A-Z of Sabb

People in subcontinent earn for two things: Home and Wedding. People want a big house and a bigger wedding. Kashmir being the part of the subcontinent is no different. Here, let’s skip the Housing part and concentrate on Wazwaan! Any typical Kashmiri wedding ceremony consists of 3 days of function at groom’s and 2 days at bride’s.

  1. Mall’e Maenz

This is prelude to the Maenz raat (mehndiraat) and is celebrated by both the bride’s and the groom’s family. Waaze arrives on this day but before him Hatakh arrives. This is just a test drive for the days to come and is mostly used to differentiate Panin (your own) from Vopar (everyone else). Invitation to this day is seen as the attestation to the proximity of the relationship you have with the invitees, hence leading to numerous hatakh (sulkiness) which is the most important and the most vibrant part of any Saal!

Normally, Waaz’e (traditional Kashmiri cook) arrives on this day to start preparing the dishes and be a pain in the back for the Vodn’i vael (Most underrated guys who are the organisation and the backbone of any wedding). This day doesn’t find any mention on the invitation cards, so all the Saal’ar (guests) were invited through an intricate procedure called Dapn’i gasun– Let’s discuss that some other day.

The most important and the most exhausting happening on this day is the Waaz’e waan initiation. Waaza after building and starting the Vaerr (fireplace on which dishes are cooked) starts asking for ingredients, which he has already made the Yaezmann (The owner) note down months ago to keep them available on this day. Still, some exigencies may take place and you might have to fetch the items which Woste waaze (Head Cook) demands from the market, this literally means that Waaza can demand for anything from Shonth (fennel seeds) to nuclear launch codes. The worst part of this is that NEVER EVER EVER, in anyone’s lifetime, has any Waaz’e asked for ingredients in a single-go. It’s always that they demand things slowly and intermittently, it is as if the Verri Josh makes them have a deep philosophical contemplation on the combustion of Verr, hustle bustle around them, nature, and cosmos. The Batte (food) served on this day is usually Tzarvan Batte (bare minimum dishes)

 

 

2. Maenzraat 

Also called mehndiraat, this day used to be reserved for the application of Hinna on the hands of the bride and little finger of the groom. This ceremony used to take place at night after guests were served dinner. In groom’s case, the Panun Toall’e (close relatives) used to wind currency notes around the little finger of the groom but nowadays that custom is replaced by a new ceremony that consists of cutting a cake with Mehndi Mubarak written over it, application of Hinna in the case of the Groom is skipped nowadays. The dinner that is served from this day is ferried by the Vodni vael who always have the feast after the general guests have finished eating.

At the bride’s home, Maenz-koeri arrive. These are the young females of the groom’s family, comprising of very close relatives- mostly first cousins; their selection displays the proximity of the rishta, leading to Hatakh and Malaal. They take a Hinna bowl from the groom’s home to the bride’s. Ironically, this is the most recent malady and it came into existence about the same time when Maenzi-waajyen did. Maenzi-waajyen is the professional Hinna applying artist, he/she is fetched from some beauty parlor again by some Vodni voal and then needs to be dropped there by the same because they don’t accept auto kiraye now! So, technically, the Hinna from the groom’s arrive when the bride has already spent few thousands on the services of a professional!

 

3. Yann’i woal

Also known as Masnandnashini, this day comprises of some of the major happenings both on the bride’s and the groom’s side. The bride’s side has this day earmarked for the reception of the baraat along with the feast that has to be served in three different sittings to three different groups. First group comprising of the gents whom you can trust with the punctuality of the time with just +1 or 2 hour delay. Normally, the timing for the feast on the invitation cards is put at 2 pm sharp but we all know the desolation of the tent at that time.

