As the winter has started setting in with higher reaches receiving snowfall, shepherds of Bharmour area of Chamba district and Bara Bhangal and Chhota Bhangal areas of Kangra district are on their way to the plains of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana for green pasture.
They move to plains along with their herd of sheep and goats for pasture with the advent of winter every year. They worship Lord Shiva and call him as their protector.
Gaddis have houses and fertile land in villages which they cultivate in Gadderan area of Chamba district. However, they have also purchased land and houses in urban areas of Chamba and Kangra districts.
Historically, Gaddi is a transhumance tribe. Their inhospitable habitat has made them evolve as a unique culture, though not really refined in the modern sense.
In general, the outside world finds them honest, straight and god-fearing.
With simple habits, the Gaddis for centuries led an unsophisticated, happy and contended life, but all this is changing now.
Gaddis have started adapting to new ways of life.
One of the Gaddis named Paras Ram, who was in the town on Friday along with his herd of sheep and goats, was happy with the present weather conditions in the area.
He told HT that more than 25 Gaddis had started from their respective places to move to plains via Hamirpur.
Paras Ram said he was happy with life he and his family were living at present.
He said about 3,000 persons go to plains along with their flocks as during the winter their areas faces acute shortage of pasture.
He claimed that the Gaddis had grazing rights in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as per the settlements done during the British rule.
“No one stops us from grazing the flock in their fields. At many places, people themselves offer us their fields and also provide food as a goodwill gesture,” he added.
“There is a general belief among people that with the arrival of Gaddis and their cattle in their fields, their production will increase and they will not face any threat from evil forces,” he added.
He said, “The number of their herd increases every year and this is due to the better pasture they provide to their herd in plain areas.”
Another shepherd Ram Singh said he was happy with the state government that was doing a lot for changing their standard of life.
“The present government has already formed a number of schemes for their community,” he added.
He thanked chief minister Virbhadra Singh for making a Gaddi as forest minister of the state and expressed optimism that the minister would be able to understand the needs and plight of his own community.