Shankarpura: Welcome to India's perhaps only tobacco-free village - Shankarpura in Haryana, that comes as a breath of fresh air, quite literally.
While elders puffing the traditional hookah, and discussing worldly issues has been a part of Haryana's socio-cultural milieu, the village of Shankarpura chose to break away from the tradition by becoming perhaps the only village in the country which is free from tobacco.
Manpal Singh Selwal, Chairman of the Block Samiti, said, "We believe in the Sikh religion. Neither I, nor anybody else from my village has ever touched tobacco."
The adoption of Sikhism may be one reason why there's no tobacco here. But yet another story is that when the village was attacked by the British, villagers hid in tobacco fields, and having had their lives saved, swore they would never burn or use tobacco. Whatever the story, Shankarpura today is a remarkable example of what a tobacco-free life can do for you.
Said a village elder, "I do not consume tobacco in any form and I am free from disease. I do not need any doctors, I feel young."
Shankarpura is also a village to emulate, as its tobacco-free stance has spread to other parts thanks to marriage alliances.
Birmati, a housewife, said, "I have been married in this village for thirty years now. Till today, I have not faced sorrow in any form. The people here do not consume tobacco in any form."
Even as Shankarpura has kept the no-tobacco flame burning bright, the youngsters here have managed to stay away from tobacco perhaps due to their focus on simpler pleasures. For Shankarpura has a first class football team.
Praveen, a budding champion, said, "Tobacco is harmful for health. The youth should stay away from it. We should contribute for the nation in the field of sports."
The men in the village of Shankarpura are strong, healthy and robust. And one look at them, and you know that they are a happy lot. This is something that the rest of the country can happily follow.