Samavar-The Heritage Tea Brewer of Kashmir

Samavar – the monarch tea brewer is perhaps the most distinguishable traditional utensil of Kashmir and is deeply rooted in the socio-cultural ambience of the valley. Enjoying enormous popularity, it is indispensable and central to every day Kashmiri life with the tea prepared in it being an inseparable part of the warm-hearted Kashmiri hospitality. Its overarching standing in Kashmiri culture has remained undisputed and unchallenged over the years despite the inflow of numerous contemporary appliances of similar nature in the market.

Samavar – Socio-cultural Significance

Samavar has carved out a proverbial niche for itself amongst the Kashmiri tea connoisseurs and steals the limelight at our every socio-cultural function. Its arrival and presence imparts an intimate touch of social warmth and cheer to every festive occasion. It also serves a deep societal purpose as it provides contextual relevance to our native conventions and time tested traditions. Its predominant presence is seen daily at breakfast and evening times in every Kashmiri household even now. Tea time is a wonderful family custom of Kashmir handed down to posterity by practice when all the family members assemble around the legendary Samavar to enjoy sizzling Kahwa cups. People relish endless chats, gossips and unconstrained talks over countless cups of tea prepared in it. Samavar by its utility also promotes family togetherness, emotional closeness and social cohesion.

The Samavar also enjoys a privileged position in the occupational part of Kashmiri life holding prominence during paddy cultivation, farming and fruit gathering activities. It also adds a vintage touch to celebrations, excursions and congregational gatherings. Samavar also adds radiance to the high octane atmosphere of the wedding functions of Kashmiri Pandits as well as Kashmiri Muslims. It acts as a comfort utensil as the tea brewed in it provides the required warmth to beat the bitter winter of Kashmir. The camaraderie with it is not broken even during despairing times and moments of gloom amongst the Muslims as it is used for brewing and providing Kahwa and Noon Chai (salted tea) to the callers during Fatehkhani on Chauhrum and Jumah Fateh.

Samavar is also integral to our social cultural expression. The arrival of the spring season with the bursting of almond flowers at Badamwari, Srinagar is incomplete without its presence. It also occupies a place of pride during social customs. The newly wed Kashmiri Pandit bride is required to serve tea brewed in the Samavar to the family members at the In-laws’ house in consonance with an age-old social ritual. The custom is known as ‘Chai Phirin’.

The Journey of Samavar

Samavar was introduced in Kashmir as an outcome of the Kashmiri association with the age old trade routes in the medieval times. The name Samavar is derived from the Russian word – ‘Samover’ and translates to ‘self-boiler’ or ‘self-brew’ in english. The innovative remodelling and improvisation that the Russian Samover received at the hands of Kashmiri artisans has resulted in the emergence of its exotic design and form.

Samavar enjoys cross-border acceptance and acknowledgement as it is closely linked with many cultures across the borders. Apart from Kashmir, it enjoys phenomenal popularity in Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Central Europe, South-east Europe, Africa, Morocco and the Middle East through its resembling counterparts. The lookalike utensil has diverse shapes, designs and outlines varying from place to place and may be cylindrical, spherical or barrelled in appearance and made from either plain iron, copper, polished brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) or bronze. The Russian Samover comprises of the main body, base, central chimney, faucet, cover, handle, crown ring and the steam vent key. The traditional Samover of earlier times used coal and charcoal for heating and brewing purpose while the present day ones are driven by electricity.

From Russia, the Samover made its entry into Iran about two centuries back as ‘Samevar’ in the Persian language. The Iranian Samevar’ employs Persian art motifs in its designs and outlines. The city of Borujerd located in Iran is one of the prime centres of its production where they are mostly handmade. Likewise, its lookalike kin, the Turkish Samovar is a metal container traditionally used to heat water and brew tea.

