Traditional Tharu houses on the verge of disappearance
KANCHANPUR: The artistic traditional houses of Tharu people, made of wood and thatch, are on the verge of disappearance.
This situation has arisen as people belonging to this indigenous community are opting for the 'modern' concrete houses.
Shortage of timber, tiles, 'khariya' grass, and alluvial clay found in ponds -- which are used to build a traditional Tharu house -- is another reason for these houses gradually disappearing, said Narendra Prasad Chaudhary, a local.
He said, "With the improvement in their economic status, Tharu people have also started opting for the brick and cement 'modern' houses. They have begun to build modern houses as the cost of building a traditional house is almost equal," he explained.
According to him, people from the community could bring timber from the forest for free and without having to go through all the administrative hassles before. Similarly, they didn't have to pay for the mud and 'khariya' grass used for building the houses.
However, the situation has now changed after the forests were turned into community forests. Now, all the forest-based construction materials have to be purchased. This has shot up the construction cost. Factories manufacturing the traditional mud tiles and other construction items have also closed down.
Moreover, Tharu people living in the vicinity of towns and cities have started building the 'modern' cement and brick houses. Those in the rural areas have also have started emulating their brethren living in towns and are building concrete houses.
In a few places, however, the Tharu community have started home-stay tourism service and have preserved their traditional houses.
Locally available traditional construction materials -- which also include plants such as bareli, charuwa, bariyani, sarbal, kadi -- are used in the construction of such homes. Windows are adorned with various sorts of clay-made images which are known as 'mauka' in Tharu language.
The entrance to a Tharu house is called 'priyani' while the guest room is 'dehari' and the kitchen is called 'bahari'. The bedrooms are known to be constructed scientifically.
Dehari has two doors/exits for smooth air passage, which are also used for an emergency exit during a possible fire or other crisis. Such houses have earthquake resistant features as well, said a local Asharam Chaudhary.
It takes 17-25 days to construct a traditional Tharu home. There also existed a system of exchange of voluntary labour in the process of house construction. However, this practice does not take place anymore due to changing times.
In this context, anyone wishing to build the traditional Tharu home needs to hire workers which makes the construction costlier.