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Slipping Paradise

(The article has been published in “KOSHUR SAMACHAR, Delhi” in its November 2001 issue with some minor changes)

A matter for concern is the latest trend of displaced Pandits selling their properties including their residential houses in Kashmir. No doubt, they need money to get settled immediately wherever they are as the prospects of our return are getting bleaker day by day but it essentially invites for every one of us some introspection to consider its consequences and the aftermath.

This trend not only dwindles the prospect of our return to our homes but we also help thereby come true the dream of the negative elements in the valley of ethnic cleansing. Our hearts bleed profusely on our homes and hearths being usurped by Muslims there. These properties are the choicest in both urban and rural areas and our neighbours always kept a hawk’s eye on them, being the best in the whole lot, be those the paddy fields or orchards in the rural areas or residential accommodation or commercial establishments in both rural and urban areas as the Pandits owned everywhere the choicest elevated places and enjoyed the purest bounties of nature in the form of water, land and air in abundance.

Mark of Prestige

There is nobody to stop this development as individually everyone thinks that he is taking the right step but it has invariably a dark side behind it for each one of us to ponder deeply. The properties are mostly inherited from our forefathers and have always been a source of not only sustenance to our families but also a mark of prestige and financial soundness for generations. Selling them with a stroke of pen for some money, no doubt, enables the present generation build houses in the new colonies being set up in Jammu, Delhi or elsewhere with a few more additions of modern living facilities than they had in the valley. How many of the readers would share this view that a single generation or a person has no right of selling these properties wholly and enjoy solely the benefits. Aren’t we depriving our future generations of a wider scope for financial soundness and a prospect of a settlement any time in future for them on this heaven on earth? The soulless structures in Jammu, Delhi or elsewhere erected from the sale proceeds of a large chunk of the inherited property can’t bear comparison with the houses in the valley which were and would have been a MALYUN (parents house) to many a daughter and sister, not only for their relationship but also for the emotions attached to every nook and corner of the whole vicinity now occupied by those for whom entry was restricted only up to the WUZ (passage connecting the entry gate of the house to upstairs and rooms on the ground floor).

The JAJEER (earthen HOOKAH used especially by Kashmir Muslims) has found place where many a sacred ritual was performed on numerous occasions. Not to speak of the THOKUR KUTH (the puja room) which was the soul of the house and always a centre of attraction for the new visitors as it housed some age-old objects of worship in the form of paintings and idols, especially a small SHIVA-LINGA accompanied by some very smooth stone pebbles (SALIGRAMS), some black and some white, tastefully decorated in the interiors of a small temple-like structure routinely worshipped daily without fail early in the morning before sunrise by the eldest in the family for generations together. No trace of such a thing in its original form is found in any KP house in Jammu or Delhi probably for lack of accommodation or more probably for shifting of values, the greatest tragedy we are facing after our mass exodus.

New life Standards

The old order has replaced a complete changeover of relations and customs and traditions to suit the standards of a new life. Thus the construction of new houses and the new life therein is cherished by the inmates, though a few, to a large extent. The old family order of the valley has given place to an entirely changed environment. With the change of neighbours, our mental propensities have altered. The rural folk kept busy there in maintaining their lands, orchards and surroundings keep housed here in posh interiors of their drawing and bed rooms or keep chatting incessantly with their new-found friends, neighbours and relatives. Many are happy to have got themselves rid of their family disputes about their ancestral or shared properties. The urbanites are a much disturbed lot. They are robbed of their status, office, pen and everything before they were to retire. They get salaries for doing no work. They have lost their distinct identities of work and office and live only with a single name, viz. migrant.

The revolution in the life-style of a majority among us is the result of the unexpected flow of money from the valley by the sale of their age-old properties obtained and preserved by their forefathers. Who are ultimately the gainers and who are the losers in the bargain is an embarrassing question which every one of us needs to answer internally. We are selling our roots, our culture, our forefathers and also the blessings of our saints and savants along with our places of worship. No body is going to stop it as we have no authentic organizing body capable of controlling our activities even in these appalling circumstances. So the end can be easily imagined, we are ultimately to get detached from our roots and get lost in the ocean of humanity without any identity of our own. No body is going to save this community, proud of being the descendants of the rarest of the rare, choicest among the choicest, the crown of BHARAT, from being extinct very soon and the orations of a wayside bard would sing thus:

          A Pandit there was

          A long robe he wore,

          A broad forehead and a tilak,

          A storehouse of learning and

          A life so simple he led.

          Misfortune dogged his steps, alas!

          Got lost and is found nowhere.



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Kashmiri Writers J.L. Bhat


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