Thursday, 12 May 2016

Village vignettes - Collecting broomsticks from the forest

Brooms are made at home. Women go in a group to the nearby hills when the broomstick (Aristida setacea) weeds are well grown and are neither too tender nor too hardened. They keep their sarees tightly tucked above the knees as otherwise a million thorns from these weeds get into the sarees. The thorns have an arrow shape, and they enter the cloth easily but pulling them out is very difficult!  I was not careful enough the first time I went. After some time each movement would make me feel a million pinspricks, and minutes of walking started feeling like hours! Everyone was very amused at this ineptness. 

The weeds are snipped neatly with a knife, bundled and brought home. They are spread out to dry for a day or two. When still green, thorns removed either by beating them in bunches with a stick, or by dragging them through one of the thorn bushes around. In this season all thorn bushes would have bunches of dry thorns on and under them, and all houses would have broom sticks spread out before them in neat rows. 

 The scrub jungle in thorny and the sun over head burns. 

Of late,  fewer people are going for brooms, and instead buy from those who go. A broom costs upto ten rupees. It is a thick bundle of broomsticks tied with strips of old cloth, or even with strips of plastic covers.

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