December is a time for frantic house constructions in the Apatani valley. It is time also for sacrificing of pigs reared so carefully throughout the year. For children, it is time for keeping an ear for the shrieks of the pigs so as to get a small share of boiled blood in the clay pots. One has, of course, to be from the same clan as the family sacrificing the pig.
Bamin village was known as the place where best quality clay pots were prepared. The art, sadly, seems to be disappearing as clay pots are being replaced by readymade utensils available in the market. We met a not-so elderly woman who recalls seeing clay pots being prepared in the past and nostalgically tried her hand at it. Obviously, the result was not so satisfactory as is evident from the pictures below. One pot is an old one and the other is the one moulded recently.
It is said that the food inside the clay pot loses little of its moisture as it is surrounded by steam, creating a tender and tasty dish. As water evaporates, the dish is not burnt so long as the pot is not allowed to heat until it is completely dry. And unlike boiling, nutrients are not leached out into the water.
The sacred blood of the pigs was, till recently, boiled in clay pots only, but this practice also is being paced out now. One wonders whether the present and future generations of our people will ever miss food cooked in clay pots.