India is place to numerous tribes some of which date back to the pre-historic days of human evolution. In the high altitudes of Ladakh, beyond the usual tourist spots like the Pangong Lake, Magnetic hill or the monasteries, there survives a tribe believed to be one of the oldest and purest human tribe called the Drok-Pa (Ladakhi word for Aryans or the white skin). Nearly 5000 members of this tribe inhabit the cluster of seven villages located down the Indus River.
One theory is that the original Drokpas were a group of soldiers from Alexander’s army but, The Indo-Aryan migration theory is much widely accepted. The relationship between languages, the mention of Gilgit in their folk songs and anthropological studies has suggested the influx of Indo-Aryans to India in phases.
But there is a fraternity of researchers which strongly believes that Aryans are the true Indians and it has been a conspiracy to publicize the migration theory strongly since the Hitler’s regime as Germans claim Indo-Aryans as their ancestors. Even the ‘Swastika’ symbol used by Hitler as a symbol of Nazism was originally used by Aryans.
Despite so many contradictions regarding their origin, Drokpas are indeed an interesting group of people:
1) Agrarian society
The tribe is agrarian and depends on their farming for food and other needs as they are Vegetarians. The fertile lands and optimum temperatures of the valley make it suitable for agriculture. Drokpa’s income is derived from selling fruits like apples, grapes, walnuts, dried apricots and some vegetables which are cultivated in the Drokpa’s well-tended gardens.
2) Attractive and unusual dresses
Male Drokpas wear a large woolen dress with woolen trousers. The women members don special woolen dresses and distinguish themselves with shells, beads and silver jewelry. Goatskin capes wore over this traditional dress completes it. The unusual turbans wore by both men and women are decorated with flowers, coins, feathers and seashells.
3) Innovative way of saving their ethnicity
The Drokpas are completely different – physically, culturally, linguistically and socially – from the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh. Drokpa men and women are tall and fair, with big, lightly colored eyes, full lips and distinctive noses and eyebrows. As a result, they do not marry into other communities. This insularity is how the group preserves its ethnicity.
4) No care for rules of a civilized society
For centuries Drokpas have not cared about civilized ways of living and indulged in public kissing and wife-swapping. Paying no heed to the so called societal rules got them into trouble when these practices were deemed uncivilized and they were forced to change.
5) Casual and Fun loving people
Drokpas are fond of Music, Dance and Singing. They love flowers which are an integral part of their daily wear. Barley Wine is their favored drink consumed during summer Banano festival where they group and dance for three nights in a row.
Their ancestors have civilized the north western part of the country and many of modern age lineages in this part of the world can be traced back to them which certainly makes them a very important part of our history.