Can you imagine a small section of your city living in a time warp? What if the place and people of a part of your city were suspended in time and lived their lives like they did 300 years ago? Hard to believe? Surprised? Well, ask the people of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the United States, and you will hear everything you want to know about a community called the Amish community who have adopted a unique lifestyle. The gravelled highways with zooming cars suddenly give way to inroads where all one can hear is the clip-clop of horses’ hooves. There are no fancy shopping malls here, just produce stands and fields of crops. All of this a stone’s throw away from the frenetic activity of Philadelphia city and as
The story of the Pennsylvania Amish community dates back to 16th century Reformation in Europe, when the Anabaptist movement spurred the creation of the Amish community. The community in modern terms is conservative and spiritual. They believe in traditional values of family, community living and show a great reluctance to adopt anything that goes in the name of modernisation. Almost 300 years ago a small Amish community arrived from Europe and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Even today they follow a lifestyle that was followed in the
The family is the most significant part of their lives and large families with as many as 10 children are not a surprise. The Amish speak a language known as Dutch German and not English like the Americans. The use of this dialect binds the community together and naturally limits their interaction with the English speaking world. The clothes of the community are the most obvious way of establishing their identity. The Amish wear uniform clothes with men sporting dark suits, suspenders, black socks, shoes and broad-brimmed straw hats. Men do not wear moustaches and generally wait until after marriage to grow beards. Amish women dress in an equally staid and plain manner. They are allowed modest clothes with long sleeves, a full skirt and an apron. Women are not allowed to cut their hair and it is always worn in a bun. No jewellery of any kind is allowed nor can they wear any printed fabric.
What is interesting about their life style is not just their clothes but their way of life. Can you imagine a life without electricity? That too in a country like the United States! The ban on electricity has prevented electrical gadgets and the TV from entering their homes. The Amish have therefore found some creative solutions to power tools for their farms using air or hydraulic powered motors. This pressure can be used to operate large household equipment like washers and sewing machines, but not smaller ones such as cloth dryers, toasters, microwaves and doorbells. Bottled gas is used to operate major appliances such as refrigerators, stoves and water heaters in order to survive the challenges of a hot summer or the freezing winters. Even to this day, the Amish light their houses
and shops with pressurised lanterns that they hang
Travel by horse and buggy is the only mode of transportation even on American freeways and the use of public transportation to distant places is permitted. The Amish have a unique school with just one room for Amish children who usually do not study beyond eighth grade. Outdoor activities like baseball are encouraged and children spend a lot of their leisure time playing in the farm lands and the school yard. The Amish community is noted for its relaxed, laidback happy life that it enjoys bang in the middle of the ‘city that loves you back’ — Philadelphia!