Tag Archives: kashmir blogs

PARMESHWARI AGITATION –1967

The HIGH & LOW OF KP AGITATION 1967

Parmeshwari Agitation of 1967 is 52 years old. During these 52 years much water has flown down the Jehlum, Changes in all spheres have taken place beyond imaginations. The men and women who took part or have an appreciable impression of the month long agitation and are alive are over 70 years old ——- leading a well earned retired life , looking after their grand children or nursing their old age health problems. 50 years is a very long period to remember vividly all that happened during the agitation. So it is natural they may have nearly forgotten or at best might be having some faded impressions.This write up is to revive the memories of that agitation among the elders and for the youngsters of the community to draw their own conclusions.

This writer was a college student during the agitation. I was born in a family where Politics and Journalism had already taken birth since 1939. A large family consisting of more than 30 members would sit together after the Dinner to discuss every thing under the Sun.This was the order of the day. Most of the time our immediate neighbours would also join the discussions .Such discussions had helped us to be rational thinkers.This writer shared what ever observed or seen during the day and get corrected after interaction with the family members. The month of JULY brings me back the month long memory of the agitation , hence this write up.

Many intellectuals & authors have written about this agitation . Almost all of them have blamed the majority community for having engineered and helped the handing over of Parmeshwari to her Muslim paramour . But we have turned blind eye how our own people helped her to be handed over to her paramour. The main purpose of this write up is to put the record STRAIGHT. Sitting in the glass houses and throwing stones at others is not the solution. While we have the liberty of putting the blame at the door of others , we should first clean our own house. Let the future generations and research scholars have both the views in front of them and make their own conclusions. I would request the readers to go through the write up and express their opinions freely with out any reservations. This writer will welcome both the brickbats and bouquets.

I have deliberately avoided the names in the write up. Most of them are dead and by naming them this writer does not want that their descendants should be visited by the sins of their elders . I have kept the month long happenings to the briefest lest reader looses the plot while going through it.

PARMESHWARI AGITATION —-1967

The Spring of 1967 had given way to the Summer. The days become large , sky clear and the temperature rising with humidity. The people of the valley were enjoying the last month of Summer —- August , and every thing looked hunky dory.Little did the people know that a volcano was brewing in the centre of Lal Chowk. The epicentre of the volcano was the ground floor of LALLA RUKH HOTEL, which was the retail centre of groceries of the Govt. Co -operative department ( a very poor cousin of present day Mall) along side the old city bus stand very near to the Tyndale Biscoe School. The store had many sales people ( both girls & men ) .
Among the Sales Staff, one of the sales girl was PARMESHWARI ( the daughter of a widow residing in Bagh Jogi Lanker , Rainawari ) , and the other other was GHULAM RASOOL KANT( resident of Wazapora , Ali kadal ).Working in the same place and under one roof they started liking each other. Incidentally , the Manager of the Co operative outlet was a burly mustached Kashmiri Pandit , resident of Bagh Jogi Lanker ,Rainawari(the writer does not want to name him ) living just 500 meters from the residence of Parmeshwari . The romance between the two was happening before his eyes but ,kept silent for reasons best known to him. It is a mere presumption now that had he spoken to her widow mother the situation could have been saved. The romance having reached a point of no return , the two decided to go for marriage. Parmeshwari eloped and started living with Gh. Rasool Kanth.

