Kashmir through my eyes for my Future Generations - 2022

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man in red shirt riding on brown boat on lake during daytime
Picture Source: Divya Agarwal (Unsplash)

Namaskar Sarine. My name is Iqbal Krishen Pandit currently living in Kondapur, Hyderabad, India. My father’s name is Shri Soom Nath Pandit, grand Father Shri Kanth Ram Pandit and Great grandfather is Shri  Halderam Pandit who had migrated to Village Krangsoo from a nearby Village Seer Mattan, Martand. My  native place is Village Krangsoo, Tehsil Martand, District Anantang, in the south Kashmir. We used to be  identified as Halder Panditaen in our village. My Mother Shyamrani hailed from Kha Bazar Anantnag. Her mother Prabhawati from Bijbhera the seat of Vyjeshwar Panchank (great Perm nath shastri was from the same place) and father Shri Sarvanand Kantroo had one brother Sri Ramchand Kantroo, who had migrated to Delhi long back and settled there. I remember his family visiting Kha Bazar and us many a times from Delhi. My two Mamajees elder one Shri Arjan Nath Kantroo and the younger one Chaman Lal Kantroo who was very a popular personality, however he expired at a very young age of 60 years in Jammu in 2009 owing to his ill health.

Village Krangsoo is about 8 Kms from District Place Ananatang and 3 Kms to Martand a very famous place. We used to go to both the places very often by foot or by Tonga. I also remember, that I used to take a cycle ride in case some guest arrives (which was very common) and purchase some items from Mattan Market. Gautam Nag Ashram a nearby place, where the famous Gautam Rishi worshipped is about 2 kms from my place. This place used to be a good seat of spiritual knowledge as many saints have preferred this place for their worship which included Shri Swami Sarvanand jee and Shri Swami Gashi Kakh jee. Swami Sarvanad jee attained nirvana at Gautam nag only during the year 1988 and I was fortunate enough to take part in his final rites. A hill top with plenty of Devdar trees, a Spring , a Dharamshalla, a Cottage where the mahatma jee used to stay and a Gau shalla along with huge parcel of land about 50 acres on the both the sides of road connecting Anantnag to Mattan via Gautam Nag.

A small Shivling and a bigger Shivling were also the attractions for the nearby villages who used to go and worship and pay respects to the Mahatma jee. Martand Sun temple is about 6 kms from my village and we used go for excursions to this place also called Pandev Laerie. This place was later declared under the Archeological monuments as the ancient art, scripture and religion was very eminently observed at this place. Mata Bharga Sheka Bhagwati is very famous deity for all the nearby Pandits and this temple is about 2-3 kms from Martand, Mattan on a hilltop.

On the occasion of Navratri, Ashtami and other sacred days, we used to visit this place. Martand Mattan temple which is also a known as Hardwar of Kashmir as during Mallamass and Bhanmass months, lot of people from within Kashmir and outside Kashmir used to visit this place and local pandits from Mattan, used to keep the Bhai khatas ( Dynasty tree book ) and perform the moksha shard for their ancestors. Martand Mattan, is a very sacred place, a place of prominence and one of the most populated place for Kashmiri Pandits in district anantang. Also a Famous Poet, Writer and spiritual soul Pandit Parmanand belonged to this place, who has contributed through his poetry, songs , bhajans and spiritual discourse to Kashmiri culture, language and traditions. Anantang the district place, where I studied from 9th standard onwards had three important religious places: 1) Ananatang Nag bal with number of springs, few temples, a Dharmashalla and a school. During my visit to my Matamal at Khabazar, we used to go there take bath and perform morning puja in the temples and comeback to my matamal. 2) Devibal Mandir – very old and sacred temple even non Hindus also used to pay respects.

This temple under the foothills of Mata Tuttle/ Zaulla jee and in the center of Anantnag market was a must visit attraction and after this temple people also used to visit Raeshmoul Sahib. 3) Raeshmoul Shahab, a saint who was a staunch follower of Mata Laleshwari was widely respected by Hindus as well and we used to offer rice to the pigeons in the premises.

In the village Krangsoo, we were about 12 families of Kashmiri Pandits all on one side of road except one and about 800 families of Muslims. Krangsoo is named after a spring called Krang Nag and there is a famous story which dates back to about 100 years that a resident of krangsoo a Kashmiri Pandit saw in a dream that there is a big Shivlinga in this spring Krang nag and this Shivlinga needs to be taken out. This KP discussed with all the other members of village a temple was built and this Shivlinga was kept over there.

Another very interesting feature of our village was that it was on the road of Charri Mubark when it used to travel from Anantnag to Mattan. Those days Charri Mubark used to start from Dashnami Akhara Sheetal nath temple Srinagar and via Pampore, Awantipura, Sangam, Bijbehera, Mattan , Ashmoquam and Phalgam to reach the cave on Sravan Purnamashi . I visited Amarnath jee cave quite few times till 1990. This was a trek from Phalgam to Amarnath jee Cave via , Chandanwari, Seshnag, Panjteerthi and the Holy Cave. All those villages which were on the road through which the possession of Chari Mubark used to pass , this was festive time as they used to be ready to receive the Charri Mubark with lot of Sadhus and locals and then hand over the Charri mubark to another village. People used to offer Lassi, water, fruits and juices enroute to the devotees. For the people of krangsoo, we used to go the Anantnag and once the charri mubark will leave Anantnag , we will all be dancing and singing and taking the charri mubark to the Mattan via Goutamnag and Krangsoo. We used to decorate the road with flowers , garlands, and welcoming banners etc. Also a near by Village Thajiwara was called as Chota Amarnath and most of nearby villagers will visit previous night of Sravan Purnimashi to Thajiwara temple, where we used to take the Darshan of Shivlinga early morning. People used to stay there and sing bhajans whole night. Also this palce was witnessed by presence of lot of mobile shopkeepers, food items, toys, cosmetics and fruits and people used to purchase these items and enjoy this festivity.