I once remember arriving at a function at 2 pm sharp, while they had asked to arrive at 1 pm, I saw the Tent’i wael with tenting rods and furnishing in their carriage so I assumed that these guys have been punctual with their timing and the feast has ended and that Tent’i wael chu kaarkhaan wataan. The Yaezman saw me and asked me to wait upstairs, at this point of the time, I thought that latecomers will be served in the Hall of shame. When I entered the hall, I was the only person there who was born after 1960s! So, I sat among them listening to the siyasat (which again is the part and the parcel of any Kashmiri wedding) I barely knew about. They were talking of such an old past that every second person they mentioned had the jannatgaar suffix, so either they were discussing the ancient Kashmiri history or their childhood. When it was 4 pm, I thought now they’ll serve us as they must have been serving ladies for the 2 hours I have been here. At 4:30 pm, Yaezman again came to the Hall asking us to come downstairs. We were served the lunch at 5 pm, to my surprise, Tent’i woal was fixing the tent when I arrived instead of uprooting the same. To this day, I blame the Yaezman for making me listen to the Paatcha daleel because he, being my neighbor, could have said that lunch will be served late and I would have spent that time at home!

The morning of this day witnesses an important event at the groom’s which is his shaving and hair cutting. Unlike earlier times, this too has been reduced to the norm rather than necessity; as in the earlier days, the groom actually used to undergo shaving and hair dressing but nowadays nothing of that sort happens as just like the case of the mendiraat of the bride, the groom too has had an expensive salon treatment few days ago.

The gents sabb is followed by the ladies sabb which is deemed to be the most crucial sabb because they can and certainly will talk! “Tyem chye katthe karaan”. They will talk about everything from the Rass traavnik skills of the Waaze to Waaze vardi to how many Kokar each tream contained to kem kotah wartaav kor to malaal kemis kemis chu gomut to daisy laal’eni hash’i oas huth khaandar’as pyeth te yei logmutIn short, this sabb has more critics under one roof than all the critics of both bollywood, hollywood, tollywood, and Bhojpuri film industry combined! Hence, this sabb is considered to be the most delicate in terms of quality of service needed. The indicator of which is quite apparent on the face of Daspaak woal. By the end of the SabbDaspaak woal has developed few ailments in his back.

Nowadays, caterers are hired for the same purpose but some are averse to it for various reasons ranging from Vopar kot tzanokh zanaan’an manz to Temav seat chune mazze lagaan kenh (latter mostly said by the Chaache who spends all the 2/3 days enjoying Verr’i josh sitting on Kursi.)

After the zannan’e sabb has ended, preparations begin for the Mahraaz Sabb at bride’s and Mahraaz saal at groom’s.

Mahraaz Saal ranges from Kahwas pyeth to Battas pyeth and depends on the preferences of the groom and his family; from Sunnat’i hisaab’i chu pakun to Ase chuna lukan hyund khyomut. Baraat usually leaves around 10 pm and returns around 1 am. In case, the baraat is on Kahwas pyeth and haven’t had dinner before leaving then it’s literally a nightmare for the Vodni vael  (BTDT) who are resurrected from their sleep and asked to serve the Laezimdaar patxh (mostly Zaamtir) who were accompanying the groom in the baraat.

The bride is received by the Groom’s close female relatives, rarely his mother; like all the happenings at a Kashmiri wedding, the selection of the receivers also displays the proximity of the Rishte– one more thing that needs to be kept in consideration for the Malaal free wedding, which never happens. After taking her full time (a subtle way to show the bride who is the boss) the Hashh (Mother-in-law of the bride) arrives to lift her veil hoping to send her relatives into Gashh (state of unconsciousness from the sight of bride’s beauty) the event is called Mohar Tulin. This is generally performed by the Hashh or the Badde Hashh (Mother-in-law of the Mother-in-law) if the latter is alive. This marks the end of this day.

