has been the cradle of religious thought and belief
from times immemorial. The Nagas had their
religious practices as documented in Nilamata Purana.
Whether they were snake worshippers or not is
debatable, but worship and pilgrimage to Nags
(Springs) is well established and in some cases
continues till this date.The Indo-Aryans, who
settled in the Valley and amalgamated with Nagas,
brought the religious practices and thought from the
Indian plains. Worship of Vaishno, Shankara (Rudra),
Shakti are well documented. Rivers representing
Shakti, are worshipped. Vaishnav (Dwaita) as
well as Shaivism (Adwaita, non-dualism) have
been in vogue, although it was the later in its
Kashmir version, that had larger sway.
Although Buddha is
stated to have visited Kashmir to carry his doctrine
there, it was Ashoka who brought Buddhism to
Kashmir. It had its sway for few centuries -
of course with an undercurrent of Shaivism, but it
again gave way to Hinduism. Kashmir refined
Buddhism, gave birth to Mahayana sect of Buddhists
and carried Buddhism to Tibet and China.
Shaivism, it is necessary to refer to two (of the
many) thought streams of Indian philosophy: 1.
Dwaita - me and the God, 2. Adwaita - the God
in me. Shaivism (Monoism) is the name given to the
later. There is one Supreme Reality (call it
Siva, Brahman or what you may). It is a speck of
this Reality which resides in all beings. The
universe is an allusion (Maya). Kashmir
Shaivism slightly differs from that of the rest of
the country. Kashmir Shaivism is also called
‘Trika’ Shastra because it is the philosophy of
the triad: 1) Siva 2) Shakti and 3) Nara
(the bounden soul) or 1) Para - the highest,
2) Parapara - identity with difference, and
3) Apara - the difference.
While Siva or
Paramsiva is the Ultimate Reality, the Shakti is its
power of manifestation. The universe is real
(not an allusion) and a projection of the
Shakti aspect of Siva. Maya, here is the creative
force as also a vailing element.
does not concern itself only in finding the nature
of Siva, Shakti and the Nara but devotes
itself extensively on the means to be employed by
the man to realise its real self and thus merge with
Shaivism does not
preclude worship of individual Gods or any way
reduce the importance of Bhakti (devotion) as
long as they lead one to the realisation of the
Self. Worshipping Shakti in various f.mp3s is quite
Shiva worship, often
as Shivlinga is prevalent in both ancient and modern
temples. Goddess is worshipped in various f.mp3s as
Raginya (at Tullamulla), Sharika (at
Hariparbat), Jwala (at Khrew), Kali (at Khankah and
Hariparbat), Badrakali, Sharada, H.mp3ukat
Ganga, Vetasta etc.
People have their
own Ishta Devis, whom they feel attached. They are
Raginya, Sharika, Jwala and Tripura.
places of worship, the Kashmiri has his own personal
regimen of worship. Each house has a special
place known as Thokur Kuth, e.mp3arked for
the purpose. Reciting Sanskrit verse in praise of
Shiva and Maa Shakti is usual.
Hawans to propitiate
the Gods would be held when possible. At such Hawans,
Hums (offerings) are offered to the fire,
reciting a thousand names of a God/Goddess,
say, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Mahamaya etc. Community
Hawans are popular.
Observing fasts on
auspicious days, particularly those connected with
Lord Shiva like Shivratri, Shravan / Magh
Purnima, Somari Amavsi, Shiv Choturdashi etc.
are common. Women observe Chandan Shashti for the
welfare of their husbands (similar to Kadva
Choth observed in Northern India).
It is customary to
observe birthdays with religious prayer and prasad
of yellow rice. Yellow rice (Tahar) offering
is done on many occassions like Hara Chodah,
Navreh, Ram Navmi etc.
Ashtami (rather Saptami in case of Kashmiris) is
celebrated similar to the way elsewhere, with
fasts, fruit and worship.
Muslims in Kashmir,
being essentially from the Hindu stock, are both
from Sunni and Shia sects. Some of their
practices are influenced by their Hindu ancestary.
They continue distributing yellow rice. They pay
obeisance at the graves of saints.
Among Muslims, Sufi
influence from Central Asia is an induction.
But a different cult of local origin - the
Reshi cult has been more popular. Reshis have
been closer to the Hindu philosophical thought. The
more known amongst them are Nunda Reshi (Tsrar),
Baba Reshi (Tangmarg), Misha Saab (Rainawari),
Batamol Saab (Anantnaag & Srinagar) and
Mukdam Saab (Hariparbat). They observe the annual
day (Urs). Also observed are the Urs of Sufi cult
saints as Dastgir Saab (Khanyar) and
Shah Hamdan (Zaina Kadal). Some Reshi saints are
visited by Hindus also.
Muslims believe that
a sacred hair relic of their Prophet exists at
Dargah near Naseem Bagh. Its public appearance
is made on the Prophet’s birthday and some
other important occassions. Muslims celebrate
the two Ids and Prophet’s birthday with
great joy. Shias hold the annual mourning
processions around Moharram.
Two missionaries Mr.
Rhodes and Mr. Tyndale Biscoe left England together.
One landed in Africa and the other in Kashmir.
One converted a whole country to Christianity
which was named after him as Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe). The other could not convert any
body in Kashmir to his faith. Christians otherwise,
set up schools, colleges and hospitals and did
quite a lot of good work in Kashmir. There are
two churches in Srinagar which serve outsiders. Some
people claim that Christ came to Kashmir after
crucifixion and died here and is buried at a place
in Srinagar. Christians however do not
subscribe to this theory.