Raabta- a ray of hope.

At a time when negative news dominates the headlines around the world, there’s something very positive about this story that’ll brighten up your day.

“Happiness is meeting an old friend after a long time.” 
Let’s start with this optimistic note. ‘Raabta’, a small endeavor to re-establish broken links between Kashmiri families, friends, classmates and neighbours divided by decades of insurgency  and social bitterness is surely the need of the hour.
Raabta, which translates into “connection”, is a Facebook page helping search and reconnect people we grew up with. The ones we haven’t heard from each other in the last 28 years.


Our concept of ‘Kashmiriyat‘ is incomplete without Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits. We were/are one society, one family.
Better late than never, almost a month since the page with over 21,000 followers was created; Raabta has already been able to connect five Kashmiri Hindu Pandit and Muslim families who live far away from each other, reviving our composite culture, our ‘Kashmiriyat‘.

Behind the initiative is a Kashmiri advertising professional based in Gurugram named Jaibeer Ahmad.
Despite polarisation, we continue to share bond as individuals. Bound together by our common heritage, culture, music, poetry, food and the pheran (the Kashmiri traditional overcoat),” Ahmad, 43, told IANS

Raabta, the name itself brings forth an explosion of emotions. A friend-to-friend, people-to-people connect.
“To that extent, Raabta is completely driven by organic search,”

Jaibeer hopes that the initiative he runs along with other Kashmiri friends — both Muslims and Hindus —will bridge the gap between the divided communities that together made “Kashmiriyat”, Kashmir’s unique composite culture.

As Ahmad puts it, “(Before 1990) there were no acronyms of KP (Kashmiri Pandit) and KM (Kashmiri Muslim). We were all Kashmiris.”

If you’re on Twitter and Instagram, you’ll be lucky enough to find Raabta there as well. But it is mainly the FB page that is driving the platform.
This amazing initiative has been generously supported by some major newspapers.

We are not Kashmiri. We are not Hindu. We are not Muslim. Our only identity is that we are Indian.
We at Kashmiri Life would request everyone to join ‘Raabta’ and spread the word to fill the gaps and bring the Kashmiriyat back.
Let souls reconnect and reclaim their friendships that had gotten trapped under the debris of time.


India’s one and only floating Post office.

Jammu and Kashmir, one of the most beautiful places on Earth is set as the crown of India and crowns aren’t always made of rhinestones, but sometimes made up of  snow capped Himalayan mountains, picturesque valleys, magnificent chinar trees, vibrant tulip flowers, the beautiful Dal Lake and last but not the least – India’s first floating Post Office.

Are you packing your bags for Srinagar anytime soon? Then let us tell you, along-with the floating vegetable and flower markets and the unique experience of staying on a houseboat, you can also take a boat ride right up to the floating post office and send a special postcard to friends and family back home!
Now isn’t that a souvenir and memory worth cherishing for life?

For the ones who want to go beyond the highlights of a destination and experience the place in a more unusual way, a government post office that floats amidst scores of docked houseboats and bright yellow shikaras ferrying tourists and locals, is an obvious on the itinerary.

The “Floating Post Office, Dal Lake” is claimed to be the only such in the world and is built on an intricately carved maroon houseboat, anchored on the western edge of the Dal Lake.

We’ve got more surprises for you. The post office also includes a museum with collection of stamps and also a shop that sells postage stamps among other things. These include picture postcards, greeting cards that bear pictures of the beautiful Dal Lake, and have a distinctive stamp that depicts a man rowing a shikara, local souvenir items, stationary and several books on Kashmir.


These pictures will reach wherever these letters will be posted and will promote Kashmir as a tourist destination across the world“.
There are so many visitors to Srinagar who just visit the post office to send a postcard back home to their loved ones. That’s not all, other services at the post office allow tourists to call and email their friends all across the world.

A tourist enjoying in India’s first floating Post-Office

Inaugurated by then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Minister of State for Communications and IT, Sachin Pilot in 2011, this post office offers regular postal services on water and is frequented by both locals and tourists. Since then, it has been attracting tourists from all across the country.

It is a befitting tribute to the lake, which is one of the most famous and often quoted symbols of Kashmir, and often referred to as the crown of Kashmir“.
Set on the gorgeous view of the hypnotic Dal Lake, reflecting the grand Himalayan peaks dominating the horizon, this heritage post office is a tribute to the beautiful Dal Lake. This lovely floating post office just adds more to its gorgeousness!



The most popular saying about Kashmir is “Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast,” which roughly translates to “If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”.
The vibrant valley of Kashmir is known not only for its beauty, carpets, shawls, paintings, metalwork, woodwork and paintings but also for its delicious food. I’m sure; the sheer beauty of the place along with the food of Kashmir continues to give meaning to Amir Kusrow’s famous words.
And ofcourse, the point of pride for every Kashmiri is the lavish multi-course wazwan meal.

Well, for a meal to become a wazwan you need to have a waza (master chef from Kashmir specialized in making ‘wazwan’) cook it for you. For our brothers and sisters who are missing their home town, or for the ones who simply want to show off their culinary skills, here is a four-course meal from the famous wazwan that you can begin with.

“A wazwan feast is not an everyday affair in Kashmir.”
Although wazwan usually contains around 15 items, but that number could just easily go up to around 36.

“Like a short story, a good recipe can put us in a delightful trance.”
Have you ever thought why recipes are written in the ‘imperative tense’ (heat the pan, peel the onion)? Before I explain to you, here are a few recipes we suggest you prepare to satiate your desire for the famous wazwan or simply present your guests with.

