Have We Lost Our Identity?

3 mins read

Indu Kilam

Going down the memory lane, I am reminded of the time when the holy relic was stolen from Hazratbal and each day I would see people out in the streets wailing (usee karav Na seene chak, Aserov Na moie Pak). Indifferent to cold wintry days Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs protested collectively and made the government come down on its knees.

Why werer non-Muslims part of the agitation? Apparently there was no force, no fear. The only answer that comes to my mind is that those were times when our Kashmiri identity was paramount. Have we deliberately lost it or we don’t care anymore? Proudly, I have to say that it was not a simple example. We enjoyed our times and remained always closed to each other. Our festivals, our weddings, our Mourning’s, were incomplete without each other.

Citing an example, which most of you must also have experienced, the Hindu festival of shivratri would commence with the coming of the kraije (the Potter women),who would on a selected auspicious day come with all the freshly made articles to be delivered for the puja. The eldest in the family would welcome her with aalth (arti) and amidst a lot of fanfare would be comfortably seated.

My grandmother would gossip with her like two friends, and never would there be a transaction of money. That would have been unfair,though there were other means of compensating. With the beginning of the festivities, all of our Muslim friends would be there to celebrate. It was equally true about Muslim festival Eid. Dinners and lunches along with joy and fun would continue for days.

In schools and colleges our best friends were most of the time non-Hindus. So were our teacher’s. Never in my life have I felt being discriminated and judged by the faith I followed in. Each examination I excelled, my friends would celebrate, my success would be theirs. Never for a fleeting second did we think of ourselves as being different.

On my wedding day, Muslim guests outnumbered the Hindus. My Muslim aunts sang for days,rejoicing with us.

Than 1990 happened.I could see the helplessness on their faces amidst tears. I could fathom the deep sorrow within, bewildered and confused was the common man. Someone else was pulling the strings. What had gone wrong? Why was our goddess seated on the top of the hillock angry?

Why were there no nufuls? Why no sacrifices? Why didn’t one of us walk bare-footed to the ziarart of the sultan. Why was there a stony silence and indifferent looks? Why didn’t we come out on those long wintry nights, singing hamlawar houhoushiar,hum kashmiri hai tayar.

What had gone amiss? Had my elder brother missed out in his role as my guardian or was religion more important than my very identity?

Kashmiri’s have always been religious and God fearing. But our religion was liberal and based on true Sufi tenants. Kashmiri Pandits while going to pay obeisance at the Sharika Mandir at hariparbat would also with a similar faith go up the stairs of muqdum sahib. Newborn, not born on auspicious days would be left on the stairs of the shrine and if someone picked it up, he would be given money in exchange of baby.

This was followed by both. The cooking of tahiri (yellow rice) was also common to both including meat eating, which, however, is uncommon to Sarswati Brahmins in the rest of country. NundReshi order of inclusiveness and tolerance was followed, lala was revered by both.

After all we belonged to a similar flock. We took pride in being Kashmiri’s hard working, simple and naïve, craftsmen and musicians of the highest order. We took innate, pride in our rich legacy of Abinavgupt, our rich poetry, and mastery of scriptures and arts.

Untouched was the simple Kashmiri by the fast changing order of the World. The finale of a roadside quarrel would be of hurling of a kangri (the indigenous individual fire pot which every Kashmiri would carry in the long bitter cold months).

It still remains a mystery as to how the meek, God fearing Kashmiri could graduate to AK47. How could they kill and plunder. It was clear that we had become pawns for the players, who had their own game plan. A handful, for their own personal gains destroyed the peace of the beautiful valley. All have suffered, displacement, disappeared young men, orphans, widows and cruel deaths are what we have passed through.

The author has retired as professor in English and is presently associated with Ehsaas and various other intellectual think tanks working for Indo-Pak bonhomie.

Note: The views expressed in article are authors own

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