Samavar- a specimen of Kashmiri craftsmanship

The Samavar is an all-time favourite domestic utensil in the entire valley of Kashmir. It is one of the finest examples of the splendid art or craftsmanship and is known for its superb quality and distinct design. There are essentially two types of Kashmiri Samavars, the Qandhkari Samavars and the plain Samovars. The Qandhkari Samavars are made from copper and are exclusively used by the Muslims. In contrast, the plain Samavars are crafted from brass and are used by the Kashmiri Pandits. However, the stylish handles of both the types are made from brass. In earlier times, another type of Samavar was in vogue among the Kashmiri Pandits. It was known as the Panjaeb Samavar. Unlike the usual Samavars, it was uniformly globular in shape right from the crest to the base with a latticed lower part.

The Qandhkari Samavar has its entire outer surface carved with intricate floral and Chinar leaf motifs or geometric designs. Both its outer and inner surfaces are nickle plated, which is locally known as ‘Kalai’. In contrast, the plain Samavar is devoid of any design. Only its inner side is nickle plated which gives the surface a smooth finish and shine. The size of a Samavar depends upon its capacity to hold the number of tea cups. The Samavar used by the Muslims is usually bigger in size as compared to the one used by Kashmiri Pandits. It is sold by weight and its cost is related to its water holding capacity and size. The artisan who crafts the Samavar is known as ‘Thanthur’ in local parlance, whereas the designer who creates decorative carvings and patterns on its outer side is called ‘Naqash’. In Srinagar, the biggest and the most reputed market of its production is located at Gadde Bazar, Zaina Kadal, in downtown Srinagar. In addition to it, the spring town of Mattan in Anantnag, the village Nehama in Pulwama district and the hamlet of Wanmpora in central district of Budgam are known for their high grade and outstanding quality of Samavars. The handmade peg bottomed bronze tea cups, locally called as ‘Kenz Khose’ made at these places are prized for their high quality.

The Samavar is divisible in distinct parts. The middle segment is known as ‘Yaed’ or ‘Paytae’ in Kashmiri. It is the principal part of the Samavar. The lower most base is called as ‘Taelvather’ or simply as ‘chouk’. The portion above it is finely latticed which facilitates the passage of air needed for the charcoal to burn and glow. It is known as ‘Poung’. The topmost small circular lid is called as ‘Lokut Thanda’. It has a pointed knob at the centre known as the ‘Kalla’. This lid acts as the cover over the tubular chimney to extinguish the hot charcoals by cutting the air supply when needed. Beneath it is a bigger spherical lid known as ‘Boud Thanda’. Both of them are joined by a movable hinge which carries the name ‘Machil’. A tubular iron chimney runs vertically midway upto the base of the Samavar, which holds the hot embers. An extended curved part which has a beak shaped outlet at its upper end is joined at the outer surface of the Samavar. The arched part is known as ‘Nai’ while the beak shaped outlet through which tea is poured is known as ‘Hi’. It has a small hinged flap called as ‘Zev’ which regulates the flow of tea. The upper circular rim of the Samavar is known as ‘Kaaen’. An S shaped stylish handle is attached to the side opposite to Nai’ for holding the Samavar. It is known as ‘Thup’. Green tea, sugar, cardamom (elaichi), black cinnamon (dalchini), cloves (loung), black pepper (kali mirch) and crushed almonds are added to the water poured in the Samavar. The evenly distributed heat generated in the central chimney gives a conspicuous taste and a distinct flavour to Kahwa prepared in the Samavar. Both the kenz khous and flat bottomed khous are essential accessories of the Samavar.

Samavar – Preserving our culture

The heritage tea brewer- Samavar has also made its entry into the folkloric narrative of Kashmir. It figures both in the riddles and the famed folk form of singing – Wanwun. The riddles associated with Samavar run as “Aend Aend Aab, Munjbagh Naer” which means “having water outside with the blaze in the middle” and “Su kus janawar chu yas kalus paeth naer vuhaan tae tountae kin travaan ruth” which means “the animal that has an inflamed glow at the crest with its sprout pouring out reddish fluid”.

