Posted at 10.09.2018
Chhath is most significant festival in this area and it is celebrated with great zeal and fervor. This event is a tribute to the 'Sunlight God' and his two wives 'Usha' and 'Nisha' and is also celebrated 6 days and nights after Diwali. Celebrated over 3 times it involves tight regulations and offering 'arghaya' to sunlight god located in knee deep drinking water which requires lake or fish tank or a river. Our project on collective action involes the development of water tank and ghats inside our fieldwork town (Muhammadpur Kowari) and troubles faced, actors engaged, leadership assignments and style, collective action ideas and the results of this collective work.
For the fieldwork portion we were assigned Muhammadpur Koari town in Samastipur area of Bihar. This town is 25 kms from Samastipur and 35kms away from Muzaffarpur the two important towns in Bihar. Muhammadpur Koari was the gram panchayat consisting of present community and Digambara. Panchayat status was granted in the past in 1995 This village was large sized consisting of 24 tolas and we were staying at Narvada tola on the southern spot of village after that Shahpur Bagauni panchayat started.
Population size: The population of total village (Muh. Koari) was around 11, 500 and Narvada tola got 160 homes with the population of 1200. The village derived its name from 'Koeri' caste of the hindus and the muslim society which constituted almost all while there have been other castes but small in amounts compared to them.
The village inhabitants comprised of two religions- Muslims and the Hindus. Muslims constituted 58% of the full total inhabitants while Hindus created 48% of computer. The muslim community was further divided into Sheikh, Syed, Julaha, Dhuinya and Kujara. Out of the sheikhs and syeds were considered higher in monetary position and caste basis whereas, julaha, dhuniya and kujara were lower caste and were very poor. Around the otherhand, if we speak of Hindus there were no higher castes like Brahmins, rajputs and bhumihars but there were backward and plan castes as kushwahas ( also known as 'koeri'), lohar, thakurs(barbers), pasi and chamars. But, if we speak of Narvada tola where collective action for Chhath puja occurred it acquired muslims (about 62%) and kushwahas, lohars and pasis only.
If we go by demographic amounts, muslims are dominating in Muhammadpur Kowari village and when we talk of prominent caste one of the hindus, Kushwahas were more in number compared to other castes.
The Kushwahas are also known as 'Koeri' because their main job was of growing vegetables. Also, they are the landowners and have large land holdings when compared with the other castes in the Hindu community who held very little land. Only higher caste muslims experienced lands more than or add up to Kushwahas. Vegetable growing was common job for landholders in your community. The lower caste/category muslims were involved with labour works, both agricultural and non-agricultural and used to work in Samastipur or migrated to metropolitan places and returned once a year. Some were landowners and worked in their areas cultivating fruit and vegetables and tobacco. Users of the paswan community were also involved with mundane tasks such as labor and plantation personnel. Their income options ranged from shop keeping, to federal service mainly as professors or chowkidaars to rickshaw tugging or employed in eateries. Top of the school Muslims were mainly indulged in trade related to agricultural produce like cigarette and fruits in Kolkata, Nashik etc. Migration was a common observable occurrence that may be found across both religions and castes. A lot more than 70 % of the homeowners possessed atleast one member working outside in other talk about or city.
Very obviously and with no exception the energy structure was based on the lines of castes and income/affluence levels. The two areas Hindu and Muslim respectively did not compete with one another for ability but it was a homogeneous group based on income levels that was more prominent. Also, the tussle for electricity was found in same caste or faith as more the income and landholding, the higher the value was commanded. It may also be attributed to caste hierarchy as Kushwahas were rated above lohars and paswans on caste lines. Therefore, the two main groups that can be said to be higher in the power level and caste hierarchy level were the rich muslims and the kushwahas among Hindus.
Within the same caste the decisions were used by the respected leaders of an caste (i. e. who acquired higher income and land holding). For e. g. Ramprasad Mahto was seemed for among the list of Kushwahas and Md. Samsujjuma (alias Mukhiyaji) on the list of muslims. Apart from that respective tolas had active do it yourself proclaimed leaders who were found lively as it were the time of elections however they did not experienced a strong say in community decisions.
Moreover, it was enough time the Babri Mosque verdict emerged and it appeared the communal anxiety would sweep away and RAF's/police patrolling got increased but astonishingly there were no unpleasant reports and one can find villagers having chit-chat over the glass of tea at community chowkri debating the arriving elections or political news without a slightest indication of 'controversy'. The community distributed a good bonding and many decisions that were used included the people of the community. In the festivities of chhath the whole Hindu community emerged together regardless of caste difference organized, contributed and executed the festivities with great zeal. In the same way in any other pursuits regarding have a wider impact on the village or related to religious issues the view of every group was considered before arriving to any decision.