The widow mother lodged a missing report about her daughter. The widow also approached some KP Leaders who became active and got in touch with the police. Their contention was that the girl is minor and has been abducted, the girl should be restored to her mother. But the Birth record and the Municipality record showed that she is “MAJOR”. The news was leaked to the muslim controlled vernacular press who lapped it up and prominently published it. At the same time the news spread like wild fire among the KP community. The murmurs started getting louder and louder. Sensing the grave situation the State authorities instructed the DIG Police, Kashmir to get hold of the girl and hand her over to the mother. The DIG Police Kashmir range happened to be a tall handsome Kashmiri Pandit IPS officer who thought that he was the only honest and efficient police officer who knew the rules and regulations at the tip of his tongue ( the writer does not want to name the officer). Going through the birth records , he declared that the girl is major and can decide about her future. In fact a meeting between Mother and daughter ——- who by now had changed her name to PARVEEN AKHTAR, in presence of KP activists in the police station was arranged. She tersely told her mother that she knew about the whole affair because Gh. Rasool would come to our home quite often. The mild tremors started assuming the shape of earth quake high on the Richter scale. Two types of “PROTESTS” started . One was the day protest held on the streets and the other was the evening protest where fiery speeches were delivered on the lawns of the SHEETAL NATH —— Head quarters of the All India Kashmiri Pandit sabha. This writer would deal separately lest it causes confusion.

DAY PROTESTS

The news spread like wild fire not only in J&k but in all the principal cities of India where ever there was a sizable population of the community. Since Electronic media had not come up of the age ,the print media both local and National lapped it and splashed the news on their front pages.In the meantime “ACTION COMMITTEE ” was constituted by the community. The members of the Action committee were the much known faces of the community. The Action Committee had its HQ in Sheetal Nath premises where from programmes and press releases were being issued. The community had become quite restive and was hell bent upon for a show down with the state government.The community took to the streets in unprecedented large numbers spearheaded by the women and girls.The Kashmir watchers who had witnessed protests on the streets at different times were shocked to see the huge numbers of the community women and girls taking to the streets. Known for being mostly the home makers and keeping inside their homes , It shocked everybody including the majority community. Wearing their traditional dress the SAREES , tightened around their waistline, they raised the slogans against the government by raising their arms in fists, they faced and stood rock like in facing the tear gas shells and lathis of the state police. They never ran for shelter and showering of shells and lathis added to their zeal by making their protests more and more vociferous. With lowered jaws and shocked expectations the majority community would throng the places in huge numbers where the protest was going to be held. By and large they conceded that they never had expected such strong and unprecedented resentment.
This writer was witness to one protest held at BAJAJ TOWERS in front of Broca Press .The tall handsome KP DIG came in a jeep thinking that he will himself manage the protesters. Hardly had he stepped down from his jeep than he was attacked by the women protesters who encircled him like attacking bees , pulling at his starch pressed uniform and tearing it. His security staff could not reach him while he was being pushed and pulled. It was the timely intervention of Late Sh. T N Dhar, the then President of Valley JAN SANGH who threw himself around the DIG and pushed him inside his jeep. But for his intervention the handsome tall DIG would have been stripped naked.

Watching another such protest in the Regal Chowk , Late Shamim Ahmed Shamim , the sarcastic and sadistic pleasure loving , M.P. & Journalist wrote in his newspaper “AINA” .” He has watched many protests held at different times , by male protesters , who would run for the nearest shelter after being lathi charged and being showered by the tear gas shells. My shocking surprise came when I watched the protest of Kashmiri Pandit women. They faced the tear gas shells standing rock like and occasionally throwing these back to the police. salute to their bravery and firm conviction”.

Jammu division was also affected by the protests . Jammu city which had a sizable population of Kashmiris also took to the streets in order to show their solidarity with the brethren and sisters of Kashmir. The local people though did not take active part but gave moral support . Says Sh. Bushan Parimoo, Journalist & environmentalist , who was one of those who spearheaded the protest, the young men and women had formed a group who would perform underground activities in which girls became the “INFORMATION CARRIERS” hood winking the police.

Same type of protests were being carried out in the principal cities of the country where the community had a sizable presence. Funds were being collected in addition to medicines and other things. They were contacting the local media and giving them the exact details .
Back in the valley the protests were getting more and more intensified — the whole credit should go to the women and girls. This writer was witness to the huge number of women and girls coming all the way from Rainawari footing the distance to reach the specific places of protests.