The Samavar is also praised in the traditional Wanwun singing at Kashmiri wedding functions. Some of the songs that find a mention of it are:
“Samavarus teungul treav, vah vah maam touthai aev” which means “put embers in the Samavar and keep it ready to welcome the esteemed maternal uncle”

“Aalae tae badam traav Samavarus vuch Sumcharus guil phoulnai” which means “put cardamom and almonds in the Samavar; it will heighten the bond of nearness”

“Roup sundh khous tae souna Samavarae, vuch chai kya mazadaar” which means “Have tea from the Silver crafted khous and golden Samavar and enjoy the unique flavour”

Kashmiris irrespective of their religious affiliation continue to have an unshakeable allegiance with the Samavar. The fast paced lifestyle and the advent of modernization has neither diminished its stature nor lessened its relevance. The Kashmiri Pandits have unquestionable adoration for this priceless possession that reminds them of their socio cultural roots in the valley. They have unwaveringly stayed loyal to it even in their time of exile. It continues to be the hallmark utensil at their socio-cultural functions as its presence till today amplifies the festive cheer. Needless to say, that it is imperative upon us to preserve this rich legacy of the Samavar so that it is not relegated to obscurity and lost in the pages of history.

By Upender Ambardar

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Open letter to Mr. Rahul Gandhi -from a Dattatreya-koul

Dear Rahul Gandhi Ji,
Greetings!
My name is Sandeep Koul and my Gotra is Dattatreya. It was heartening to see that you openly confessed your Gotra at Pushkar as Koul-Dattatreya .I saw the byte of the Priest on T.V, wherein he declared emphatically that you and your ancestors are ‘Kashmiri Brahmins’.

It is widely speculated or rather believed that you had to publically announce your caste and Gotra in order to look correct politically. However, your confession also portrays the polity of today’s India. Being just ‘secular’ is not enough today. Being Indian-without being framed as a Hindu or Muslim is just impossible today. And being Hindu, without divulging your caste is equally impossible.

Being a seasoned politician, I don’t need to tell you why?

B. T. W, Every time I fill a form, I am being asked my Religion as well as the caste.

Religion as well as caste based politics is the norm of today. We have plethora of politicians who exist today because of Religion, caste, region or all of them.
Sh.Mulayam singh Yadav , Sh.Lalu Yadav, Chautala’s, Khushwaha’s , Mayawati, Abdullah’s, Mufti’s etc are the names who have thrived on caste or Religion -based-politics.

However

They have done a lot to mitigate the problems of that section-whom they represent. Also, a section of the followers, who identify with them because of the same caste and religion- have this impression that they belong to them and have faith in them.

When Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru died, I was told by my Late Grandmother that Kashmiri Pandit men and women lamented on his bereavement and in an impromptu procession , Kashmiri Pandit women were beating their chest in grief. Kashmiri Pandits also grieved the Death of Lt. Indira Gandhi. It was as if someone from their own family had departed. The tragic Death of late Rajiv Gandhi too was condoled by your own community of Kashmiri Pandits.

But , everything changed after that.

The Kashmiri Pandit community felt cheated by the congress leadership after 1990. If you will go through the social media sites, you will come across scores of posts by Kashmiri Pandits denouncing and castigating you, because Kashmiri Pandits feel that Your party left them, when they needed you the most!

Sometimes looking ‘politically correct ‘ backfires too. Your party’s tacit policy of neglecting KP’s is so obvious.Just because, your Own-community of Kashmiri Pandit did not form a substantial vote bank; does not mean that justice should not be given to them!

Since, you have publically proclaimed of being a ‘Kashmiri Brahmin’, (either because of compulsion or to look politically correct in today’s political scenario; ) I want to share just 3 facts with you and ask some questions being a fellow Kashmiri Pandit of ‘Dattatreya’ Gotra.

1.Majority of the Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee Kashmir because of being ‘Hindu’ as well as for loving their country-India by the Jihadi-Islamists. They were assassinated brutally and till today, their Murderers are roaming free .

Question:-why are the murderers of the community-whom you belong to-roaming free? Why didn’t your Government formed an S.I.T to probe the killings and give justice to your own community!

2.The properties and temples of your own community-The Kashmiri Pandits-has been illegally encroached upon by a section of people, who are not from our community. The sad and the cumbersome part is that the onus goes on to the Kashmiri pundits to prove their claim on the encroached properties; which is very difficult in a hostile environment.Thanks again to the burgeoning of unchecked jihadi-Islamists coitere influence, that has made its way into the Government institutions too.

