Srinagar in 1930s and 1940s - Glimpses
of Social Life
By Shamboo Nath Gurkha
It is a daunting task to recapture the social
life we lived in Kashmir in 1930s and 1940s. So much has changed over the past
6-7 decades. 1947 is a watershed in the history of Kashmir. It not only marked
the transition of Kashmir from autocracy to popular democracy, but also created
conditions for Kashmir's plebian society to rapidly become a modern one.
Purchasing power of the common Kashmiri increased manifold. Media, both print
and the electronic, exposed Kashmiris to outside influences. Education also had
far reaching impact on Kashmiri society. Growing economy opened up Kashmiri
society, Kashmiris began interacting with others as never before. In this essay
an attempt is being made to acquaint the new generation of Kashmiris with the
sort of life Kashmiris lived in the previous decades when amenities of modern
living were not available.
People were early risers. They would get up in the wee hours and go to their
respective places of worship. On return, they would fetch Kashmiri bakery from
their respective bakers (Kandur). Since Kashmiris preferred to buy breakfast
bread from the baker, it was not unusual to see people in ques at the baker's
shop, waiting for their turn to purchase bread. After visiting the bakers the
people would collect milk from the local milkman (Goor).
The morning breakfast was usually light. Employees used to take lunch at 9 AM.
They were very punctual in attending the duties, latecomers were taken to task
by their superiors. The labourers/carpenters (Chhan) Masons (Dasil) etc. used to
carry food alongwith them in their tiffon (Ganjbana). Women attended to the
domestic chores - house cleaning, clothwashing, husking paddy (Dhanya Munun) as
few rice mills were available. The ladies also had to carry water from the
nearby stream/river. Some families would arrange professional water-carriers (Paniyur).
At 6 AM vegetable growers would carry their produce-Hak and other vegetables to
different parts of the city for sale. Large portion of vegetable land in
Srinagar was reserved for Hak (Saag) and Monji (Kadam). Hak of Kawdara used to
be superb and quite sweet. In Ali Kadal quarter two ladies Jigri and Zoona would
bring big fatus of Hak on their heads from Kawdara.
Boat shopkeepers also brought their merchandise in the morning for sale. It used
to be carried in big boats called Khochoos. They would attract buyers by
shouting 'Gaer Ha', 'Mong Hai', 'Muth Ha', 'Makai Ha', 'Razma Ha', 'Warimuth
Ha' etc. Ghat of Ram Kolun Yarbal in Srinagar city was a common place for
this type of merchandise. Those days people did not use soap routinely, they
preferred particular type of clay. Boats carrying Goret miech (a particular
clay) were seen every other day. It was purchased mostly by Kashmiri Hindus. The
seller carried it in fatus. Pandits used it for house cleaning, hand washing and
ritual purposes. Other items of daily use were also sold through these 'moving'
A non-Kashmiri Halwai (sweet seller) was often seen roaming around in the
streets of Srinagar. He used to carry 'Halwa' (Sweet pudding) in a box
and would recite Urdu verses to attract customers. He would say, 'Zara Aa Ke
Dekho Mein Kya Bechta Hoon' (come to see what I sell), "Mein Khuyeh Walla
Halwa Bava Halwa Bechta Hoon'.
In summers temperature hardly exceeded 340C.
No electric (table/ceiling) fans were available. Hand fans (Wavaej) were used to
have cooling effect. In summers sodagars (chhapdi farosh) were seen
carrying on their heads baskets of 'snow (yakh)'. In colloquial Kashmiri they
would say 'Kamiy Vana Volmakhu Yakho' , Yakho' (Ice from which forest I
have brought you!), 'Kana Dur Garyo, 'Wah Yakho Wah Wah Yakho' (Ice,
should I prepare earings for you), to attract customers. These
sodaghars used to store snow in winter months in deep wells in Harvan
forests. For daily use they would carry it in baskets.