By now the state government realised that they had under estimated the situation and they had been caught with their pants down. The unnerved administration did not know how to control the situation . In order to break the agitation they resorted to the mass arrests of the community. Night knocking of the doors by the police became the order of the day. The central Jail got filled with hundreds of arrested people.The busy body Principal of the Women’s College — a close friend of Mr. Sadiq tried to help the Government by closing the gates of the college so that the girls don’t come out for the protest. To compound the difficulties of the government differences between Sadiq and Mir Qasim ( President State Congress) surfaced. Central Government was also a mute spectator. They were caught in a situation of between the deep sea and the devil. They did not want to antagonise the majority population while having sympathy with the minority. The vote bank policy plays a vital role in a democratic set up. According to well informed sources Sadiq had offered to resign but was persuaded not to.

EVENING PROTEST

After the day long protest the people would Que to Shital Nath, the head quarters of the “ACTION COMMITTEE” where from the “FARMANS” were issued for the next day. The people would come in large numbers and make themselves where ever they could find space in the uneven lawn. An improvised platform had been made where the honorable members of the action committee would sit. The people would jostle for the front rows where from they could see the faces of the speakers.Fiery and tsunami like speeches were delivered . The speakers while delivering the speeches violently shook their bodies —— infact one of the senior action committee member used to wear turban —— he had to make efforts to keep it on the head lest it falls down. The crowd would lustily cheer and greet them with the slogan “PANJA NARA PANDVAN DA CHATTA NARA JAI HIND”.Most of the senior members of the action committee had JAN SANGH/ RSS leanings.As the days wore on the stage was slowly “CAPTURED” by young men who were mostly unemployed or had some personal grudge for the authorities for not considering them for the professional institutions. Slowly the agenda of “RETURN OF PARMESHWARI” went down the priority list or was “PUT ON THE BACK BURNER”. They would attack the government for not providing them jobs.The speakers who would start with Kashmiri shifted to Hindi/urdu and finally to English. They would use such words which were not found in Oxford dictionary. Says , Bushan Parimoo who was a prominent member of the Jammu agitation, was invited by the Action committee to speak from the dias.But the “Young Brigade” did not give them time even after waiting for 3 days. This made Dr. Karan Singh , who was a central cabinet minister , to tell the Jammu people that ” THE KPS DO NOT WANT “KUDI” ( GIRL) they want NAUKRI The senior leaders were watching this with mute silence and helplessly. The speeches became more personal , with individuals having their own agendas.

At this stage the writer wants to bring to the notice of the readers a view from an “old Kashmiri hand”. The person was none other than Pt. PREM NATH BAZAZ—— an experienced Kashmiri Pandit , having been a top community leader , journalist, political analyst and a reputed author. He was in Srinagar during the agitation period. He would quietly sit in the office of his old disciple, the veteran Journalist Sh. N L WATTAL, who by now had become the Chief Editor of the prestigious newspaper ” The Daily KHIDMAT” , dipping himself in newspapers /books/magazines. Said Sh Wattal —— quote” As the agitation was gathering momentum day after day, I also got emotionally involved. Bazaz Sahab never commented on it. When the agitation was at peak , he broke his silence. ” Nand Lal I can see that you too have been overtaken by the agitation. I nodded “Yes”. To which Bazaz replied :- Quote
” THERE NEVER HAS BEEN A MASSIVE AGITATION FROM OUR COMMUNITY LIKE THIS , NOR THERE WILL BE IN FUTURE. BUT ALL THIS MASSIVE ENERGY WILL END IN A SMOKE. THE LEADERS LACK VISION , THEY ARE INCAPABLE, THEY HAVE THEIR OWN AGENDAS, VESTED INTERESTS. THE “DISCIPLE” PROTESTED BUT THE “GURU” STUCK TO HIS WORDS. Little did the disciple know that the “GURU” was an old hand and had known these leaders much earlier. What happened to the agitation is now history. The “GURU” proved to be MICHEL de NOSTREDAME of Kashmir.

