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Heart-Warming Stories from the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir

Heart-Warming Stories from the State of Jammu and Kashmir

This year as India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day let us remind ourselves that ‘Unity in diversity’ is something that has always been our first identity and a matter of our pride. With India celebrating its Unity in diversity we bring you heart-warming stories of communal harmony from the most diverse state.

Kashmiriyat’ is the symbol of unity in diversity through centuries that embodies the philosophy of amity, love, inclusiveness and tolerance. You’ll be overwhelmed to see the mutual love and brotherhood every Kashmiri has. Why are we ignoring the existence of a Kashmiri brotherhood? May be because the agenda of a few media is to show communal violence, and the reality of Kashmir and its Kashmiriyat and the many good things happening around the corner are often being ignored.

We keep reading instances of communal violence therefore any story that depicts that there is still hope is termed as ‘a rare display of communal harmony’. But here we bring some stories from Kashmir that suggests that the country has not yet come to the sorry pass and a few cannot change the DNA of India which celebrates and embraces diversity.

We Are Not Just Kashmiri Pandits or Muslims, We Are a Family
Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir have always expressed their love and respect for one another and have always valued them as part of the Kashmiri society. In difficult times they stood beside each other like a pillar and even as the times changed to happier ones as true friends they stuck around.

Let us lift the veil and celebrate the real unity in diversity.

Anwar Mir and Chaman Lal

Anwar Mir and Chaman Lal’s friendship

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Chaman Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit stays in Zainapora village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district. Like many others he did not migrate to Jammu in the 90s. With the passage of time Chaman Lal turned blind due to some eye complications.
Since then, the residents of Zainapora village, mostly Muslims, had been helping Chaman Lal in his daily chores.
Amongst his neighbours is Anwar Mir, a youth hood friend of Chaman Lal. In this sighted world that is always a challenging place for those living with sight loss, Anwar Mir has been a pure example of ‘a friend in a need is a friend indeed’. For the past 30 years Anwar has helped Chaman Lal in his daily chores. From taking stroll in the surroundings to visiting him daily everyday their special bond is a lesson for all of us.

While Anwar says,
I visit him every day. It is a routine for me. Lal puts his arm on my shoulder and we take a stroll around the streets. The same streets and shop fronts where we used to discuss our future some four decades years ago.

Chaman Lal says,
I was not blind by birth. It happened some 30 years ago but I’ve never felt insecure here. My friend is helping me here to move around. I was born here. I lived my life here and I will die here. Mir is always there in any kind of situation. If I have to go to a medical shop my friend helps me out. He is always there.

The local residents of the village to are a witness to the gentle breeze of this religious harmony and says,
Their 40-years of long friendship is a lesson for all of us. It purely is an example that a ‘friend in a need is a friend indeed.

Muslims attending last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit

Lending a Helping Hand in the Final Journey

In a belief that no one should walk their last journey alone, Muslim residents of Kulgam district of South Kashmir performed the last rites of Janki Nath, the only Kashmiri Pandit living among 5000 Muslims in Malvan, Kalgam. Janki Nath refused to leave the valley when all others in his family fled under threats. Therefore when he died he had no family member to perform his last rites.
Though many of us would call it a rare gesture, but his neighbours who described him as their brother thought it was their responsibility to perform the last rites of the deceased.

In another instance of communal harmony and brotherhood, residents of Sheikh Mohalla in Maharaj Gunj, defied the army curfew and stepped out of their homes to help perform the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit woman.

It is worthwhile noting that while people who read such positive news are shocked at first, but the valley has witnessed such heartwarming ‘Kashmiriyat‘ for decades and this bodes well for the future of Kashmir.

Kashmiri woman and her husband braved a curfew to get food across to her Pandit friend.

Walking miles to feed a starving friend

A Muslim couple braved a strict curfew and walked through the violent streets to bring food for their starving Pandit friends. As they received a call from their friend that they were running out of food, Zubeda Begum and her husband risked their lives and defied the curfew imposed in Srinagar with a sack full of food to their Hindu friend in Jawahar Nagar.

She (Diwanchand Pandit’s wife and Zubeda Begum’s friend) called me in the morning, saying her family needed food supplies. They have an ailing grandmother staying with them. I am taking the food to them. It is difficult but we are trying to reach them,” Zubeda Begum told the Daily Mail.

Everyone is suffering here. We are so glad that these people came here. This is where humanity lies,” grateful Pandit was quoted as saying

According to the couple, the risk and effort of their long walk were paid for with the warmth they received after reaching the doorstep of Diwanchand’s house in Jawahar Nagar.

This is where humanity/Kashmiriyat lies. It helps you stay positive and help others in the face of adversities.

Here were just a few instances where the spirit of humanity shinned brighter. We are confident that there are more such sunshine stories of communal harmony against the rumours of communal violence that continue to haunt and we will bring them forward.

kashmir travelogue, travel to kashmir, gulmarg

First-hand travelogue of a journey to Kashmir (Srinagar, Yousmarg & Gulmarg)

 

Gulmarg, Yousmarg, Srinagar, Kashmir, Kashmiriyat

And I am back with the travelogue of my friend’s recent visit to Srinagar, Yousmarg and Gulmarg. After unravelling her travel to Srinagar & Yousmarg, I had saved her experience of Gulmarg to be told separately!Gulmarg is undoubtedly heaven on earth- A piece of land quietly spelled to evoke souls of angels by Allah. The rainbows that stretch along its horizon look like halos on the heads of angels. A beauty incomparable; can only be witnessed with the eyes of soul.

