Himalayan Culture and Mountaineering Museum
Village Chowki, Parbat Valley, Himachal Pradesh
In every village there is a presiding deity recognized by people of all faiths . Every year festivals are held in the honour of the village Gods, which is not only attended by the people of nearby villages , but the Gods of other villages participate in it . The experience is exquisite and the people rejoice by singing and dancing in honour of the presiding deity. Devotees trek hundreds of kilometers crossing the ravines , rivers and snow peaks to pay obeisance to their tutelary deity.
These festivals act like an elixir to the people of this region who have to struggle under difficult environmental conditions to make ends meet .
The state is rich in both tangible and intangible cultural heritage which needs to be documented, preserved and disseminated. There are efforts on the part of governmental and non-governmental organizations to revive the age old traditions but concerted efforts at the grass root level are required .
The heritage is immense and this journey to restore pride in it will require first steps which could be undertaken if the enthusiasm is generated among the villagers . This movement will then catch the awareness of others and snowball into long term efforts at all levels in recreating and preserving traditions which may otherwise die.
In the Parvati valley of Himachal Pradesh , the initiative taken up by an individual in safeguarding the cultural heritage is praiseworthy .The Himalayan Culture & Mountaineering Museum is a noteworthy example that it is not the creation of Govt. machinery but the efforts of the villagers at the grass root level which has made a marked difference. With the aim of setting up of a Museum, the Negi brothers of Chowki village converted their ancestral house into a Museum and involved all the villagers to contribute whatever they could lay their hands on in order to build up the village history .This awareness has infused a new life into this small hamlet which has become a nodal village in the Parvati valley.
Descripition of the Museum
Main contribution for making this house was of women folk . Wood and other building material was brought from the Dadai village which is nine kilometers from Jari and eleven kilometers from Chowki .
Although there has been lot of innovation in the traditionals architecture of this region ,there are still a number of old buildings in the village used by the locals .
Archeological findings in the village
Mythology about the village
It is said that Divine Mask(Mohra) has come from the Bijli Mahadev. It is said that one of the family members of Binu Ghati went to (Bijli Mahadev )Ghat village to bring pulses and on his return he found the Mohra (Mask ) in pulses. The God stayed some with the Negi family and then found a place in the present temple. The Bot family have different lifestyle. The Kotu Devi was worshipped before Shivji and then the Bot -Botni did not properly worshiped Shiva. One day Shiva become angry and kicked the Kotu Devi . She was petrified and can still be seen near the confluence of Malana and Parvati river. To see the Kotu Devi and Bot -Botani , every year in the month of Chaitra , the villagers and the God Shiva go to see them. The place of Bot -Botani is near the confluence of Malana and Parvati river. They are in the spirit form and confined within a certain area. Shivji is carried on a palanquin to this place and when it reaches near the place of Bot-Botani the spirit tries to attack Shiva but Shiva immediately takes a reverse turn . Bot-Botani are not able to cross their boundary and therefore can not harm the Shiva. This event is repeated every year and signifies the victory of good over evil.
Activities of the Museum
Efforts need to be taken both at micro and macro level to create harmony between man and nature. By educating the masses at panchayat level this can be achieved with positive results .There are traditions which are eco-friendly and teaches man living in close proximity with nature to be in proper harmony with it. These traditions need to be highlighted so that the global concerns could be taken up at the micro level religiously.
There is need to promote museum culture in order to collect, preserve and disseminate the age-old cultural heritage. These cultural institutions will not only help in understanding the cultural values of the new generation but also attract tourists.
What is needed is to organize camps for village Panchayats and educate them about the importance of preserving the cultural heritage and leave the rest to them . If they show interest, enthusiasm and initiative, they should be provided with funds to translate this into reality and sustain it for the generations to come .