Shall I get mutton biryani from Hyderabad?” The usual answer to this question from a friend visiting the city is a resounding yes in any other part of Telangana, but not in Mukhra K village in Adilabad district of Telangana.
The village, which is 280 km away from Telangana’s capital city, is proudly vegetarian since March 2018, and the villagers say they have embraced the new lifestyle beautifully, a big part of which is butter paneer masala that they all love.
In fact, the Mukhraites will tell the visitors to also come prepared to have only vegetarian meals throughout their stay here. Known as a model village in India’s 29th state, Mukhra K is also labelled 100 percent digital, a cashless village that has also achieved the distinction of being 100 percent open defecation-free.
The credit goes to every one of the 700 population of the 160 households. Says 25-year-old Deepak Gadge, who is pursuing MTech in Hyderabad: “Ten years ago, alcoholism was rampant in the village. Six youngsters became addicted to alcohol and it had a bad impact on the happiness of the families. That was when Narayan Maharaj, an ascetic who visited our village, started giving pravachans to them. In a non-threatening environment, in a casual chatty way, he held interactions with the addicted youngsters. We found that his advice really worked and we all started taking his words seriously.”
Gadge also happens to be the son of Meenakashi Gadge, the sarpanch of the village, and he is known as the digital hero of the village, tweeting at least a dozen times a day about it. “Banning alcohol was our first success. Then we realised that health is important and many of them would fall sick eating stale and poor quality meat. After the entire village agreed, we all took a pledge to turn vegetarian. The focus is on eating, fresh, organically-grown produce,” he says.
Everyone in the village wears a Tulsi mala, and that is just one of the things they do to show solidarity to the causes or commitments they take up. But how does the village keep tabs on whether or not someone has violated the rule? Gadge says they have an award announcement to whoever reports such violations, and that trick has worked.
However, currently, they are all excited about the little pocket money they’re able to make this season. The villagers invested time and space to segregate dry and wet waste, and produce vermicompost worth Rs 75,000 last month, and it is likely to hit Rs 1,50,000 in the next two months. “We love to take up such interesting challenges. After we gave up alcohol, meat and even cash transactions, nothing seems impossible,” says the mother-son Gadge duo. “I am sure our village heads will come up with an exciting challenge this Ugadi too.”