Continuing its trend of inviting guest speakers, Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) organised the sixth talk of the Liveable Leh Talk Series on September 3. Padma Shri Morup Namgyal, a popular figure among the Ladakhis who is famous as a composer, singer and dramatist, was the speaker for the occasion. He spoke about Ladakhi language and importance of traditional culture.
Morup Namgyal, who won the Padma Shri Award, the fourth highest civilian award, in 2004, gave a briefing on the history of Ladakh, especially about the agricultural practices in ancient Ladakh. The Padma Shree recipient also highlighted the importance of traditional toilets. He said that people from Changthang area would stay at Changa and a lot of manure was produced from the cattle owned by them. The waste taken out from the dry toilets was also used in the agricultural fields as manure.
He also provided an overview of the kings from the ‘Namgyal dynasty’ that ruled in Ladakh. Morup Namgyal also shared with the audience an interesting fact on how Leh got its name. He shared there was hardly any vegetation in the rocky terrain of Leh (initially called Doa-sar), except a marshy area where the king and his ministers used to come for picnic. The interesting thing about the place was that large number of bubbles (leh-bey in Ladakhi) would form and hence the place was christened as Leh-bey (the land of bubbles) which was later shortened to Leh.
He further added that the Chhurpon (water supervisor) system was very popular in ancient Ladakh. He said that Chhurpons were announced through lottery. Some Chhurpons were considered auspicious if the average annual precipitation was more, and inauspicious if the rainfall/snowfall during his tenure was less. He said that Chhurpon system is still prevalent in Saboo village.
He then explained the traditional architecture of the house. He said that the height of the rooms and doors were kept low to avoid loss of heat. There was also a handbook for the construction of the house which defined where to construct the kitchen, toilet, prayer room, etc. The traditional toilets did not have a door and the parents inculcated in their children the habit of throwing soil into the toilet after use.
The veteran singer thanked LEDeG for providing him with an opportunity to share his thoughts and ideas with the audience.