------------- Malani Tribe of Himalayas---------
Unidentified Himalayan Living of Ancient Global Village: Malana
The first experience I remember of Malana village is when I visited Parvati valley and heard a lot of stories and taboo about this ancient village. Many recognize it as a culture they have seen in documentary films. But everyone has a story to tell about those tribal people who lives up there in silence of the narrow, cold & deserted valley. I got curios each and every time I heard all sorts of myths and made up rumors. I decided to go there in winters which happens to be the coldest and temperature can make you snowy. The only thing which is still soft and warm is the Hash that Malani Tribe produces and this is what makes them a global village because its is know to be the best in the world. This world famous image is also a curse on the village because it takes them over the form their culture & traditions. They must be known for their unique approach towards keeping the tradition alive than a drug selling village. They use cannabis in many forms but long back when foreigners came to this ancient village they made them realize the market value and since then the reputation started to fade.
When I first reached there I realized that they are different yet humans. Many tourists don’t like them who visit the village because Tourists are not welcome there. Malani’s are considered to be untouchables. They don’t touch you and you are not allowed to touch them or their belongings. A provision of fine is there is any outsider touches the Malani Tribe or belongings such as their house, clothes, temples. Even this didn’t stop me from liking this old yet unique custom. I took some pictures while trekking towards the village and showed to the women I clicked from a certain distance and she smiled and her eyes were filled with joy. Later on she told me that they are not allowed to go outside of their village/valley so she was never photographed before except from her voter id card. This incident firstly gave me the courage to know them and photographed them.
Starting from 2016 winters to 2018 winters, I tried to understand them from their perspectives as well as from visitors and authorities. During 2018 winters I organized a photo camp on my own where I clicked some people and gave them the pictures as a souvenir. As they say people from different world comes here to take but no one gives us anything. I mostly shot elderly people as the younger generation have became digital having phone camera and cable T.V on their roof whereas the High court of Malana banned tourists stay saying they don’t wish to have outsiders influence.
In 2008 the whole village burned to and people rebuilted their everyday life from the ashes. Authorities didn’t helped as promised and gave them pennies to rebuilt the whole village. Government built a Dam near village to give employment but almost no one from the village works over the hydro electricity plant.
Malana have a lot of traditional practices which are still unacceptable and seen as a taboo. They do not celebrate Diwali or Holi, yet they consider themselves as upper caste Hindus, they still practice casteism, they only get married within the geographic boundaries of their village, they consider themselves as untouchables, Outsiders are not allowed yet I shook hands with the people of Malana.
I intent is to document all the lives living by giving them their own voices with dignity.