Question:-though, an attempt was made in NC-Congress regime to redress this grievance, However, why was the hostile environment against Kashmiri Pandits ignored? Why didn’t your Government made the process more easy and more friendly , so that justice without delay should have been delivered to your own beleaguered community!

3.A section of Kashmiri Pandits still live in penury and in unhygienic circumstances at places such as Jagati in Jammu.

Question:-why are your fellow community men living in such hostile conditions? What has your Government done for them?
Why didn’t you even once, visited your own community, when they were living in tattered tents with bruised hearts?

If your fellow contemporaries such as the Yadavs can deliver justice to their own communities, why cant you do the same?

Don’t you think, you too owe to that community-who has given you an identity of being a Kashmiri Brahman and has given you a Gotra- *Dattatreya*.

Think about it!

Regards
Sandeep Koul-Dattatreya.

(P. S:-It was not Sh.Jagmohan Malhotra who was responsible for our exodus. It may be a politically correct statement for you. But it is not true. )

Sancha Vidhya – A glorious gift of to Himachal Pradesh

In the times bygone, Kashmir excelled in many spheres of art, literature and culture, in which it achieved great heights. The cross cultural-religious strands that stretched between Kashmir and present day Himachal Pradesh successfully withstood the centuries old time-warp and refused to fade-away into oblivion. Apart from the natural brilliance of the landscapes, both the states share a deep rooted faith of the people in the time tested traditions, belief systems and ancient wisdom, which are enshrined in their holy scriptures. They form an integral part of our common heritage. The ancient Sancha scripture of Himachal Pradesh is an illustrious example of the same. It is a combination of Jyotish and Tantric knowledge. Even today, in the present scientific age, this ancient priceless knowledge is quite popular in Shimla, Sirmour and Solan areas of Himachal Pradesh. The ‘Sancha Granth’ is believed to have travelled to Himachal Pradesh from Kashmir hundreds of years back. The present day custodians of this ancient legacy, who are natives of Himachal Pradesh are believed to be the descendants of Kashmiri Panndits. The ‘Sancha’ treatise is a unique combination of ‘Mantra (sacred incantations), ‘Yantra’ (hallowed implements) and ‘Tantra’ (mystical hymns or invocations). The scripts of Sancha treatise are known by the names of ‘Bhatakshri’ or ‘Pabuchi’, which are Himachali variations of ‘Sharda’, the ancient script of Kashmir. In earlier times, the said script was also known as ‘Takri’.

In Himachal Pradesh, in addition to ‘Bhatakshri’ and ‘Pabuchi’, the ancient ‘Takri’ dialect has survived in many resembling forms like ‘Chambyali’, ‘Kalluvi’ Mandyali’ and ‘Sirmouri’ etc., which are the present day spoken dialects of Chamba, Kallu, Mandi and Sirmour areas of Himachal Pradesh. In earlier times, the scholarly and learned Himachali Brahmans were known as ‘Pabuch’ due to their demonstrative grip and hold over the ancient ‘Sancha’ knowledge. The ‘Sancha’ growth deals with a wide range of topics ranging from necromancy, black magic, witchcraft, occult effects and negative influences of evil spirits besides demonology. The ‘Sancha’ text offers solutions and remedies to the persons who are troubled by the negative influences of the above. In addition to it, all those persons, who are saddled by anxieties and worries arising out of afflictions by various ailments can find health assuring remedies by consulting ‘Sancha’ system. The ‘Sancha’ treatise also guarantees a triumph over one’s ‘hidden’ enemies by recitation of certain ‘mantras’ i.e. secret incantations.
Its help is also sought in adopting a religious recourse to the matters connected with almost all the Hindu Sanskars right from birth to death. In addition to it, ‘Sancha’ knowledge also aids in the recovery of stolen items by giving clues and hints about the identity of the thief, the time of the occurrence of the theft and number of persons involved in the act. An accurate and exact knowledge of the auspicious timing or ‘Hora’ is also possible by consulting ‘Sancha’ text. The word ‘Sancha’ owes it’s origin to the Sanskrit word ‘Sanch’ or ‘Sanchai’, which means a repository or a compilation. The Brahmans well-versed with the ‘Sancha’ knowledge are called ‘Pabuch’ or ‘Baat’. In addition to ‘Pabuchi’ or ‘Bhatakshri’ dialects, the ‘Sancha’ texts are also found in ‘Chandvani’, ‘Pandvani’ and ‘Butakhshri’ dialects. The script employed by the Brahmans of the ‘Panda’ sect is called ‘Pandvani’, while as the inscription used by the Brahmans of the ‘Bhat’ sect is known by the name of ‘Bhatakshri’. According to a legend, an ancient ruler of the erstwhile Sirmour Kingdom came under the spell of a curse by a female dancer. As a consequence, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Sirmour was completely submerged under water and the royalty became kingless. Depressed by the loss of entire royal clan and to ensure a new heir to the Sirmour throne, two ministers of the Kingdom namely Roymoan and Roy Gopal are said to have travelled all the way from Sirmour to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir in the eleventh century A.D. The two Sirmour ministers are believed to have requested the then Kashmir King to send a Kashmiri Prince, who could take charge of the Sirmour Kingdom.

