The Glory of Sufism in Kashmir

“Old is gold,” is an English proverb that held true yesterday and would continue to hold true today and tomorrow.

Today let’s share our views and thoughts on the hoary and priceless culture of Sufism in Kashmir. While there is no doubt that the Heaven on Earth, Kashmir located in the lap of snow-clad mountains is world renowned for its apple orchards, the shade of fallen Chinar, lush green grass meadows, Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Pahalgam valleys, magnificent Dal lake, water bodies like Jhelum, Indus and Chenab, Mughal gardens, world famous elegant Pashmina shawl; it is equally well known for the Sufi culture.
The presence of Sufism in Kashmir has added the sparkle of tolerance to the beauty of the valley.

The word Sufi is derived from the Arabic word ‘al-tasawwuf’ adverting to the inwardness or the inner mystical dimensions of Islam.. Sufism’s essential message, a message holding true for all Sufi saints, is this; ‘to remember God and serve others’.
“Love is the divine essence in man and is due to God alone. saidHazrat Inayat Khan one of the most respected and honoured preceptors of Sufism..
A Sufi’s path is a path of love. Islamic mystics are called Sufis which includes an allusion to the softness of ‘Suf’ i.e. “wool” and their way of life is Sufism.

The Glory of Sufism in Kashmir
Ancient Kashmir has been a protected place of stay and meditation for the saints, Sufis, Rishis and other devoted worshipers of God. History suggests that these saints belonged to different religions that include Shaivism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Sufism evolved and developed a credo among Muslims which emphasised bonds of love with and surrender to the almighty.The philosophy spread along the valley after the arrival of Sufis from Central Asia. There is a strong belief that eclectic practices came to define a Sufi and the growth of Sufism in Kashmir.

Haven’t we heard beautiful stories of communal harmony? For centuries the Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir have lived together peacefully. The Muslims of Kashmir had a strong influence on Hindus, and vice-versa. During the rule of Chaks and Shahmiris there existed six orders of Sufism which were Qadiria, Sahurwardia, Kibrawiya, Naqashbandia, Noorbakhshia and Rishia. While the first five had arrived from Iran and Turkistan, the sixth one was originally from Kashmir and sought to combine the very best elements of the different religious orders.
The beautiful valley of Kashmir exerted a special attraction on the Sufis saint sat whose shrines, people flock in large numbers to pay homage. The most dominant influence on the Kashmiri identity, in terms of our Kashmiriyat, is that of the ‘Rishi’ order of Sufis. According to a scholar: “Where Sufis are Rishis and Rishis are Sufis”. The term `Rishi’ itself is clearly a derivation from Sanskrit and Indian traditions, though some Medieval Muslim scholars have tried to show that it is derived from the Persian word raish or rish meaning the “feathers or wings of a bird.”
Among the Muslim rishis, the most famous rishi is SheikhNur-ud-din (RA). Out of a feeling of deep respect and love, both the Hindus and Muslims call him ‘Nandrishi’. The shrine of Nandrishi is located in Chrar-e-Sharief, a small village about five miles from Nagam. Both Hindus and Muslims gather at this shrine to make floral offerings.. He was known not only as a Saint, Rishi, and Spiritual head of Kashmir but also as a great writer and poet who, through his verses, taught Kashmiris the importance of Islamic virtues of justice, sincerity, equality, truth, morality and spirituality.
It is also believed that Sheikh nurtured the ‘Koshur’ language that plays a role in our identity formation.

“We belong to the same parents.
Then why this difference?
Let Hindus and Muslims(together)
Worship God alone.
We came to this world like partners.
We should have shared our joys
and sorrows together.”

The Sufi traditions of Jammu and Kashmir still play an important role in the lives of people in the region for whom the traditions connote an understanding of the world in all its spiritual dimensions.

We shall revisit our roots and also talk more about Sufism in Kashmir in our next articles.

KASHMIRI FUN-FACT, Guaranteed to PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE and Brighten up your day.

