Category Archives: kashmir

Pitra Paksh -Remembering Ancestors

Every year a fortnight in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin is observed in the fond memory of our ancestors. This period is referred as Shraddha or Pitra Paksha. The Shraddha – is derived from Shraddha which means faith. Hence the faith in one’s ancestors’ makes the mortals observe some customary rituals year on year with reverence and faith in their memories when the ancestors are no more alive.

The story goes that The King Karna the famous warrior of Mahabharata was granted heaven after the war. Karna was famous for his charity throughout his life and earned a sobriquet of Dhan Veer – The one who gives away everything in charity. So much so that during the war of Kurushetra he gave away his protective shield when Lord Indra disguised as seeker asked for the same. However, in heaven Karna was offered precious Gems, Gold and other items instead of food and water. Puzzled by this treatment Karna asked the gods about this. On this Lord Indra told him that he had been giving only gold and gems as a charity but had never given food and water to the poor or deserving people hence he was given same treatment in heaven. Karna requested gods to give him a chance to correct his anomalies and the same was granted to him and he was asked to go back to earth for some days to feed poor so as to get rid of the problem. Hence, this period of the year is observed in giving food, water and clothing to poor and also performing rituals associated with it.

The ritual of shradha is done as it is believed that ceremony shall enable forefathers to ascend higher plane of existence. Besides relieving the ancestors from traps of unfulfilled wishes. We owe our existence from our ancestors and forefathers. Therefore, this is the time when we can remember them and repay our debt.

Shradha is the only way when ancestors receive our oblations and hence get pleased. This results in peace to them and happiness in their families.
The detailed rituals of Shradha are performed by priests who follow the manual as per the scriptures and litany of ceremonies. The elder of the family keeps the fast in memory of deceased besides offering each Pind in the name of the ancestors who are no more alive.

The message of Pitru paksh as envisaged by our Rishis are :- ​

Remembering – Pitru Paksh also enables us to think that this life is transitory and one day we too would pass. Therefore, it is the time to remember our forefathers and simultaneously be good to elders in our family.
Sharing – It also cultivates a habit of giving away things like food and clothes in charity among poor destitute thus inculcating the spirit of sharing.
Good Deeds – The Shradha also makes us remember the good deeds of our ancestor’s which act as a catalyst in us to follow the footsteps and carry on the legacy of goodness shown by them.
Family Lineage – This fortnight also makes us remember all the ancestors who were in the family thus, passing their existential journey among our progeny so that they can remember the family tree and linages.
Focus on Spiritual – The rituals wean us away from the grind of day to day material world and forces us to think on the matters more spiritual than mundane in nature thus, forcing us to think about our existence and role in families, societies and nation of which we are an integral part and parcel.

According to Neelmat Puran the important places for performing Shradha are at Lake Gangabal in Kangan besides at places like Shadipur which is the confluence of river Vitista (Jhelum) and Sindhu, Martand (Mattan) in Anantnag, Kapalmochan in Shopian and shores of Vitista. Performing sharda at these given places elevates the soul journey of dead to higher planes besides granting peace and spiritual merits to the families. In Jammu the places of performing Shradha are Uttarbani in Kathua and Ghats of Chandrabhaga at Akhnoor.

The other important places across India where such detailed rituals are performed since time immemorial are at Haridwar in Uttrakhand, Varanasi & Allahabad in U.P., Gaya in Bihar, Pushker in Rajasthan, Nashik in Maharashtra, Gokarna in Karnataka, Rameshwaram in T.N.

Therefore, lets resolve in this pitra paksha that we shall share our happiness, food, clothing with those who are neglected, poor, destitute and orphans so that we embrace them a part of our society and also take a pledge that we make the life our elders in family more comfortable which they deserve and which we owe to them as their progeny.

By-Sunil Raina Rajanaka

Advertisements

Ruins of Sun Temple Kashmir

Temple converted into Dustbin!

A Shiva temple converted into a Mass Dustbin at Sathu barbar Shah, Srinagar, Kashmir.

Isn’t it Genocide of Religion and identity of Kashmiri Hindus!

Kashmiri pandits-the forgotten people

This picture sums up the present condition and existence of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir.

One can find many abondoned houses of Kashmiri pandit’s (KP) in Kashmir. The rusted lock is a proof that the KP had never thought that it would take him so long to return.

28 years has already passed.
God knows, how many more years, the lock will have to wait….

Photo by subrot saraf

Dilapidated houses of Kashmiri pandits

/>

Asifa Murder-the war of narratives

A young eight year innocent Girl-Asifa is raped and murdered brutally in Jan 2018 in predominantly-Hindu region of J&k. The incident is condemnable and the culprits should be hanged to Death- irrespective of their ethnicity or religion.

