Probably, it is due to this reason that the river water is cut
seven times during the 'Amavasya' pooja to symbolize the seven vows taken to
honour and perform the Shivratri rituals steadfastly. After the completion of
the ceremonial 'Amavasya Pooja'. on the river bank, a little water is put in the
empty 'Nout' to be sprinkled on the entry door of the house as a mark of
This ritual is known as 'Kalash Lav'. It is followed by closure
of the main door of the house, which is opened only after 'knock at the door'
ritual locally known as 'dhub dhub' ends. It is a sort of a conversational
exchange of words betweenan elderly lady of the family behind their door and an
elderly male member outside it eager to seek entry in the home. The said
dialogue is in a token of affirmative and endorsement nod, in which prosperity,
tranquility, fortune, well-being and all material comforts are sought and
symbolically assured. It is akin to 'Zaem-brandh' ritual of wedding function of
Kashmiri Pandits, where sister-in-law of the bride closes the door and opens it
subsequently after the bridegroom promises to give the sought gifts to his
In both the rites, the door is a symbol for the very psyche of
the house inmates as it transports us into the inner world of family life,
psychological security and comfort. Moreover, home also represents a sacred
social institution, where human relationships are fortified and cemented on
which is based the familial and societal life. On 'Amavasya' i.e. Doon Mavas, as
per a native belief, the divine bride Goddess Parvati is believed to depart with
Her divine bridegroom Lord Shiva to the bridegroom's home. The pooja is
performed on the river bank as the flow of river is ametaphor for life and its'
life bestowing generosity. The river water also symbolizes its purifiactory
powers as removal of impurities and sins both at the physical and spiritual
Besides, river also represents the symbolic connectivity as an
essential link of transportation. The river water also represents the continuity
of human life and the life giving order, which is in harmony with the natural
rhythm of the universe.
In addition to it, the river banks are also regarded as the
dwelling places of gods, saints and sages. Probably, due to these facts the 'Amavasya'
pooja is performed on the river banks. Morever, as per a local belief, Phagun
Krishan Paksh Ashtami, known in the native language as 'Hur Aethum' is said to
symbolise one of the wedding ceremony rites of parting of the hair of Goddess
Parvati (mus-mouchravun). Likewise on Phagun Krishan Paksh Pratipadha, known as
'Hur Oakdoh' one more marriage related ritual of house cleansing known by the
name of 'Ghare-Navun' is said to commence. The concluding ceremony of Shivratri
falls on Phagun Shukla Paksha Ashtami, locally known as 'Tila Aethum'.
It represents the final symbolic send off to all the remaining
divine guests of the cosmic 'baraat', who might have stayed back at the bride's
home. It is an evening ritual in which oil lit earthen lamps positioned on grass
woven spherical bases 'Aarie' are placed at entry door of the house, top of the
courtyard wall, enroute path to the river and base of the tree, whileas a few
lamps are floated onthe flowing river. The light of oil lit lamps is a metaphor
for life. It is also symbolic of the light offered to the departed souls of the
The history of our social and cultural development is interepted
through time-tested rituals and it is through them that past becomes alive,
observes Sh. Vjiay Malla, an original residents of Malik Angan, Fateh Kadal
Srinagar and now putting-up at Sarwal Jammu. The 'Gurtoo' tradition is followed
by his family with an amazing purity and even a whiff of wrong doing is regarded
as a blasphemous act. He disclosed that prior to Phagun Krishan Paksh Pratipadha
or Oakdoh, all the cooking utensils are thoroughly cleaned, clothes washed and
the earthenware pots are replaced by new ones. He also revealed that from 'Oakdoh'
onwards, eatnig or taking tea outside the home is disallowed and even puffing on
a stranger's hookah is not permitted.
Sh. VIjay Malla also revealed that permissible vegetarian dishes
in his home are 'monji haakh', moong daal and patatoes, while as cooking of 'Soanchal',
turnips, rajmah and sun dried vegetables locally known as 'hoakh sabzi' are
As per a belief rajmah, turnips and soanchal are regarded as 'dukoal'
i.e. equivalent to non-vegetarian food, while as the dry vegetable preparations
are not in tune with the auspiciousness of the occasion. Elaborating further he
recounted that in earlier times at the time of ritualistic filling-up of the
earthen untensil 'Nout' with water and walnuts, the ladies of his home would
drape themselves in new outfits and wear new 'Attahoar' in the ears as a mark of
good omen. Furthermore, a rice filled up thali having a small quantity of salt
was also made to touch the right shoulder of the lady engaged in 'Vatuk Barun'
ritual. In the local parlance, this ritual is known as 'Zangi Yun'. Both the
rites bear a striking resemblance with the practice followed during the marriage
and birth day functions.