The name of influential stars in this collective action in the village are stated below which possessed a value and a say in every the decisions that were concerning the community.
1). Mukhiyaji: His original name is Mohammad Samsuljjuma but he's popular with this name and had been the mukhiya since 1999 after the death of prior headman. Now this couch was reserved for women applicant so he made his better half Amiri Khatun to contest the elections and finally she won. However, she may be called proxy as all decisions are used by her man, Mukhiyaji. He is a very dominant figure in town and directions huge admiration and power. Also, the villagers found the responsibilities performed by mukhiya very satisfactory. He was useful when it arrived to management of money or execution of plans, Any scheme that could have been launched he was quick to react to it.
Power resources: Mukhiyaji belonged to Muslim community and experienced huge support and vote bank or investment company behind him. He was such a influential person that people would caste votes to get together he said for. Not only that he previously good rapport with other community market leaders as well and appeared by other community groupings with great respect. He was similarly well-liked by all and managed a natural image in terms of caste/ religious dynamics. Very just lately he was forged in a law suit (allegedly fake) by his rival who reinforced another political get together but due to support behind him he arrived victorius. It had been his first steps that many NGOs worked effectively here and confirmed keen interest in innovations as SHGs and health drives etc. In the collective action of 'Chhath' puja he was actively involved in agreements.
Leadership style: Mukhiyaji was a charismatic leader and also relished rational legal authority on the villagers. He was 12th go but sounded very competent and spoke words of intelligence. He presumed in walking along and was good at administration and management skills. He was laconic and incredibly practical approach to everything he did.
2). Zainul Ansari (Professor): He was the key opposition of Mukhiyaji in Panchayat elections and he was well educated and functioned as lecturer in urdu language at Karpurigram college. He resided in Jungalia tola and relished support of folks out of this tola and dhobi tola. He was not so popular because people could not identify themselves with him and said he had superiority complex. When Mukhiyaji put an idea to load the pond in jungalia tola with waterpump he compared and insisted to change to other lake citing known reasons for conjestion and pollution of fish pond after puja. However the other pond would far away and inconvenient to folks of other tola.
Power Options: He had support of Jungalia tola and dhobi tola people. People of hindu community did not liked him much because of his hard liner ways and may not identify the pulse of people. However, he was reputed for his education and job he organised and frequently used to aid and guide students in getting admissions to college or university. People said his altruistic ways were to woo people for elections this Apr.
Leadership style: He was seemed by people by virtue of his education and affluence level.
3). Nagendra Mahto/ Jhamanji: He was the main actor and anchor for this collective action. Jhamanji worked well for AKRSP (I) for recent 2 years and was in his 30s. An extremely witty person he will make friends easily with people. He was liked by all and shared good rapport; also he had exceptional potential to mobilize people be it for the Home Help Savings Group or the Chhath puja collective action. He was a good director to take care of people and get work done in minimum amount time and source of information available. He was considered to be the right hands of Mukhiyaji and used to do his small works.
Power Sources: His way to obtain electric power was his goodwill and rapport among the list of villagers. His image was very clean and his wit and talks were rich in humour and these characteristics made him popular. He used to advice men and women on government schemes and lending options and bank or investment company accounts issues.
Leadership style: His management was mainly a managerial one and he mobilized people and resources that culminated in successful event. He made sure no single family would be kept for sake of money and you can donate to his will and strength as he believed joy of celebration is within being collectively. However he cannot convince one group because they desired reservoir to be build local their house but actually that they had problems with Ramprasad.
4). Ramprasad Mahto: A guy in his sixties was wealthiest among the kushwahas and was appeared by this community on important issues and interests. He was not well-liked by other castes because of his ways such as charging high hobbies on money lended and exploited agricultural staff by underpaying or overworking. He used all his methods to be benefitted by federal schemes and experienced BPL cards despite having 40 bighas of land and his sons acquired good business and federal government job (teacher).
Source of Electricity: He previously support of Kushwaha and lohar castes and used to symbolize them in village/panchayat meetings. He was very crafty in talks and dealings and got worked and only his community despite of his mean ways.
Leadership Style: he appreciated the traditional control because he was the eldest and wealthiest person on the list of Kushwahas. Also, due to auspicious Chhath puja he agreed to offered 2 kathhas of his land in Narvada tola to help make the water fish tank when decision on jungalia tola fish pond cannot be appeared and other ponds had dried up due to 2 years of poor rains.