One baker Sita Ram would be on the streets around mid-day to sell different
brands of biscuits and bread. He carried these in a small box on his head. A
middle-aged Muslim gentleman also roamed in the city with a book written in
Twice a week two male strangers would be seen in Pandit mohallas, particularly
around 9-10 AM. Their heads used to be covered with blankets. They would enter
houses of Pandits and say 'Meh Asih Cheeza' (I want something)
They were turned off by offering them a cup (Khos) of rice.
would move in a group. Their attire looked quite
comical - Multicoloured long chogas (gowns), with caps on their heads. They
would come to Pandit houses once a week. The head of the group would be an old
man with white beard (safed resh). On entering the Pandit house he would loudly
shout 'Jai Gosaen', 'Jai Gosaen' Chuh Anganas Manz Deetav Deetav, Vishnarpan'.
After receiving a cup of rice, the 'Sadhmakar' would shower blessings
on the family.
Also seen were 'Ladishah'. And non-Kashmiri Sadhus would come
as snake-charmers. Ladishah wore white poch (gown) and white Muslim turban.
He carried an iron staff with bangles, and would, after entering the compound of
Pandits, recite few Kashmiri verses comically to entertain the family members.
He would leave after receiving a cup of rice. The snakecharmer used to carry a
snake in a coir basket and would make snake dance to the tune of his flute. At
other times some people from the villages carried monkey or bear with them. They
would visit different mohallas and entertain people by making monkey/bear play
Lower income group ladies used to wear Pulhuro (grass chappels), woven in feet
from soft and fine grass. Rich families used to wear leather shoes, which cost
Rs 2 and 12 Annas per pair. Only members of feudal elite and the affluent people
wore 'flex shoes', while middle income groups would wear canvas/cloth shoes (12
annas per pair) in summer. In winter they wore Bata rubber shoes (Rs 1-4 anna
per pair). The butcher class used to wear black leather hard shoes, 'Puj
Both Pandits and Muslims were God-fearing, religious in outlook. They woke up
early to go to temples and mosques to offer prayers. Good number of people in
Srinagar city visited Hari Parbat early morning daily, while Muslims, would
visit Makhdoom Sahib and Sikhs the Chati Padshahi. The ringing of bells in
temples, Azan in mosques and Shabad Kirtan in Gurudwara provided a serene
ambience, which also reminded about pluralistic character of Kashmirian society.
Those days no loudspeakers were fitted in places of worship.
Pandits immersed ashes of the dead mostly at Shadipur, while some went to
Gangabal. There were no special arrangements for Gangabal Yatra at the
Governmental level. In 1947 there was no yatra due to tribal raid.
The plebian society had strong faith in soothsayers. Quite a few of them were
popular with the people. Sona Mout and Mama Kaloo would roam bazaars of Srinagar
city. Sona Mout wore a dirty poch (inner of pheran) and carried an earthern pot
filled with charcoal on his left shoulder. He would hurl choicest abuses and
talk rough. His face had fearsome look, people would feel scared. Sona Mout
lived in the house of Pt. Shirdhar Joo, Ex-Conservator Forests at Rehbab Sab,
Nowakadal, Srinagar. Prominent disciples of this mastana included Dr. Gwasha Lal
Koul, renowned physician, Kh. Gh. Mohammad and his son proprietor of M/s Gh.
Mohd. Noor Mohd. and Noor Mohd. Sons, Booksellers, Mahraj Ganj, Srinagar.
Another mastana was nicknamed 'Boundrich'. He used to roam mostly in Sumbal but
would also visit Srinagar city.While roaming he would loudly shout 'Boundrich'.
Mama Kaloo was seen mostly in Ali Kadal area. His refrain was 'Allah Hoo'!
