Kashmiri Proverbs : Gems of Wisdom

Greater Kashmir

In recent years, many people express what they do as if they are telling a story. As with any story, there are multiple ways on how to tell it.

Visual narrative is one such way to tell a story using visual media such as photos, videos, and even graphics. The combination of words, symbols and pictures to communicate a narrative has always been with us.

It is worth asking why picture books are so popular. These types of books are useful for those who are short on time and yet introduce them to reading. Picture books have also become hugely popular with children. The main difference between picture books and other books is that picture books are extensively illustrated, they are a collaboration of words and pictures, both are as important in telling a story. That explains the success of ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ – the illustrations succeeded in bringing the magic to life in Proverbs like visual narrative connect with the audience easily. Therefore, if these gems of wisdom are presented in a visual format it is bound to enhance their appeal and understanding.

This is what Meetu Koul has attempted in her book ‘ILLUSTRATED KASHMIRI PROVERBS.’ To reach to a wider audience including those not too familiar with our mother tongue, the author has been wise in offering English translations – in addition to providing specific illustrations to capture the essence of these wise sayings that give advice about life.

Meetu was a teenager when her family migrated first to Leh then to Delhi in the wake of militancy in 1990. It never occurred to her then that one day she will author a book on Kashmiri proverbs.

In her own words: “It happened when in 2013 summer, I along with my husband went to Kashmir for the pilgrimage of Amarnath. We observed that the younger generation was not comfortable in conversing in Kashmiri- even though Meetu and her family were keen to initiate the conversation in mother tongue.’

Meetu found it strange considering that her family who have been living outside of the valley for the last three decades were not only fluent in Kashmiri but took greater pride to preserve the language.

Meetu realised that in this age of social mobility/ migration and social media –memes and other native proverbs are being used less and less and are at the risk of losing relevance. As she aptly puts it, proverbs are at the heart of any language as they form the basis of wise words which are relevant to that culture in specific situations but have universal meaning. ‘Proverbs are created by an individual, someone at some time, somewhere identifies popular sayings, folklore, satire, lessons, inspiration, humour, the character of a person, and the list goes on.’

Considering that there is huge repository of proverbs in Kashmiri, Meetu decided to include in her book those with which she was familiar with since childhood. Presenting few examples:

Boyie Gav Kaein. Baeiny Gayie Thanie (A brother is hard like stone and sister is soft like butter)

Gur Chunaeih Khyavein Zaeibh, Yeli Nie Paeyis Teli Kheyi Paaneiyh Raeibh (People will do those only actions alone which they oppose in public)

Baeir Deith Khar Natsaen ( Even donkeys dances within closed doors)

Yath Gaamas Nie Gatshun Aasi Tami Gaamuk Naavuy Kyaah Hyoun (No need to discuss the topic which is not your concern)

Boozith Zor Ti Vucchith Ounn (Pretend to be deaf and dumb)

Meetu is a senior management consultant and her love for Kashmir and its language is firmly rooted. To her proverbs not only tell us about the world but also reveal a lot of our earlier living style, customs, traditions etc… Proverbs capture and preserve our identity.

Shivani Koul Bhat has done an excellent job in lending her training in art and illustrating the book. For those who are slowly losing their touch with the mother tongue and for children who prefer to speak in language(s) other than Kashmiri, this book is a valuable contribution. Moderately priced, the book has been published by Notion Press.

After reading the book one realises why we need proverbs as they reflect WHO WE ARE. It is hoped it will encourage those who tend to show indifference towards their mother tongue Kashmiri, to get enlightened with our rich heritage. In that sense, this book is a solid contribution from Meetu to keep our identity alive.Ashok Ogra is a noted management & media professional, and currently works for reputed Apeejay Education Society.