Seri Panditaan Village in Jammu

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Seri Panditaan is a village near Amb Gharota, Jammu. The village has a  population of about 800 to  900. There are about 160 to 170 households. It falls in the Bhalwal block of Jammu district and is about 18 km from Jammu city. 

If you see the residents of this sleepy village, you get doubt their nativity. They are  Brahmins with a  fair complexion, and sharp features, and given some customs that Kashmiri Pandits observe. They are Shaivites.

 Madan Gopal Sharma from this village told me this:-

" My father has told me that we are originally from Kashmir. We do not know what brought us to this place. Some elders say that we came in a group during dark  Pathan rule via Mughal Road and crossed Chenab at Akhnoor.  It could be even earlier, I am not sure. The local Raja gave us shelter and land for some agricultural activity. My father had told me that  Kul Devi of our family is Mata Kheer Bhawani of Tulamula. My father had also heard from his grandfather that our real caste is KAUL. Now we write' Sharma'. Our ancestral family tree is well recorded in Bahees and maintained by priests of Mattan( Kashmir). We also go to Mattan for some special religious rituals. We do not know Kashmiri nor do we intermarry with Kashmiris through the routine and normal arranged marriage system as we are in the mainstream of Dogra culture and society. But  Let me tell you a secret. There is some natural affinity that drives us closer to Kashmiri Pandits the moment we see them. I do not know how it happens."

Was Seri Panditaan a settlement of  Kashmiri Pandits?  If Baru Brahmins of Jammu trace their ancestry from Kamrup or Assam, Raina's of Jammu, who is now in the mainstream of Dogra society, trace their ancestry from Kashmir. Once you try to find out the origin of some Sharmas of Jammu and adjoining hills, amazing details surface.  For this, you need to check the Gotra source as well. If you visit Poonch, you will find a Kashmiri Mohalla with some old families still living in the town. This Mohalla was a settlement of fleeing Pandits who arrived in the town during the dark Afghan rule in Kashmir. You have a similar settlement in Bhaderwah, some pockets of Kishtwar district and across Ravi in Himachal Pradesh where you find people with surnames such as  Koul, Raina, Razdan, Misri, Zutshi, and Dhar. Don't be surprised if you see some Koul, Tiku, Zutshi, Misri, Razdan, or Raina families in Reasi, Ramban, Nowshera, and Bhalesa, Padder, Basholi, and some other areas of Jammu province. These families also trace their ancestry from Kashmir and have been living in these areas for more than two centuries. A locality in Akhnoor town is still known as Kashmiri Mohalla although no old Kashmiri family resides in the town now. I am only focussing on J&K and adjoining hills. Otherwise, many books can be written about Kashmiris who moved to Punjab, United Provinces, Delhi, Rajasthan,  Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Maharashtra, and other areas mostly during Afghan rule. The Saraswat Brahmins of Maharashtra, Konkan, and Goa, numbering over 5 million, also claim to have mostly descended from Kashmiri Pandits.

The subject needs some serious research.

The above article is received on WhatsApp

----- Authored  by Avtar Mota

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