A tribe of the Ladakh region is believed to be the original descents of the “Pure Aryan Race”, known as the “Brokpas” or “Dard” who are believed to be the part of the Alexander army, who came about 2, 000 years ago. The word ‘Dard’ comes from a Sanskrit word that means people who live on the hillside. They are known as Dard as many of the historians believe that they relocated from a place named “Dardistan” which is presently located near Gilgit (now in Pakistan) (Tashi, 2015).
The tribe exists in the Ladakh region, close to the Indo-Pak border. There are about 5 villages namely, Dha, Hanu, Beema, Darchik, and Garkone which together are known as the Aryan Valley. Dha and Hanu are only two villages that are open for Tourism. Situated to the South West of Leh, Dhahanu is around 163 Km passing through the villages of Kaltsey, Domkhar, Skurbuchan, and Achinathang. Around four thousand people inhabitant in these five villages and one leader or Sarpanch is the head of all these villages putting the rules and regulations in place to follow (Pardeep, 2019).
The people of the region have their unique features, language, culture, and traditions. To preserve their purity, these people tend to marry among themselves. This is also why it is regarded as one of the major reasons why they are regarded as pure Aryans. They follow the solar calendar to celebrate festivals and do agriculture activities (Divya, 2019).
The main occupation of these people is agriculture mainly the farming of Apricots. They also rear goat, cow, and yaks. Yak milk along with wheat, vegetables, and the meat of goat and sheep are consumed as well.
The Dard Aryans do not have written documents of their culture and traditions, on the other hand, these are passed from one generation to the other orally. The dialect that they follow is called “Miharo” which emerged from the mixture of various languages. Although there has been a huge influence of Islam and Buddhism in the region yet they have continued to follow their centuries-old traditions especially the dialect. Originally, Women wear white while Men wear Black or Maroon and Munthoto (Flower) is used to decorate their unique and huge headgears (Tashi, 2015).
With globalization and modernization, it is becoming difficult for the members of this community to continue their traditions and cultures. The people are migrating to cities for education, jobs, and better living standards. The new generations have joined the Indian army leaving agricultural activities behind. In order to conserve their legacy, around 30 people visited Delhi in 2019 and summited their report to the Minister of State for Tribal Affairs. In the report, they demanded the establishment of more schools (Presently there are only 3), a regional study centre for Dardi Tradition, and a cluster Model Village at Garkon among few other things. The authorities are opening this region for tourism not only to have a better understanding of the customs and norms of this place which will but also help them build their livelihood (PTI, 2019).
In 2019 itself Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) organised “Aryan Utsav” to celebrate the rich culture and traditions of Dard Aryans of Ladakh and recognised to be a part of their movement (TNN, 2019).
- Pardeep Dhull (2019, January, 20). ‘Aryans of Ladakh’ struggling to preserve its cultural legacy. The Tribune. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/archive/j-k/-aryans-of-ladakh-struggling-to-preserve-its-cultural-legacy-716698
- Tashi Namgyal (2015, May, 28). Aryan Race; A unique culture in Lower Ladakh. Reach Ladakh Bulletin. https://www.reachladakh.com/news/oped-page/aryan-race-a-unique-culture-in-lower-ladakh
- PTI (2019, January, 21). Ladakh’s Dard Aryans struggle to preserve cultural legacy. The Hindu. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/variety/ladakhs-dard-aryans-struggle-to-preserve-cultural-legacy/article26043331.ece
- Divya A (2019, February, 8). The Dard Aryans of Ladakh: who are this tribe, what are their concerns?. The Indian Express. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/the-dard-aryans-of-ladakh-who-are-this-tribe-what-are-their-concerns-5574657/
- TNN (2019, January, 22). IGNCA organises Arya Utsav in Delhi. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/ignca-organises-arya-utsav-in-delhi/articleshow/67640890.cms?from=mdr