Sunday, January 08, 2012

In Photos: What's on a woman's plate in rural Chhattisgarh?

In the local markets, there are a lot of vegetables. But at INR 20 and more a Kg, most women I met find it beyond their reach. So, what most of them buy are,  the cheapest ones like tomatoes (Rs 10 a kg) or cauliflower (Rs 5 a piece)
Winter, however,is a season of blessings with leafy vegetables ('bhaji' as they call it there) like chickpea leaves selling at an affordable rate, and is healthy as well.
Lentil leaves are also popular. And every woman is drying a great amount of those leaves, to store them for the hard times: the Summer when water scarcity will be at its worst and fresh vegetables will be but a tall dream.
Also drying in the sun are anything leftover - whether it is bits of  vegetables salvaged from a dried up field, or pieces of meat, left uneaten. It will all be used up in the Summer.
For protein, most women depend on 'Kunthi' a locally grown cereal, belonging to the lentil family. Chickpea or soya beans are cooked, but only once in a while, if they can grow on their own.
On rare occasions, she gets to eat 'Pakodi' - dip fried dumplings. On the new year, this is all that the women in the village that I was in, could afford. Some chopped spinach leaves, dipped in a batter of powdered rice and dip fried.  Though, not much of nutrition there, it made them smile!
When it comes to drink, most women I met take a lot of black tea (tea without milk). To add taste, a bit of crushed ginger is added. I have not seen any woman - young or old, taking milk or curd - both of which seem extremely unaffordable. Result: though they appear to be healthy, most young women are suffering from multiple ailments, ranging from irregular menstruation to dizziness.
With just a plateful of rice and a little bit of curried tomato/leafy veg or occasional daal/lentil soup, the average intake of nutrition for a tribal woman in Bastar is quite low. Thank god that there is at least an option for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 6, to get some nutrition. This food in the picture is a multi-grain cereal that the government gives for free, once a week. 
But what about the nutrition requirement of the majority - women who are neither pregnant, nor nursing, but are working over 15 hours a day, laboring hard at farms and homes?  They offer the best part of the meal cooked to their men, as is the custom. The result: at mid-twenties, they look like old women.


Mamata said...

Great captures...

Stella Paul said...

Thank you so much! Glad you liked them.


Ms. Stella the photos are itself say the story of HEALTH, especially malnutrition..its a simple.. for this region makes IMR & MMR...what will be the community do for them self....go ahead..

संजीव said...

वाह, चंद चित्रों में छत्‍तीसगढ़ को बहुत सुन्‍दर ढ़ग से चित्रित किया है आपने. धन्‍यवाद.

ABHAY said...

bahoot khoob
ye chitr chhattisgarh ki pehchan hai