‘Allah Hoo! I have seven daughters, Oh God, kindly arrange their marriages,
Allah Hoo! Zikre-Dam Peera Boztam". Some other distinguished religious
pesonalities with exalted spiritual powers included - Saboor Sab (Tulmulla),
Kash Kak (Manigam), Bhagwan Gopinath (Gadud Bagh), Nanda Mout, Swami Nand Lal,
Grata Bab, Shiv Ratangir, Mathra Devi, Sati Maech, Devid w/o Late DN Raina,
Proprietor of Remington Typwriters. These people had lot many disciples. These
mastanas, as per their disciples, possessed powers which instantaneously solved
the problems of their murids. Swami Lakshman Joo was a leading Shaiva scholar at
Ishbar. Pandits and Muslims used to go to Moulvi Atiquallah for 'Taweez'
Marriages were settled through middleman, called manzimyor. For Pandits
the job was performed by Muslim barbers. One such young person was quite
popular-Gh. Mohd. the Dwarf. He wore sharahi yezar (sherwani), a white
turban, a short coat with a white cotton chadar around his shoulders. He used to
carry dozens of Teknis in a Khaki bag hung on his left shoulder. The bride's
father or the head of the family would take 2-3 teknis of prospective grooms
from the middleman and then match these through their Kulpurohit.The two
families enquired about each others' antecedents and exchange Kulawalis
(status list of each families relations). After the families were
satisfied, then confirmation was conveyed through Gh. Mohd. the middleman. After
the nod from boy's family, the middleman would visit bride's side and wish them
'mubarak' on the formal acceptance of proposal by groom's family.
The Kulpurohit would then decide the auspicious date for gandun
(engagement) and lagan (wedding day). Gandun was performed at a temple or at the
house of some relation of groom's family with austerity. Only 5-6 close
relations were called and served tea and Takhtachi (Kashmiri Baker
delicacy). Then an elderly person of groom's family would present a bunch of
flowers, poshgond to his counterpart from bride's family. They would
embrace each other. Then the elder person from bride's side would reciprocate
the exchange of Poshgond. After the completion of tea session and other related
formalities, the father of the groom or the head of the family would give a
pledge that his family would treat the bride as his own daughter. He would also
assure that his family members would not demand anything as part of dowry. On
this assurance, the bride's side would profusely thank groom's side. Before
dispersal the bride's side would offer 11 Kands (candy), 1 kg of Almond, 2 kgs
of Sugar and 11 breads to groom's side.
The lagan ceremony too was solemnised in a simple manner. The Baratis were
served a 7-8 course meal, no cold drinks or tea was served. During rot lagan.
(night reception of Barat) the groom's side would prepare their own tea. The
bridegroom would wear Achkan, a chooridar Pyjama and Kesari turban. These
articles were usually borrowed from a nearby rais (wealthy person), who would
gladly lend these to his neighbour. The groom would lead the barat and used to
be mounted on horse first. Muslim biradari also borrowed choga, shilnswar, green
turban from a nearby rais.
Amusement and Entertainment:
People were generally poor. They visited Mughal gardens and other parks for
picnics. The melodious voices of Abbabel and Bulbul heralded the beginning of
summer. Peculiar flowers with yellowish hue in graveyards and yemberzel and
Nargis elsewhere would blossom in early summer. Buds
of almond tree, badam, phulai, would first sprout near Hari Parbat,
Ganesh temple and Devi Angan, Waris Khanun Chah garden and Badami Bagh, Zewan,
Khrew etc. On Sundays Pandits and Muslims would throng to Devi Angan and Badam
Wari (Waris Khanun Chah area) with Samovar, food and other eatables. Little
girls would collect the petals of almond flowers, make garlands with needle and
thread and then put these around their neck. To entertain the people, who had
come to see the Badam Phulay (blooming of Almond flowers), Pandit and Muslim
halwais used to put up their stalls in tents. Pandit halwai would prepare Luchis
of maida (fried bread) and nadar munji (Lotus stalk pakodas). Muslim halwais
prepared parathas and fried Mungfuli. Other vendors would roast raw singhara (waternuts)
on fire prepared by grass and serve these to visitors. They would crush the
roasted singharas with the help of two small stones.
Fairs would put spice into the otherwise dull life of poverty-stricken Kashmiris.
They would participate in large numbers. Muslims visited Dastgir Sahib and
Makhdoom Sahib on the occasion of Urs of the two saints. On the occasion of
Mehraj-ul-Alam, Milad-ul-Nabi lakhs of Muslims would throng to Hazratbal to have
deedar of Moi Muqadas. Pandits used to go to Tulmulla on the day of Jyesth
Ashtami and also on Ashtami days. They would also go to Khrew to pay obeisance
to Goddess Jwala. Sadhus in good numbers used to come for Amarnath Yatra. A
month before yatra sadhus and sanyasis would throng to Srinagar and stay at
Durga Nag, Dashnami Akhara and other mohalla temples. This event was keenly
watched by natives of Srinagar.
