People and Lifestyle :
Ladakh Kashmir offers the information about lifestyle and people of ladakh, lifestyle of ladakh people and also provides information about culture of ladakh people.
People and Lifestyle
of the Inhabitants
The people of Ladakh are hardy and tough akin to the rugged mountains which
surround their dwellings yet very soft and plane at heart .With round faces,
short noses, and chinki eyes they resemble more to the people of Tibet and
central Asia than of India.
The original population is believed to have been that of Dards, an
Indo-Aryan race from down the Indus. But over years, a huge influx from
Tibet overwhelmed the culture of the "Dards" and obliterated their
racial characteristics. In eastern and central Ladakh, today's population
seems to be mostly of Tibetan origin. Further west, in and around Kargil ,
there is much in the people's appearance that suggests a mixed origin. The
exception to this generalization is the "Arghon", a community of
Muslims in Leh, the descendants of marriages between local women and
Kashmiri or Central Asian merchants.
Prominence Of Buddhism
Buddhism reached Tibet from India via Ladakh, and there are ancient
Buddhist frock engravings all over the region, even in areas like Drass and
the lower Suru valley which today are inhabited by an exclusively Muslim
population. The approach to a Buddhist Village is invariably marked by
'Mani' walls, which are ling chest-high structures faced with engraved
stones bearing the Mantra "Om Mane Padme Hum" and by 'Chorten',
commemorative cairns, like stone pepper-posts. Many villages are crowned
with a 'Gompa' or monastery, which may be anything from an imposing complex
of temples, prayer halls and monks' dwellings, to a tiny hermitage housing a
single image and home to a solitary Lama.
Other Inhabitants - The Muslims
Islam too came from the west. A peaceful penetration of the 'Shia' sect
spearheaded by missionaries, its success was guaranteed by the early
conversion of the Sub-rulers of Drass, Kargil and the Suru Valley. In these
areas, 'Mani' walls and Chorten are replaced by mosques often-small
unpretentious buildings, or 'Imambaras' imposing structures in the Islamic
style, surmounted by domes of sheet metal that gleam cheerfully in the sun.
Women of Ladakh
area women of
both the communities, Buddhist and Muslim, enjoy a greater freedom than
other parts of the region. They not only work in the house and field, but
also do business and interact freely with men other than their own
relations. In Kargil and its adjoining regions on the other hand, it is only
in the last few years that women are merging from semi-seclusion and taking
jobs other than traditional ones like farming and house-keeping.
& Ideal-time Activities
The natural joie-de-vivre of the Ladakhis is given free rein by the ancient
traditions of the region. Monastic and other religious festivals, many of
which fall in winter, provide the excuse for convivial gatherings. Summer
pastimes all over the region are archery and polo. Among the Buddhists,
these often develop into open-air parties accompanied by dance and song, at
which 'Chang', the local brew made from fermented barley, flows freely.
Ceremonial and public events are accompanied by the characteristic music of
'Surna' and 'Daman' (Oboe and drum), originally introduced into Ladakh from
Muslim Baltistan, but now played only by Buddhist musicians known as "Mons".
Child Birth Celebration
The first year of childbirth is marked by celebrations at different
intervals of time, Beginning with a function held after 15 days, then after
one month, and then again at the end of year. All relatives, neighbors and
friends are invited and served with 'Tsampa', butter and sugar, along with
tea by the family in which the child is born.
There is a mix of music and dance, joy and laughter, in the air whenever a
marriage is held. The first day is spent in feasting at the bride's house,
the second at the groom's place. The bride goes to live in the house of
bridegroom after marriage. Boys are usually married or promised for marriage
at about 16, girls at about 12. To make a proposal a relative of the boy
goes to the house of the girl and gives a ring together with presents of
butter, tea and 'Chang'. If the gifts are accepted then the marriage follows
some months later. The boy offers a necklace and clothes to the girl. The
parents of the girl give the couple clothes, animals and land if they are
rich. These gifts are known as a "Raqtqaq" or dowry.
Inheritance of the Father's Property
When the father of the family dies his place is taken by the eldest
brother. The other brothers must obey the eldest brother. All inheritance of
the family goes to the eldest brother and then to the next brother when he
dies. If the family consists of all girls, then the father will bring the
husband of the eldest daughter into the house and all land stays in the
daughter's name and passes to her first son. Both sets of parents must
accept the proposal of the boy for the girl. Usually the marriage is set by
both sets of parents, who will choose a suitable partner for their child on
the basis of manner, health and ability to earn income and look after a