According to the oral legend, out of the two queens of the then Kashmiri King, one had an adopted son, while the second one named Sumitra was in a family way at that time. In pursuance of the then prevalent bestowal of alms custom, the King of Kashmir agreed to send his pregnant queen in the form of ‘Shaya Daan’ to the princely state of Sirmour. In furtherance of it and to facilitate the subsequent coronation of the Kashmiri Prince as a King of Sirmour, the queen Sumitra of Kashmir went to Sirmour. She was accompanied by a host of Rishis, saints, learned Brahmans, bards, artists and ministrels, in addition to numerous footmen and domestics. The accompanying Kashmiri Pandits are said to have carried with them their prized possession the ‘Sancha’ knowledge system. In the historical documents of Himachal, this notable event is recorded in the following lines “Loia Aana Mangtoo, Purohit Sath Loia Aana Raoy Baat Loia Aana Vikram Samvat Saat thi todi 1152 Mahina Magh.” It fully affirms and supports the historical fact that the carriers of the ‘Sancha’ treatise or knowledge to Himachal Pradesh were none other than the Kashmiri Pandits. Corresponding to the above Vikram Samvat, the exact year of the said event can be said to be 1095 AD.

The Kashmiri origin of the ‘Sancha’ treatise is further collaborated by the fact that even today before consulting the ‘Sancha’ text, Himachali Brahmans pay obeisance to Kashmir in the following lines, “Vidhya Suri Kashmiri Lagan dekh Shodan Vichar”. The Sancha Granth has detailed information about astrology, planetary placements, interpretation of Zodiac and planetary movements. Based on the intricate knowledge of ‘Sancha Granth’, the ‘Pabuchi’ scholars prepare a local variation of almanac (Jantri) called ‘Chri’. The three important components of ‘Chri’ are ‘Var’ i.e. day of the week or an occasion, ‘Tithi’ i.e. a lunar day or date and the planetary movements and their positions. The ‘Chiri’ is based on the solar planetary system, which regards Baisakhi as the first day of the New Year. To get solutions, answers and remedies for the different paradoxes that rock the day to day life, the ‘Sancha’ text is always consulted for the required help. Resembling a gambling dice, the ‘pasha’ or ‘pasa’ is employed in deciphering the required information from the ‘Sancha’ text. The ‘pasha’ or ‘pasa’ has an inscription of four numerical digits marked as 0,00,000 and 0000, which have the corresponding numerical strength of 1,2,3 and 4 respectively. These numerical digits are marked on the individual pages separately. Each numerical digit with an individual value of sixteen ‘Horas’ make a sum total of sixty four ‘Horas’, with one ‘Hora’ being equal to one twenty fourth part of a day.