We at Kashmiri Life had decided to collect the most interesting Kashmiri fun-fact and no, we will not fail you. Put aside all your work for ten minutes and check out this list of some more Kashmiri fun-facts that’ll keep you entertained for some time and boost your productivity at work as they say, “Happiness inspires productivity.” Without wasting much time let’s dive into Kashmiri fun-facts straightaway.


Kashmiri fun-fact – An adorable thing that every mom does and we absolutely love it.


She loves you more than her life but is also the one who keeps pricking you on all your mistakes trying to make you a better person, and no prizes for guessing she is ‘A mother’. Here I’d like to take an opportunity to quote the legendary actor Mr. Shashi Kapoor, “Mere paas Maa hae”. ‘Maa/Mother/Mouji/Ammi’, a word that evokes strong emotions. Let’s start with an adorable thing that every Kashmiri mother does. Keeping us before herself always proves her unconditional love for us. Here is our summarized experience. Her drama is never ending but that is what lights up your life, isn’t it?


Kashmiri fun-fact –Kashmiris Hindi speaking skills.

We are known for our notorious Hindi speaking skills. When it comes to speaking the Hindi language we simply get confused. Here’s a proof.

Kashmiri fun-fact – Kashmiri English vs. Indian English


We have a different accent in pronouncing things. As per pronunciation is concerned Just as it is difficult to remove ‘heaven’ from Kashmir, similarly, it is difficult to remove an extra ‘a’ from our pronunciations. I can give you a list of mispronounced words, but wait, mistake me not; Koshur is honey-sweet on the ears.

Kashmiri fun-fact – Our way of mastering the wedding dance

Fearing the wedding season as it’s time to get your groove on? No need to fear, we are here with a step-by-step guide to an easy dance move that anyone can master. Yes, heard about the ‘screwing those light bulbs’ step? A simple extending your arms outwards and bringing them in and repeating the step five to six times are all about our dance.

Kashmiri fun-fact – Our showing off skills

Apart from showing off our dance skills we can randomly enter an artifacts shop and show off how much we know about the products and leave the shop without buying anything and without even feeling guilty about it. Part of our strategy is to make the shopkeepers feel that their product is not worth buying.


Kashmiri fun-fact – The love of our life(Food)

How can we write an article on Kashmiri Fun-facts and not talk about food even once? If food is what you think all day and all night, you are a true Kashmiri. We may be sharing this common interest with the rest of the country, but our love for food is one step ahead.  “People who love to eat are always the best people.”

Conclusion: We will weave in more fun-facts you didn’t know about a Kashmiri. Trust me there are so many Kashmiri fun-facts to share with you! Bet our list is so far the unique!

Chillain Kalan – 40days of biting cold

When the sun burns coldly under a low grey sky and when the only alternative source of heat is the kanger , the traditional fire pot, you know that winter is putting footsteps in the Valley. At sunset the clouds gathered again calling it a night but of-course as they say, with the promise of a new dawn, the flowers sleep and trees show their bony limbs once more and a smile plays upon your cold face, yes ‘Chillai Kalan’ has come upon the people of the valley once again.

While the coldest seasons of the year is ordinarily known as ‘winter’ everywhere else, we Kashmiris call it ‘Chillas’. The most severe times of winter spread through three months and divided into three parts – ‘the Chillai Kalan’, ‘the Chillai Khurd’, and ‘the Challai Bache’.


