Japanese Bamboo

        It does grow very quickly! 

            But it is very pretty.






 "The Homes of India" 

"The homes of India are very different from your home. 

In the southern part of India the villages are very pretty. They are built amid palm groves, and have no walls. The low, mud houses have thatched roofs-often covered with vines. In the north the houses are close together, and are built entirely of clay. There are no trees, and few flowers. The villages are generally surrounded by clay walls.

The educated and wealthy live in the cities and large towns. Some cities contain very magnificent palaces and mosques of marble and stone, but the houses are mostly built of brick around a central court-yard, on which all the rooms open. There are scarcely ever any windows on the outside, only a blank prison-like wall, with one door for entrance. When there are windows they are so small and high that the street cannot be seen from them. The streets are very narrow and dirty. 

You would be the most surprised if you were to visit some of the villages of the hill tribes, for you would find their houses, not on the ground but up in the trees! They build them there that they may be out of the reach of wild elephants and tigers. 

"The houses of the Hindus are mostly one story in height, though some are two-storied. They are built of clay bricks dried in the sun and white-washed with a kind of lime. They have an open verandah towards the street. The door is placed in the middle. Entering this door you come into a small room with a raised pial, or alcove, on each side. Here the owner receives his guests. Passing on, you come to an open court, paved, but not roofed, and around this the house is built. There are three deep verandahs, and behind these are some small dark rooms where the people sleep when it is very hot or very cold or damp. In ordinary weather, and at night during the hot weather, they sleep either in the open court-yard, or in the verandahs, or on the roof. In one of the verandahs the cooking goes on; there is no kitchen such as we understand it. The stove is made of earth, and stands only a foot from the ground, so an Indian women sits when she does her cooking. 

"One room is set apart for the use of the women and girls, and the others for the other members of the family, as well as for various purposes, such as eating, storing grain, etc. The household gods are usually kept in the kitchen, and worship is paid to them before eating. In better houses a special room is set apart for this purpose, where anyone who wishes may go for worship. There are no tables or chairs, but a low bedstead, without mattress, a box for keeping clothes and jewels, a rush mat, and a few earthen and metal pots, are all the furniture. 

"Some of the educated and wealthier classes now have chairs, tables, couches, pictures, lamps, etc., but this is not the general custom. In large houses there is often a second smaller court and a small garden with a well in it. The ceiling, rafters, and beams are of teak or palmyra wood, and the roof is covered with tiles. The dwellings of the poorest natives consist of four mud walls, with bamboo rafters, covered with grass or palm-leaf thatch. Cows, buffaloes, and fowls are freely admitted inside an ordinary Hindu house, and may be seen entering at the front door!"

A missionary says of a rich man's house in India: "If you went into the upstairs rooms, where the gentlemen live, you would find them very nicely furnished, but very dusty. Hindu rooms are always dusty and full of cobwebs, for the Hindu think it is very lucky to have plenty of spiders, and that it is a great sin to disturb them." 

But although you will find plenty of gentlemen enjoying themselves, and little boys and big boys and little girls running about playing and laughing, you would not be able to find one lady or one big girl, until you go into another square building, smaller and not so nice as the other. There up at the top after going through a dark narrow staircase we find ourselves on a verandah, "with a few doors and little windows with bars to them, too high up for you to see out, opening into it; and now at last we have got at the women and girls, hidden away up here altogether, where they cannot see anyone, and nobody can see them. There they are, shut away by themselves all the year round, from the time they are a few years old, to the time they die." 

"You will find no nice furniture in the ladies' rooms, like that you saw in the gentlemen's; no tables or chairs or sofas; no pictures, except of dreadful gods and goddesses painted on the walls themselves, and no books. Perhaps you will find a bedstead with a mat on it, and there may be even two or three hard pillows; but most likely not. There will be a box in one corner for the ladies' clothes, and a brass cup for them to drink out of, and generally that is all. Not quite, though, for running about under the bedstead, on the box, anywhere, you will find hens and chickens and dogs, that live there with the ladies. So you may imagine how dirty everything is; and remember this is not a poor man's house but a rich man's, and these ladies, living in this dirty, close, bad-smelling place, are the wives and children of the richest men of India. The rooms where they live form what is called a zenans. 

"Under the house, we find a passage leading out of the court to a piece of ground with a high wall all round it, in the middle of which there is a pond. The water in the pond comes from a spring which stops running in the very hot dry weather, and then the pond gets green and muddy, and stays like that till the rain begins. This is all the high-caste Hindu ladies know of a garden. In a very few of these courts there are two or three trees by the side of the pond; but there are some ladies in India, even old ones, who never saw a tree in their lives." The pond is the ladies' bath, in which they bathe every day, and sometimes even twice a day. 

Some Hindu ladies have to begin this shut-up life when they are six years old. Do you not think that you have a very pleasant home compared with these poor souls? They are often treated with such unkindness that their lives are very miserable. Their husbands do not visit with them and take them out to pleasant places with them; they see nothing that goes on in the streets, and never go for an outing under the pleasant trees, as you do; and they have very little that is pleasant to do or think about, and no books or pictures to look at. But worse than all else, their gods do not hear them when they cry to them, and cannot help them when they are ready to drop under their heavy burdens. Very few of them know of the living God who can hear their cries, and lighten their heavy burdens, who can bring beauty and sunshine and love into the humblest house, and peace and hope and joy into the saddest heart." 

July 20, 1893 EJW, PTUK 252