5). Ansarul Islam: He was in his fifties with good personality and used to run fresh fruit business in Kolkata and stopped at once or twice yearly. He was very relaxed and important person on the list of muslim community and commanded plenty of value. He was rich man and often helped poors by lending money without any pursuits and also helped one julaha to get his little princess married. He was religious kind of person and known for his good nature.
Source of Vitality: He was highly revered for his altruistic ways and looked after on important occasions and advice. If he were in the community no appointment would begin until he appeared and he was the handful of important men to be invited first on personal/family situations.
Leadership Style: He was a charismatic leader who was evenly popular among hindus and muslims. However he remained out almost all of times of yr but his value and recognition was highly regarded. He previously given his pump place to fill up the recently built container and thought to request diesel also he donated Rs. 100 for puja contribution.
6). Pappuji: His occupation was operating generator service to provide electricity for 3 hours in night time and recharged Rs. 50 per home monthly. Actally he used to do a lot of things like pandal adornment, band-baja for relationships but for per year he resolved for current job. He was no nonsense man and intended business straightway. One may say he was the Jack of town as he may organise anything for you need at a short notice.
Source of Vitality: He commanded ability in the sense that great deal of folks were immediately or indirectly dependent on him. He previously information that created dependency like whom to get hold of for litres of milk or adornment at cheap price or doctor or Kisan bank cards etc etc.
Leadership Style: He had not been a leader in essence nor do he mobilized people but he was good source of information and managerial skills when it arrived to managing events. In this case of collective action he previously two generator sets one of which he rented in Digambara for Chhath puja (as there were limited generators and demand was high during festivals) because it would pay him more than he would arrive here. However, for the villagers he offered his generator sets fully operational for two times without charging fees but agreed to request diesel and other gen establish from Tajpur on negotiable prices. Very evidently he wanted to earn money of this occasion but did not wished to displease villagers.
According to the ritual the worshiper has to worship the sun when it goes up and also when it pieces. This worship is done while standing up knee deep in water the ritual is named 'arghaya'. The worship is performed in some lake or river as it includes offering 'arghaya' to the sun god. The situation that the city was facing was that village pond had dry out and there was no drinking water body near by, nearest being four kilometers away. The fish pond in jungalia tola was dissuaded to work with for Chhath owing to protests leaded by Professsor who was arch competitor of Mukhiyaji. Though there is a stream near by but it acquired dry out and polluted by defaecation.
Another concern was the turmoil between Ramprasad Mahto with the some Paswan homes so they made a decision to keep themselves out of the collective action and instead required trouble going 4 km away. It was attempted best by Jhamanji to require them however in vain and this was the only case where individuals were not part of this action.
So, there is a question of what was the way out because of this problem. The villagers got the answer of this question as collective action. For this function, a group of five participants was formed to look after the collective work of creating the tank and ensure the even going of puja. This group include Jhamanji, Ramprasad Mahto, Pappuji, Shivkumar Mahto and Mukhiyaji. Ramprasad Mahto allowed construction of fish tank on his land, Jhamanji mobilized the villagers and made sure no one remaining because of money, Pappuji provided generator place and assemble for design of ghats, Ansarul Islam added with pump establish whereas Mukhiyaji promised smooth performing and set up for cash when it attained lack at the previous moment.
This work was done mostly by Jhamanji to convince each and evey homes about the problems arising and issues encountered. A week before the puja, a gathering happened at Ramprasad's house where in fact the conflict pertaining to Jungalia tola fish-pond was reviewed and other choices like stream which was dried out and polluted scheduled to open up defaecation and other pond that was 4 km from Narvada tola. Later, it was Ramprasad who volunteered to provide 2 kattha lands as it was sowing time for tobacco and cauliflower & most farmers acquired opted out to this option. There were few households who did had issues with Ramprasad so they put away themselves with this event and it was the only case. Rest Jhamanji made certain by going to everyone and add in any form putting no upper or lower roof.
The next question comes up why people participated in this collective action with great zeal and fervor and were there any bonuses. Well, it can be recognized from the given perspectives:
1). Need for festival- In such a part of the country this is the main festival and folks tend to forget their differences upon this auspicious occasion. Such is the atmosphere that folks think to earn 'punya' (blessings) by assisting others.
2). Preventing the difficulties to make arrangement individually, as good arrangement within reach stimulate them.
3). People think the inconvenience is everybody's problem and think it as duty to contribute. This is mirrored by voluntary labour provided by those who cannot contribute by money.
4). Muslims also contributed by providing money and resources as a gesture of brotherhood as similar act have been reciprocated in recent on eve of Eid/Bakrid.
