Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India


Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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May-June 2004 issue

Kashmir's International KP Logo - Proposed & Designed by Sandeep Sopori, USA

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

  Our Heritage

Dalip Langoo

Djhr - Our Soul & Pride

[Vgi vatsn sung on Mekhla Ceremony]
hr yam gndn,
sr snsnzy
hr gtshm katshkar, st snsdy
hr gtshm mkht hr, st snsdy
hr gtshm djhr, st snsdy
हॉर आयम गिन्द॒ने
सॉर स्वन॒स॒न्ज़॒ये
हारि गॊछ़ुम कछ़॒कर, सुति स्वन॒सुन्द॒ये
हारि गॊछ़ुम म्वख्त॒ हार, सुति स्वन॒सुन्द॒ये
हारि गॊछ़ुम डॆजिहॊर, सुति स्वन॒सुन्द॒ये

Djhr represents unity, purity, continuity, ancient heritage, fixity of purpose and so on. The ornament is symbolic of unity, unity of two families, two individuals and above all the symbol of cordial relationship. Regarding djhr nothing is mentioned anywhere except several interpretations and personal views. We Kashmiri Pundits use it at the time of dvgn and complete its form on the day of lgn. In djhr, dj is a hanging object and hr is a pair, so a pair of ornaments which hang over the ears, though there is no mention of ears in the word. In this ornament djhr is the oval part. The chain is called the ath. Another part beneath the djhr is called athr. So the ornament is complete with the combination of three things viz. ath, athr and djhr. This is worn by a Kashmiri Pundit lady since past so many millennias.

There is some statue of Lord Buddha in some American museum which bears this hanging ornament. A strange thing! But this ornament is actually used to symbolise the oneness of two clans, two families, two different cultures. That is why djhr is given to the daughter by her parents and ath and athr is later attached to it after bride reaches her husband's home that is vryv (war-e-kul). After this the two are considered as real couple. It appears that the bride's side expresses to God, to devtas and to the groom's side that may the relationship between the two remain as pure as that of Shiva and Shakti or as pure as gold. The groom's side also expresses and ensures that this be true, and they too eccept that the aadhar (the basis) of this world is Jagadamba herself, so may the Goddess fulfill all their wishes! This ornament confirms our faith and practices in the famous Shiva and Shakti doctrines of Kashmir.

The formation of particularly two parts djhr and athr are based on triangles. The djhr is having likeliness of Shriyamtram, thus symbolising the oneness of Shiva and Shakti. The athr symbolises the aadhar, the basis of a Kashmiri parivaar, the Pundit family. It is seen in Kashmiri families that most of the old ladies at the time of sandhya wash and worship their djhr and consider it as divine as Shiva and Shakti.

It is said about this ornament that once a thief tried to snatch it, but got paralysed on the spot. He remained in that condition till the same lady, at the request of the people present there, forgave the thief who promised not to repeat the act in future. Such was the impact of the intense spiritual practice associated with this ornament in the old days.

Our Heritage

Prof. Raj Nath Bhat (BHU)

Displaced Kashmiris: A Study in Cultural Change 1990-2002 - 1

This paper investigates the liguistico-cultural loss among the younger generation of the displaced Kashmiris who have been living away from the valley for over a decade now. This segment of the population was either of a tender age at the time of displacement or was born in the plains. Although it lives with the middle generation (parents) who are well conversant in Kashmiri language and culture yet a lack of motivation on the part of the parent as also on their own part has made them mere passive users of the language. Hindi has acquired the status of their first language both at home as well as at the school. The parents are deeply pre-occupied with their daily chores to win bread and butter for the family. They have neither the time nor any inclination to enable their children to get acquainted with Kashmir language and culture. The community extends no support whatsoever whereby the Kashmiri language and culture could be taught to them. Hindi is the language of the dominant culture and English that of higher education. Kashmiri finds no place in this kind of linguistic hierarchy. The younger generation is least inclined to learn and comprehend their parental cultural and tongue. Rather, it, in their view, is a burden they can do well without. Obviously, the loss of both the language and culture looks inevitable.

1. Introduction

Language and culture are the two fundamental ingredients which give a community a distinct character and build bonds of fraternity and oneness amongst its members. The climate, flora and fauna, history and the geographical conditions of the place where a community lives govern many a cultural entity. Kashmir has a cool climate where the spring is flowery and the winter snowy. The towns and villages are full of brooks, rivulets, rivers and springs. One has a geographical understanding of the directions (east/west etc.) due to the hills and mountains surrounding ones place of residence. All such objects are lacking in the plains. Kashmir valley is full of orchids of almonds and apples, Chinar and walnut trees are usually grown in the kitchen gardens/backyards. There are several kinds of flowers-wild and cultivated, foods, places of religious significance etc. which may not be found in the plains. A displaced community finds itself in alien surroundings with a new kind of flora and fauna and language and culture. Several linguistic-cultural entities are inevitably lost in this scenario because the younger generation cannot get acquainted with the climate, flora and fauna, and culture of its parental (ancestral) land. Thus a large number of linguistic-cultural entities are lost even in the passive competence of the younger generation of a displaced community.