The ‘Pashas’ or ‘Pasa’ are specially prepared only on auspicious days and involve elaborate religious rituals. The different ‘Horas’ that are in-vogue in the ‘Sancha Granth’ are known as ‘Kaalgaymi Hora’, ‘Bhoot Prashan Hora’, ‘Lagan Ki Hora’ and ‘Tithi Ki Hora’ etc. The square shaped ‘pasha’ or ‘pasa’ is usually made up of an elephant tooth, being 1½ to 2 inches in length and with the width of a finger. According to a belief in Sirmour area, the ‘Yantra’ and ‘Lagans’ made from the soil brought from the village Chanan, give better results while consulting ‘Sancha’ text. The Brahmans engaged in the ‘Sancha’ profession take every care to maintain the knowledge secrecy and imparting of it’s knowledge is confined only within the family.

The Kashmiri origin of the ‘Sancha’ text has also been acknowledged by Sh. Sudershan Vashisht, who is a well known author and researcher of Himachal Pradesh and has done note-worthy research work in this direction. The ancient and precious Sancha texts are also found in tehsil Chopal, tehsil Shilayi and Chakrota area of Uttar Pradesh.Pandit Om Prakash and Pandit Devi Ram, the native Brahmans of the village Khadanka in Sirmour are experts in Sancha knowledge and it’s system. Another Brahman named Pandit Shivanand, a resident of the village Janloag in Sirmour has also thorough knowledge of ‘Sancha’ texts. He makes accurate predictions based on it’s knowledge. Pt. Mohan Lal, a native of the village Dehar in Sirmour is a well-known name due to his thorough and intimate Sancha knowledge. The present day experts of Sancha Vidhya acknowledge their Kashmiri origin and lineage.
Undoubtedly, ‘Sancha’ is an ancient and sacred knowledge of Kashmiri origin, which is an integral part of our historical cultural heritage. It is a glorious reminder of our rich past and the proud contribution of Kashmiri Pandits, who have left an indelible mark on the pages of history.

(By Upendar Ambardar)

QABALI ATTACK EYEWITNESS VERSION….

🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁
QABALI ATTACK
EYEWITNESS VERSION….

An Eyewitness Account of the 1947 raid by Tribals from Pakistan-by T.N.Bhan

My name is Triloki Nath Bhan and I was 18 years old young boy living in Sehyar, test Srinagar when Pakistani Army along with Kabailies from North West Frontier Province, launched a series of surprise attacks across Jammu and Kashmir on October 24, 1947. As is well known the Pakistani invaders quickly overwhelmed the the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh. Most of the Muslim units of J& K Army comprising of Mirpuri deserted and joined the invaders after killing their Hindu and Sikh Officers. Muzzafarabd fell within a few hours of the attack and the invaders proceeded towards Baramula, Sopore and Srinagar. At the Uri bridge Brigadier Rajinder Singh lost his life putting up a valiant fight .He held the invaders for two days which gave time to the Maharajah to flee the valley. and the Indian Army to intervene. 

The Pakistani invaders entered Baramula on October 26, 1947 and proceeded to indulge in Rape, murder, loot and arson, especially targeting Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandit community. By the morning of October 27th some raiders had reached the outskirts of Srinagar. Hari Singh’s exit had totally broken the morale of the government and security establishment. Police stations were empty. anything could happen at any time. Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference organized a voluntary force of young men known as Salamati Fauj in the city with specific direction to maintain communal harmony at all costs. This worked, Halka Committees became the police station. I remember I also joined this force to patrol the streets to ensure nobody disturbed the communal harmony. Most of the Hindu leadership had left the valley for Jammu. As the Kashmiri Pandits trickled in from the countryside we began to hear the tales of atrocities, plunder, rape and murder of innocent Hindus and Sikhs by the Pakistani invaders.

