We need to be mindful of who we are

We are Kashmiris and we should feel proud that we belong to this land of sufis and saints
A panoramic view of old city from Makhdoom Sahib Shrine in Downtown's Rainawari. [Representational Image]
A panoramic view of old city from Makhdoom Sahib Shrine in Downtown's Rainawari. [Representational Image] File/ GK

Kashmir is a famed tourist destination across globe. Every year lacs of tourists from India and foreign countries visit Kashmir to enjoy its beautiful and natural tourist spots. Kashmir is also famed for its mesmerising mountains, glaciers, gardens, lakes and above all for humanity and human values.

The people of the valley have a unique identification in other parts of country by their looks and conversation. The people of Valley are known for their hospitality as we have a legacy of a culture and tradition which has an immense respect for other religions and groups of society.

The people of Kashmir are so loving and caring as we have witnessed during the period of turmoil or unrest, as they provided every kind of assistance to Yatris and tourists and even sacrificed their lives to save them from time to time.

Kashmir is not only a beautiful place but was once a peaceful destination. There was almost zero crime as people especially females used to go outside their homes without any fear to attend functions and marriage parties; even during night hours wearing costly Jewellery.

Death of anyone in any locality was mourned by whole area with all support even financial from neighbours in case of poor family. The pass-out students with good percentage was a moment of joy and pride not only for family but for entire locality. This was a real Kashmir and Kashmiriyat.

During the year 1990 the peaceful atmosphere of Valley turned violent. First time gun was seen in the hands of civilians, then it became entirely different situation in the paradise. Precious human lives were snatched in this situation.

This was also the beginning of criminal activities in valley and losing our moral values too. Kashmiri Pandits, an imperative part of our valley migrated to Jammu and other parts of country, though in the beginning they were residing in campus thinking that it would be a short turmoil and they would return back to their native places.

But after few years when the situation lingered the Kashmiri Pandits either shifted to residential areas or constructed their own houses in Jammu Division. Though new generation is not aware about Kashmir and its and rich culture but elders have successfully maintained the tradition even residing outside Valley.

They use their mother tongue for conversation with family and friends, performing all rituals as they were performing in Valley prior 1990, wearing Pheran and other Kashmiri dresses in winter, and performing all marriage functions as per Kashmiri culture and tradition.

Kashmiri songs played in marriages and even they invite Muslim singers from Kashmir. While talking to a Kashmiri Pandit in Jammu about his childhood activities, his wet eyes narrated everything.

From a village of South Kashmir he is loving his Muslim friends more than his real brother, and is in touch with them, missing those who passed away and praying for their departed soul. He has not blamed anyone for their migration but said it was destiny, “KASHMIR KO KISI KI NAZAR LAG GAYE”.

The Muslim friends not only attended the marriage ceremony of his daughter but even gifted her valuable items. They accompanied her to her in-laws house with tearful eyes.

This is Kashmiriyat. Every morning after Pooja, they bow their head for special prayer to seek blessings of Dastageer Sahab and Makhdoom Sahab and even go to these religious places during their visit to valley.

The people living in Valley though claim to be the custodian of our rich culture and custom but one after another we are losing them one way or the other.

It is very unfortunate that in our schools we discourage students to speak Kashmiri language and even in some families if you are talking in Kashmiri language at home then you are supposed to be either illiterate or from backward areas.

During our seminars, workshops, conferences, interactive sessions though all the invitees are Kashmiri but we prefer to speak English only to influence audience.

In North India people love to speak Hindi while in South India like Karnataka, Tamil-Nadu not only Government officials, bureaucrats, politicians use their language in every meeting, conferences, public places but even their academic record of degree and diplomas is issued in dual languages.

The big business tycoons of South India wear the traditional dresses in and outside India with honour and respect. In Kashmir during winter though we used to wear traditional Pheran for decades but for the young generation it is now obsolete. School going girl students wear jeans and other dresses as we have been influenced by European dress code.

During our childhood when the results would have been declared, close relatives used to visit for Mubarak with Roath (Kashmiri version of cake), very delicious and sweet and the same was distributed within family, friends and close neighbours. But now it is either pizza and cake. Now our marriage functions are incomplete without such things.

The valley, which is still a paradise for outsiders, is losing its sheen day by day. Once a zero crime state has witnessed a remarkable surge in crime graph, murder, rape, kidnapping, extortion, theft, black-mailing, cyber crime and above all drug mafia is now here.

Teachers and students smoke together. Parents are unable to rebuke or reprimand with the apprehension that either they would be targeted by children or their children may take any drastic step.

Suicide and drug menace is rising day by day and Government as well as NGOs fail to curtail its graph. During this digital technology when people across globe are using social-media platforms for innovation and progress, but we are using it for defamation.

We are Kashmiri and we should feel proud that we belongs to this land of sufis and saints which is also famed as “Paradise on Earth” across globe. Learning of every language is need of the hour but simultaneously not to ignore our own Kashmiri language.

We have a rich culture and custom and we are answerable to our posterity too. Don’t be under such notion that anyone who speaks English can be an intellectual. Every Kashmiri is a custodian of his culture, and so all of us should carry the legacy with pride and passion.

The author is a Senior Journalist and Human Rights /RTI Activist

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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