their shares immediately. They also get the bhaka that is within two months to pay the price to Jamani. One person or family could generally get one share but if there is less customers then he/she could get more shares. But customer does not get less than a share. He could buy one share and divide it with other people who also want half. They do not use any measuring tools but cut half of each piece of meat and keep them separately.

Jamani will get no monetary benefit but get ek bisauli (about 1.25 kg) of meat as remuneration of their work. Interesting thing is different bodily part is assigned to jamani depending on their work. Person who drags buffalo to slaughering place gets andra (intestine), who kills buffalo gets jibro (tongue) and who keeps account gets topi. Within the bhaka, Jamani will collect money from the customers. Then all jamani will gather at the house of owner to pay the price of buffalo. They sit around the floor and put money on naglo (flat round basket). Then owner count it and satisfy himself. Owner then offers millet rakshi with chicken meat to all jamani. Thus the deal is formally ended.

One phrase is very common among people in the hills: "Bhaisiko paisa tirna baki chha" (I have to pay off debt of buff-meat). Consumption of rakshi and buff-meat is integral part of culture in those communities. No time sooner they could set themselves out of this debt.

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