National

Tribal Diary: Sushma Asur And My Mother

Meeting an Adivasi woman reminds me of my mother and their common love for Mother Nature

Tribal Diary: Sushma Asur And My Mother
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Visiting the Asur

Recently ,I got the opportunity to visit a hill station in Jharkhand known as Netarhat with my cousin who was there to know more about a tribe called the Asur. The very first thing that came to my mind was, “Are they really Asurs?”  People always told me that Asurs are like monsters that kill people. I had lots of questions and very negative thoughts too.

When we visited their village to know more about them and their culture, I came to realise that they were actually very good people and very down to earth as well. They worship Ravan as a knowledgeable person. All the doubts that I had slowly got cleared.

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Sushma Asur

We then met Sushma Asur (a poet belonging to the Asur tribe) and meeting her is now one of the biggest highlights of my life. She told us her story and her tribe’s story. They worship the Nature God. They use home remedies to solve many of their problems.

Local ways

One thing that stuck to me was when she said that during summer, they kept the leftover rice in water and they would later have it with pickles or saag or onion to make the body cool.

I related to this as my mother used to do the same thing. She used to say that it will protect us from heat waves. Every weekday, we would have our meal in a leaf plate (shakhua bat). Actually, my mother was adopted by a Sarna family (later converted to Christianity) at the age of 13. My grandparents passed away due to some disease.

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Neha Sinha

Mummy was very attached to her mother, nature and usually used home remedies as medicines. Once I hurt my leg and my mother made a paste of some leaf and it instantly healed the wound. There are many things that Sushma said which reminded me of my mother.

I do have some characteristics of mummy’s. Like, I too used to have leftover rice with pickles and sometimes have a meal on a leaf plate. Thanks to Sushma for clearing the concept of the people of Asur tribe and for reminding me of my mother so much.

Loving Nature

Mummy used to tell me stories of birds, animals, trees and jungles, and the morals of the stories were ‘Believe in yourself’ and ‘Worship Nature.’ She used to say one more thing, ‘If you love nature, it will love you back’. I did not understand but I feel relaxed in nature. She was a very hardworking woman. Despite suffering from cancer (last stage), she used to wash her own clothes and always wanted to stay clean,  fresh and working. Where we stayed, she used to plant green vegetables,  pulses and she used to take care of them. During summer, she gave us neem ke patto ka pani (water with neem leaves) for bath jiske kaaran ghamori nahi ho (to avoid prickly heat), aur neem ke patte bhi khila dete thi (she would make us eat neem leaves) for protection from illness.

(This appeared in the print edition as "Tribal Diary")

Neha Sinha is a social worker, housewife and budding artist

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