Thursday, November 17, 2011

THE KASHMIRI IN ME.


I am a Gen-X girl. Fast and forward. My individuality and style defines my culture and work. Also being a secular, I am first an Indian. Caste, creed and colour therefore take a backseat for a person like me. But my lifestyle, culture, background, habits etc are also a part of me. They have a strong role in making me who and what I am.

I am a Kashmiri Pandit, a person who belongs to a sect of Hindu Brahmins originating from Kashmir. The religious philosophy of Kashmiri Hindus is rooted in Kashmir Shaivism, a school of Shiva philosophy that originated near Kailasha in Himalayas around 400 AD.


 History has been a witness to a number of hardships borne by our community. During the spread of Islam in the Kashmir Valley around and after 1343 A.D, the Hindu community was subjected to a number of atrocities, which included forced conversions, destruction of temples, burning of religious books and no rights whatsoever. These Hindus could neither use vermillion nor wear the sacred thread nor the Sarees and other dress.

Sultan Ali Shah, through Government instructions, ordered a search of Pandits and all of them were forced to adopt Islam. It is believed that under the stormy religious conversion, carried out by Sikander and his son, Ali Shah, only 11 families of Hindus were left in Kashmir. The rest were converted, killed or had been forced to migrate.

The scenario improved in the reign of other kings who were a bit linient towards Hindus. However as they say history repeats itself, history did repeat and this time in a more ugly way. In 1989-1990, in the name if jihad, Kashmiri pandits were brutally killed, raped and looted. They were given warnings to leave Kashmir at once or face dire consequences. In exile, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits have died due to change in environmental conditions. Kashmiri Pandits were forced to live in hostile conditions in make-shift camps in Jammu/Delhi. During summers, the average temperature of Kashmir would generally be in thirties while in Jammu/Delhi, it is in forties. Think of 45ºC and 6-8 people living in a tent. The habitat change resulted in sun-strokes, anaemia etc. which caused many deaths. Moreover, deaths happened due to snake bites as slum-like conditions of camps became the breeding ground for snakes. Even after 21 years, some are still living in camps.


Talking about my family, we left Kashmir and came to Jammu, thinking that we will go back once things get normal. Well, things never got normal and we never went back to our hometown, we started our lifes in Jammu from scratch. I was just one year old back then, so I never really understood the meaning of all this. I never understood the pain my parents and relatives felt, I never understood their longing and strange fascination with Kashmir. I got bored and irritated with numerous and continuous discussions and reminiscences about Kashmir. As I grew up and finally understood the importance of it all,  I could see  a reflection of all these feelings in a blurred 96 year old eyes (my Grandpa's) He still dreams of his hometown and the happy days he has spent there. It was then I began to understand it all, what is must feel like to leave your home, your things, your memories and everything else that was yours and never get back.


According to statistics Out of one million Hindus who lived in Kashmir in early 20th century..only a handful are left…not even 4000….the rest are living scattered physically, emotionally and mentally somewhere with a lost identity and a dream……Kashmir…….. their homeland…


And it was not all that easy to simply merge and get on with life in Jammu. We were always considered outsiders by the people of Jammu and were a butt of many a jokes amongst them. Growing up in such an environment was not at all easy. My early teen years at school were so horrible that when I look back and think about that time, I almost pity myself. I had no individuality whatsoever, I always tried to blend into someone that was not me. I felt ashamed of being who I was, because I hated being pitied or judged. This was one of the most important reason of writing about this particular post, to highlight this fact that I am proud of who I am. I started writing this piece of write-up way back in January but left it mid way and forgot about it. Recently after watching Rockstar and the whole first-time-kashmiri-pandit-wedding rumours associated with it, I was reminded of it and decided to post it on my blog.


Though less in number, we have a rich and varied heritage. Varied customs and mouth-watering cuisines. My upbringing has been a proper Kashmiri one. With mostly all the rituals being followed and the Kashmiri language being spoken at home. Though I converse in Hindi, English or broken Kashmiri with my family and relatives, I can speak the language quite well. And I am very proud of the fact, as many of the Kashmiri kids cannot speak the language neither do they make any effort to try and learn.

