0
1067
Ganga Devi Dulal
Ganga Devi Dulal

“Household chores – that’s what a girl did most of the time. What else? There was no school for us. Only my elder brothers attended school. Every morning we first drank tea. Then, we used to gather fodder for cattle, clean the aagan (front porch of the house), take care of younger siblings, and eat whatever mother used to cook. Back then, a girl could not cook for adults until she was married. So, in Kalimpong, when I was unmarried, I did not cook. Well, I could cook vegetable curry and a couple of other basic items but not rice and daal (legumes soup). My younger siblings were allowed to eat what I cooked. However, my parents, grandparents and other adults used to avoid the food I cooked. Interestingly, cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes was acceptable to everyone. The boys also could not cook before their bratamanna (a Hindu ritual for boys). It was a common practice in the Brahamin  families. All children were required to sit below the chauki (a raised seating area) while dining. If Chettri or Jaisi (castes lower than Brahmin) visited, they were kept closer to the chauki but they also sat below it.  Other castes lower than that were not allowed to enter the kitchen house. That’s how society was then. I started cooking after I got married and moved to my husband’s house in Lamitar [Samtse district, Bhutan]. At my in-laws, I cooked in a big pot. When I was young, I could not pick it up. Someone had to help me with it. Other than that, I also used to take cows for grazing. When I was young, I played with some friends in the neighborhood. Neither can I recall their names, nor the games we played. We must have played something. I do remember making butterflies out of jhumras (old tattered clothes). We wrapped the jhumras around multiple times to make a shape. We used daal (legumes) for eyes, similar to the dolls these days. However, you could not find dolls for sale in the market during those times. Playing on linge-ping (a tall swing made out of bamboo) was another favorite activity for me. We usually had one year-around in the neighborhood. Of course, the time for games was only when there were no pending household chores. I recall carrying food to the fields for the family members who were working. I also worked in the fields with them when I was not cooking. That’s how my days passed for over 60 years.”

__
Ganga Devi Dulal, 87, is originally from Samchi, Bhutan and based in Springfield, Massachusetts at the time when this story was compiled.Story and Photo compilation by Biraj Adhikari for BNS.

______________________________

Previous article
Next article

Born as a Bhutanese-Nepali refugee in south east Nepal, Mr. Adhikari is a vibrant young American who rejoices in learning, teaching, and working with new technologies while serving the community through various non-profits and community empowerment projects. He currently resides in Springfield, MA.

After graduating from high school at the age of 15, Mr. Adhikari continued actively volunteering at local community organizations such as the Bhutanese Society of Western MA (BSWM), United Games and Sports Association (UGASA), and Hindu Sanatan Sewa Samaj (HSSS). In August 2017, he was appointed as the Program Coordinator for BSWM.

While volunteering as the program coordinator, Mr. Adhikari streamlined the organization with the introduction of various new technologies to aid in project management and regular organizational operations. He oversaw the planning and execution of three successful annual cultural events. These events were attended and lauded by local senators, representatives, and mayors thus helping bridge the gap between the community and local government. Mr. Adhikari also coordinated children and adult health awareness workshops, drug and alcohol awareness workshops amongst various professional skill training. He also rejuvenated the organizational website and accelerated the presence of BSWM in social media platforms.

The efforts of Mr. Adhikari and his BSWM teammates, to empower the community, reached a commendable height as the organization was awarded the Community Hero Award 2019 by the Asian American Commission of Massachusetts.

He continues today as the program coordinator while also serving as the project coordinator for the organization led oral history project – The Untold Stories of Bhutanese Americans in Western MA.

In his day job, Mr. Adhikari is a full-stack software developer. He works on cloud based educational software utilizing micro-services architecture. He works with a wide stack of technologies which include multiple programming languages like Python, JavaScript, and frameworks like Flask, Django and React.

Mr. Adhikari holds his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Western New England University in Springfield, MA.

He loves exploring ethnic cuisines from around the world. He is a big soccer enthusiast and supports the Football Club of Barcelona. To keep his mind and body active, Mr. Adhikari is fond of playing tennis, hiking, and indoor rock climbing. Mr. Adhikari joins Bhutan News Service with the goal of serving the greater Bhutanese Diaspora and helping preserve the identity and history of his community.