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Transhumance

Transhumance  is a Geographical word. Transhumance is the action or practice of moving live stockk from one grazing ground to another in a seasonable cycle to low lands in winter and high lands in summer. It is a sort of pastoralism or nomadism.. The shepherds have a permanent home in the valley. Generally the herds travel with a certain number of people required to tend and take care of them. The main population stays at the base.

Transhumance or fixed Transhumance has occurred throughout the world especially in Europe and western Asia. It is Significant to pastoralist societies for the diary products of Transhumance flocks – milk, butter, yogurt and cheese

The word. Transhumance from French and Latin words. Trans means across and humus means ground. Transhumance developed on every inhabited continent. A Geographer has categorised five types of Transhumance.

  • Pure pastoral nomadism
  • Semi nomadic pastoralism
  • Semi nomadic pastoralism
  • Semi sedentary pastoralism
  • Seasonal Transhumance

Transhumance was practised in Europe in pre historic time. Iso tope studies of bones of livestock show that animals were sometimes moved seasonally. Hill people develop indigenous knowledge and thereby have survived over generation to thrive in hill and mountain regions. They are conversant with subsistence agriculture, pastoralism, forestry and frozenwater and fast stream management.

Transhumance is very common in Norway which is a mountainous country. The Gudbrandsdal area includes lateral valleys such as Gausdal, Heidal, Vinstre and attadalen. This area comprises lowland parishes 200m above see level and mountain parishes 800 m above sea level. Fertile soil in the main valley. Forests are present around farms. But in the higher mountain, there is treeless plateau.

This is summer farm region. Some communities continue their ancient migration patterns. Pontic Greeks visit the area and monastery Sumela in the summer. Turks from cities in Europe have their summer retreat in yayla grazing land.

In India also there is Transhumance. Jammu and Kashmir has the highest Transhumance population in the world. There are many ethnic tribal communities like Gujiars, Bakkerwals, Gaddis and sippies. Transhumance in Kashmir is mostly vertical. Some families of Jammu samba and katha districts practice lateral and horizontal Transhumance. The Bhotiya tribe of uttrakhand practice transhumance. They spend the winter months at low altitude and summer move the high altitude.

Man is coexistent with Nature. Transhumance is the best example. They are children of nature. Open night sky is their inspiration as well as a way of life. They are natural astronomers. Also they are perfect in astrology. They are expert fortune tellers. They enjoy a serene and pure life which is not possible in urban life.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

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Radhakanta Seth is a former Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published in Kolkata.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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