‘Chillai-Kalan’ is the traditional 40-day period of harsh winter. It begins from December 21 and ends on January 31 next year. Instead of a gentle breeze the air turns into sub-zero temperatures, frozen lakes and rivers, and the demand for Kangri, electric blanket goes up.
According to a tradition, 21st December is celebrated as Shab-e Chelleh (Night of Forty), which refers to the beginning of the first 40 days of Winter. It is believed to be the longest night of the season, but not scientifically proven. The onset of Chillai Kalan is celebrated by preparing 40 kinds of dishes; people are dressed in their traditional dresses and perform traditional dance forms like Dumhal.
Kashmir Valley dons a white cloak. The air is tinged with blue and grey, and pools of water freeze on streets only to squeak when stepped on. The chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum in Chillai-kalan. Life takes a slow pace in the valley till the end of January. People usually stock up essentials including dried vegetables, coal and kerosene.
During these winters when your floors are getting too cold to handle, ‘Hamam’ comes to the rescue. Hamams are rooms where firewoods are used beneath the floor, made of special stones, with the goal to keep it warm. And the secret of keeping oneself warm is by effectively layering up in woolen clothing, pheran, jackets and the fire-pot beneath the dress.

There is also a saying of Chillai Kalan- ‘A garlic a day for a healthy stay’, referring to have a garlic every day as a precaution to stay away from the common effects of cold and be healthy.

Thankfully, the harshest period is followed by the 20-day-long ‘Chilai Khurd’ (small cold) at the end of January that occurs between January 31 and February 19, and subsequently the 10-day-long ‘Chillai Bacha’ is from February 20 to March 2 (baby cold) which won’t be as harsh as the 40-day-period. Any snowfall during this season does not last long.

The colors of winter paint the valley with shades of grey and white. Winter here is not just a season, we hear about people going back to their roots in the biting cold.
Last but not the least, remember my friends, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

Kashmiri Fun-facts

The weekend’s approaching and let us help you celebrate the days. Take a 15 minutes break from whatever you’re doing to treat yourself with these Kashmiri fun-facts, it can be great fun and done just anywhere. These fun elements can be a mental relaxation and de-stress for the ones who’ve had a rough week. For the ones who are bored and have 15 minutes to kill, check out this weird but true list.

As they say, “Kindness and a generous spirit go a long way. And a sense of humor. It’s like medicine – very healing.”
And the good news is, not only are we kind and generous we’re also known for our sense of humour. These are not our words,

Let’s start with the embarrassing ones. All Kashmiris have a tragedy in life, we have a substitute for our given beautiful official names. And hang on, our nicknames are very different from the rest of India and can be humiliating to the power of infinity as well.

Family reunion?
The big Kashmiri family tree concept is still real and full. Every random gathering in Kashmir is a meetup with your extended family members whom you’ve never seen.

The best pickup line, literally.
Okay, one second, we are literally aware of this secret nonetheless most of us believe in it or we’re just too lazy to even correct them.

My dear Kashmiris, we speak way too much Kashmiri, and it’s true.
A conversation in Hindi works just alright with our hilarious. We are a species in ourselves and here is why.

My favourite one.
Have you always been a fan of Kashmiri music? Thank us later for reviving your memories associated with the song. The heaven on Earth also sing these songs.

Always have room for more? Well hello there!
We will bring our guests food that can overcome their satiety signals, so even though you are full you eat it because we force you to.
May all who come as guests leave as friends.

Mealtimes are fantastic.
We love our food and we know you’d do too. We consume our food voraciously. Kashmiri food satisfies everyone’s taste bud, but if you disagree, let’s face it, we don’t trust your taste bud. Our identity is solely by what we eat.

  1. S – This section has been created to bring forward what/how/when we do in a humorous way. Hurting sentiments or feelings of anyone is not intended.

Source – THANK YOU

With this we come to the end of the article with a positive thought. Looking for more funny quotes? Keep following the space.

KASHMIRI KANGRI – A love of Tradition

While taking a stroll on the banks of Jhelum River and soaking in the beauty of the stunning place during the harsh winters you can feel the severity of the cold.
The valley of Kashmir is cold; a bone-chilling temperature with the wind chill, when woolen and thermal wears are not enough. Have you ever imagined how do we beat such extreme conditions? Well, we have our own moving heater – the Kangri, our Cultural Way of Fighting the Cold.

The one thing that will surprise a first-time visitor to Kashmir during the winter season is to find people carrying fire in their hands or in their laps.  Yes, we carry red-hot charcoal filled in an earthen pot inside our dress. Amazed? It might sound dangerous but don’t worry every Kashmiri knows how to handle the apparatus with care.