 

4. Wathijj

This is the final day of the Kashmiri wedding and is celebrated by the groom’s family alone. On this day, the groom’s family has a feast for the ladies among whom the bride has her lunch. Again, the three other people sitting around the bride on the Tream defines the proximity of the relation hence you know what…. malaal obviously. The Wartaav (small monetary/gold gift given to the couple) takes place here. It is important to note here that the Wartaav process also takes place in the Gents sabb but most of the gents who give their gifts there are the ones who don’t have a Wathijj saal for the female members of their family. There is a female/male in zanaan’e sabb and Mard’e sabb respectively, who keeps the record of all the Wartaav that has been received on the Naev JK Bank diary or some other diary. This sabb at the groom’s is at par with the zanaan’e sabb at the bride’s yesterday in terms of Katthe, Hatakh, and quality of service. With this comes the end of the Wedding in general. There are other customs as well that follow that are Satim Doh and Phirr saal on which the close relatives of the Groom’s and Bride’s visit each other respectively actually for the purpose of general introduction but now to make mends to Hatakh and Malaal dealt out during the wedding.

 

MORAL OF THE STORY: Weddings in Kashmir, being the only social gathering, are a funfair except if you are a Vodni voal.

Kaeshur Rachav

A month ago, I started a section in this blog wherein I translate the kashmiri songs, I have started with the popular ones first. While translating the songs, one of the problems that I faced was that many of the songs that I came across were nice to hear but I was clueless about the words that were being spoken in them, I couldn’t find the meaning of the words in the modern lexicon, that we use nowadays, as this modern lexicon stems from the urduisation and englishisation of our language. We barely know our language and our culture, that we inherited, as it existed. Partly because it is considered condescending if some child deigns to speak in kashmiri and partly because we don’t want our accent to give away our origins. We are somehow ashamed of our culture, our identity. Yes, it is true, we are ashamed of who we are!

Go to a social gathering and check for yourself, the child speaking in broken urdu  is quickly deemed to be refined and intelligent; and henceforth becomes recipient of affability, love, and generosity of the guests whereas the poor soul who has kaeshur on his tongue becomes the eyesore of the party even if his broken kashmiri is music to ears, he ends up receiving the cold-shoulder from the guests as he is an uncouth fellow just like his parents who didn’t teach him to shun his mother-tongue and ape the foreign language! Such brutes!

This leads to the Urdu-waala guys ending up with kashmiri that is worse than those with ST/GB certificates. I am not making this up, I have had the pleasure to be with such guys at school and college and trust me they only ended up making my Urdu worse. They know that they are speaking an alien language and in a bid to fit in they end up with linguistic disasters.

Tu shikaslad hai, zara kar kaam, zara ja dafa, tu balayei/kalle hai, hum lipper pe thay, usko waaze naatihyen thi aaj syun main saath are some of the examples of trying to fit in which became sort of urban-lingo at school leading to degradation of not just one language but two!

The second reason that I mentioned above is that of being afraid/ashamed of our origins, our identity that is ostensibly present in our accent. Urdu helps to mask the accent so nobody will know what part of Kashmir we are from. Some people are ashamed to belong to a particular place and it is not just one place! I, like all the sane Kashmiris like snow and it gives me immense joy to see a heavy snowfall, somewhat like we had this winter. I once asked few guys from other districts to tell me about the level of snowfall that they receive and surprisingly even at places that receive snowfall in several feet, their replies made me certain that we either receive as much as them or even more! Because, again, somehow the level of snowfall would have made me believe that they live on mountains, maybe!

We want our children to parrot English and Urdu because these are the official languages of the state with former being the global language, fair enough, this will definitely help them in getting acquainted with the functioning/happening of the state and the world easily but they have a lot of time for that, they first need to get acquainted with their own society, their culture, and their roots; they first need to know about the past they inherited then only can they appreciate the future they will build. In a world that demands polyglots, why are we robbing new generations of a language, that too their mother-tongue? In the process of doing so we are doing a great disservice to our land, our culture, and our forefathers. We come from a place that has a written historical document dating much before than that of Europe! Our poets were documented when English were learning to read! We are being dishonest with our past and robbing our future at the same time.

