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   Kashmiri Writers

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Alliances Outside Community

A Serious Concern

(The article has been published in “KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi” in its October 2004 issue with some minor changes)

Another unfortunate development that has put the KP community on crossroads in the post-migration period is the alliances of our youth outside community. It is no secret that the new trend is working overtime in cutting the roots of our cherished cultural heritage.

Kashmiri Hindu culture has its roots deeply embedded in a history of thousands of years. Being almost detached from the rest of India for her difficult inaccessible location and environment Kashmir has developed for the last thousands of years a unique culture of her own almost unaffected by the changes in the rest of the world. Though the later Persian and other Muslim impacts changed the face of the valley tremendously by forcible conversions of her people and religious installations, surprisingly, the left over Hindu population has retained its distinct way of life and habits despite all pulls and pressures, though a microscopic minority. The majority Muslims haven’t probably challenged the authenticity of the distinct Hindu way of life, being recent converts and emotionally attached to these principles.

Now after the mass displacement of the community around 1990 outside the bounds of Kashmir valley our children both boys and girls are coming in direct contact with non-Kashmiri youth along with whom they get educated and are put to work to earn their living. The elders, mostly confined to the four walls of their new-found quarters, try to stick to their old customs, habits and the ways of life they are accustomed to. It has given rise to extensive colonies of KP establishments in Jammu, Delhi and other cities where they have had a chance to settle down. The recent years that passed saw our small children grow into adulthood in an alien environment, interacting strongly with strangers and getting influenced deeply in their language, eating habits and emotional patterns. The age-old KP culture and heritage remained in the backseat of the vehicle of their lives and the outcome that has especially started shattering the very foundations of this community are the frequent instances of outside community alliances in the form of the marriages of our kids outside the KP realm.

These youth can be easily absolved of the blame as it is a natural phenomenon with them because they are brought up in an alien environment with minimum impact of specific Kashmir Hindu culture being out of the bounds of their original habitat firstly because of the recent displacement and secondly in respect of their education and the work-place environment but the point here to consider is how these emotional outbursts of the youngsters of our community affect the course of their future lives.

A KP girl if married in a non-Kashmiri household instantly loses her specific identity and becomes part of an alien culture. In case of a joint family the things go catastrophic immediately because our daughter cannot change instantly to adapt herself to the new environment which is diametrically different by way of eating habits, social interactions, customs, language, day to day dealings with elders and guests. As such she is unable to fulfill the aspirations and expectations of her parents-in-law and their relatives and so the glamour of their young married life fades away very soon giving rise to feuds between the husband and the wife and others. Thus immediately the relations get embittered for the young couple as the boy can neither take the side of his parents nor his wife and the worst aspect of the matter is that the girl cannot complain before her parents as the choice of the marriage was only hers, not her parents.

Things are better in case it is a husband and wife unit living separately apart from the other members of family but not essentially satisfying, as again the interaction of the girl with other relatives on her in-laws side cannot be comfortable because of the huge cultural gap that exists between the families as the customs and the way of performing ceremonies vary to the extent that there is a sure possibility of bitterness in the relations. And who is ultimately the victim? First the girl and second her parents. Now, in case of the marriage of a non-KP girl with a KP boy, the total fabric of the household is shattered as a result of the differences of tastes in eating, dressing, manners, etiquette and language. From the very first day of the marriage the daughter-in-law experiences complete isolation as a result of a quite different environment in the house of her in-laws to which she is not accustomed. She cannot adjust with them even with difficulty because she is alien to everything that is the usual activity in the KP household.

The change puts her into extreme emotional depression and the result is that she rebuffs and there are frequent clashes on mere trifles and the family breakups very soon. All the expectations of the parents from their son are shattered. The unfortunate boy is sandwiched between the expectations of his young wife and the duties towards his parents.

Modern KP youth, mostly a product of Maharashtra Technical Education, get usually involved emotionally during studies there and end up in getting married contrary to the wishes of their parents. They have a very strong argument in support of their relations and alliances. They argue that their KP background cannot affect their future life as they have got used to non-Kashmiri culture, foods and ways of life being out of home for a long time. The new relation as they feel further would be capable to make them financially sound than otherwise. Little do they imagine that alliances like marriage are not simple short term agreements and thus cannot to be broken easily. Matrimonial alliances do not get only the boy and the girl together but make a permanent bond between the two families for all social interactions. These contacts cannot be avoided because of the Indian tradition of deep social intercourse between relatives and friends on frequent occasions like marriages and other social gatherings. The deep cultural chasm that exists especially between a KP and the Hindus of the plains cannot be ignored so easily for such alliances. The bonds of KP culture are full of various intricacies which cannot be easily adopted by a non-Kashmiri nor are all these capable to be shunned away simply. The modern youth must understand that these alliances are a result of hasty emotional outbursts of raw minds without any serious thought and hence liable to invite serious implications.

This author would definitely like to invite serious arguments in this context from the youth especially defending the cause, if any. It is not out of place to mention here that matrimonial alliances between Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali and Rajasthani families or the like except KPs can definitely be comfortable with a minor adjustment and would as such not pose any major problem for the youth concerned and their families because their individual cultures and ways of life are easily accommodating with each other. The unique KP culture with patterns of strange hues is very difficult to be compromised. The development has, as such, proved detrimental to the sacred matrimonial ties and the subtle cultural heritage of Kashmiri Pandits.

The long talks and discussions currently going on about the preservation of our cherished cultural heritage outside the bounds of Kashmir is proving futile without showing serious concern on these out of the community alliances. Giving a daughter outside the community means loosing a KP family along with all traditions and customs. Getting in a non-Kashmiri girl as a daughter-in-law is to deprive the household of all Kashmiri flavour and cherished values. The protagonists of the preservation of Kashmir culture do not seem to show any serious concern towards this fatal development which is cutting deep the roots of our so-called heritage. All of us seem to be helpless in the hands of our erring youth who repent at leisure on having a taste of the impacts of these hasty alliances. Time is not far when instances of breaking such alliances along with others will boost up but the damage caused by them would have taken the toll of many households shattered to pieces and left many erroneous youth suffering enormously.


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Kashmiri Writers J.L. Bhat


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