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Gaad Baat(Fish-Rice) and Dayatrazz

Posted in JAMMU & KASHMIR, kashmir by Sandeep on August 2, 2013

I celebrated “Gaad Baathe” with my Family last Saturday (6-12-09).It is Like an annual ritual which almost all “Battas”(Kashmiri Pandits) follow that includes me too…
I can vividly recall the excitement which used to be associated with “Gaad Batte” in Kashmir.I grew up hearing stories of “Dayatraaz”, the holy Deity who wears “ghungroo”(a musical anklet made of metallic bells) and is responsible for safeguarding our Home. My Grandmother’s favorite story was how her own mother had a rendezvous with the “Diety”, I used to listen with excitement and attention and believed in every story my Grandmother told me about “Ghardevtaa” or “Dayatraaz”

In Kashmir, my Grandmother used to buy the Fish one day in advance. I used to accompany her. Holding my hand and Strolling through the bye-lanes of Rainawari , my Grandmother exchanged pleasantries with every 2nd person and occasionally stopped at few points, when her friends met .The conversation between the ladies and my Grandma used to vary in topic and length, the discussions as varied as our present day T.V Channels. At times it used to last for few minutes and at times it used to be a real “Brain storming session” stretching to Half an hour, when all the ladies discussed on God-knows-what-topic! My Grandmother was considered not less than a “Doctorate in Social protocol” as far as “Batteneas”(Kashmiri Pandit ladies) are considered. My whole “Mohalla” used to consult her for “Kya Khasie”(social protocol for give and take between two families especially between the family of newly-wed Bride and Groom).

The distance from my home to main Market, also known as ” jogi lankar” was not more than half a Kilometer and would usually take 5 minutes for me to reach there.But with my Grandmother, Half an hour was the minimum time required to reach the main market.

Before buying a Fish/fishes, she used to minutely examine the Gills of the fish, As she examined the fishes, she used to teach me basics about Fish, “Always see the redness of Gills before buying a fish, The more Red the gill is, the more fresh is the fish” she told me several times. After Bargaining a lot with the Fisherwomen, She would finally pick up the fish(s) of her choice.

My Grandmother used to spend almost all day in the Kitchen and prepare delicious Fish with Radish. My Grandfather used to take care of “Ritual” part. Our “Kaenie”(top most floor/parapet) used to be the venue for inviting “Dayatraaz”. A portion of the “Kainie” was selected for the ritual. It was cleaned and mopped with a mixture of cow dung and special clay (gurut maecz in kashmiri), Dried yellow grass (not sure whether it was dried rice grass or wheat grass, looked more like dried fodder grass) was spread over the mopped portion of floor. A thali( consisting of rice, cooked fish with Raddish, small raw fish with a vermilion mark used to be placed over the Grass along with a glass of water. A lamp (diya) was also placed in front of Thali, but away from the Husk/fodder.

No one was allowed to venture that place before Dawn. My Grandfather used to lock the entire top-most floor lest anyone among us does “sacrilege”. The keys used to be in his custody till the next morning. While going to bed, I used to imagine “Dayatraaz” hovering in the top floor/parapet. I used to fantasize meeting him…

In the mornings, all our family members used to eagerly wait for my Grandfather to allow us, to accompany him and see whether “Dayatraaz” has eaten or not. With Grandfather leading, and all children following him with bubbling excitement, He would very carefully examine the place where we had placed the Thali for our “Diety”. After examining for couple of minutes, He would turn to us and announce confidently with a puff of pride “see this scattered rice, see the position of fish, it is tilted and has been partially eaten, This is all work of Dayatraaz, he had come and eaten a portion of Rice and fish” .the younger amongst us would clap out of Joy. The older ones too could not hide their happiness. The scattered rice used to be distributes as “Prasaad” later on…

Now after 20 years, here I am, feeling nostalgic after going through my memory lane..Lots of things have changed; My Grandfather left for his heavenly abode 9 years back, My Grandmother too has aged with time. Her “Doctorate in social protocol” is no longer relevant…
She has managed to learn some “Hindi” also..

Her Physical energy is far less, but she is still a very positive person and a motivating person.
“Dayatraaz” is one of my fond memories associated with my childhood and Kashmir.

“Gaed Batta” though is still celebrated, but that fervid is amiss……
I sometimes wonder what “Dayatraaz” must be doing back in Kashmir, in that deserted home.

