An Indigenous Conflict Resolution Tactic in West Nepal
This is about a home-grown mediation practice from west Nepal. Whenever there is a dispute between two individuals, they try to resolve it in this way.
- First of all, they try to reconcile at family level. The elders members of the disputants come together to discuss about the causes of the conflict and try to resolve it in the light of justice and dharma. They try to convince the both parties and ask for forgiveness and healings. Sometimes they charge some penalty to the wrongdoers. But if disputants are not satisfied, they can go to the community level. But before reaching to the community level; they try a resolution at cultural function of the community.
- At the evening, after dinner, the village organizes a cultural program. In this event various members of the community attend. They eat and drink together. In some cases, they drink home-made alcohol. Then they divide into two or three groups. And start singing dohari-- a flirtatious call-and-response song. They sing in a didactic way, and express their emotions in musical way through the lyrics of the song. It is something like a question answer song which needs to be composed immediately. During the moment, some of the members put the issue of the conflict into the lyrics of the song and ask certain questions to any one or both of the conflicting parties. Then, the one whom the question was addressed replies and this is followed by the one whom the reply was given. In this way the conflicting parties engage into communication. With some more wine and exotic environment, sometimes these disputants forget that they had quarreled yesterday. Then they are given a new relationship called mit—the eternal friends. But sometimes conflict is not resolved at this level, and then the community is there to accept them.
- At community level, the leaders of the society gather at a public place. Normally this public place is dotted with a religious site with greenery. The villagers too are called to attend the Sunuwai (hearing).First of all; an oath is administered in front of the religious image available at that site to the both parties that they will speak only truth. In addition to that, both of the parties hold tama- tulashi (tama means copper and Tulashi (Ocimum sanctum) is a plant considered auspicious ones according to Hindu faith system). Then both the conflictant expresses their grievances. The villagers are asked to express their opinions about the issue. They will discuss freely about the issue which is sometimes judged in the light of the conflictant’s background and his social, economic and education level. It is called panchayati. Most of the time they decide with majority. The decision is mandatory. The religious priest, elders and social leaders all come together and put this remarks on the issue. Finally they decide together. Again, if any of the disputants is not ready to accept the community verdict, then on the following day they resolve the conflict in a different way.
This is how the difference of attitude or perception of the other, which is a main cause of social conflict, is celebrated with cultural mechanism in west Nepal
- On the following day, all the villagers along with the family members of the disputants gather at a cliff. Then female member of the disputants, normally his wife (if he is not married then his mother or sister) goes to the top of the cliff and shouts as loudly as possible calling whatever the words she wants for as long as she can. When she is tired, then other female member of another disputant does the same. The one who could shout for a long time with loudest voice is applauded. But this gives a bad message to another village beyond the mountain which is considered to be insult of the entire village. Then they return home exhausted.