Charters and leases of the Thokdar’s of Garhwal were seized why !

(Manoj istwal, Writer) 

Dehradun: In 1827, the British Government commenced the construction of Pauri Commissionerate, but the feudal lords in the area did not lay down their arms promptly. As a result, the construction of the Commissionerate took more than a century. Eventually, Pauri Commissionerate was carved out of Almora Commissionerate to form Garhwal Commissionerate in 1940. However, it is unclear whether the delay in construction was due to this transition.

Around 1856, all weapons, wholesale copper plates, charters, and leases were confiscated from the wholesalers of 15 bars of Barhasun on orders from the British Government. This order is known as the black chapter in Garhwal’s history. The wholesalers had no option but to comply. It is believed that there were orders for their arrest, but they went underground.

Bhajan Singh “Singh” writes in his book “Sinhnad” that Sahib Bahadur seized the wholesale leases, copper plates, and charters of all the wholesalers in Pauri when he arrived there. According to Singh, Sahib Bahadur was the Baton Garhwal and Kumaon Commissioner during that time and was on a Garhwal tour. This incident occurred approximately 150 years ago, and Singh published his book in 2000. It is unclear whether this incident happened during Baton’s period, which was from 1848 to 1856. Sir Ramje replaced Baton in 1856 and served as Garhwal Kumaon Commissioner until 1884.

The reason for the confiscation of copper plates, pattas, and sanands from the Barahsyun wholesalers was due to the tradition of making Baddi cry, known as Bedvarta or Vartakhunt in Garhwal. This fair was held in most of the wholesale villages of these 15 strips, including Aswalsyun, Idwalsyun, Kafolsyun, Kandwalsyun, Khatsyun, Gagwadsyun, Nadalsyun, Patwalsyun, Padulsyun, Bangardsyun, Banelsyun, Maniyarsyun, Maniyarsyun West, Rawatsyun, and Sitonsyun. It is difficult to determine which strip the incident occurred in, or whether Sahib Bahadur Baton was present. However, as Garhwal was under Kumaon Commissionerate at the time, Baton is considered the head of the incident.

Around 170 years ago, the Baddi caste in Garhwal organized the Bedavart practice during times of drought or famine. This evil practice involved a person belonging to the Baddi caste who would get ready for the Yagya. The yagyotsav began after the sacrifices were made, with the village headmen, padans, and wholesalers taking an active part. A thick bamboo rope was tied to a tree on a mountain peak near the village, with the other end tied to a tree or peg near the village. Its length was one thousand yards, and it was called Vart.

The Bedavart Badi was bathed, dressed in new clothes, and worshipped with devotion. The Badi sat in a saddle on the rope and had earthen bags of equal weight tied to both legs to avoid imbalance. The Badi was then pushed along with the varta and chanting of mantras, rolling down the mountain towards the village. If the Badi reached the bottom safely, it was worshipped and treated with respect in society. However, if the Badi slipped or fell from the rope, it was put to death.

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