'Back to our Roots': Budgam girl's initiative to preserve centuries-old manuscripts

Zaira Hassan is a student of History and her love for culture and history of Kashmir has made her to preserve the identity of her homeland./ GK Photo

In an endeavor to preserve the region’s cultural heritage and history, a 25-year-old girl from central Kashmir’s Budgam district has taken an initiative of preserving the centuries-old manuscripts.

Zaira Hassan said that she has been in love with the history and culture of Kashmir and always wanted to preserve it. “During my studies, I learned about the importance of history. I have observed that growing phases of technology and modernization have taken people, especially youth, away from their roots and no one did really care about the history,” she said.

On Wednesday, Zaira organized an exhibition displaying centuries-old manuscripts in her native district. “I was thinking about the ways to drift the attention of people towards the history and culture of Kashmir. The idea of organizing an exhibition came to my mind,” she told Greater Kashmir.

Zaira said that she went from door to door looking for the manuscripts. “I got some from my relatives and others from my neighbours,” she said, adding she was able to collect twenty-five manuscripts which were written in various languages, including Urdu, Kashmiri, Persian, Arabic and Balti.

The history postgraduate said she has been able to collect a three-hundred-year old Holy Qur’an and 123 year-old Nikkah papers for the exhibition. “But the most important and interesting manuscript that I could gather is Qalaam-e-Mir of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (RA), an Islamic scholar and poet, written on tree barks,” she said.

Zaira also received ‘Bayyaz’ manuscripts which are written in Balti language, a language spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan province in Pakistan. “These Bayyaz and other manuscripts are close to me but I can’t keep them. I have promised to return these manuscripts,” she said.

Talking about her exhibition, Zaira said that she has received an overwhelming response. “I will organize more such events in the future now,” she said.