5). Incentives for market leaders was that of an mixed bag as discussed above about market leaders. While some acquired the profit motive other got the altruistic motive or selfless feeling to contribute and address the situation.
The lack of money was faced at last second because Ainul Ansari and Laxman Thakur experienced promised of contribution and arrangements for beautification and gen collection but didn't meet deadline. The community had tried a collective action in the last season to counter this issue and this calendar year also they designed for the same and it would have not been successful without involving community. The duty undertaken was big and required huge responsibility and posting time, labour and cost of event coupled with scale of procedures.
Apart from meeting the aim of successful hosting of event it induced the self-confidence among villagers to handle any issue by pooling collective effort and resources and in future they can handle any issues given that they did it before. Also, it strengthens the bondage and brotherhood and doubles happiness by learning to share. Last however, not the least it helped to reach at win-win solution to both course and caste as specific effort was high in cost and time constraint.
This event was celebrated as the collective festivity where all Hindu castes regardless of status and affluence participated and contributed by means of labour or money or tool sharing. Interestingly Muslims also participated but weren't involved directly but through equipment showing and monetary contributions as part of goodwill gesture. Except few people in narvada tola all participated to enjoy together.
1). Dispute over common property and its use: The fish-pond in jungalia tola belonged to the complete village however the protest from folks of that tola leaded by 'Professor saa'b' created a heck from it and free they were prepared to allow Puja. Mukhiyaji and laxman mahto tried each and every way to placte and arrive at win -succeed outcome however the personal rivalry of two market leaders (mukhiyaji and teacher) came in between. Two years ago the two poles acquired severe issues in NREGA works execution for the reason that area.
2). Turmoil and negotiations: Keeping because the controversy the market leaders of Hindu community wanted to clean up the complete area after the festival was over but it did not proved to be successful. Going one step further they wanted to pay hire for the lake which would go the the community finance used for development works in that tola but the opposition put severe conditions that appeared impractical. Only end result of the was either to visit the lake that was few kilometers away or even to build a fish tank in village by collective action. Later, it was decided to go for second solution for which Ramprasad volunteered two katthas of land and labour would be provided by community.
3). Norm focused collective action: Few norms were placed for dos and don'ts of the collective action. It was also institutionalized and normal in nature as during the festival tight rituals are to be followed so every care and attention was taken to keep up with the norms of rituals.
4). Symbolization: Chhath celebration was more than the celebration; it symbolizes many years of customs and traditions and a standard thread that linked the community regardless of caste or category. Earlier attempts have been made for community toilets and general population handpumps as collective action but it ended up being inability. It invoked a feeling of collectivity among villagers who often quarrel for petty things, it not only guided their plan of action but provided collective personality.
5). Command style: The strong trust of villagers on Mukhiyaji and allegiance he commanded was unparallel than another village or community leader. He shared a clean image and villagers sensed the funds wouldn't normally be misutilized. The initial steps taken by him for fish tank construction was supported by Jhamanji and Ramprasad. Jhamanji experienced good communication skills and was well-liked by locals, often he used to mobilize people for personal savings group as part of improve AKRSP. Ramprasad Mahto was tacitly the original head of Hindu community and he previously to set an example unlike his trustworthiness of stingy fellow. Ansarul Islam leaved here for very short period and aiding monetarily earned good name and it was his belief to donate a part of earning according to Koran. Pappuji acquired to run the business enterprise and he cannot manage to displease his customers and yes it as a opportunity for him to earn goodwill and he'd not miss that. Likewise Shivkumar was the LIC agent and surely his engagement in this collective action would earn much more networks and level of popularity.
Thus, we can easily see the collective action was a blended tote of altruism and personal benefits and would help the leaders involved in long haul and community also to meet any obstacle through collective action.
Impact of collective action: Almost all the families got part in this auspicious occasion and was a great success. You can feel the enthusiasm and zeal and it tacitly informed the storyplot of ownership of event rather than heading and participating in charity tossed by others. Additionally, the management umbrella of Mukhiyaji who shared a clean reputation and strong trust backed by productive engagement of other market leaders made this collective action a success. Also, it instigated a sense of collectivism to handle any concern by becoming a member of hands along and minimizing cost and time required.
They took pleasure that they contributed atlanta divorce attorneys way they can through labour and money and it seemed a huge family. It was during this occasion we found the difference of caste and school omitted, at least for some time. The religious faith was the glue that instigated collectivity we found as before other collective efforts on medical issues got miserably failed. Also, the average person bearing of costs would have been heavy thus cost showing was a wonderful motivation besides convenience. Moreover, other celebrities also benefitted from this action as aforesaid.