Customs & traditions
Customs are behaviours, beliefs, and practices that have evolved over a period of time and are common to particular place or culture. When a custom continues from generation to generation, it becomes a tradition. All cultures of the world have their unique customs and traditions that have evolved over a long period of time, so do Havyaka culture.
Family structure and marriage
The family is an important and the oldest social institution that plays a central role in our lives, and there exists a concept of a joint family. Historically, the traditional, ideal and desired family in Havyaka culture is the joint family system as we consider joint families are strong, stable, close, collectivistic, resilient and enduring. Joint family ideally consists of three or four patrilineal related generations, including grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, children, nieces and nephews, all living under one roof. With joint family we believe and promote social cohesion and interdependence. Usually the oldest male or female member is the head of the family. Our family system supports the old; takes care of singles, widows, and the disabled; assists during crisis; and provides security and a sense of support and togetherness; and also reportedly helps in handling pressure and stress.
In the contemporary Havyaka culture, the family institution continues to play a central role though it is changed from a large joint family system to nuclear families. With urbanization in the name of economic development, we are witnessing a break up of traditional large joint family into more and more nuclear families. Or maybe we are finding fewer disadvantages in nuclear family system over more advantages of traditional large joint family!
Arranged marriages have long been the norm in Havyaka culture, and majority of all havyaka marriages are arranged. Also, there exist practices like matching the horoscope of the couple for checking the compatibility. Marriages are 3-4 days of festive occasions with variety of customs, rituals, ceremonies, and traditions being followed.
A day in the life of Havyaka household begins at pre-dawn or much earlier. One can see few male members of the family along with few workers on field colleting and baling up the grass which the cows will eat for the rest of the day. Few male or female members can be seen feeding, and milking cows, and buffalos. Cleaning of the cattle and the shed is done before the sun has risen.
Some ladies would be busy cleaning and placing Rangoli in pooja room and on the threshold of the home. And, some would be busy in preparing breakfast. Children would be getting ready to school. The entire family would finish eating breakfast at 7.30 - 8.00am.
The activities of the day are seasonal. During monsoon and pre-monsoon it is more of a maintenance work in areca nut garden - planting new plants, checking on crops and taking preventive measures to control any plant diseases, spreading compost, building or repairing of fences to keep away wild animals, and other general farm / field maintenance. For paddy fields monsoon is the sowing time, and it is harvested in winter. During pre-harvest season it is very important to protect crops from thieves and wild animals. So, night patrolling is carried out by a group of people - one or two from each family in the village - on rotation basis.
Winter is also the harvest season for areca nut. We find people working at picking, peeling, and drying areca nuts. When areca nuts are kept for drying, at least one person will sleep in Kana (a place where areca nuts are spread on the ground for drying, and a kind of hut is built).
Sugarcane is harvested in late winter. The family will be occupied in cutting, juicing, sugarcane and making Bella (jaggery / unrefined sugar). We make liquid Bella (jaggery), so this is filled in large cans and kept all-round the year (until next sugarcane season) to use at home. And, the excess are put on sale.
Peeling of dried areca nut usually begins in early summer. Almost all the family members along with other workers are involved in this process. There is also a practice called Muri aalu, wherein all families in a village help each other in peeling process. Grannie sitting on the veranda telling stories from their era and listening to conversations of people sitting round the pile of areca nut and peeling them, children helping the adults with small errands, a person sitting near open fire / hearth boiling raw areca nut is a sight to behold.
With all day errands family stops at noon to take lunch together, and to rest for a while. After which the day's work continues as per the season. It is time to feed and milk the cows and buffalos in the evening. If it is summer or early summer family takes up areca nut peeling job before and after dinner. In rest of the seasons people usually discuss day's happenings, next day plans, read newspaper, or take up any miscellaneous activities before going to bed.
In the middle of all these, if a family or a member of the family has taken up ritualistic profession then he will travel to places, whenever invited, to perform ritualistic activities.
In all season, ladies in the family engage themselves in front yard flower garden, and back yard vegetable garden - watering, planting, cleaning, and finally growing sufficient flowers and vegetables for the entire family. Some are also use free time in making handicrafts. During hectic season they also contribute to agricultural activities like feeding and milking cows, and peeling areca nut.
A simple life, and for many satisfaction of making something with own hands that provides food (rice, fruits, vegetables etc.) for many other families. But the above picture dates back to several decades!
In the present socio-economic culture, havyaka society has witnessed drastic changes in lifestyle. Some lifestyles are changed for good and many are NOT. With increasing urbanization, declining agricultural land, young generation migrating to cities in search of employment, more and more nuclear family structure, dearth of workers, and the problems agricultural sector is facing, we have accepted changes in lifestyle. Machines are replacing humans to a greater extent, paddy (rice) fields are rare to see, cattle sheds are getting empty, but still many are holding to the roots.
As part of our religious customs and traditions, daily pooja rituals are an integral part of our life and performed in every Havyaka household. Sandhyavandana (salutation during the twilight and is ritual of recitation of Gayatri mantra.) is performed by those who are initiated through Munji (Upanayana / sacred thread ceremony) every day usually in the late evening (during twilight). And many perform Sandhyavandana 3 times a day. Each family member offers silent prayers, recitation of mantra, or bhajans (devotional songs) 1-3 times a day as per their convenience.
Every Havyaka family has its own family deity or Kuladevata (clan-deity). However, it is significant to know that, we Havyakas worship all gods and goddesses with same devotion irrespective of our family deity.
Fasting on several occasions like Ekaadashi, Sankashti, Shivaratri, and several other festivals is an integral part of our religious culture. The practice of fasting can range from light restriction to extreme abstention. The aim of observing fast is to purify the body and the soul.
Every male child goes through Munji ( Brahmopadesha / Upanayana / sacred thread ceremony) is itself a religious ritual. The Yajnopavita (Janivara / sacred thread) is worn as a symbol of having gone through this ceremony. The one who wears Yajnopavita should be pure in thought, word, and action. The father is considered as the spiritual teacher who initiates the Vatu (boy) into Gayatri mantra on this day. In ancient days vatu / boy used to make a living in Gurukul (school) by taking Bhiksha (alms). Symbolically, Vatu asks for Bhiksha by saying Bhavati Bhikshamdehi to his mother and other ladies during the ceremony. By going through Munji also makes him the guardian of the Vedas.
All festivals involve many religious customs and traditions and are celebrated with utmost devotion. From time to time Havyaka families perform Homa, Havana, and various other rituals like Satyanarayana pooja, Parayana, etc. to bring purity, peace, health, wealth, and success to the family.
Clothing has progressed and changed from time to time along with changing times. Nevertheless, the traditional attire is dhoti / panji and sari for men and women respectively.