The Oldest Democracy in the world
Isolated from the rest of the world lies a solitary village in Malana Nala, which is a side valley of the Parvati Valley. Known as Malana or the Malana Village, it is located in the Kullu district. Widely known for its strong culture and religious beliefs, with various sentiments embedded in the past, it is a place meant for people who seek spiritual guidance. This place is also apt for all adventure lovers since the route to Malana is famous for trekking.
The temples in Malana – the Jamadagni Temple and the Shrine of Renuka Devi – serve as major attractions of the village. Built closely to each other, they are well known for the worship of various gods and goddesses which are highly respected by the locals, and a lot of care is taken with respect to its preservation. The trekking route to Malana is adorned with lush deodar vegetation along with a slight view of the Malana Dam that energises people from time to time.
In keeping with the traditions of Malana, you are not to touch the belongings of the people here without their permission! The Malanis have their own rule, and breaking them can incur a fine. All trade and transaction is done through a link via the earth or then surrounding air and hence, goods are exchanged either by throwing at the receiver or keeping them on the ground from where it can be picked up.
2. Malana is one of the oldest democracies in the world: The entire village of Malana is administered by a council that consists of 11 members and the decision they take is final. No outsider is allowed to take a decision regarding the matters related to Malana.
3. Kanashi is a special language and no outsider is allowed to speak it: Kanashi is a language that was spoken in ancient times when an old saint called Rishi Jamdagni got Malana free of demons. The villagers, after being free, asked for a wish that they speak the same language. The saint granted their wish and established a language called Kanashi, which is still spoken in the village and no outsider is allowed to use it as a way of communicating with the villagers of Malana.
4. Police intervention is strictly prohibited: All matter in Malana is resolved only with the help of the council. Intervention of the police is strictly not allowed.
5. Conflicts are resolved by poisoning lambs: In Malanavillage, the parties in conflict resolve their conflicts by poisoning lambs. The party that loses its lamb first is said to lose the conflict.
6. One cannot touch the people of Malana: Anyone who visits Malana has to pay special attention to only sticking to the prescribed paths that have been told to him/her and avoid touching the people of the village or their belongings without their permission.
7. Common Two Storey Houses are observed: In the village of Malana, every house is two-storeyed and each storey has a specific name and purpose. The ground floor of the house is used as a cattle shed and also as a place for storing the fodder for the goat and sheep. The first floor is used for storing eatables, wood and for weaving woollen fabric. The top floor of the house is a balcony which is also the living area of the people.
8. Preservation of ecological heritage is a fundamental principle: In Malana, no one is allowed to fix nails to a tree or burn a fire in the forest. Only dry twigs and branches are to be carried away from the forest. Hunting is strictly prohibited, until and unless the council approves it.
9. Divorce is very common in Malana: The marriage of a man and a woman in the village happens without any ritual or priest and is known as ‘Rakhasi Marriage’. In case of a divorce, the man is supposed to provide a separate house, food and other materials to the woman. Polygamy is allowed for men and divorced women and widows can remarry and divorces happen every now and then in the village.
10. The villagers of Malana are considered to be descendants of Greek Soldiers of Alexander’s Army: The people residing in Malana consider themselves to be descendants of Alexander The Great’s army as it is believed by them that some soldiers took refuge in this village after Alexander left the country and later settled there permanently.
A festival called Fagli is celebrated in mid of February. It is the occasion when everybody takes a bath and a group of people wears nothing but cannabis leaves and devil masks. They dance around houses spreading cow dung which is believed to provide insulation from cold. The festival is a procession of Akbar. Another festival, Shaun is celebrated on 15 August.
Other evidence says that Malana was found by the remnants of Alexander The Great’s Army. Today, the Malana Hydro Power Station has brought the valley out of the isolated world. Aryan Sharma, a Delhi-based businessman, adopted Malana in 2004. In January 2008, a fire breakout in Malana destroyed several cultural structures of ancient temples.
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