While the agitation was at peak , Jan Sangh wanted to cash in on it. They dispatched their senior leader Balraj Madhok to add fuel to the fire.While delivering his characteristic fiery speech he told the Muslims to go to Pakistan.This was the opportunity for which the State Government was waiting. The State government instigated the majority community with the local urdu media controlled mostly by Muslims to express their strong protest against the speech of Balraj Madhok. After setting the valley on fire Madhok left for Delhi next day leaving the KP community at the mercy of the God. The situation changed totally over night. The next morning dawned with the majority community observing total Bandh, huge processions, killings, physical assaults on the minority community, looting of their shops and burning of their houses.Says, Sh. P N PANDITA, ( Retd , Chief Conservator of Forests) , their family lived in a house in Karan Nagar. When the family members returned after the day work , they found the house in flames and the goons cheering. All they could salvage was the clothes they were wearing and the “LIFE”. The police had been instructed to look “other Way” while all this was taking place. The State Government was bent upon “TEACHING A LESSON’ to the minority community.They planted some of our community men as “SPIES” in the central Jail who would report to the state authorities. This continued for several days. The entire city was put under curfew.As if this was not enough , the state Government released the criminals from their barracks and asked them to attack the KP arrested people and beat them black and blue. All this was being carried out to please the majority community.The death toll of KP Community during this period of arson and looting rose to nearly 12.

MEDIA — A DIVIDED HOUSE.

The print media became a divided house. The local urdu press controlled mostly by the majority community publishing news palatable to the majority community. The National Press whose correspondents were mostly from the minority community maintained a balance by blaming the state government for their ineffective role in controlling the goons who went on rampage. Says Sh. J N Dhar, the then Special Correspondent AIR ( Now the Chief Editor of “KOSHUR SAMACHAR”) the state government complained against his reporting to his superiors but his superiors stood by him saying “there is no doubt about the balanced and unbiased reporting of Sh. JN Dhar”.

BURIAL OF THE DAY & EVENING PROTESTS

With the imposition of the curfew the day long protests came to a grinding halt. In the same way the “the fire spitting young hot heads disappeared from the Sheetal Nath dais taking refuge in their homes. While all this was happening some of the senior leaders of the action committee were busy establishing links with the state authorities. During the day they would spit fire and during the night they would sit with the state authorities to discuss their own “personal agendas”.This “CHANNEL TWO ” ( a word coined after 1990) diplomacy between the Scoundrels and scalawags ( the so called Netas) , the community brokers , was confirmed by the then Home Secretary ( Speaker turned IAS bureaucrat ) , during his post retirement days which he would spend at the office of the Daily “KHIDMAT” ( he would write centre page articles for the paper occasionally).

AWAKENING OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

The agitation had become a National News. The so called Secular parties like Congress, Leftists, in order to settle scores with Jan Sangh party jumped into the fray by advising the minority community of Kashmiri Pandits to maintain the age old fabric of brotherhood and secular values , carefully avoiding any comment on the majority community , solely because of vote bank policy. When enough water had flown down the Jehlum , Delhi woke up. They despatched the then Home Minister of GOI , Sh. Y B Chavan, to the valley. The State Government was represented by their Home Minister.

CREMATION OF AGITATION
Mr Chavan held parleys with different groups. While appealing for the end of agitation , he asked the “Action Committee” to submit memorandum. Dissensions had already started in the “Action Committee”. Fierce differences appeared on what should be included in the memorandum. The Netas who had established links with the state authorities were eager to present the memorandum to end the agitation because of their own personal agendas. A sort of agreement was reached between the Netas and the young hot heads . Ultimately the young hot heads had their way . They prepared the list of demands keeping their own demands such as employment, more seats in the professional colleges etc and the last demand was for the return of Parmeshwari. The Netas though not satisfied with the draft were in a hurry to call off the agitation for their own interests. The agitation was formally called off. Mud slinging started between the leaders blaming each other for the termination of the agitation for their own interests. The scoundrels and scalawags of the community in a shameless way trying to wriggle out of the mess they had created placed the blame at the door of the State Home Minister. Though this writer has never been a fan of that Minister belonging to our community , he never used the platform of the community to rise to such position.

