Secrets of Longevity in Mandi Community-Strong Social Connections-1.2
Posted on 29-07-2023 01:06 PM

Secrets of Longevity in Mandi Community-Strong Social Connections 1.2

How happy are we today?

Were we happier in the past?

How satisfied with our lives are we?

Difficult questions to answer, but are questions that undoubtedly matter for each of us. Indeed, today, life satisfaction and happiness are central to all discussions at home, at office, in friend circles and at every opportunity to talk.

Our ancestors faced this dilemma too and designed the simple social practices that fostered social connections, sense of relationships and community ties.

Social connections were central to their life.

Relationships: Our ancestors valued relationships to the core. They lived in close-knit societies often beyond family networks/community bonds, hard wired biologically, physically, spiritually and cognitively to family, friends, and community. Joint family (Kunba-in mandiali) was paramount in all social connections in our culture. No excuse was acceptable in failing to be part of a family and help each other. Members breaking this family fabric repeatedly were ostracized (nata todna in mandiali) from the community.

While no official guidelines existed, made all efforts that laid the groundwork for building supportive, valued and inclusive relationships. Each member contributed to building meaningful connections in their roles as family, friend, next-door neighbor, colleague, community member and maintain those connections.

Beyond immediate family there used to be strong friendships that offered increased feelings of belonging, purpose, and confidence, amplified levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, and improved self-worth. Close relationships strengthened bonds within the family/community and provided comfort during challenging times.

Relationships served as the network in building a close-knit society, tracking their wellbeing on daily basis, exchanging information, extending help, resolving conflicts, organizing family functions/celebrations and thereby maintain a vibrant community. One of the key element that nurtured relationships in Mandi Community was tradition of extending personal invitations (Sada-Nyundra in mandiali) by visiting individuals/families more often, provided many opportunities to interact and know the wellbeing as well as strengthen the bonds.

Open spaces to gather: Had designed safe open spaces for members of all ages and gender identities to gather; maintain the quality of those spaces equitably; and activating those spaces to encourage healthy social interaction. For example, the chowki style houses used to have open large spaces (verandas-Oote/Paure in mandiali, Airy gazebo-Tari in mandiali, peeping windows-Chabaru in mandiali, sit out area (Dhalan in mandiali), courtyard-Aangan in mandiali, foyer area in main door entry-Prorh in mandiali). Also, there were spaces to mingle in public places such as chowks, chorahs, pedastals around trees (Peepada ra thada in mandiali), stone benches along big outer walls (Safeel in mandiali), raised wooden platform outside a shop (Pattarh in mandiali) and curated areas around water bodies-(Sunken garden, Sar/Bavari in mandiali) etc.

Community activities: All ceremonies/functions/festivals were often communal activities, fostering a sense of shared identity, customs, language, and beliefs. Religion/spiritual practices served as proxy to sustain and make these activities meaningful among the community such as worship services (Teej/Tyohar in mandiali), fairs/festivals (Jatra in mandiali), matrimonial services (Biyah/Karaj in mandiali), and community feasts (Bhat in mandiali) etc. All these activities were never complete unless served with food-the famous Mandi Dham (Bhat in mandiali).

Our ancestors heavily relied on strong social bonds to survive, thrive, and progress. Their connections facilitated the exchange of goods, ideas, and technologies, contributing to cultural diffusion and societal growth. Understanding the significance of these connections in the past can remind us of their importance in building a cohesive and compassionate society in the present and for future.

“If you have ever moved away from your social “home base” then you probably understand the degree to which social connections shape your everyday life and well-being. When it is time to say goodbye to this world, all of us aspire to be able to leave with the satisfaction of having experienced a joyful life of “Heaven-on-Earth”.

Dr. Pawan Vaidya Mandipedia-3/2023

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