I do not blame them. After the migration in the year 1989-90, Kashmiri families have been scattered in different parts of the country and abroad. To raise kids in such an atmosphere is a difficult task indeed. As it is, today’s kids hardly have any time from there busy schedules. Moreover, inter-caste marriages also play an important role in the dilution of kashmiriat from the new generation.

I will not brag and say that I know the A-Z of the diverse Kashmiri culture. No. I do not. But I can share with you the little knowledge that I have. This basically will include the basic lifestyle, some rituals I am familiar with, cuisines, music, art and craft, literature etc. And it will come in the next post of mine (taking into consideration the size of this post)

Some beautiful lines I found on the internet and thought of sharing :

May be the winter of jan 1990
in Kashmir was so cold ,
it turned the emotions of many into ice.
May be,
that is the reason, they could not
see me breathing heavily until
I was out of breath…
May be the cold was so severe
that even their eye lids froze
and their vision got blurred
and that is why
they could not see my dead body..
May be the winter was so harsh
that it impaired the Ears,
it killed their conscience,
may be that is why ..no body…
……..Nobody heard my screams…


P.S The historical and statistical data has been taken from different websites online!

35 comments:

  1. After a long time, visiting your blog, I have gone through an article reading which I have not blinked my eyes even once. A story full of tears for you and full of shame for rest of Indians. And this all happened under no foreign ruler. A resolute will to go back should not die and we will achieve the same, one day, not far off in future. Please keep writing your heart.

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  2. Its an eyeopener... Do share this post of urs to as many as possible!!
    I never thought this can come from a so called "self proclaimed feminist."

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  3. I am glad that you wrote this beautiful post and enlightened us on the culture of Kashmiri pandits. I was always keen to learn about your culture. It is a highly informative post. Well, it's sad what happened in Kashmir.When one is laughed upon in life you tend to stop being yourself. I've experienced it myself and it hurts. I emphatize with you. But, life is a teacher and makes us strong. I'm sure it made you strong. I admire you for such a honest post.
    Please come with more posts on Kashmiri Pandits..Moi can't wait.
    God bless you, Sneha
    Love

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  4. hey why did you remove chat box??

    -Maddy

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  5. Came here by chance...u have a lovely blog. Interesting posts..keep it up.cheers!

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  6. Great Post ...though i've been to Jammu thrice but have'nt visited kashmir yet... my parents have and they use to tell how beautiful and amazing that place is..
    See You.. take care..

    -- Maddy

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  7. My childhood best friend is a Kashmiri. Though she is not a Kashmiri pandit but a Sunni muslim, I am aware of the plight of the Kashmiris as I visit it really often. Though its commendable that you highlighted the story of the Kashmiri pandits, the situation of the average Kashmiri is considerably bad too. I think the image with the text summed it up!
    A well written post. Strikes a chord.

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  8. A cool coincidence that my next post is on Kashmir :D

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  9. omg..what a touching, informative post yar..felt like shaking hand with u n saying, buddy v r all together...cheers..anywy..joke kya hua maalum hai? i had a kashmiri pandit colleague..wonderful person Dr RD...in mumbai newspaper..he was brilliant but shortempered..so v were careful not to needle him..one day my sr colleague caught him on the wrong side..result: An instant punch..sr colleague ka chesma gaya..Dr saab ka job gaya..

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  10. I never knew about this.. Made my sad.. :(

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  11. boy in stryped pyjamas..November 21, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    Nice post !! Kashmir issue is smething dat we need to live with.. the culture is fast dissolving hence it should be our responsibility ( the kashur youth) to take up the issue n atleast do smething parallel for it so dat it sustains fr lng... things like kashur speaking, intra kashmiri marriages, though it seems as if it is smethin dat is an unavoidable paradox ..as so many marriages happen outside... is it rite fr a culture to b dissolved n population across the globe getting integrated into a single culture with moral values intact n modifications so dat none fight over someone's culture, nd religion in the broader perspective a good idea...? the post is certainly a thought provoking one... thnx miss bhat..