CREMATION OF THE AGITATION

The month long agitation was put on the pyre and lit by the shameless, graceless, disgusting “leaders” of the community.
The supreme sacrifice of our women and girls who left their homes and hearths without caring for their siblings, walking long distances from their homes in the hot weather of Summer to reach the places of protests ended in a smoke.They bore the maximum brunt of the police LATHIS, Tear Gas shells,water canons.This writer has no hesitation in saluting their guts, determination and bravery. I would call them “JHANSI RANIS OF SRINAGAR”. The people who got killed, the people whose houses were set on fire, who were physically assaulted, those who were attacked by the hardened criminals inside the premises of the central jail. All this went up in a smoke within minutes.

GAJENDARGADKAR COMMISSION

The Government of India constituted a Single man commission headed by the Retired Chief Justice of India , Sh. Gajendargadkar to look into the grievances of the community based on the memorandum submitted by the “Action Committee”. How much seriously the community took this commission that only 3 affidavits were submitted before the commission. Commendable is the performance of one Smt. VEENA Dhar , who argued the case before the commission extempore without any papers. Said Late Sh. R K DULLOO, Retd District and Sessions Judge , that the community did not present their case properly.The so called “NETAS” were busy distributing loaves and fishes among themselves, they had no time for this waste ful exercise.

THE LAST LAUGH FOR THE MONTH LONG AGITATION WAS THE GAJENDARGADKAR COMMISSION.

Before I conclude , writer would ask some questions and request the readers to reply these :-

Q No 1 DID ANY MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY ASK THE TALL HANDSOME THE THEN KP DIG POLICE OFFICER WHY HE DID NOT HAND OVER PARMESHWARI TO HER MOTHER , DESPITE BEING TOLD BY THE AUTHORITIES. THIS GENTLEMAN LIVED IN DELHI , ATTENDED ALL THE MEETINGS/SEMINARS BY THE KP ORGANISATIONS. IN THE POST MIGRANT PERIOD?

Q. No :- 2. DID ANY MEMBER ASK THE BURLY MOUSTACHED KP MANAGER OF THE Govt. Co Opertive Store , WHY HE DID NOT INFORM THE MOTHER OF PARMESHWARI, WHO WAS LIVING JUST 500 Meters from his house?

Q. No :- 3. WHAT HAPPENED TO LAKHS OF RUPEES AND MEDICINES THAT WERE COLLECTED FROM VARIOUS PARTS BY KP ORGANISATIONS AND IN SOME CASES AIRLIFTED TO SRINAGAR. HAS ANY BODY ASKED THIS QUESTION ? NO, NONE. NOT A SINGLE PENNY WAS PAID TO THE DESCENDANTS WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES?

By-Mr. V.K. Wattal

Advertisements

Regulation of Vitasta (Jhelum) by Suyya

Kalhana writes in ‘Rajatarangini’ about the illustrious visionary Suyya- The Engineer .He lived during the King Avantivarman’s Rule and was in fact whole heatedly supported by the king in his endeavor. Kalhana has given in detail about this great Engineering Operation, which was carried out in his reign(Avantivarman)for the drainage of the valley as well as for irrigation.
The topographically interesting details of these operations which are connected with the name of Avantivarman’s skillful Engineer Suyya. The systematic regulation of the course of the vitasta , down to the rock-bound gorge where it leaves the valley, largely reduced the extent of the water-locked tracts along the banks of the river and the damage to the crops caused by floods. The construction of the new beds for the river at points threatened by the inundation-breaches was among the measures designed to effect the same object.The change thus made in the confluence of the vitasta and its most important tributary , the Sindhu, can still be clearly traced, thanks to Kalhana’s accurate topographical Data. It shows alike the large scale and the systematic technical basis of Suyya’s regulation. The result of the latter was a great increase of land available for cultivation , and increased protection against disastrous floods which in Kashmir have ever been the main cause of famine.
According to the account of the chronicler, Suyya supplemented these measures by equally important improvements in the system of irrigation which indispensable for the cultivation of Rice, the staple produce of Kashmir. The facilities thus secured for cultivation produced a remarkable reduction in the orice of rice, the cost of a Khari being alleged to have fallen from 200 Dinnaras to 36 Dinnaras in consequence.

