I used to go to my school on cycle and I really loved cycling, Apart from giving me a feeling of freedom, It also gave me a sense of superiority over other friends who used to come in a school Bus. The distance from my home in Rainawari to school in Raj Bagh was approximately 5 kms. Every morning, while going to School,I used to pass through Khanyar, Dalgate, Zero bridge and Raj Bagh. Sometimes, I used to take an alternate route and go through Regal chowk and reach the “Bundh”(Road made on the banks of River Jhelum at an height of approximately 10 meters above river). The “Bundh” route was more serene and picturesque , with a fresh breeze coming from River Jhelum,which would often alleviate my spirits.The “Bundh” would take me to Raj Bagh via Zero Bridge.
During one such very cold winter morning (Ending Nov-Early Dec 87), as I was cycling through Regal Chowk, and reached the “Bundh”, I was stopped by two persons(Kashmiri Muslims) and with a soft respectful tone said,” Please have this Tahar,It is freshly made and still warm”, The aroma of the warm tahar titillated my sense of smell and taste as I took the “tahar” with both my Hands and ate with pleasure. It was like “ambrosia”.
Tahar(Cooked rice with turmeric) plays an important part in the lives of every Kashmiri irrespective of religion. The only difference which I found in the “tahar” of Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir was “onion”. For Kashmiri Hindus an onion is strictly prohibited from Kitchen, though that custom is hardly implemented nowadays.
“Tahar” is rice cooked with turmeric, and is made whenever, anyone escapes any accident. “Tahar” is basically a way of thanksgiving to almighty, for protecting the near and dear one’s from unseen health and physical accidents.
It is incomprehensible for any Kashmiri Hindu not to prepare “Tehar” on the Birthday of their loved ones. In fact Traditionally, a priest used to come to the Host’s home and a puja and “preypun”(traditional ceremony accompanied with religious Hyms)observed.”Tehar” plays a center stage for the “Puja and preypun”.
The reasons for preparing “tehar” vary from individual to individual or family to family. Among Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir The reason for making “tehar” can be as diverse as “having a bad dream”, recovering from a illness, evil eye to accidents(not fatal).
“Tahar” is a pure kashmiri ritual which has been observed in Kashmir since time immemorial. In fact the tradition of “tahar” is not observed by Hindus except for Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir and “tahar” may be unheard, by any muslim outside Kashmir.
In Hindus,Once the “Tahar” is prepared,a portion of the tahar is Offered to the diety, a portion distributed among family,friends and relatives, and rest to the canines and Birds.At times,such as religious festivals, large proportions of “Tahar” is made and after the “preypun and puja” distributed among the devotees.At times,devotees can be in Hundreds or even thousands.
Among Muslims,”Tahar” is usually prepared in a large quantity,and normally at least 2-3 men, take the intiative of distributing “tehar”,mostly at a crowded place which can be as diverse as outside Mosque,crossroads to busy market places, Any place,near to home, that has the chance and possibilty of attracting maximun number of people .