Around spring time Pandits celebrated Navreh, Zang Trai and Ramnavmi. On
festivals of Ramnavmi and Mahanavmi (Autumn), Pandits used to visit Hari Parbat
and the Akbar's Fort on the hillock. The fort would remain open for all the nine
days on these occasions, the fort temple housed an image of Goddess Kali.
Dussehra used to be celebrated officially at Chandmari (Khar Maidan-Ass Ground),
Tattoo Ground at Batmalinu. The place is now used as Transport yard. One week
before Dussehra effigies of Ravana, Kumbakarna and caricature of Lanka were
prepared with Bamboo sticks and stuffed with crackers. At 4 PM the jawans of the
state forces would line up at the Tattoo ground. Maharaja Hari Singh, seated on
horse, would take the salute and then sit in a specially decorated Shamiana. He
would be received by his cabinet ministers, civil and military officials,
besides, the distinguished citizens. After sunset 'Lord Rama', seated on a
decorated rath would pass near the effigies and shoot arrows at these. Within
minutes fires would breakout and effigies would perish. In the evening. Maharaja
would host the prominent gentry, his ministers and officials and present a
sovenior coin to each of them.
Maharaja Hari Snigh's birthday was celebrated with great pomp and show. On this
day 1 kg of rice was distributed free to poor people. Students of all government
schools, dressed in Kapuri colour turbans, would be present at different ghats
from Amirkadal to Chattabal. Maharaja, after offering puja in Gadadhar Temple,
would mount a specially decorated boat, Parinda, rowed by 100 oarmen. The Oarmen
were attired in ceremonial uniform. At different ghats students used to raise
slogans 'Hip Hip Hurrah', 'Mahraj Bahadur Ki Jai', 'Long Live Maharaja'.
Maharaja would respond by raising his right hand, and salute them.
From Chattabal (weir) Maharaja would move to palace in a car. A Durbar was held
in evening at Durbar Hall, Shergarhi. Members of Cabinet, Civil and Military
officians and prominent citizens would present nazrana of 1 pound.
Cheaper entertainment was also available. A middle-aged Muslim gentlemen, would
roam streets of Srinagar with poet Mehjoor's book in his hand. He would in
particular recite poet’s 'Bagh-e-Nishat Keh Gulo-Naz Kran Kran Wali'
(This poem was published in Mehjoor's collection by M/s Gh. Mohd. Noor Mohd.
and Sons, Mahraj Ganj, Srinagar). Subsequently, this poem was recorded by
Hindustan company. Affluent people would hear it on their gramophones.
A 'Behrupia' would present varying poses of two sides of his face. This
would provide comic entertainment to people. They presented him a 'paisa each.
One Jabbar Chanta, a middle aged person from Dalhasanyar had suffered
hemiparesis. Because of facial palsy he had been nicknamed Jabbar Chanta. He
would be seen at many functions, fairs and Urs of different Sufi saints. He used
to carry a bioscope machine on his left shoulder. At the function he would yell
'German Chhu Jang Karan (Germany is at war)', 'Sah (Lion) is roaming in jungle,'
while exhibiting various soundless pictures to the audience. He would receive 1
paisa per show.
In 1931 there were only two Cinema halls-Regal and Palladium in Srinagar and
seasonal one at Gulmarg. In 1940 Krishen Bal, Proprietor of Regal Talkis
constructed one more cinema hall-Amresh Talkies. The charges for class III
ticket was 4 annas (25 paisa).
Before 1947 Jehlum Valley
Road and Banihal Cart Road (then open for 6 months only) linked Kashmir to the
northern India. The last destination for the former was Rawalpindi and fare was
Rs 5. Two Transport Companies--Nanda Bus, Charag Din and Sons used to operate
passenger and goods services on BC Road to Jammu.