The walnuts put in the 'Nout' are usually in the odd numbers of
101 or 151. Reviving his old memories, Sh. Malla disclosed that during Shivratri
Pooja, even stored drinking water and cooked dishes could not be tasted till the
pooja was over and as a remedy a makeshift kitchen was utilised for the purpose.
A lavish spread of recipes cooked for Shivratri pooja as per his family 'reeth'
include methi, mixed with nadru, unpounded moong daal, raddish mixed with nadru,
sour methi, sour nadru, yellow cheese and fried crisp nadru slices. The rigid
vegetarian tradition is broken on Amavasya evening when a mixed dish of turnips
and goat's stomach locally known as 'demni gogzi' is cooked and ritualistically
offered. The yellow cheese is also an additional dish on that evening. According
to Sh. Vijay Malla, his family also offers pooja to the figurative clay images
of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesh on Shivratri evening and the
ritul is locally known as 'Parthishor'.
Sh. Raviji Raina, an erstwhile resident of the village Salia,
district Anantnag Kashmir and now putting-up at the ORT complex Purkhoo Jammu is
one more faithful 'Gurtoo' for whom deviation from the ordained code is a grave
religious offence. Reminiscing the festival of yesterdays, he stated that from 'ekadashmi'
onwards, the entry of an outsider in the house was not allowed. He also revealed
that even a cursory glance of an outsider towards the Pooja room ws a revolting
and sinful act on the presumption that the person may have consumed meat. In the
repertoire of dishes, his family as per the clan tradition cook yellow cheese,
nadir yakhni, cauliflower, sour raddish called 'mujae kaela', fried pounded
raddish tiki called 'jujae voer' and side dish of 'hakh'. Sh Raviji Raina also
recounted that a specially fabricated wooden knife was utilised for slicing
raddish for the dish of 'mujae kaela' during his gradnfather's time.
His family also has the custom of preparing 'puris' made out of
the flour kneaded with milk and fried in desi ghee prior to Shivratri. They are
called 'Bubur' and are taken as 'prasad' after their pooja is performed on
Shivratri. As per his family belief, purchase of new bronze utensils during the
festival days portends goodness and prosperity for the entire year.
Speaking on a nostalgic note, he recalled that 'Amavasya' pooja
was performed at the village stream or spring bank. During the outpouring of the
'Vatak nout' contents, the spring or stream water was cut with a knife five
times. It is in sharp contrast to the ritual of cutting water seven times
followed in other Gurtoo and non-Gurtoo families. The cutting of water five
times is perceived to symbolize the pledge taken five times to faitfhully
perform the festival related rituals as human body is composed of five elements
of fire, air, earth, ether and water. The digit five also represents five main
deites of Bramah, Vishnu, Mahesh Aditya and Ganesh.
The number five is also symbolic of the five holy days of
Ashtami, Chagturdashi, Purnimasi, Amavasya and Sankrtai. The ritualistic pooja
of 'Parthishor' on Shivratri is also a part of his clan tradition.
The Shivratri rituals represent a symbolic blending of a
religious festival and family celebration, which chronicle the cultural history
and societal evolution of a community, remarked Smt. Urmilla Raina, earlier a
resident of Gogji Bagh, Srinagar and now putting up at Pamposh Colony, Greater
Kailash, New Delhi. Sharing her nostaligic memories, she reminisced that in
accordance with her family tradition, leavened rotis' called 'phulkas' andwheat
flour fried in ghee locally known as 'churma' was taken with tea from Phagun
Krishan Paksh Dashmi onwads. A day prior to Shivratri, a special pooja utensil
designated as 'Vagur' is installed amidst elaborate religious Pooja in the 'Vatak
Kuth'. The customary dishes cooked on the occasionare methi, moong daal and