“What Laila was on Majnun’s bosom, so is the kanger to a Kashmiri’.
This is an infamous Kashmiri proverb that easily sums up the relationship between a Kashmiri and the kanger. The term Kangri is used by Kashmiri localities.
A thing you cannot unsee in Kashmir during winter is Kashmiri’s walking with their hands hidden under their voluminous Kashmiri cloak, the phiran. The fact that a kangri which is beneath their traditional dress is helping them keep the chill at bay has fascinated travelers too.

The Kangri is an ancient cheap and portable heat source that’s keeping Kashmiris survive the biting winter.
“For us winter means Kangri. When temperatures dip to sub zero, we fill our Kangris with burning charcoal and use it inside our phirens,”
How does a Kangri work?
The kangri is a clay pot filled with glowing coals and encased in pretty handmade wicker baskets. All you have to do is to fill the koundal (earthen pot encased with wicker) with tsini (charcoal) and embers and take this inexpensive source of warmth everywhere as a personal warmer.

Everybody cannot make a kangri. It needs skill, labour and local craftsmanship. Twigs are collected from deciduous shrubs, scraped and peeled and go through a process of soaking, drying, dying and are finally woven around the bowl-shaped earthenware decorated with colorful thread , mirror-work and sequins to make it look beautiful. A Kangri can cost anywhere between rupees 50 to 3,500 a piece, depending on the work and design.

Besides being used for heating purposes Kangri has become a popular handicraft as well.
Kangri has deep roots in Kashmiri culture and its folklore. Just as a person is first greeted with a glass of water & sweets in other states, a Kashmiri host will greet you with the warmth of a kanger.
In the valley no celebration is complete without the gift of kangri. Be it a marriage, or the beginning of any ceremony, the warm heart of Kashmir, the kangri is there to spread its warmth.

But as the idiom goes by – “A coin has two sides”.
Kangri cancer is atypical to the valley of Kashmir, attributed to the use of Kangri by people of all age groups to warm their bodies. The prolonged use of Kangri may result to Kangri Cancer, a heat-induced skin carcinoma, which is found in the abdomen and inner thighs.
With the increasing winter cold, modern heating equipments sales soar in markets and have started replacing our traditional kangri. The production of Kangris has declined over the years due to increase in availability of alternate heating equipments.

Kashmir – The Paradise of Migratory Birds

Hi friends, it’s that time of the year again when you’re expected to start thinking about winter vacation. And, without any doubt Kashmir wins the competition when it comes to decide for a best place for vacation.
Nothing in the world looks prettier than Kashmir in winter. It has always been synonyms for paradise, and rightly so. The place becomes magical during the winters. The bright golden Chinar carpet swiftly rolls out into white snowy carpet making it look magnificent.

Autumn brings the magic on the landscape of Kashmir with the Chinar trees changing their leaves while in winter you can see the magic in the migratory birds taking refuge in the gloomy landscape of Kashmir.
‘Bird watching is a lifetime ticket to the theater of nature.’
If you’re tired of winter’s snow and cold, take to watching our feathered friends.
Winter is the best time for bird-watching in Kashmir. The winter landscape of the Valley, a bare lonely tree, frozen fields and gloomy days comes alive with countless colours of three lakh winged visitors from places as far as Central Asia and Europe.

The onset of winters leaves the water bodies of Kashmir blanketed with thousands of Mallards, Common Mergansers, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Brahminy Duck, Northern Pintails, Common Pochards, Red-crested Pochards, Ruddy Shelducks, Northern Shovelers, Common Teals, Eurasian Wigeons, Garganeys, and Greylag Geese.