 

There is a silver-lining though but that is generally when we are no longer part of the Kaeshur society, I’m talking about NRks- these people being away from the motherland find that spirit of belonging and try to be more connected to their roots and in that process they impart the mother-tongue to their children and use their resources to safeguard the language and culture for future gens. If you google about Kashmiri language over 90% of the content comes NRKs- lessons about learning Kashmiri language, Kashmiri texts, commentaries on Kashmiri culture, cuisines, documented cultural shows and what not! They sponsor the cultural shows there and most important of all- get that documented! We are slowly getting rid of pheran and kangir but thankfully some ingenious people got pheran in vogue. So for the time-being pheran is another fashion accessory but kangir, still for some, is for photos only. Our so-called regional channel that is there for the promotion of the Kaeshir language broadcasts majority of programs in Urdu, and surprisingly, in English as well, that too at prime time!

Documentation is really important for the future generation because we come from that part of the world where it is shameful to speak in your mother-tongue, to learn your culture at school- we know about Harrapa but nothing about Burzhama, to practice and follow it! So, when in future, a kid wants to know what cacophony his grandparents murmur in, he might google the sound and find that it’s the language he was supposed to speak in!

So, document your culture as much as you can, write about anything and everything that is Kashmiri because if you don’t write your own history as you witness it someone else will as they want it to be!

Marriage Or Mirage

Marriage is described to be a pious, personal, and the perfect affair by almost all the religions of the world. It’s a relationship in which two souls reunite to be one but unfortunately, here in subcontinent, it’s presumed to be two families instead of two individual souls that are meant to be reunited! Some incredible and astonishing analogies thereby come to forth that, I believe, are among the basic causes of all the marital problems in this part of the world. I won’t delve into the marriages of the entire subcontinent but want to give the reader a purview of the marriages in a kashmiri society. So, in case you are easily offended, find my observation way out of line, or choose to bury your head in the ground like an ostrich, now is the time to leave. If you still want to waste your time, please go on.

Congratulations! You chose to stay.  Now is the right time for me to apologise for my grammar and writing skills, and of course for anything that you may find repulsive up ahead.
Kashmir is the Muslim majority state proud of its kashmiriyat, and rightly so. We kashmiris have gone through the violence from time immemorial and haven’t given up any of our traditions or rituals; a simple wazwan (kashmiri food feast) didn’t see much change since its inclusion. We’re known for our hospitality and for our spirit. Kashmir is also known as reshvaer– land of saints but with time only the land remained and all the saints decided to get buried under it.  I am not here to tell you about Kashmir but about the evils that surround, and have enshrouded, our marital system.

Being a 90s kid, I haven’t got any chance to know the other, and equally important, half of our kashmiri culture- Pandits. So, my sophomoric observations are mainly based on the Muslim marriages.
We, here in Kashmir, don’t leave any chance to boast about our muslim identity. We aren’t self-sufficient in anything apart from masjids and the loudspeakers that come with them. There’s a masjid on every corner. I can count some 10+ masjids in a 500 step radius around my home. There’s no harm in building masjids only if they serve their purpose throughout the year and not just Ramadan. The point here I want to reflect is that by this show of Muslim strength we wish to affirm our Muslim identity in the society but the teachings of Islam in our day-to-day life are somehow overpowered by the society in which we live. The moot point here is that 100% of the population in this society is of Muslism. Let me describe this overpowering nature in points.

1. CASTE SURNAME SYSTEM

We are muslims, alhamdulilah! So, we don’t believe in the caste system that is highly prevalent in the Hindu society UNTIL a suitor is sought! Here the Hindu caste system is subtly changed into the surname system. There are various classes of surnames in our society. And mind you, we’re (most of us) really serious about it. The surnames, thought to be inherited are primarily all farce! In Kashmir most of the surnames, more than 90%, originated either from a nickname, occupation, place of origin or some incident that happened to your forefathers. The analogy about some being descendents of the Prophet pbuh and thus they command greater respect is a farfetched idea, and as far as I know my Prophet pbuh, he too would have censured this idea with a strong hand. After the analogy regarding the descendents of prophet pbuh, there are also the descendents of the saints that have passed in Kashmir. Remember reshvaer? Now, I don’t want to debate the technicalities and thus probability of the ancestry being right or wrong, for all I know is that in a world where at least 124,000 Prophets pbut have passed, we all are descendents of at least 2 of them!

