In a recent parliament meeting, the presiding deity of the village ordered the village's guest houses and restaurants to be closed to protect its culture. The ‘Parliament’ comprises of an upper house called Jayeshthang and a lower house called Kanishthang. Villagers invoked Jamlu after the ‘parliament’ met. Villagers in Malana invoke Jamlu through a chosen medium – in this case an oracle, who then conveys to them what the deity ‘said.’ Devotes believe Jamlu responds to all kinds of queries.
“The deity did not want any of the villagers to rent out their property for running guest houses and restaurants. He has forbidden everyone from doing this, and those violating his orders will have to bear the brunt of his curse,” Malana panchayat pradhan Bhagi Ram told HT on the phone.
A few months back, the village had banned photography because the villagers felt that visitors clicking pictures were portraying Malana as a hub of narco-tourism, defaming Malana's culture.
Traditionally, inhabitants of this village engaged in making baskets, ropes and slippers from hemp. But in the late 1980s, the visiting foreigners taught the villagers to extract the intoxicating resin from cannabis.
Cannabis is illegal in India. The government of India has made successive attempts to curb the cannabis production however there is no other cash crop to rival cannabis in Malana. The maize and potatoes grown by the villagers do not fetch handsome returns. It has now become a dilemma concerning their livelihood.