The navigation skills of birds might leave you in awe. They can migrate thousands of kilometers across the sea without getting lost. Birds that nest in the Northern Hemisphere tend to migrate to avoid freezing to death in their native habitats.
Besides Hokersar wetlands, 10km from Srinagar city that serves as a safe haven for these migratory birds they also flock the Wullar Lake and other wetlands like Hygam, Shallabugh.
“We have recorded around three lakh bird arrivals in the wetlands of Kashmir so far. This is very good number as the concentration of migratory birds will peak around first week of February.” – Wildlife Warden (Wetlands), Roauf Zargar.

Kashmir lends its landscape to the birds during the winters. The birds feeding on insects, worms and fish in the water bodies adds colour to the valley thus presenting a beautiful picture.

Make sure to follow these steps in order to be greeted by their chirpy music:
-Be a morning person. Venture out early in the morning to get their chirpy best.
-Dress like your surroundings just so that you might be surprised by birds sitting next to you.
-Don’t be noisy. Sit quietly and enjoy their music.

However some survey reports by the state government, reveals that the number of migratory birds arriving in Kashmir has declined in the last two decades. The main reasons being rapid urbanization and noise pollution which acts as an irritant that puts off the feathered visitors.
“Noise of all kinds causes disturbance to the birds. This can lead to the birds finding alternate places to spend the winters in,” Zargar said.

Ideally the wildlife department should strive to protect all ground water and the birds habitat presenting them a comparatively hospitable alternate habitat. The Wildlife department took a series of steps to restore the natural habitat of these birds which were threatened by unfamiliar interference.
“The wildlife department is striving to protect and revive water bodies and prevent their encroachment.” Zargar added.

The migratory birds start return journey from Kashmir by the end of January month giving way to new grasses, tress full of new green leaves, cloudless skies and a pleasant, comfortable weather. Nature’s time to wake up once again.

Enjoy close interaction with nature while birding.
From kings to subjects, rich to deprived, humans to birds those who truly love nature – the valley of Kashmir attracts them all

Masterpieces from the land of magical embroideries, Kashmir.

My friend Stella had come to India and was staying with us for five days. On a Saturday afternoon, post lunch while we were lazying around, a local ‘kashmiri-shawl wallah (vendor)’, Gulzaarbhai visited our home to show his exquisite hand embroidered shawls, pherans, namdaas etc. He often visits us for kahwa and Krippè and shows up with a range of unique Pashmina. As he unfurled some of the finest Pashminas one after the other, Stella’s eyes lit up as she saw a black shawl with overall floral motif and fringes at both ends. A wise man that Gulzaar chacha is, he didn’t take a minute to grab the opportunity and said “Sozni embroidery of this kind is rarely seen these days. Should I pack it for you?” And guess what? Stella ended up buying three sozni embroidered shawls, one for herself and the other two as gifts. She told me she had loved the piece the minute she saw it and wanted to own it.Kashmir is blessed with a myriad of cultures, customs, traditions and a rich and ancient heritage of craftsmanship. It is called a land of wonders over the centuries. Mastering Kashmiri craftsmanship, the unique motifs and designing techniques takes years of training. The rich and ancient heritage of craftsmanship and designing shawls is an art that has been carried forward through generations of craftsmen.

One such exquisite embroidered form of Kashmiri shawl is a Sozni Pashmina shawl, locally known as the ‘setchni kaem’. Most of the Kashmiri shawls are incidentally inspired by ancient techniques. As a matter of fact, the shawls are produced by either of the two techniques – loom woven or Kani shawls and needle embroidered or Sozni shawls. The Sozni embroidered shawls are also called ‘amlikar’.

It’s a form of embroidery using thin needles spreading life in the intricate patterns that reflects the craftsman’s exceptional attention to detail. Minute and elaborate embroidered patterns are created by working on the root of the plain pashmina with the help of a needle.