What seems to be a case of crime has turned out to be a case of palpable political as well as religious division.A division that has its base on decades of mistrust, political subjugation and dichotomous chauvinism . The truth -it seems is gasping for justice in between the chasms of the asperasions of the people of Jammu region and its political and religious opposite-the Kashmir region.

The notion that the people of other region is here to eat my share of resources, jobs, business as well as identity is so deeply dipped in mistrust and suspicion ,that even a normal innocuous action ,raises many eyebrows and infers meaning according to the mass perspective of the region one belongs to.

And these perspective and opposite narratives are the result of decades old political hegemony that one region wields over the other.

Hence, the general masses of Hindu-Jammu are not wrong in their demand to submit the Asiya-case over to CBI.

This war of narratives has inferred different steps of Govt. with different meanings by the people of two regions, according to their political understanding; which may or may not be true.

But that hardly matters.

What is more important is the belief and the perspectives of the people of jammu-who feel that the accused Sanji Ram and his accomplices have been framed because of being a Hindu. And that is why they want an CBI enquiry into the whole incident.

On the other hand, the general belief of the Muslims of India is that the Girl was raped and murdered because she was a Muslim.

The communists especially from Kerala-who have been pushed to the brink of extinction after Tripura fallout, have left no stone unturned to further fan the sentiments of Muslim for their own political gains. The communists in their propaganda have deprecated the symbols of Hinduism blatantly .To get some more time to -what looks like a definite existential threat-they have moved a step further and have portrayed the incident as casteist and a case of classical Brahminism.
By the way, the main accused of Kathua is a Brahman.

The Hindus of J&K also see a political conspiracy in giving this case to Advocate Deepika Thusso Singh-who is fighting on behalf of the deceased Girl, as well as SSP Romesh Kumar Jalla -who headed the S. I. T and apprehended the accused. They feel that this step has been taken to break the bonhomie between the Kashmir Hindus and Dogras.

With so many conspiracy angles involved in this case; no doubt, it is not going to be easy for the Govt. to bring this case to its logical end. Whatever step they are taking, is being keenly watched by the people of two regions. And since, there is a deep mistrust between the two Regions,

I fear

Even the justice might want to delay itself.

Navreh-the new year of Kashmiri Hindus

As winter’s frost gives way to amiable spring,  J&K wakes up to greetings of Navreh Mubarak,  writes SUNIL RAINA RAJANAKA If you happen to be in Kashmir on the first day of the Chaitra month,  you will see Kashmiri Pandits greeting everyone with a warm,  hearty ‘Navreh Mubarak!’The day heralds the New Year as well as the spring season, with the frost giving way to pleasant weather. This year, Navreh will be celebrated on March 18.   In Bringesh Samhita — a compendium of the Mahatamayas of all prominent tirthas of Kashmir — there is a chapter on Navreh which mentions a dialogue between Shiva and Parvati, where the goddess is keen to understand the importance of time, cycle of evolution and dissolution.

Shiva tells her that on Navreh, Brahma initiated Creation with the first rays of the sun falling on the world.   To celebrate Navreh — beginning of kaal, time and of the world — Kashmiri Hindus worship Shiva, Parvati and their son Ganesha for merit and well-being,  wear new clothes, and take part and in cultural programmes.   The day begins with looking at Thal Barun, a thaal, plate filled with auspicious items for prosperity. The large plate contains items like paddy, walnuts, sweet roti, cooked rice,  curd, pen, book, coins, a piece of gold ornament, salt, seasonal flowers, a medicinal herb called vai and a mirror.

Also placed on the plate are the new almanac and a photo of Kreel-Pach, the family deity.    The thaal is prepared overnight,  covered with a piece of cloth and kept in the prayer room. The next day, well before daybreak, the oldest woman of the house, usually the grandmother or mother,  goes around the house waking up family members one by one, asking them to open their eyes and first look at the plate, before beginning their daily chores.   Known as Buth Vuchun, the ritual of looking at the plate is said to bring good luck,  good health, prosperity and wisdom.

Each item on the plate has its own significance. While paddy symbolises wealth and expansion, cooked rice stands for progression in life and physical and mental growth.   Curd stands for completeness, constancy and cohesiveness. The sweet roti represents engagement and amalgamation into one’s socio-cultural surroundings.   The walnuts indicate the human and universal mind; the conjoined kernels represent the four purusharthas, goals of existence — dharma,  discharge of duty;  artha,  acquirement of wealth; kama, gratification of desire, and moksha, liberation.

The coin stands for material strength and the gold ornament is the symbol of purity. While the medicinal herb indicates good health,  flowers represent optimism, fragrance and sympathy in life. The pen is for wisdom and self-illumination and salt for positive energy. The almanac represents the influence of time in our life and the need to respect time and lead a disciplined life. Kreel Pach,  the family goddess stands for trust in Her grace.   The mirror, due to its attribute of reflection, stands for multiplication of auspiciousness.