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  12. Zabardast madam g zabardast...literally d superb blog frm you regarding our history which most of us might not b familiar with...
    @ tym of migration ppl used 2 call us cowards, but we all started frm d scratch....n today we have achieved d lost glory....d only thing which still most of us r missing is KASHIR KASHIR n KASHIR--The Heaven......

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  13. @Praveen Ji,

    Thanks a tonn!Your appreciation has given me the courage to write more.

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  14. @Sunil Pandey

    Thanks! But I don't understand whether that "self proclaimed feminist" thing was a comment or a compliment.

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  15. @Vishal

    More is coming, stay tuned!

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  16. @Ashok

    Thanks! Keep visiting...! :-)

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  17. @Crystal

    I am glad it strikes a chord!!

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  18. @R.Ramesh

    Thanks and your story is funny!! Ha

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  19. @Chanz

    I am glad I enlightened you with the issue

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  20. @boy in stryped pyjamas..

    True,what u said needs to be followed by us!

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  21. boy in stryped pyjamasNovember 21, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    vaisey do u av ny preference 4 marriage..(koshur non koshur)...ki jahaan pyaar miley vaheen hai tera basera...:)

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  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  23. hmmmmmmm!!!!!!:)
    One question 2 u mam...in dis blog u hv mentioned dat u were only 1 yr @tym of migration....so hw u came 2 kno abt all dese stats.....i mean how u got interested in all dis, as most of d ppl of ur age hv got quite diff. image in their mind regarding KASHMIRIS???isn't it??

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  24. @Anant

    There are better things to do in life than just marriage.

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  25. @DS

    If you read carefully you will see that I have mentioned that stats have been taken from the internet.

    And whether the new generation likes it or not, they will remain what they are. It better to accept who you are rather than be a person who has no identity whatsoever.

    I stay in mumbai and I see people whether telugu, tamilian, maharashtrian everyone is proud of there culture and always try to show they are the best. Its time we showcase and be proud of our culture and heritage.

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  26. wow .....superb.....mind blowing....awesome....thinking mam....Everyone shud think lyk dis...
    pratha kansi pazi tohundiy pathiya sonchun.....
    and as usual lyk u m also proud of our culture n tradations..
    thanks aton 4 such an awesome blog...
    wen is d next1 coming.....

    m waiting ....

    Regards,
    Deepak

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  27. boy in stryped pyjamasNovember 23, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    u r really gen x.... FAST nd forward.. b careful buddy

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  28. Inspirational post, Sneha. I am glad you are not afraid to be yourself now. Once you come into your own, it is very empowering.

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  29. great stuff..... its great to be proud of ur religion base...

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  30. Sneha that was both comment as well as compliment.. as felt by reading many of your last blogs. But this blog was really a kind of brain storming topic which must be debated and shared to as many as possible. And one more thing "You should and must be proud of your culture."

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  31. I came across this blog for the first time today; a kashmiri pandit friend of mine shared it. I have many friends from Kashmir and know the whole story, however the mention of Kashmir disturbs some of them - I think it has to do with the pain and as one of them put it - a sort of identity crisis. I empathise. btw, you people (guys and girls) are very good looking and each one of you seems to have this exceptional level of intelligence (or maybe just the ones I have met). God will bless your race and you will be back in your ancestral homes one day. Jai Hind.

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  32. Well written. It feels as if I wrote this.

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  33. A tale of Kashmir makes me unmoved,
    their fights for existence and struggles to establish at their very own place
    leads to a diversion and demolition of one community is really difficult to digest.
    Hats off to one of their own kasir koor,who came upfront and portrays their "ignored" culture followed up with closed emotions and have urge to carry out her culture by own.....Move on!!!

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