OF Bells and Gongs
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
It used to be a momentous hour. Much before the sun took refuge behind the mountains in the West- blazed the horizons and gilded snowcapped mountains making them look golden, I and my peers squatted on the lawns of the shrine in our Mohalla. Many elders, rich and poor, mendicants and friars and travelers and beggars would also be sitting inside the shrine and in the foyer. Someone carrying huge baskets filled to top with Halwa-e-Chuche (Kashmir breads stuffed with halwa) would enter into the shrine premises, then someone with fuming Kahwa-Samavar filling air with sweet smell of cardamoms and saffron and basket stuffed with breads followed.
No sooner the tip of the sun also drowned behind the mountains, I fixed my eyes on the huge gong fitted in the vestibule of the shrine. The gong that might have been there for centuries had blackened at edges but in centre it glowed- for having suffered hammering for years it glowed as brightly as full moon. I looked very curiosity at man with hammer in his hand ready to strike at the gong. No sooner he struck with full force on the gong producing deafening sound, I and my peers cried in rapture – Iftiar- Iftiar – iftiar and walked towards the shrine foyer, joined those breaking fast, relishing halwa and sipping kahawa on the chiseled stone floor.
I had almost same fascination for the gongs in all major shrines dotting my birth place as I had for the huge bell in the minaret of Jamia Masjid. Like the bell in Jamia Masjid the gongs in the shrines would also ring five times a day coinciding with prayer timings. I don’t know if this tradition had something to do with pre-Islamic period or it had arrived in Kashmir from the Central Asia along with many other traditions that changed our social and cultural milieu but I do remember that the bell in Jamia Masjid and gongs in the shrines during my childhood were of social and political significance. I do remember in our childhood as soon Radio Tradkhal announced sighting of Ramzan or Eid Moon the bell would toll continuously. I remember couple of occasion when on the last day of month of Ramadan bell from Jamia Masjid rang in the middle of the night announcing the news about Eid. I and my brothers came out of beds like rabbits out of burrows and joined many jovial friends in the street crying tomorrow is Eid.
My grandmother never called the bell of Jamia Masjid as Gaantee but Gharr (Clock) indicating that bells and gongs had no sanctity other reminding people of prayer timings. Let may reiterate that the bell of Jamia Masjid or gongs in shrines more particularly that at Khanqah-e-Moula have had a role in our political struggle. On hearing bell in Jamia Masjid tolling at an odd hour she would often remember 13 July 1931 happenings and say on that bell rang without pause sending shivers down the spine. Every one thronged the mosque where martyrs had been kept in rows. She remembered many such occasion when bell from Jamia Masjid had knelled same way and announced holding of funeral prayers of martyrs.
The bell in Jamia Masjid or gong at Khanqah-e-Moula also rang for calling people for political rallies. I remember , when Sheikh Sahib had been released from prison in 1958, as soon as he arrived in Jamia Masjid the bell rang up - hundreds rushed towards Jamia Masjid to listen to him.
Dr. A. Wahid reminded me ‘similarly in December 1968, the bell tolled during night hours after people had gone home after offering their Taraweeh....people came out in hordes and rushed towards jamia from far off corners of Srinagar..they came to know that Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah had passed away in Muzzafarbad..The crowds marched throughout night wailing, weeping and grieving the death.’ of the exiled leader.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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