It is only natural that the story of this great change in the material condition of the country which so closely affected the welfare of its inhabitants should have exercised popular imagination , already at the time and still more thereafter.We accordingly find the account of Suyya’s origin and his initial proceedings embellished with details which are manifestly legendary. But though the anecdotes to which we are treated, can have no foundation in historical fact, yet they are just such as would readily be accepted by contemporary popular tradition. Suyya’s memory is preserved to this day by the town of Suyyapura, the present Sopore-which was founded by him at the point where the vitasta since his regulation leaves the basin of the volur lake.

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

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

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.

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 Police Radicalized!

It was 9.00 p. m.

The phone was ringing, yet Yasir was not picking up the phone.

Well, he was my neighbour and we had spent our childhood together , like many Kashmiri children of our genre did. As part of our tacit understanding, we talked to each other occasionally, and in our discussions, we covered almost all the subjects pertaining to us and to Kashmir.

He is working in the Police department in J&K Government.

I tried again after 10 minutes, just after two rings, he picked up the phone. “Jenab Aadab! How are you doing Brother?” said he warmly. “I am fine. How is your family?”, I asked him routinely. We inquired about the general well being of our family and friends for some time-like we always do-and then our conversation veered towards the more sensitive and somewhat uncomfortable issues.

Yes . it was Kashmir.

“Hurriyat won’t let the peace prevail in Kashmir”, I ingeminated .” They get huge kickbacks from Pakistan”, I further stated. “You are right” said he without inflection. “ In fact, they are funding  the stone-pelters too”, I emphasized. “The militants too get paid for the attacks they carry out on the Indian soldiers”. I further elaborated. He was listening very patiently, without interrupting me. “what do you think?”, I wanted to get his reaction-which always starts with a neutral judgement about India and ends with an inexplicit yet pro-pakistan stance.

“These militants are doing, what they are paid for. They are not bothered about kashmiris or Kashmir. They are like us-policemen. They too are doing their duty. So is Hurriyat. And in this whole process, we- common kashmiris- are getting crushed physically, mentally and emotionally”, said he in a rather angry intonation.

“we are living in a Big Jail. An open-big-jail” His tone was Sullen. “Though, I am a policeman, yet, I try my best to come home by 7 p.m. We  have to go through so many security checks. And sometimes the questions asked by the security personnel is rather annoying and filled with implicit chagrin towards us”. He said in a dreary voice.

I had heard this earlier too. Phrase like “Open Jail” have been often used by Pak-Backed-Hurriyar as a part of their usual propaganda against the Administration. I could have protested, But, I choose not to chime in while he was talking to me.

He was saying something, but I was not listening. His statements had put me in a reverie . I was thinking about our previous interactions on Social Media.

Based on my previous conversations with him, I knew, when we talked about our families and friends, he would be sincere. so was I. But, when we talked about Kashmir, our perspectives would not match at all. Somehow, till date we have managed to put a balance between sincerity and our mutually unctuous narration of our feelings for Kashmir or rather Kashmir imbroglio.  We know for sure that there is a divide between our perspective and the way, we look at Kashmir.

All these facts were flashing in my mind.

There is a Hindu version of Kashmiri Pandits and there is a Kashmiri Muslim version. And they never match.

I was thinking that often, Yasir sends me Face book messenger messages and Whatsup messages. Most of the messages sent to me are forwards pertaining to Kashmir-imbroglio. Much of the content of the forwarded messages consist of the greatness of Islam or in other words the Hegemony of Muslims and their great personalities. The messages also included Zakir Naik’s disparaging videos about Hindus or how ridiculous Hindus and Hinduism is. He had also sent me a link on Godara, or what Arundati Roy said, or Osho’s message on Beef Eating( can you believe it!). On Dalits, Maoists and what not. I could not condone the fact that, till date, he has never once sent me a message which shows the glory of India or the tolerance of Hindus or Hinduism.