Furthermore, with this sort of classification, the chances of having a stable marital relationship is really difficult forget about witnessing a blooming love story. We are all adults here (if you’re not then please leave this website for your own good) and know that when two people fall in love they don’t demand a manzimyaer parche (piece of paper, matchmakers carry were all the details about the guy or the girl is given, primarily the surnames of the father’s family, and mother’s family as well) beforehand. Had that been the case things would have been hassle free. You like someone? Demand the parche, if you’re compatible continue, else farewell. Maybe Kashmir will come up with something like that of our own- our version of Adhaar card!

In past, people hardly cared to seek the surname when looking for marriage but now with more ‘education’ and ‘global exposure’ we are adamant on seeking the surname approval!

If the relatives find something fishy about the surname of the match, you hear those 4 magical words:  aem aase paanai kormut which can be ‘audaciously’ translated to “this is a love marriage.” Henceforth, a blasphemy!

These divisions are still there among our society. A person having X surname wants to marry other with Y surname but parents are against this marriage, it’s not the guy or the girl they are against but his/her surname! So either you succumb to their pressure or they do. If you succumb, then love gov phail and gives rise to social evils, infidelity, and a bad relationship! If they do, then it’s just a beginning to the slys and the innuendos that will follow, all through your life.

Also, the reputation in society, nobility, character, habits, manners are all believed to have originated from your surname and your surname alone!

There are only a few who rise above surnames and make a name for themselves.

2. SHAHER-O-GAAM

Apart from the surname malady, the other severe disease that we are suffering from is our ethnicity, our place of living or origin. There’s this word Groous that people of city (by city I mean Srinagar only), who have some urban delusion, use for the people from other districts. If you ask someone in city what this word means, they will tell you that it primarily means someone from the village- uncouth and uncultured. There’s this delusion that everything apart from Srinagar is a village, so, by default all the other districts of Kashmir become villages de facto! Not just all the people living in other districts apart from Srinagar but the people from the outskirts of the Srinagar as well are known to comprise of this category, of Groous for the people of Srinagar. Now, if you travel to the outskirts of Srinagar and ask the people out there who the Groous is, according to them. They will point in the direction of the other district. Now, visit that district and ask them the same question, they will point to their outskirts. Ask the people of these outskirts the same question; they will point upwards to the inhabitants of the mountains. Ask them the very same question; they will point to the inhabitants at higher elevation than they are at. Ask the inhabitants at the highest elevation, they too might point upwards which I fear is the habitation of God!

There’s this moronic divide between the people of the Srinagar and the other districts that apart from disturbing our regional harmony also disturbs our social harmony. I remember my initial days at the college where my later-to-be-friends from other districts used to taunt us, guys from Srinagar. Initially, they had a biased approach towards us, maybe because of some misconception towards the people of Srinagar in general but later on they became some of our close friends. One of them, who was most radical, who used to maintain a distance, became one of my finest friends, shared a lot of personal stuff, confided many secrets and sadly, requested for some important piece of advice (pertinent point here is that you don’t come to me for advice. I’m bad at that.)

Leave the intercaste and interfaith marriages; interdistrict marriage is the new taboo. I don’t know much about the other districts but here in Srinagar it’s like the next big thing. Dosti pakki district apna apna.