Nala Mar Canal with its
arterial network linked different parts of Srinagar city and boat was main mode
of transport in the city. Nala Mar extended from Shelteng to Gadroo, Tulmulla
and passed via Habbakadal, Baba demb, Mangleshwar Bhairav, Bagh Dilwar Khan,
Khushal Sar etc. It divided Srinagar city into two parts. 5 bridges-Naidkadal,
Bohri Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Kadikadal and Razvori Kadal spanned across it. Canal
used to be dry in winter months. In summers shopkeepers brought their house
building material of green dry grass, firewood, timber, bricks, stones etc,
besides firewood in big boats called Khochoos to different ghats. Canal also
provided transport to Pandits to go to Tulmulla after passing through Bohri
Kadal, Razouri Kadal, Kawdara, Aali Masjid, Idgah, Gadroo. The journey was
covered in Doonga.
Beans, Cucumber, Watermelon, Potato and other vegetables sold for one anna per
seer. Apples, Apricot, Cherry etc also were sold at this rate. The same was the
price for Moong Dal, Dried Beans, Muth, Peas and dried Waternuts. Flour used to
cost 8 p per seer. The price of fish was 6 p per seer and that for gooran (small
fish) 2 p per seer. Rs 1 bought six maunds of firewood, edible oil would cost Rs
1 Re and 12 annas for 5 seers and 3 chatanks. The price of different items was:
Rs 2.7 Annas per Khirwar (83 seers), Sugar-6 old paise per 250 gms, Tea leaves,
Kahwa and Sheerchai-5 p per pau, washing soap: 5 p per pav, Meat-6 p per pav in
summer and 7 in winter, bread 80 for 1 rupee, Milk and Curds-5 p per seer,
Brinjals 250 for Re 1, Rocksalt: 9 seers for Re 1, Lotus roots (Nadru)-6 p per
one gedi (Dal Lake) and 5 p for that of Anchar Lake, Cheese-1 seer for 1 Anna,
Karamsag-1 Anna per seer, white cotton (Latha), Chabichap and Shermarka sold for
4 annas per yard. The cost of Militia and night cloth was 2˝ annas per yard.
This cloth was nicknamed Gari Vugra. The price of Japanese silk (Boski) was 4
annas per yard. The rates for Dhusa (Pashmina), Rafal Sari and Silk Sari were Rs
25, Rs 5 and Rs 3 respectively.
The umbrella would cost 12
Annas, while price of an electric lamp was 10 p. The gold sold at Rs 30 per Tola
and Silver at 8 Annas per Tola.
Heads and legs of sheep were
sold by selected butchers called 'Kalhari Puj'. Flies were seen swarming, all
over. These butchers would shout 'Batar Maaz' to attract poor customers among
scavengers. This meat sold at a pav per anna.
British currency was used in
J&K. Common denomination was Rs 1 coin (pure silver), 8 Annas (32 p), 4 Adhay
paise (96 paise), 4 Annas (made of silver included 16 p, 32 adhay paise and 48
paise). Re 1 coin included 192 pais. In J&K State pais were not used. Before
British currency Chilki Rupee was in use. It is said that two centuries ago an
elephant owner was roaming in Srinagar city. He wanted to sell his animal and
had priced it at 1 Kodi (Har). Not a single person came forward to purchase his
elephant. In rural areas barter system was in vogue, while in Srinagar currency
was being used for purchase of commodities. There was no paper currency for
denominations of Re 1 and Re 2 but Rs 5, 10 and 100 were available in paper
Breaking out of IInd World
War pushed the prices of essential commodities up sharply. Average Kashmiri was
hit hard by the rise in prices of rice, cloth, flour etc. Blackmarketers,
hoarders would dump their stocks and then sold these at exorbitant prices. State
Govt. took strong notice of it. It set up Supplies Deptt and appointed Sh. JN
Zutshi, later DG Information, as Controller Supplies. Rationing was introduced
for essential commodities, cloth, k.oil and sold at government rates on ration
People dealing with
handicrafts, Numda making, factory owners, traders, wholesale dealers earned
lakhs of rupees. They had purchased goods at low prices and sold these at high
prices. These people built up huge palatial mansions and demolished centuries
In the period 1931-1946, 90%
population in Srinagar city lived below poverty line. Unemployment was rampant.
Labourers received low wages and could not make two ends meet Commodities were
cheap, yet majority of Kashmiris lived below subsistence level.
Purchasing power was low.