I was also thinking that If anyone reads the messages, he sends me, it would definitely look like as if the messages are being sent from the Hurriyat headquarters and not from a JK policeman.

I also wondered if my friend knew or he deliberately ignored the fact that After all, India is the 2nd most Muslim populous country. They have the right to follow Shariah. Being minorities, they have reservations and even a Hajj-Subsidy. On Fridays, they convert highways, busy market places, offices, Government buildings etc. into the praying Ground-that too without impunity.

I was tempted to think that just a day before yesterday, as I was going through the whatsup messages, I had seen a couple of message from Yasir.He had sent a message that showcased-how great Islam is.The other message read-Hindu terrorists did the blast.

It came to my mind that during all these years, I never reacted to his posts. I would like or comment on only those videos, that were more balanced or funny and that were apolitical. I had never emphasized on my being a proud Indian – which I am, or sent any message or video that belittled his faith. But, he on the other hand had made his desires and intentions clear, by sending anti-India and anti-Hindu messages. His innate desires and his tilting towards Pakistan and Hurriyat was too conspicuous. Just because, I tolerated his messages, didn’t mean that I didn’t understood the purpose and his intentions.

I was forced to think, if JK Police personnel, are indoctrinated so radically as his messages suggest. What will be the condition of othe Govt. employees-who don’t have the responsibility to impose law and order. No wonder, there is a rise in the number of incidents wherein not only the quisling-policemen of JK have snatched the rifles of their own elected Government, but they have become active terrorists.

” Isn’t it the responsibility of the JK Government to check such personnel and make it sure that at least the mindset of the policemen is Nationalistic and pro-India. With such policemen, how can the administration deal with the Pakistan sponsored terrorism? “, I was thinking loud.

I was also forced to think, if 70000 more police men are recruited from Kashmir, whom will it benefit? How can I forget that in 1947, the role of the renegade armed forces of poonch/Rajauri played a very important role in snatching POK from Maharaja Hari Singh!
“Are you listening, Sandeep!, hello! Hello!, are you there”, Yasir’s voice woke me from dwam. “Yes”, I cleared my throat, and feigned to be attentive. Our discussion lasted for some more minutes and we bade good bye and Good night to each other.

I was trying to sleep, but I could not stop thinking that Whenever, I had a long discussion with Yasir over phone, I many a times wondered whether GOI, has any plans to tackle this issue?

Because
if they don’t have or if they still are in a deep slumber, Time has come to wake up and tackle this unpleasant reality.

And act fast.

I was reminded of what once John. F. Kennedy said
“We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.”

And then, Sleep came from somewhere and put a haitus to the medley of thoughts and feelings, I was encountering…..

(Sandeep Raj koul)