Although Kashmir’s Pandits were leaderless as even our RSS leaders such as Bal Raj Madhok had left the city we the grassroot RSS Swyamsewaks began to organise ourselves to defend and protect Pandit honor. I belonged to Putli Dharamshalla Shakha. We decided to go out of Srinagar to visit other cities and villages and see for ourselves the condition of our Kashmiri Pandits brothers and sisters so that help could be arranged for the needy. I was accompanied by other Swyamsewaks such as Maharaj Krishan Mirza, Amar Nath Ganju, Manohar Nath Bhagati, Lakshmi Narain Kaul, Bhaska nath ganjoo, Durga Nath Dhar, Trilokinath Dhar, Prithvinath Dhar, Naranjan Kaul, Brijnath Moza and others. These volunteers hailed from Sehyar, Rehbaba Sahib and Rishipeer. We began our journey on 30th October 1947. Starting on foot in the early morning we first touched Shalteing about four miles down the road from Chhatabal Custom Post. Here we went inside the enclosed Chinar Grove and found two dead bodies of the Kabali-invaders who had been strafed by the Indian Air Force aircraft. Onward we reached Pooshbugg a village near Pattan where kabalies had executed 14 Kashmiri Pandits as they were performing fire veneration “Hawan”. The fire was still smoldering. Luckily all fourteen had already been cremated by the Pandits of the neighboring villages who had escaped the onslaught of these savages. All Pandit houses were looted. We tried to enter the town of Pattan but we were not allowed to enter. We could only guess the gruesome condition of Pandits in the town.

After Pattan we continued our journey to Sangarhama-detour to Sopore.There is a thick willow grove on the right side of the main road. A Muslim boy told us that we should go and see what had happened there. Visiting the Grove was most horrendous and traumatizing experience as we saw pieces of Indian currency notes and human skeletons scattered in the area. The boy told us that Sikh adults had killed their women and children here to ensure they did not fall in the hands of these heartless and treacherous Paksitani’s. Dazed we turned and left toward Sopore. We had walked about 200 yards we found a Kacha road to the left leading us to a Seer (Hindu Shrine). There we found a Mullah was teaching Quran to two Pandit women who were dressed in a Burka. As the Mullah saw us he took to his heels as we began chanting “Har Har Mahadev”, the women retracted and threw their Burkas. The shrine in Seer was reduced to heap of rubble and two Muslim men were pulling out the nails from the burnt wooden planks. The worse was still to come. We saw couple of KP’s men and women coming towards us all in tears, and crying. They told us that the local Muslims had invited two Pakistani Kabailies from Baramula and all our brethren had been asked to assemble in the ground near a mosque where a calf was slaughtered in their presence. Pieces of raw beef were forced down their throat and abuses were heaped. Their houses were looted-clean sweep, even the doors and window frames were pulled out. We spent the night with them, the bedding was the hay of rice. Of course we recited the bhajans the whole night. On the dawn of next day we began our journey towards Sopore. In this town not much damage was done. The leader of Kashmir pandits was Jat Kak Zutshi father of Jeevan Zutshi of California. Mr. Zutshi had worked with Muslim elders in the city to protect the KP’s. Unfortunately Jat Kak had become a target of the Kabaleys and he hid under the hay in the house of a Muslim friend on the condition that he convert to Islam. Jat Kak Zutshi’s family was my neighbor in Jamalatoo in Srinagar. 

The next day we proceeded to Bomai Village which is a couple of miles from Sopore on way to Handwara. Here the first assassination of a Batta had taken place a few days before the Pakistani invasion. The Martyre was Pandit Sarwanand Kaul an honest and diligent Intelligence Officer in the State Government. He was kidnapped and butchered a couple of kilometers from his house. We comforted the family. Buomay Battas were safe. No damage , except they were terribly shaken and fearful. We had lunch with them and assured them that the whole of Indian nation was with them.

On Reaching Handwara we witnessed six kucha earthen mounds burying six Kashmir Pandits belonging to one family. It was a mass suicide committed the family. Then we witnessed the same thing as we had seen earlier in Seer. Houses had been looted, KP residents were helter skelter seeking shelter to save their lives. We stayed in Handwara for the night sleeping on the bran (kuchh). In the morning we started to dig the bodies but the Commander of the area prevented us and said that Army would do it. It was a very tense night for us as firing from both sides was still going on. Taking the kuchha route to Baramula via Langet we continued our journey.