There’s this question asked to every matchmaker here: yem katik asli? (Where are they actually from?). Mostly, if you’re from Srinagar, you’ll be traced back to the Downtown. So, our Adhaar card needs a new entry! Let me mention this that Kashmir is so vast and vibrant that we have had ancient kingdom capitals in every present-day district, even many capitals within the same district. So, next time you meet someone from some other district try observing things other than his accent. In Islam, there’s absolutely no provision for this nonsense. If you’re still so much biased, next time don’t pray Salaah in your local masjid because 9/10 chances are that he ain’t local!

3. PAISA

This is nothing new, like all the other places, monetary conditions are a prerequisite here as well. Here in Kashmir we don’t have a dowry system, at least we don’t call it dowry. There’s this Voldemort like reference whenever dowry is mentioned, we ask, “Temav rota kenh?” (Did they accept anything?) It’s only the reference in general, nothing is mentioned in particular. Please note, we are not uncultured like rest of the subcontinent to demand a dowry Astagfirullah! You are wise enough to know, as the father of the bride, what is expected of you. So, in general a dowry is expected from you, there are no demands ye khosh karre (whatever you wish to give) then it’s the prerogative of the groom to accept or refuse the same.

Thankfully, the new generation refuses all forms of subtle kashmiri dowry but there are still some cunning, ibn-iblees who use innuendos or will ask blatantly for something making it really hard for other people to marry off their daughters. Here, it’s important to note that it does not matter how much literate or religious you are to ask for a dowry, what matters is how much educated you are!  Education and literacy are quite different.

In Kashmir, we also believe in the forgotten eleventh commandment: vehement display of money on weddings. If only they could empathise with the father of the hoping-to-be-bride, who cannot cope up with the basic voluptuary customs present-day marriage demands, most of our social evils would be wiped out.

Aasun baasun laayakh (something, of some value) and panun haakh batte che khyewaan (they have their ‘small’ morsels) are the ways to describe the financial conditions of the family of guy or the girl to protect them from the evil eye! Mostly, the surname scrutiny is done because it is believed that the surnames are divine and are a celestial certificate for the character of the guy or the girl

(fun fact: restaurant owners or in most cases, college canteen owners are more privy to the character of guys and girls than their parents, so better to get a character certificate from him!)

There’s also a fourth classification- spirituality but who cares?

Flood In Himalayas

Give me something, something to hold on

Even a hope that may last for century

A hope that will promise an end

To blood reeking robes, to this servility

In the valley of saints, shepherds were fettered

Wolves were allowed to guard the sheep

Who took away lambs and skewered them

Such heroics, such gallantry!

I swear! Her tears will drown them all,

Another orphan gone!

Who will console her? They even caged her destiny

Give me glad tidings after I die

Write to me: “No one was killed today.”

Our correspondence will be possible

Like that half widow complaining to her husband

Who was picked up for questioning but never did return.

How she explains to him health of his mother.

His Yaqoob waiting for Yousuf.

How she tells him about their orphan

His first toy she made, His first lullaby.

Look! she still prays for her lost love

“Be safe and return soon?!”

She still hopes of his return!

On that day, what the orphan will say?

When he will hug his father.

Should he call him ‘Abu’ or would he like to hear ‘Daddy’?

Or will their union be as silent as any unmarked grave?

Looking at each other crying till eternity?

Yaqoob was blind, now Yousuf will be.

So will this Hajira holding Ismael.

 

Tell Noah his child didn’t go astray

He climbed that mountain just to be safe

From the river of fire that flooded Himalayas

From hounds and wolves searching for prey

From this world of dismay!

 

They thought they will break us

Then feed us to those hounds kept at bay

The pandit was ripped apart from mullah

History was distorted as if Child’s play!

They tore Yousuf’s shirt meant for Yaqoob

Only our determination could they never slay.

 

Listen to the chinar that grows near my grave

Be patient and hear him say.

He has seen bodies stitched with bullets at night

Shadows torn, hopes lynched, mutilation of day

That mourner who became martyr

Wept for his beloved and shouted to thee

“Our soul were robbed my dear

Our guilt was being a Kashmiri”