Village Life in India

After more than 2 months in India of meetings and research preparation in Delhi, Lucknow, Nainital and Chandigarh, it was time to begin field research in mid-March. In the research area I spent the first week with the block level sanitation official visiting villages and the following three weeks living in three villages to learn about lives of villagers and the sanitation projects that had occurred.

Below I’ve included photographs of a few of the people I’ve met and the places I’ve visited over recent weeks!

During the first week, I visited more than a dozen villages with block officials. Some of the visits included a welcome ceremony with garlands and turban.

Young girl in village school.

Holi Festival in a village. Holi, which marks the change of seasons, is the festival of colors. Children, men, women, elders and animals get covered while playing with colors. Not only that, but women are allowed to beat their male family members with sticks!

Harpreet, my friend who assisted during the research, and some farmers taking a rest before sunset.

Children in the village.

Laborers who work in the agricultural fields, during their lunch break. This day the group had been picking peas.

Ox cart, a common form of village transport.

Government primary school.

Laborer in the field where he sleeps at night to guard the crops from animals.

Rations delivery. Each marginalized village family receives 35 kilograms (77 lbs) of grain per month.

Family of Surender (in blue shirt). Surender is an English teacher in a nearby school. He has 6 brothers. With a Master’s degree in English, Surender is the most educated man in the village despite coming from a very poor family. Much of his family is illiterate.

Surender’s brothers and niece outside of their home.

Surender’s mother installing a fresh coat of cow dung on the tandoori oven.

Farmer on the way from field to home, with a bottle of hand made sugercane liquor. It was very strong!

Camel caravan taking husk for livestock fodder to villages in the neighboring state.

Boys playing cricket in the afternoon.

Focus group discussion on sanitation and health topics with village woman’s group.

Elderly men are commonly found in villages of India playing cards and smoking Hookah in a central gathering place in the village.

Community gathering place.

Women transferring fresh dung from their home to outside the village. They mix the dung with some hay and form it into dung cakes, which are then dried in the sun for several weeks or months.

Dung cakes in process of drying.

Garbage dumping area along with fuel (dung cake) mounds. After preparing the cakes and allowing them to dry in the sun, they are stacked and the outer wall is plastered to protect the highly valued cakes from weathering until needed. The cakes may be stored up to several years before they are used. Though the free fuel provided by the cows and buffaloes incentives people to clean up after their livestock, the fuel releases a lot of smoke when burned causing respiratory problems especially for women later in life. Life span of women in villages is less than that of men due to the hard work they must do throughout their lives.

Blacksmith sharpening blades used for cutting crops in the fields.

Women on the way to work in the fields in the morning.

Participating in traditional village activity which many elderly men enjoy throughout each day.

Woman in doorway of her home. Her family has no toilet.