Everyone loves appetizers. Entertain your crowd with this perfect Paneer Gulnar from wazwan.

We’ve picked these two top rated dishes from the diverse range of main-course items that ‘wazwan’ meal offers. Go ahead & give these a try.

Who needs a special occasion to satisfy the sweet tooth? Just bring it on!

A dessert to conclude the main meal.

As you read the recipes on a slow day at work, or while trying to kill some time, sparing a moment in your busy day or simply with your head drowsily on the pillow, there is no onion, no lamb or dry fruits, but you’ve watched yourself peel that onion, cooked the fiery lamb and even soaked the dry fruits over night, but, all in your minds.
That’s how you’ve been fooled but at the same time gotten the most pleasure and satisfaction of a good meal. Thanks to the imperative tense used in the recipes. Yes, you might do the actual cooking tomorrow, but right now, you’ve sharpened your cooking skills, virtually with us.

Trust me, the very name wazwan is enough to bring aroma of Kashmir wherever you are even outside the valley – ‘the King of all feasts’.

P.S. I am already craving for it! Being Kashmiri



Sufism In Kashmir

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any“–Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, June 1, 1921

 Our Kashmir is a living, breathing example of a society that has, traditionally taken the best from various cultures and infused those elements into its own best traditions. One such tradition is the noble, spiritual and humane Sufi tradition that is Islamic at its core and, while retaining the God-fearing attributes of piousness, has melded these attributes with the mercy and the all-encompassing compassion of the Almighty.

Unfortunately, our Sufi traditions have tended to suffer at the versions of Wahabi rigidity steadily exported from Pakistan and disguised as a vehicle for Azadi. It is against such impositions that Kashmir is gradually responding by declaring that “I refuse to be blown off my feet”. The campaign to preserve Sufi traditions, being an inseparable part of Kashmiriyat, has fortunately found a response among the Valley youth and is slowly, but surely, gathering momentum.

Sufi Music

One aspect of Sufism is the expression of devotion to our maker by way of pious and soulful dance, poetry and music (remember the dances of the dervishes?) often at the dargahs and mazars of men who, by their piety and virtue, attained the status of Pirs. Sufi devotional poetry and music were composed in the Kashmiri and Persian languages and their lilting sound, so full of devotion and immersion in the greatness and goodness of God came to distinguish Kashmiri Sufi traditions.

Although Sufi singers and dancers in the past have invariably been men; the women of today are taking an equal interest in the Sufi art forms. Shabnam Bashir, a bright and spirited Kashmiri teenager, took to learning classical Sufi music three years ago. She practised her singing in low profile at first, being diffident about opposition by her family but the family, upon seeing her talent and her application, relented subject to her commitment to Sufi music not affecting her regular studies. Today, Shabnam Bashir is a proud member of what her teacher, Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh proudly mentions as the first Sufi singing ensemble in Kashmir. Shabnam Bashir says her interest in Sufi music was primarily inspired by the desire to save ‘Sufiyana’ that symbolises the cultural ethos of Kashmir. In the wake of the trail blazed by Shabnam Bashir, her teacher has trained nearly 50 other Kashmiri girls and women in Sufi music, a cultural heritage that they shall proudly pass on to future generations.


Sufi Paintings

The austere harshness of life was mellowed by the softness of Sufi painting.  In March 2016, a solo Sufi painting exhibition, titled “Rhythm of Life”, by Shafique Farooqi was placed on display at the Alhambra Art Gallery on The Mall in Lahore, Pakistan.A book featuring the artist’s work was also launched with the same title to mark his 10,000 art pieces, 100 exhibitions and 50 years of working as an artist. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Lahore Sufi Festival.

Tragically, while Sufi culture receives so much attention in Pakistan, it is sought to be stifled and subdued in Kashmir by doctrinaire hardliners. It is, thus, heartening that Badr un Nisa, a Kashmiri girl, has shouldered the responsibility of reviving the rich Sufi tradition through her paintings. She began as a child painter but has achieved distinction with exhibitions of her paintings being held in places as far afar as Turkey and Austria.

Sufi Architecture

Although Sufi saints were not architects, the people of Kashmir evolved a unique architectural style in the construction of mausoleums and shrines of these saints such that Kashmir also came to be known as “pir waer” or the Alcove of Saints. These are wooden edifices that are gloriously conceived and designed marvels of architecture. The oldest and finest example is the shrine of Shrine of Hazrat Syed Sharif-ud-Din Abdur Rehman ‘Bulbul’ Shah who arrived in Kashmir, from Turkistan in 1324 AD. Over time, people came to describe the Sufi shrine architecture as “Reshi Architecture” being an allegorical reference to the Sufi saint Nundreshi whose shrine was built at Charar-e-sharif.


Although ‘Bulbul’ Shah’s shrine was recently restored, many of these symbols of veneration and masterpieces of architecture have tragically suffered from neglect over the years eroding our heritage. The moment produces the man.  Iqbal Ahmed from Kulgam, a graduate with a Diploma in numismatics, archaeology and heritage is an accomplished cultural historian who has produced as many as 12 books on Kashmiri archaeology and heritage. Iqbal Ahmed has embarked upon a programme of forceful advocacy to preserve the iconic “Reshi Architecture’ of Kashmir arguing that it is an inseparable part of the Kashmiri culture, tradition and history; something that the Kashmiri people cannot afford to lose anymore.

Pakistani architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz has explained the spiritual dimensions of Sufi shrine architechture. He points out that the mausoleum consists of a cube, representing the earth, material body, and a dome, which symbolises the spiritual sphere. The point at which they meet indicates the human and divine.