People were resigned to their fate and attributed poverty to supernatural
In 1939 with the onset of
economic depression due to war, the British Indian government introduced
currency denominations of Rs 1 and Rs 2 and withdrew silver currency. Traders
and labourers made good money. Govt. employees faced hardship. To ease their
problem Dearness allowance was introduced for the first time in J&K.
In 1940 one morning a
Markhban from Budgam came to Srinagar with two bags of 'Mushkbuj' (flavoured
rice) laden on his horse. It was high quality rice with pleasant taste and
smell. He wanted to sell it for Rs 2-12 Anns, people were willing to pay 4 Annas
lesser. However, Markhban agreed. Meanwhile, some ladies took handful of rice
near their noses for smell. Markhban took strong offence to it. He then went to
other parts of city but could not find buyer for his special rice. He then
prayed that there be bad harvest for shali (Paddy). He felt the prices would
then skyrocket and Srinagar city people would learn a lesson for life. A week
later heavy rains followed by flash floods destroyed the shali crops. Rice went
out of market. Blackmarketers and hoarders had a hayday, minting money by
selling rice at exorbitant prices.
In 1934 Pt. PK Wattal
started Woollen Mills at Shirin Bagh-‘Shri Karan Singh Woollen Mills'. Hundreds
of skilled/unskilled Kashmiris found employment in it. Workers were paid six
Annas (36 p). Since the prices of essential commodities were less, workers were
Joint family system was the
norm. Usually one member of the family was bread earner, serving either in Govt.
or Pvt. Institution. Silk Factory was started by the State Govt. at Raj Bagh. It
provided employment to hundreds of Kashmiris. Prior to it Raja Upinder Kishan
Koul had started two factories- Match Factory and Pharmaceutical
Factory at Baramulla, where many people were employed. After World War II
Defence Ministry of GOI opened recruitment centres for taking soldiers and
‘Jabri’ schools were started
by Maharaja Hari Singh for imparting free and compulsory education to people.
The government provided free books, notebooks, slates, wooden Takhties etc. to
enrol students. However, the educated youth did not have sufficient jobs
Soon after the outbreak of
IInd World War, BBC and Radio Berlin started daily broadcasts in Hindi at 7:45
PM and 8 PM respectively. BBC underplayed German advances. The listerners would
get confused. In general people had sympathy for Germans and hate for the
At first, there were only
six Radiosets in Srinagar City-Maharaja, SP College and the other 4 belonged to
affluent gentry. The common people would listen to broadcasts in compounds of
rich people to the BBC and Radio Berlin news.
Meanwhile, 'Himalaya Soas’
also installed a Radio set for workers at their Shirin Bagh factory premises,
near Woollen Mills Karan Nagar. Residents of Shirin Bagh and Chattabal used to
come to listen to Radio here. Even such prominent people-DN Raina, Shyam Lal
Chrungoo, Bishamber Nath Kaul, Dina Nath Mirakhor, Dr Jia Lal Koul and Makhan
Lal Matto (presently at Mumbai) used to come here)
Sanitation and Health Care:
There was no proper water
supply scheme one and a half centuries ago in Srinagar city or other villages.
People used Jehlum water for drinking, bathing and washing purposes. In rural
areas streams and springs served the utility. During the rule of Maharaja Pratap
Singh water works department came into existence. Harvan Reservoir was built to
provide clean water to residents of Srinagar. It was fed by Marsar nullah. When
it started old ladies felt astonished on seeing underground pipes. They would
"Vuchtav Angrezav Kiyah Kari
Nalka dabavikh Zaminas tal"
(See what trick the
Englishmen have played
They have buried the tap
pipes under the ground.)
The affluent people got
water connections to their homes, common people made use of public taps. These
taps, were provided mohalla-wise. To meet the increasing demands two more
schemes-Rangil (Kangan) and Dudh Ganga water supply schemes were initiated.
Subsequently, water supply schemes were extended to rural areas.
Corporation also launched a sanitation drive. Public latrines were built in each
mohalla of the city. A force of safai karamcharis were raised to clean these on
daily basis. After cleaning, they would dump the excreta in big boats. From
different ghats it was taken and put into deep wells. Subsequently, it was sold
through bidding to vegetable growers for use as manure. This formed important
revenue for SMC. Upper sections built their own latrines. Vegetable growers
directly removed this excreta for use in their fields.
