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Ode to Munda Community

The first sight of

Keen ears and observant looks

You sat in a squat-like position

Conversing in an incomprehensible language

Experiencing mixed emotions

Back then, I trod away

But little did I know

I will fall head over heels

For the most gentle and peace-loving

Munda Community

Your idea of collectivism and belongingness

Moved a soul

Once shaped by mainstream ideas

Here, mutual aid is not a relic of past

It is sustained through Madait-

Saajha Kheti, Ropai and Khapra Charna

Coexistence is the core of your being

Ducks, pigs, goats & chickens throng your surroundings

The leftovers from the pattals

Are never a waste

And are fed to the creatures

Depending upon their fate

With every pre and post harvest

You keep Singbonga at rest

Extraction beyond basic needs

Is contrary to your

Earthbound philosophy

Yet if a section of the community

Is swayed by greed to hoard

It is kept in check

By collective deliberations

In traditional Gram and Tola Sabha

Often extending the prescribed time

In a democratic spirit

Contrary to being ‘productive and planned’

This is how democratically your local institutions perform

You balance your past and present

Following the middle path

By holding tight to your Khuntkatti

(The land is held in common by the

patrilineal descendants who cleared the land)

And simultaneously giving space to

Individual households to cultivate the land

The happening haats (local bazaar)

Invite everyone

A breeding ground for conversations

And innate generosity

Against capitalist vein

As a handful lot

Is added to the buyer’s gain

All these three years

You cradled me with warmth & acceptance

Nurtured my curiosity with patience

Being with you

Was such a wholesome experience

The random visits to this place won’t be the same

As it were till now

I’m taking a little you with me

Forever hereafter


About the author:- Iqra Khan, a development professional with a Master's from Azim Premji University, focuses on strengthening local governance, social security for the economically weak, women's empowerment, and livelihoods. Past roles include promoting entrepreneurship skills with PRADAN, Dhriiti, and I Village.

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