Long fire sticks illuminated the valley, drum beats became louder, and the sight of happy faces became clearer as we entered the corn village. One elderly person came forward and asked us where are we coming from, we told him Delhi. Bahut acche time pe aaye hai “AAJ DIWALI HAI!”, welcome!! Perplexed me, gave him a smile back thinking: Diwali was last month, wasn’t it? He was in celebration mode so I let him be, and I continued to watch the ceremony. They gave us the fire sticks, and the procession moved inside the village echoing the valley with drums beats and the sound of clapping and giggling. No one was inside their house; everyone was rejoicing together lighting fire sticks.
Men, women, and kids; everyone danced on drum beats in a circle. After a few rounds the procession got over, and one person from the crowd, named Santram invited us for tea and snacks, we hesitated but he insisted amicably. Santram told us that the news of Lord Ram returning to Ayodhya reached a month later in this far away valley, so we celebrate it a month later i.e. in the month of December. He showed me his house; shared the stories behind the old pictures hanging on the walls, and expressed his concern about the younger generation leaving the village due to lack of work. He offered us some prasad, tea, and Parley- G biscuits. He told us when he bought this house and showed his old house with vernacular architecture where walls were embellished with golden hues, the golden crop; the corn cobs. The amount of corn hanging around the house is considered as a symbol of prosperity, told Santhram. Corn is their main crop; they hang it on the walls to dry them up and make flour later. They sell it, and it’s a vital part of their staple diet too. We exchanged phone numbers, invited them to our place, and bid them adieu. The humble Parley- G and tea never tasted this palatable to me before.
This is what slow traveling does to you, those beautiful landmark pictures that brought you to the place, are no more the resonating factor. Now my curious brain replaced those beautiful images of corn laden houses with humbleness and innocence of people; rejoicing faces, memories of Santhram’s house; exactly like the memory of our 90s drawing-room, tea, and open-heart conversations that this generation is missing.
So, this was Sainji village, and the name “corn village” is given by nearby resorts, which provide eco-tours to the travelers. It is situated 10 km from Mussoorie in Tehri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand. If you are in Mussoorie and you plan to visit this village ask your resort staff for corn village eco-tour, but if you want to go by yourself, ask locals for Sainji village as I did.