Rasul Saab’s Day
It's deeply etched in my memory
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
It was the day. The day, I and my peers waited for months together. It was a loveable wait, as loveable as lover’s legendary longing for beloved in classical love stories. The wait for the day started, as I remember from the day the school opened after long winter vacations. I very vividly remember the preparation for the founder’s day ---- the Rasul Sahib’s day as it was popularly known started immediately after the annual examinations would be finished.
Those days’ annual examinations were conducted in March. The sword of examinations and tests did not hang on children’s head for the complete year- tests did not make children psychological wrecks, these were biannual affair “shashmahi” and “salana” examinations. The shashmahi examinations did not get on children’s nerves. Compared to the annual examinations the six monthlies were care free but they enabled the teacher to focus more on the weak students. This system of examinations provided a lot of space for extra-curricular activities such as commemorating on a mega scale founder’s day in our school.
My bag is full of memoirs about lots of dedicated teachers in our school. Teachers that took lots of pains in exploring and harnessing the best even amongst the nuts. Many of my teachers were institutions unto themselves- I have written in this column about immaculately dressed tall school Principal Mufti Ghulam-u-Din, robust and awe-inspiring Head Master Ghulam Muhammad Khadim, lean theology teacher Ghulam Ahmed Kamali and white turbaned bespectacled scholarly Moulvi Noor-u-Din. All these great teachers along with scores of other teachers would be seen whole hog involved in making the founders day as grand success. The central figures- the protagonists of the grand show used to be too Pandit teachers purple turbaned Master Dina Nath and vibrant drill master Naranjan Nath popularly known amongst students as Naraband.
The founder’s day of my alma mater Islamia High School to me during my primary school days was nothing more than a grand spectacle as good as that of Badamwari festival or Shab-e-Shalimar- when fully illuminated Shalimar garden would be cascading with raptures and music for the whole night. Like other festivals large city crowds would throng the school compounds on this day. Then all that I understood of this day was that it was observed in remembrance of the man whose large colored portrait adorned the central hall of the school.
I think it was much later, perhaps in class seven when our Urdu teacher asked us to write an essay on Sir Syed-i-Kashmir Moulvi Rasool Shah Sahib the founder of school that I realized the day was not just a festival like any other festival but was of far greater significance to the overwhelming majority of Kashmir. It took many more years for me to understand the birth of my school was not like the birth of any other school but it was one of the most important milestones of our contemporary history. And the founder of my school Moulvi Rasool Shah was no small time preacher but a great revolutionary that whose missionary zeal and sincerity of purpose has rightfully attracted the attention of modern day eminent historians like Alistair Lamb, Chtralekha Zutshi and Mirdu Rai. ‘Moulvi Rasool Shah was born in 1854 and died the age of fifty five in 1909. He took over mantle of Mirwaiz Kashmir after his father Mirwaiz Yahya Shah death in 1891. Eight years after in 1899, he founded the Anjuman-i- Nusrat-ul-Islam and under its aegis was established a primary school that graduated into Islamia High School by 1905. The birth of Kashmiris struggle for restoration of their rights seen in right historical perspective starts with the birth of this Anjuman. Through the medium of education this organization not only worked for bringing about socio-political consciousness amongst Muslims of Kashmir but also worked for forging unity in the fragmented Kashmir society. The major political move of far reaching consequences taken by founder of my school was ‘pressurizing’ the state to restore number of Muslim places of worship that had been occupied by the feudal rulers and were used as garrisons and granaries. The voice raised by Mirwaiz Rasool Shah becomes sharper and louder with every passing year and by twenties this association catapulted to the central stage in registering protests against misgovernment and articulating people’s demands. ‘The example set by the Anjuman a couple decades later was followed by many other Muslim groups in other parts of the state. It was this organization that inspired birth of Anjuman-i-Islamia.’ But in the words of Alistair Lamb none of them ‘rivaled the Anjuman-i-Nusrat-ul-Islam in importance.’
Looking at celebrations of the founder’s day in the backdrop of the contribution made by him to our society, today I realize the day was rightfully observed by the school as people’s festival. The imprint of these celebrations is so deep that I even to this day remember them in all details. These used to be a month long celebrations.
Master Dina Nath would be seen busy in rehearsing with his team of student actors for staging dramas on social and historical dramas in the school hall for months together. He was not only a great dramatist and director but also a wonderful artist. I still remember the names and faces of some of the student actors and some of the dialogues from these dramas are with me as fresh as morning dew.
Draped in green uniform with golden frills the school band would draw great applause from student and people. The band would be led by commander with mace in his hand. The names of some of the band commanders Jan Muhammad, Abdul Rashid Khan and Nazir Shameem still live in my memory. The mass drill of the school with boys from number branches of the school all over city used to be spectacular. On many occasion the mass drill was led by my friend Abdul Majid Khan and others whose names I remember that led the mass drill where Ghulam Rasool Khan and Khazir Muhammad. The occasion was also marked by about a month long sports activities that included intra-Islamia-School football and tug- of- war matches. The celebrations would include regatta on the placid waters of Dal Lake.
On the D-day that is the founder’s day entire city would be agog- the boys from different directions from different branches of the school started pouring in the central school in early hours of the morning. It were the boys in full uniform from Islamia High School, Dalgate and Islamia Middle School that marched through street outside our home much before I would leave school. So boys from Middle School Nowshahra and Safa Kadal and other areas also marched towards the central school….Next day it used to be a holiday- and we remembered it Rasul Saab’s day.
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 11 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 11 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 12 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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