Later in the day, rice from the plate is used to prepare the traditional yellow rice taher. Sumptuous dishes are prepared for visiting family and friends.    People also visit Hari Parbat in Srinagar to pay obeisance to Goddess Chakreshwari by reciting hymns and praying for a prosperous year ahead. It is believed that on this day,  the Sapt Rishis congregate at this place to offer prayers to the Universal Goddess, thus starting the Saptrishi era. After the ritual visit to the temple, people usually head off to enjoy the almond blossoms in the gardens at the foothill.

The outing is incomplete without savouring the traditional nadir monje pakoras and kahwa,  and wishing everyone ‘Navreh Mubarak’!

 

By Sunil Raina

Dhyaneshwar yatra as I remember

Dhyaneshwar Mahadev as I remember..

I have been to Dhyaneshwar Mahadev once in 1987-88.I had gone there with my Father, Brother, Grandmother and a very close friend-Sunil.We took a bus from Srinagar to Bandipura, from there, we traveled to the base of the Mountain, where the Holy shrine is situated.

I don,t remember all the names of the places that came enroute. But, Whatever I remember had an indelible imprint on my mind.

As I ascended from the base, I could see beautiful vistas all around me. The narrow trek that lead us towards the cave passed through the tall trees as well as through thick forest of Deodars .It was already dark, when we had started our Hike. The ascending trek pleteaued near a Hutment of Gurjars. It was a sight to behold. The full Moon, it seemed had covered everything around us in the golden Hue. There was a pleasant nip in the air.

I had with me a camera by the name ‘Hot Shot’. It was a compact camera and was in vogue 3 decades back. Enroute, I shot many pictures with it including that of the Full Moon.

That year some Muslim volunteers too had come to assist and support the Hindu Devotees.
All the devotees had gathered at a house(or Ashram/Dharamsala) which was very close to the cave. Devotees were waiting for their turn to have a Darshan of lord Shiva. Some group/s of Devotees were singing Bhajans. I was too tired to join them, I sat down at the corner of the room and pretended to listen to them. Slowly but steadily, from the sitting position, I stretched my legs straight, and after a while, I further recumbented myself as I could no longer resist sleep.

After few hours, my Grandmother, shook me by my shoulder and woked me up. It was time to enter the cave.

The Muslim volunteers were carrying a torch(lesh in Kashmiri/Mashal in hindi), and lighting the path for their Hindu contemporaries. The Hindu-Muslim bonhomie looked real at that time.

Finally, our turn too came.

I remember, the entrance of the cave was around 6 and a half feet in height;and maybe 5 feet in width. My bare feet had become wet from the frigid brook that comes from inside the cave. The brook starts from-what was known as Shraan kuth of parvati(the palace, from where mother Parvati takes a bath).There is a tunnel that starts from the mouth of the cave that is also the sanctom sanctorum and ends at the entrance of Dhyaneshwar. The shape of the tunnel is tapered(shape of hollow cone), with the wider section at the entrance of the cave. The roof of the cave is rough, with rock icicles hanging at places. I was up-right when I entered the cave; but as I moved further inside the tunnel, it became dark- pitch black dark. A volunteer with a torch was somehow managing to show us the path inside the tunnel. Since, the shape of the tunnel is tapered, first I had to bend my shoulders, then I had to bend my back and eventually I was crawling. The ice-cold water of the brook was getting hard to bear. At the ingress of the cave, It was like an adventure for me; but as I proceeded further, the hanging icicle-type-ceiling and the ice-cold brook, on which I was crawling forced me to chant the name of “Shiva”.I was Chanting aloud,”om namah shivaya”.
It is a very long dark tunnel, may be 100 or 200 mts long; and opens inside another natural cave known as Dhyaneswar. The area is modest inside the cave. It must be 8-9 feet in height,6 feet wide and may be 6 feet in length. . At a time,not more than 10 people can stand inside the cave. There is a natural partition inside the cave.The front part belongs to lord shiva and the rear natural raised part is the place of Parvati. The brook starts from the raised rear part.There is Ganesha and Kartik(not sure) also inside the cave.

One thing is guaranteed-an Atheist will become a believer after visiting this Holy cave. It is a Place, that should be visited at least once.

The only regret pertaining to the Dhyaneshwar pilgrimage is that I could not develop the reel of the camera. When we left for Jammu in Jan 1990, because of terrorism, The camera was left behind with so many other things.

kashmir photos

Random photos

A view of jammu-srinagar Highway. 

An artistic impression of Abhinav gupta