I had seen that box since my childhood, but never had any curiosity to know what is hidden inside the locked old box. Probably, I did not have any interest in the history of Sikkim during all those years. As a Student of Pune University I got greatly interested in studying the Ancient Indian History which is a hallmark of the Aryan culture and Civilization. My ideas of studying the subject of my choice got smashed after I became Lecturer at Namchi Government College in September 2004. Now I cannot go to other Universities to pursue research on the subject of my choice due to the nature of my job.
Even after knowing the ground reality, I still was having a hallucination to go for the research in the said subject. I was trying everything to avail stipend from some Universities and the State Government of Sikkim, but could not succeed in securing them. Thus, my high dreams of studying Ancient Indian History were landed in the erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom for the study of our own History.
Though, I am a Sikkimese but I never had any opportunity to study the History, Culture and Civilization of the Sangri-La during my student life. In the beginning it was very tough for me to cope up with the terminologies. But, after studying many books and journals the curiosity to know more about my own state kept increasing. Therefore, I began to dream about the old and Independent Sikkim, where my forefathers had done so many things to make it a real one.
The Ration Card for Cloth
It was in October 2006, on the auspicious occasion of Bada Dashain when I went to receive Tika from my elderly relatives at Tareythang (a typical Brahmin Village in East Sikkim) I again saw the old box after a long gap. With the help of my grandmother I thought of opening it. As I was assured, it contained few but important documents related to my Great Grandfather in particular and Independent Sikkim in general. The most amazing among them was a legal notice sent to my Great Grandfather by the then Mandal of Tarethang Village Late Brihaspati Upadhyay in 1945. It seems that there was a report made by one Vidhyapati Kafley of the same village against Late Ravi Lal Pyakurel (My Great Grandfather) who had allegedly cut down a tree of the former. Written in a bucolic Nepali, the document is very important for the study of legal system of Sikkim in the pre-independence period.
The oldest document among them is a tax receipt of 1928, followed by other receipts, letters and some personal documents. All these receipts have the signature of the village Mandals, who were then regarded as the Village Head Man in Sikkim. The system of Mandal was abolished in 1986 by Mr. N.B. Bhandari’s Government. Another important document that was preserved by my Great Grandfather was a Ration Card for Cloth which was issued in 1948 from Gangtok.
Inside the Ration Card of 1948
The Ration Card has its own unique features. In order to get it an individual had to pay 25 Piase. Further, the beneficiary had to show his Dhuri Ticket Number to avail the facility of a subsidized cloth. The card also reveals that 6 Gaj (1 ½) meter cloth was issued to an adult and 3 Gaj (75 Cms.) of cloth was given to a child in a family. In the card, the name of the Shop Keeper from where the recipient had to get his cloth is also given. It is clearly mentioned in Nepali that if somebody losses it the authority would not allow him to get another Card. Further, the beneficiary had to avail the facility of subsidized cloth in every three months. It was issued from the Office of the Textile Commissioner, Gangtok and the Card was non transferable.
Apart from the above documents, there are some other old receipts, letters and personal papers associated with my great grandfather. But, most unfortunately, I was unable to find any document or pamphlets related to the political development of Sikkim. Probably, Tareythang being a secluded place in those days those papers were not received by my great grandfather.
The above post has been published on Rajen Upadhyaya’s blog
About the author:
Rajen Upadhyay from Namchi, Sikkim is an Assistant Professor of History in the Namchi Government College. A passionate reader and sports enthusiast Rajen is working to revive the History of Sikkim. You can read his blog sikkim-historyhunter
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