2. Background

During the medieval times when the Muslim kings inflicted terror in the lives of Kashmiris, a large majority embraced Islam and a few who stood their ground, despite repression, sought protection as well as guidance from Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, whom the barbaric Mughal King beheaded in Delhi, and his martyrdom prevented the Kashmiri Hindu culture from going extinct. In the modern times, the religious and cultural heritage and identity of a people does not attract the attention of the powers that be unless they constitute a numerically strong group capable of doing or undoing governments. Pandits of Kashmir constitute a miniscule minority of nearly half a million people, in the vast human jungle of India, which does not send even one member to an assembly. Obviously there is none to take up its cause. On the contrary, there are forces determined to wipe it out from the cultural scene of India. Scholars and politicians have been observing an intriguing silence regarding the displacement of the Kashmiri Hindus. The cultural identity of this community is gradually getting eroded which over the ages has been at the forefront in shaping, nourishing and nurturing the great Indian culture. An authentic history of the making of India would always have to repeatedly refer to Kashmiris contributions to ancient Indian knowledge, be it philosophy or religion, logic or literary theories, astrology or mathematics, history or grammar. The rightful heirs to the legacy of Kalhana, Abhinavagupta, Laleshwari, Bilhana, Kuntaka,Vamana, Shankuka and a host of other stalwarts is on the cross-roads today, bewildered and baffled, unsure of its future.

Migration away from Kashmir of the members of this community has been a continuous process ever since the advent of Islam into the valley. The terror and torture inflicted upon this community by the Muslim rulers sends shivers down ones spine. The names of Sikander (the idol-breaker), Aurangzeb, Jabbar etc. continue to be the terror-creators in the folklore of the community.

A few that possessed the imagination of disaster probably guessed (and rightly so ) the intent of the post-independence rulers because the migration of the members of the community in ones and twos continued during the years after independence (1947). But the winter of 1989-90 turned out to be the turning point in the history of this community which constituted a mere 2.5% of total population ( of the Muslim majority Kashmir valley) - nearly 300,000 souls of various age groups, social strata and professions.

In order to build an Islamic society in Kashmir valley, the leadership of this movement offered three options to the minority Hindus : rlv embrace Islam, tslv run away nat or else glv perish/face annihilation. Killings of prominent Hindus like lawyers, businessmen, judges, professors, government officers etc. followed . Human Rights groups found no case of the violation of human rights! Powers that be seemed indifferent. By November 1989, the Muslim terrorists came forward with yet another insulting slogan which read : as chh banvn pkstn, batav bagr,batnv s we shall join Pakistan, without Hindu men but with Hindu Women. Meanwhile the killings of even less prominent members of the community continued. By December 1989, the Pandits of Kashmir started running away to Jammu, Delhi etc. to save their lives and honour. The valley in her sad history of the last 600 years, once again witnessed the exodus of its original inhabitants with a 5000 year old history. And by driving the minority community out, the process of ethnic cleansing in the valley was complete. Human rights groups observed a sacred silence. Ironically, the posters on Delhi walls during the period read: Hands off Kashmiri Muslims.

Migration of an individual from a rural to an urban environment brings about some kind of a cultural change in him. For instance, he may switch over to a new occupation, change his accent in speech, become more polished in his behaviour and so on but there is always a possibility of going back to ones village. Secondly, one does not find himself in alien surroundings here for primarily the language, foods, clothing, festivals and so on continue to be the same in both the situations. The migration from one linguistic-cultural setting to another places an individual in alien surroundings where he has to relearn almost everything from speech to toiletry. This kind of migration gives a sort of cultural-shock to the person. When such migrations are forced upon a whole community, its very existence, the magnitude of its suffering and anguish at physical, emotional and mental levels cannot easily be assessed or analyzed. This kind of displacement brings enormous shock and suffering into the lives of the displaced. They experience Hiroshima and Nagasaki endlessly in their lives. The displaced Kashmiri Pandits have been living in exile in their own country for the last twelve years now waiting for some miracles to happen to bring joy to their lives.

3. The Community

On the basis of age the displaced Kashmiri community can be divided into three segment: G1- people of fifty years of age and above; G2-those between twenty-five and fifty years of age; G3-those below twenty-five years of age.

The G1 is fully aware of the linguistic-cultural moorings of the community. It speaks the Kashmiri language and observes religious rituals, rites and customs of the community. It is aware of the socio-cultural traditions, viz., festivals, ceremonies, superstitions, myths, foods and clothing and so on. It has a nostalgic longing for the valley of Kashmir and would go back if the circumstances so permit it. The migrant camps are full of these lonely, frail and skinny people. In the camps, a 12*7 feet chamber cannot house a joint family so the sons and daughters of these old people have either shifted to other chambers or migrated elsewhere in search of some kind of a semi-employment. In places far off where their sons have been able to find work, the parents find it tortuous to stay home alone for the whole day when the son is out at work. So they prefer to stay on in the camps where they have the company of other community members whom they can talk to and share their sorrows with. Thus the joint family system has completely broken down and the young children have no idea of a family with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins around.

The G2 is struggling to root itself somewhere. Although it loves the valley yet it is unsure whether a return there would be desirable if the situation so arises. It struggles hard to feed the family, educate the children, attend to social obligations, negotiate its existence at its new place of work or in the market and the lanes and by-lanes of the alien place(s) he finds himself in. Although he speaks Kashmiri fluently yet he has lost an interest in traditional festivals, customs and rituals etc.

The G3 is the generation of young members with little or no memories of the valley. It was of a tender age at the time of displacement and a small percentage has come to life in the plains after the displacement. (After the displacement, the fertility has come down considerably among the members of the community. Divorce rate is on the rise and one-child norm has become the holy mantra). For this segment of the displaced community Kashmir is merely a geographic entity. Their primary (vehicular) language is Hindi and English is their second language. They also have a certain degree of passive competence in Kashmiri, their gregarious language -the language of social intimacy and shared identity (Calvet,1987).




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