After her adventures in Srinagar & Yousmarg for three and a half days, my friend began her ride to serene Gulmarg in a taxi in the second half of her third day in Kashmir.

road to gulmarg, gulmarg

{बिट्टीनाईदूरीए
चूमज़राईबामराइयो
क्याकरहूथाम
ज़ारज़राईबामराइयो

I hummed as my cab driver sang along with me and the tape. The song Do Jahan was stuck in my mind from the first time I heard it in the movie Haider! Even though the song is little sad and about separation, the Kashmiri bit leaves me calm and at peace.

 

That day with 2 ‘O’Clock on the watch,

Meadows and moors ran across, The song made me cry.

For I was going away from Srinagar, Separation hit my eye!

I hummed, I calmed- His soothing voice did the charm.

This was the most beautiful road I had ever bestowed,

Green and Blue and White- lay on the crescent road.

 

We stopped at Kolahoi Green Heights Hotel in Gulmarg.

kolahoi greens

 

Immense green land below my feet

And grandeur blue sky above my head;

Long trees,

And sights of snow covered mountain peaks…

 

is the first expression of Gulmarg in my eyes, captured like a picture. We reached around four o’clock and were tired already. The hotel served us with grand warm rooms and Kahwah. We already had our lunch so we enjoyed the apple crisps along with tea. The ambience of Kolahoi was as warm as the Kashmiri people managing it. After some rest at the hotel, we decided to go and take a walk in the greenery outside.
While in Gulmarg, one does not have to be worried about where, when, how, or why to explore it. Just resume out of your hotel, and start strolling. Every street contours the essence of Kashmiriyat in it as people walking in their long warm clothes smile at you affectionately. We walked through the roads that were surrounded with trees and small weeds hidden in grass. I plucked some and kept them in my journal. I was keen to learn their names & store Gulmarg in its bits.

My father and sister had rented bicycles and me and my mother decided to walk. (You can rent them in Gulmarg as per hour or per day basis, depending upon your need). On our way, we visited a children’s park, church and temple.

 

As it grew dark,

Gulmarg lit up in household lights.

Like fireflies- On a moonlit night.

The sky turned black,

The blue hay spread along sides.

Stars twinkled, moon smiled,

The clouds hid them behind blue eyes.

 

So far I had only witnessed, noon and night in the arms of Gulmarg. The next day I woke up at 6:30 am when my father was sitting at the edge of the window in our room, a sun-kissed ray spread on his shoulder. He looked in the distant somewhere at something. I was sure I got my genes of dreaming from him! We decided to go out for a walk.

The trees were lit with rays of sunlight

Scattering their arms wide, they touched my eyes,

One ray at a time!

Misty blue sky, hay sitting on flowers nearby,

And bumble bees singing in delight.

Such was the ride,

With breeze on my face and mud in my feet lie.

Apparently, we got lost. But thanks to the really kind people of Gulmarg, they not only told us the way back to our hotel, but one of the baba (Elderly man) walked us back as he was going somewhere nearby. On our way back he sang Kashmiri folks, which I could barely understand. The melody of his voice transcended me to the world of a nightingale singing loud from its beak while I sat and listened to it. His voice was coarse and probably that’d be its beauty.

When we reached, my mother was turning blue and red as we were supposed to get ready for the visit to Gondola. We got ready in minutes, had our breakfast and went along quietly, without meeting her eyes (laughs). And yeah, the food was delicious.

gondola, gulmarg

The details on Gondola adventure are easily available on internet so I’ll skip the description and jump on to the best part. It is divided into two phases and both of them give completely different views of the valley. While phase 1 was extremely beautiful and picturesque, phase 2 was altogether snow covered even in the month of June. The authorities let you stay there only for two to three hours hence decided to make most of it.

From phase 2, we walked to Alpather Lake located in between of Aparwath peaks. My hands were freezing and it was the best feeling I had ever got so far in my life. The lake, except in June & July, is frozen throughout the year. I closed my eyes to imagine a frozen lake before me. But the beauty of its water had made its abode in my heart already.

alpather lake

After coming back from Gondola, I was extremely tired. So I sat in the balcony and began settling my journal which was overflowing with weeds and flowers where I slept unaware of where I was. Next day I woke up in my bed (My dad must have tucked me in), and it was time to leave. We had a flight back from Srinagar Airport around 1 pm.

 

I ran out for the last time on that trip,

Breathed in all the air I could,

And whispered, Goodbye,

I promise to come back again!}

That’s where her beautiful journey ends. She surely flew back to her home, but she left a piece of her heart in Kashmir. Her poetic romance with Kashmir, made me see a whole new Kashmir through her eyes despite the fact that I have lived here all my life. As I conclude I’d take some liberty and say Kashmir is where the Heart is.

At Kashmiri Life, we try to explore the beauty, culture and traditions of Kashmir is different ways. The experience shared by my friend gave us a chance to enlighten our readers with a poetic insight of our beautiful valley. I thank my friend for sharing her intellect with me so I could share it with my readers.