Vishnu-The protector

Sri Vishnu is an aspect of supreme consciousness who dwells within animate and inanimate beings of creation and controls our inner recesses of our being by constant source of motivation, judgement and perception. Vishnu literally means “the one who encompasses the world” who controls processes of creation and as an interdweller or Antaryaami and yet is unaccomplished by myriad souls and thus is referred as Para Vasudeva.
Among various names extensively used for Vishnu are Narayana, Hari, Govinda, Madhava, Vasudeva, Janardana, Rama, Krishna, Srinivasa, Narsimha etc.
Vishnu is also referred as Peetambara and his common form famous among devotees is the one where Lord is standing in equipoise and is called as “Samabhangi”. In this form Lords color is of rain bearing clouds which signifies all pervasiveness and having four hands. The upper hand holds conch which symbolizes that he is the eternal communicator and thus his word is the source of creation, discus reveals that Lord annihilates the worlds, whereas lower left hand hold mace implying that he always upholds rule of law and suitably punishes those who create havoc whereas his lower right hand is in Varada Mudra which is shown as holding lotus that bestows boons. He sports garland of attractive flowers strewn with wild flowers and Tulasi. Vishnu has a mark on his chest which is called as “Srivatsa” and is representation of Lakshmi as both of them cannot be separated hence this mark. He is donning a necklace of rare gems called as “Kaustabha” and his head has a towering diadem studded with precious gems.
Vishnu is commonly famous through his Dashaavtaras most venerated among them being Rama, Krishna, Buddha. Subsequently there is a complete school of Vaishnavism who consider Lord as Para Brahama with multitude of other gods and deities as attributes of Vishnu. The Lord has various avtars such as poorna avtars, ansha avtars , avesha avtars , leela avtars and jnana avtars which are acts of Lord to communicate with the worldly beings and impart meaningful lessons to humans. All these forms have different attributes, weapons, appearance’s which extended from time to time.
Vaishnavism is the important cult of followers of Lord and are widely spread in Indian Sub continent. It is important to mention that all the Agamas pertaining to Vishnavism were written in Kashmiri at a place called as Predhuman Peetha which is now known as Hari Parvat. The litanies’ written are Panchratra Agamas totaling around 200 in numbers. All the rituals of Vaishnavism are as per these agamas.
According to Vishnu Puran, Vaikuntha is the abode of Vishnu and is most sacrosanct place which is final refuge to the liberated souls. In Vaikuntha Lord is said to be residing on multi headed serpent also known as Adi Sesha. All other chief deities are in full attendance singing hymns and eulogizing lord through their prayers. The Lord is represented with six qualities of Wisdom (jnana), Sovereignty (Aishwarya), energy (Shakti), strength (Bala), valour (veerya) and luster (Tejas).
The Tulsi plant worship is an important ritualistic aspect of Vaishnavism and is offered to Vishnu besides recitation of Vishnu Saahsranaam. Vishnu is said to reside in a pot where tulsi is grown and is offered daily to Lord.
The important places of veneration in Jammu and Kashmir are Naubandhana Teertha also known as Vishnu Pad or Kaunser Nag in Pulwama, Kashmir besides Varahamulha now known as Baramula associated with varaha avtar of Lord and Anant Nag associated with Sesha nag who is also known as Anant nag.
The Vishnu has been the most venerated God among the rulers and hence various temples were dedicated to Him especially by Lalitaditya and Avantivarman. The official patronage for building of Vishnu temples was given during the reign of Avantiverman of Lohara dynasty and a famous temple of Avantiswamin was built near Avantipora.
Later Sikh rulers and most importantly by Dogra rulers the temples dedicated to different forms of Vishnu were built and murthis consecrated in them. The notable among them which stands tall on architectural grandeur are Ragunath temple of Jammu and Srinagar.
All the iconographic orientations of Vishnu in these temples are ornate, aesthetically beautiful and highly impressive.

 

By-Sunil Raina Rajanak
(The author is a founder member Himalayan Heritage Foundation.)

Dilapidated temples of kashmir

 

 

 


IMG-20160801-WA0073 IMG-20160801-WA0074 IMG-20160807-WA0137 IMG-20160807-WA0136 IMG-20160807-WA0135 IMG-20160807-WA0134 IMG-20160807-WA0128 IMG-20160807-WA0129 IMG-20160807-WA0130 IMG-20160807-WA0132 IMG-20160807-WA0133 IMG-20160807-WA0127 IMG-20160807-WA0126 IMG-20160807-WA0125 IMG-20160807-WA0123 IMG-20160807-WA0122 IMG-20160805-WA0071 IMG-20160805-WA0070 IMG-20160807-WA0117 IMG-20160807-WA0119 IMG-20160807-WA0120 IMG-20160807-WA0121 IMG-20160801-WA0077 IMG-20160801-WA0076 IMG-20160805-WA0073 IMG-20160801-WA0071

 

Continue reading