We have often come across the word ‘less is often more’, but sozni shows that not always! The floral patterns are so closely embroidered with single silk threads with no place left for the pashmina base to be visible. Sozni embroidery needles vary in size, and one shawl may be worked on by as many as two or three artisans who work meticulously to make the exquisite wrap. Sozni weaving requires hard work and patience as each shawl takes two to three years to complete. The master craftsman must sit with the shawl for six hours every day to create the colorful motifs that adorn the shawl.  It is impossible to believe that they were needle woven. These fine yet intricate masterpieces are example of impeccable art.
Often you’ll find left hands of Sozni weavers to be full with pockmarks from the needle pricks.

Considering the delicacy of the work, you could easily believe that each shawl takes about two to four years to embroider, and it is such a painstaking and slow work.
A valley in the Himalayan mountains brims with stories about crafts that have been practiced here for hundreds of years.

Kashmiri embroidered shawls, scarves, pherans have been popular the world over for years, a heaven for shawl buyers. Just like my friend Stella, cozy up this winter in a typically pure Kashmiri Pashmina and flaunt it to the world.

Photographs do not do justice to these essential luxuries; you have to see them close up, feel them, peer at their amazing patterns to realise what treasures these are. Heirlooms in the making, just like the red one I treasure.

The Forgotten Floor Mat of Kashmir – WAGU

If you imagine a real traditional Kashmiri room, chances are you have visualised a clear mental image of a warm and well heated room made of wood /stone masonry wall, traditional thick mud roof on timber structure and traditional ‘Wagu’ flooring which provides excellent protection against a harsh environment.

A few decades back the much valued reed mat, ‘Wagu’, which was a reflection of comfort, versatility, biodegradability and affordability, has now lost its sheen.

This unique reed mat of Kashmir, the environmental friendly ‘Wagu’ was part of our heritage but in course of time the synthetic mats started to flood markets and took over this floor matting technique.

Traditional matting of Kashmir also includes ‘patej’ and ‘gabba’ (Kashmiri names for different kinds of floor matting) were once very common and popular seen in both rural as well as the urban households. Matting in rural areas mostly entailed use of ‘patej’, while urban areas, with no access to the paddy straw saw higher use of ‘wagu’ matting prepared of ‘pechi’.

Originally the material that makes ‘wagu’, a soft and spongy mat, was made of a grass growing in wetland and lakes commonly known as ‘Peich’. After it reaches a height of 6 feet it can be harvested to make these mats. Traditionally after plastering the floors by a thin layer of clay mixture, dried, these floors are covered by the ‘wagu’ mat. It acts as an insulation material to beat the harsh winters.
In mosques, residences and shrines the mat was used and due to its economical nature it was accessible to most households. But now the story is different. Modern Kashmiri homes have become concrete and the concept of floor matting has disappeared.

The art of ’wagu’ mat weaving was not easy as it required a great deal of expertise to shape up a mat out of the raw ingredients and no electrical power was used. Over time ‘wagu’ matting emerged as an art form and a section of people adopted it as their profession. The ‘wagu’ makers gradually took their product to the rural Kashmir and established commerce in villages.

Interestingly enough 53 families residing in Khoon Mohallah in Hazratbal, Srinagar used to be weave the mat by hand. It used to be a hub of ‘wagu’ weavers and all the in the area were involved. But as of today, only handful women across Kashmir practice the art, or profession.

We buy the grass from Bandipora and transport the same to this place on Tongas (horse-driven carts). It consumes too much time and hard word to weave a Wagu and in return, we get just peanuts that too if some Showkeen (man of taste) wants to buy one” quoted Ghulam, ‘wagu’ weaver.
Bashir Ahmad, who still weaves Wagu says that two to three decades back it was the mainstay of income generation for the young, old, men and women. According to the erstwhile weavers the demand for ‘Wagu’ has petered away and customers are hard to come by.

However, with the demand even in rural areas fading, they have started abandoning the trade and are shifting to vegetable farming, paper machie and embroidery work.

It is not the question of a few people losing jobs but of a people losing their heritage,” said a University teacher.
And even though this proverb ‘Old is Gold’ is short, it is most valuable. Sometimes in order to make way for new things letting go of the past is harmful. Losing the heritage of a state is more than just material damage.