At Langet we found two dead bodies who were cremated by us. Langet had special significance for me as it is close to Trihagram where my maternal uncle Mr. Zindalal Raina of Rainawari residing near Hari Singh High School was assassinated in 1931 when Sheikh Abdullah as a Muslim Communalist had aroused the Hindu-Muslim strife in the valley.

We reached Baramula in the evening and came across a young Kashmiri Pandit who was a lecturer of English in the Govt. College there. He offered us to stay overnight which we did. His house was also looted as mentioned earlier. He told us how his beautiful wife and other young KP ladies had been locked in a house and gang raped by the Muslim invaders. Next day he showed us the house from which these women had jumped to death from the fourth story. During the talk he told us that one respectable couple in the town was dragged through the streets. We saw every KP house was looted-clean sweep even the doors and windows were removed. Streets were deserted Batta houses were like skeletons and the inhabitants had either gone into hiding or were killed. Many had committed suicide by jumping into the Jhelum river. Crossing the bridge to the other side where market and Govt. offices were housed, we were shown a spot in the middle of the bridge from where young Hindu-Pandit, Sikh and Khatri ladies plunged to their death by drowning into the river. Those who did not have a chance to kill themselves were herded into Tehsil compound and gang raped. All Hindu shops were looted in totality. We finally went to the Christian School and found that even the Nuns were not spared. Many had been raped before being murdered.

Out of respect we went to the spot where Maqbool Sherwani was hanged for misdirecting the invaders. At that point the Army Commander advised us to retrun to Srinagar as Baramula was still not safe for Hindus and Sikhs. It was clear that 30,000 Hindus men and women ( Pandit, Sikh and Kahtri) had either lost their lives or were taken as sex slaves by the Pakistani invaders.

Returning to Srinagar was a traumatic experience as if living hell was waiting for us. All of us were arrested and imprisoned in the Halqa Committee, denied food and beaten mercilessly for several days. By the skin of our teeth we managed our freedom with the condition that we would be under surveillance and roll called twice a day. It was clear to us that one way or the other these National Conference Halqa Committee Goons were going to get rid of us. We tried our best to find a way to get out of Srinagar. My quest to find someone who could get us out led me to Mr. Kashi Nath Fotedar who was an important Officer in the Indian Army in Badami Bagh. He was of immense help to many older Kashmir’s Pandits and children who he sent out in Army trucks. Another great Batta was Flt. Luit J. N. Dhar from Vicharnagh who was the only Kashmiri speaking Pilot at that time whom Nehru had deputed him to Srinagar. He too rendered great service to the community by flying out beleaguered KP’s in Airforce planes. I need to introduce Pandit Kashi Nath Fotedar first as he is the industrious father of Hira Fotedar and is the father of my wife Dulari Bhan as well. Mr. J. N. Dhar is the maternal uncle of Hira and paternal uncle of Vijay Dhar of Union City California.

My escape from Srinagar was possible only on April 6, 1948. I along with Manohar Bagati, Lakshmi Narain Kaul and Amar Nath Ganjoo walked all the way to Ptahankot on foot for 22 days. I finally settled at Saharanpur UP where I lived for 54 years.

Now I would like to pay my homage to all the KP Martyrs in 1931, 1947 and 1990. My compliments to those who by didn’t of their courage, resilience and focus rebuilt their lives from scratch without Government aid under very difficult circumstances. I wish to thank many old Kashmiri Pandits who offered all four of us help in Kanpur and helped us settle down. My companions Bagati, Kaul and Ganjoo sahib eventually returned to Srinagar where Mr. Amar Nath Ganjoo became an important RSS functionary. My thanks to Mr. B. K. Kaul ICS Iron and Steel Controller, Mr. H. N. Sapru Dy Director of Industries UP and S.n. Shivpuri , GM Cement Corporation. I am sure these great men have left us but I did want to recognise their help to many KP refugees in 1947.

Dear friends I am a proud Swayamsewak, and will be a Swyamsewak till my death.

Reagrds

Triloki Nath Bhan

Memphis Tennesee USA

Kedarnath pics taken in oct-18

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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

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

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