Bhuiya - Settlements



The settlement is generally surrounded by hills and forests. Villages are located either in valley regions, on hill slopes, or on tableland. Each village has preferentially chosen a large tract of forest land within which the village shifts from time to time to facilitate swidden cultivation, food gathering, and hunting. A village or a small group of villages is separated from other villages by a considerable distance through jungles or ravines. A few villages recently have been connected with main routes by jeep tracks for mining, quarrying, and forestry works. Depending on the site, villages are either arranged lineally or are dispersed in a pattern. The size of a village also usually depends on its location. Plains villages are bigger, with sixty or more houses; however, villages located on a hilltop or on its slopes may be smaller, with perhaps only five to twenty houses. A grouping of three or four huts on a rectangular courtyard, a backyard kitchen garden, and a cattle shed on one side together constitute a Bhuiya house. Rectangular huts with thatched, sloped roof, and mud walls are common. The homestead is kept clean. Not only the size and the plan of a Pauri house but also its inner arrangements are determined functionally. A hut is divided into three distinct portions: an innermost part, for storage of grains and sheltering small domestic animals and birds; the middle part, with a family hearth and a secluded place ( bhitar ) meant for ancestral spirits; and the outer portion, used as a livingroom. The council house, an occasional guest house, as well as a bachelor's dormitory, all grouped in one commodious hut called the mandagahr or darbar gahr, are in the center of a village. The village tutelary goddess represented by a carved wooden pillar on one side, musical instruments used by the unmarried boys, and straw-packed bundles of grain are all common sights inside the manda garh. The dormitory organization is weakening in some areas. Very near to the manda garh is the seat of the village mother goddess. The Pauris change their village site occasionally for economic considerations connected with swidden cultivation, successive crop failure, epidemic deaths, and menace from wild animals, as well as for religious reasons. Some villages have definite sites to which they shift on rotation. The selection of a new site for habitation partly depends on the suitability of water sources and the number and size of hill forests for cultivation; but, above all, the proposed site must withstand several tests for good omens.


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