We had an ancestral house which later was not in a good condition and my father decided to construct a new house. I have two brothers( Roshan lal Pandit and Ashok Kumar Pandit) and one sister Khanda Kumari . My father planned to have an L shaped house with two sets on one side and a bigger set on the other side. A big hall and a large Anngan was the hall mark as any function or get together we could get accommodated there only. Me and my sister were deeply involved in the construction of my house and most of the occasions when laborers were not available we used to carry all the work for the entire day and make sure the work is completed timely. We constructed our first toilet ( private toilet) in 1978 after the marriage of my elder brother till then open defecation was the order of the day. Also taking bath in a nearby river and going to Yarbal in the morning for taking a bath was very common.

Behind my house, there was one big parcel of land called Batawari and we used to play cricket in the same ground . Both Muslims and hindu boys used to play together and mostly the matches used to be between Khandipura and Wagey pura . We used to be part of Khandey pura team. I studied in Govt Middle school Krangsoo and there was one primary school for girls as well. In our school from 5th to 8th both boys and girls used to study together, so co education concept was nothing new to Kashmir.

Few memories which day by day are fading include lighting Zool on one evening typically an Amavisa where everyone will take a bunch of dried grass ( Gaslouv) with a stick towards bottom for holding and lit it and together all of us carrying the fire on the road and chanting Zool Zool. Also as the winter used to end, we used to collect some old earthen pots, old footwear etc and tie all these items in rope made out of dry grass and on Shesher Amavisya, take Shesur to a tree and break it at a tree called sheshur tree, from there go and get the green grass ( sounth chreth) with a walnut in it and later sow it. On the day of Sounth the first day of spring season, same Sounth Chreth was also kept on the Thall with about 12 items like Rice, curd, flower, Mirror, Money, Photo of God, Pen, Walnut, Kulcha etc, Salt / Sugar, Janthri and South Chreth . This Thali is being made on the previous night and next day early morning the lady of the house shows this thali to all the family members and generally they write something on the Janthri .This symbolizes the new year on with lot of good things including food.

Another interesting memory, Almost all the Kashmiri Pandits used to have Cows and had milk available from these cows all the time. This in turn used to make us learn how to cultivate Cows from feeding, shelter and typically how to take them for grazing . There is a nearby hilltop connecting krangsoo to Rampora and after completing schooling we used to take our cattle to this hilltop for grazing after coming form school till 7.30 PM. On the eve of Haerth, the entire house used to cleaned including Livoun ( Lipaie with red mittie) and collecting Flowers like Virkum and Taek batni . On the eve of Birthdays, making yellow rice, Having birthday puja, new clothes and feast must things. Distributing the yellow rice to neighbours was always so exciting inorder to get either sugar or some toffees . In winter, as the snow was all around, storing of certain vegetables was very important and every one used to dig a deep big potwhole in the lawns where vegetables like Potato, Reddish and Turnip were stored in the same with a cover made from sticks followed by grass and Mitti. Whenever these vegetables were required , we used t take them out and close the pothole again.

Making of snowman was very famous specially during the first snow and competition of whose snowman is best were some attractions during snow. Making of Kaw Patul and offering food to the Kaws ( crows) was once again a festival and our concern for birds like crows. Gaad batta , a tradition where we used to offer food including dishes made from fish ( Gaad) and Mouje Kaele to our Yesht devta and pray for happiness and peace. We used to make Patji – a mat made up of dried grass which used to provide us warmth during the cold day with typical Namda and Gabba on it. Every Haereth we used to make few Changjis again with dried grass and use it for Puja Aasan puposes.

Such memories are innumerable and very difficult to preserve in todays conditions wherever we are.

This document is being written to share the experiences I had during my stay at my Motherland Kashmir valley which I left in 1990 and is living in exile since then in a hope that I will return to my motherland some day or other. Over last 32 years being away from my motherland has forced me to adopt all those things which do not form a part of culture and tradition of my community and I am able to see that the rate at which we are drifting from our original culture and traditions, very soon my future generations will not be in a position to connect with ” The Aborigines of Kashmir “ as most of the things which connects us to motherland Kashmir like Language, Rituals, Culture, Traditions, Food, Dress and the Connect within families, relations, friends and community at large is diminishing as prevailing circumstance makes it difficult to practice all these things .

This understanding of getting extinct fast for a community which is a miniscule community, is making many of us frustrated, disturbed and disgruntled and instead of feeling helpless, all of us in our own ways are trying to work on this issue and not allowing our Culture and traditions to die fast. The motivation to fight back this “Sleeping killer “comes from our ancestors who have retained and continued the Purity and originality of our Koshur Culture through thousands of years and have not succumbed to the physical, mental and emotional tortures and painful circumstances of going through seven exodus in last 800 years.

With this document, I also urge and request to all my fellow brothers, sisters and my younger generations that let us come forward and make use of the very popular quote form Swami Vivekananda

“Arise, awake and not sleep till the Goal is not achieved”.

 

 

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    • Suniel Kumar Dhar

      A very interesting and nice blog from Mr.I.K.Pandit making every one of us nostalgic about those childhood days spent in valley! These kind of write ups will always keep us motivated to adapt and learn our cultural and traditional values.

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      • Anonymous

        Very well written. 

        - Kavesh pandit

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