The dying tradition of giving Kilti in Himachal

People are looking for shortcuts like make a Paytm transfer, NEFT or presenting cash instead of a kilti

A woman carrying a kilti. Kilti is actually a a basket in which various edible items are presented to the daughters. Picture for representation purpose only; Picture used under Creative Commons License; Image Source: India Untravelled

Shivratri was busy, but the following day was busier. My pahari folks, especially from Upper Shimla areas would know why the day following Shivratri is busy. Any guess? Well, you are thinking right if your answers were ‘basi’, ‘kilti’ or simply ‘giving of Shivratri’ to married daughters and sometimes unmarried daughters too; and of course the bhanjas and bhanjis.

Yes, a timeless tradition dating aeons back, giving Shivratri to married daughters is a loving tradition. And the daughters, young or old keep waiting for their loved ones to visit them and receive kilti.

Even my grandmother-in-law, who is over 86 years, eagerly waits for her brother to give her kilti. I am amazed at the depth of the values these small-small traditions hold for people.

Kilti is actually a basket. Earlier, many years back, a big package was stuffed into the kilti consisting of  jaggery, raw grains, fruits, seasonal crop, sugar, Shivratri preparations — bade, poldu, malpue, shakali, pola, meat, cooked rice, mooda, and other things. The bigger thing is how the daughters are remembered and a visit is made to their house even though it is once a year.

It’s a way of expressing that even though the daughter has left the house, she still is the daughter of the house and her share has to be dispatched to her. Even though they have completely adopted and made a home for themselves with a new family they are still part of the family they grew with… for now, tomorrow and forever. It is more about showing the long affinity than a simple tradition.

But is this tradition losing its value with time? Are we millennials, somewhere looking for shortcuts to these traditions? Perhaps we are! Yes, even this year there were lots of guests visiting our home to deliver the token of love to their respective daughters, even to those who are grannies, great grannies and very rarely great great grannies.

But, somewhere, down the line, people want to skip this part. With a time-starved society, who can merely make Shivratri in nick of time, spending an entire day gifting remembrances and love to the long gone daughters is becoming weighty.

People are looking for shortcuts like making a Paytm transfer, NEFT or collectively giving money to one person, or giving it when they have time. Such things are slowly creeping in.

In comparison to earlier times when people had scanty resources, long distances were walked happily and backload of offerings were joyously delivered in person… things look lamentable now. The resources and technology were made to save time and effort, not increase the distance and decrease the fondness of relations. But now it’s just a token given in form of money.

Perhaps, we could take this tradition of giving more sincerely. It comes just once a year and we are not giving something exuberant nor do the daughters expect anything fancy and valuable. What they want is a display of love, affection, and knowledge that they are remembered. So let’s make more effort and keep the legacy of this tradition alive.

It might be a mere token of Rs 100 or a grand fair of Rs 1,000. But what matters more is love, heart, and feelings. As my great-grandmother-in-law says, “bhavana badi hai… paise nahi (intentions are bigger, not money).”

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