For overall cleanliness, SMC
set up different wards, each supervised by ward officer. Sanitary supervisors
were made responsible for the work done by safai karamcharis/sweepers. Sanitary
Jamadars/Supervisors wore a badge on red cloth around their neck. The badge, a
brass plate had 'Jamadar Safai' written on it. Sweepers used to clean the city
twice a day, morning and evening. Mashkees would spray water on the roads.
For cure of flu, cough,
cold, fever etc. people used to take 'Khamira, Bunafsha', 'Khamira Gulab', 'Mulhati',
'Kahzaban', 'Brandy', 'Sharbat' of Gul-e-Bunafsha'. For cure of illness
people used to repose great faith in Pirs and Hakeems. Well known Hakims
included Hakim Ahmadullah, Pt. Sahaz Bhat, Pt. Sham Bhat, Pt. Bal Hakim, Hakim
Gulam Mohiuddin, Hakim Sansar Chand.
Cholera would take heary toll of people's lives, Typhoid was rampant. Hakims
used to charge 8 Annas (50 p) for visiting patient at home.
Leading Physician Dr. Gwasha
Lal Koul, MRCP would charge Rs 5 for seeing a patient at home. Only rich people
could afford this fee. Other well-known doctors of this period included - Dr.
Shamboo Nath Peshin, Dr Dwarka Nath Muthoo, Dr. Janki Prasad Raina, Dr. Gopi
Nath Chugtu etc. They played a pioneering role in setting up of National
Hospital, Karan Nagar. Dr ON Thussu started
Ratan Rani Hospital
in memory of his first wife. She had died of
burns at Tulmulla. There were some private clinics in the city but rural areas
lacked modern health infrastructure. Missionary Hospitals at Rainawari, Drugjan,
Baramulla and Anantnag served people well. Well known missionary doctors
included Dr Neve, Dr Wasper, Dr Macpherson etc.
Pandit ladies would store
water, made from washing rice, in a big earthern pot and then add Ajwain, muth
and pepper-mint. After forty days this water was collected and named 'Kanz'. It
had pleasant smell but bitter taste. It was boiled and retaken with cooked rice.
Dr. Gwasha Lal Koul used to recommend this water for its 'Vitamin B content'.
Some ladies used to collect water of boiled rice, called enema in local language
in a big earthern pot daily and then put cooked vegetables like knol khol (Kadam/Monji),
Radish and Turnip in this. The mixture collected after a week, 'Chokur' was then
taken with food/cooked rice. It had also pleasant smell and bitter taste.
Society and Politics:
Till 1931 social peace
prevailed. Events of 1931 and subsequently in 1934 shook the Pandit minority.
However, after the riots were over, intercommunal relations got restored.
During this period NC was
popular in Valley but did not have any impact in Jammu and Ladakh. Pt. Jia Lal
Killam and Kashyap Bandhu were among the first to join NC. Subsequently, DP Dhar,
ML Misri, NN Raina (Saraf), PN Jalali, ON Trisal joined NC. These Pandits played
an important role in making 'Quit Kashmir Movement' a great success and even
went to jails.
Kashmir was visited by a
galaxy of national leaders in this period. They included Acharya Kriplani (147),
Nehru (1938-1946), Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Mountbatten and Gandhi (1947) VD
Savarkar and Jinnah. Dewan Chaman Lal and Asaf Ali had accompanied Nehru for
taking up Sheikh Abdullah's defence. VD Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha to
President was given a civic reception at DAV Magarmal Bagh, where he advised
Kashmiri Pandits to join Hindu Mahasabha. The host and the leader of Yuvak Sabha,
Pt. Shiv Narain Fotedhar opposed this suggestion arguing that the Kashmiri
Pandits were in minority and had to devise their own ways.
Shri Mahraj Krishan Dhar,
Governor of Kashmir, was a tough administrator. A day before Nehru's arrest,
Dhar was seen personally supervising arrangements for despatching a company of
Armed Forces. After paying regards to Nehru, Dhar told him, "I am your relative.
Please forgive me for maintaining law and order. As such I request you to desist
from entering the territory of J&K State. Comply with the orders of the ruler of
J&K State, otherwise I would have to take you in custody".