“Dayatraaz” is also lost somewhere,
in his own memories
He is pushed into a limbo,
His gungroo is quite,
He has waited for over two decades
But no-one has come
to serve him a fish
Nor a glass of water
Nor lit a lamp.

The “Ghardevta”
is Watching helplessly
the fall of flakes from
the walls
the cracks of the bricks
a blanket of Dust
the cobwebs
as the crumbling house
too is breathing heavily
for its last race..

And the Dayatraaz Prays
For the house to fall
So that his endless wait
With a wishful thinking
He will remain alive in a leaf
Of that history book,
That can preserve him there
And in the memories of those
Who loved him
And whom he loved……

(As of today even the protagonist of this write-up, my Grandmother too has left for Heaven)

3 Responses

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  1. rishi said, on August 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I had heard from a KP friend about this festival.We bengalis too love our fish and Rice.nice read

  2. Ranga-ranga said, on August 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Since Kashmiri pandits are saraswat brahmins,hence they did eat non-veg also.some reasons too are given:
    Many Saraswat Brahmins are pesco-vegetarians. The inclusion of fish in the diet is not looked upon as Non vegetarian. Legend has it that when the Saraswati River dried up, the Saraswats who could not farm, were permitted to eat sea food/fish. The fish were euphemistically called Sea Vegetable or झळकें from ( जल काय -Jal Kaay). Oysters for example are sometimes called ‘samudra phalam’ – sea fruit! L A typical Breakfast in a saraswat home may have included Pez (congee) of Ukdem Tandhul (Par-boiled rice) and Lonche (Pickles) and papad. Wealthier homes would partake of Dosa, Idli (in South Canara, Karnataka and other parts of South India) or Sannas (in Goa), along with chutney and or Sambhar. Shevaiyn phann or Phow (Gooda Phow or Meet Mirsange Phow) would be other breakfast specialities. Roties and bhakries also are types of bread eaten along with Tondak or seasoned batatabhaji (potato stir fry preparation). Lunch and dinner would have Daat DaliToi and rice (Xit pronounced sheeth) in a Dorke’s home whereas Bhanaps would prefer Ambat with their rice for Kalvani. A typical Saraswat lunch would have Sheeth, Roass or Varann, in case it is non veg then it would be Hoomann, Bhaji, Tondak, Lonche, Papodd, and Toi or Kadhi. Kadhi is made to serve the duel purpose of Mukhashuddhhi (mouth purification, perhaps after all the relatively spicy stuff) and jeervonn (digestive Kadhis include asafoetida, Vomvom, Jeera, fennel seed). Sometimes the Kadhis are seasoned simply with Karivel and Sanswam (mustard seeds). Typically, this is a watery preparation which the luncher cups in his hand as it is poured onto his plate and drinks it before mixing a small portion of his rice with it to eat at the end of the meal. The most savoured as well as preferred Kadhis amongst the Konkani Saraswat Brahmins is the Kokumachi Kadhi or Konkam Kadhi. Kokum is a fruit found and grown within the western Konkan coast of India and is a speciality to every Saraswat cuisine. Formally it is often said that no meal
    complete without Kokum Khadhi.

  3. Ranga-ranga said, on August 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Cuisine: One of the aspects of Kashmiri Pandit culture that has found a national acceptance and liking constitutes the special cuisine. The variety of dishes cooked using different spices and the techniques employed have become so popular that they constitute special menu of most five-star hotels of the country. KP cuisine is totally different from that of Muslims. While the non-vegetarian dishes are limited to five or six only, there is a wide variety in vegetarian dishes. Of the former rogan josh and latter dum aloo (listed usually in hotel menus as aloo dum) are the most popular all over the country and abroad.

    In the valley there was a tradition of drying vegetables during summer months and using the same during winter. This was primarily because no fresh vegetables were available in snow-clad winter. KPs, notably ladies, have developed a special taste for these dried vegetables, especially brinjals and gourds (lauki), cooked in a specific manner. Nowadays due to better means of communication fresh vegetables are available throughout winter months and Muslims in the valley (especially in the cities) have generally discontinued this practice of drying vegetables. What is however interesting is that the practice of drying continues for commercial reasons as there is a demand for these dried products from KPs living outside the valley following exodus.

    A discussion on cuisine would be incomplete without mention of an essential component of KP table, haak, which is like a tanpura in a musical concert. It has to be always there whether one cooks vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals. In recent years it has become very popular with non-Kashmiris as well, especially in Jammu.

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