Saturday, November 26, 2011


Dear All,
First and foremost I want to thank all of you for reading and appreciating by previous post on Kashmir and Kashmiri's. I had it written long time back but never found the necessary confidence to post it. I always though "who would be interested in reading all this". But your comments and appreciation proved me wrong and I am so happy about it. It has given me the necessary confidence to post what I had written in continuation of what I posted earlier!

Please read on to know more details about us, Kashmiri pandits ...


Like everyone else Kashmiri families today are mostly nuclear in nature. Kids grow up, go to different places and it’s the mother-father that are left alone in the homes. This is the scenario that I see around. In the old days there were joint families, bunch of children, lot of fun and lot of action. Not anymore!

The basic lifestyle these days is similar to like anybody else. We eat, pray, sleep, watch TV …. Nothing unusual. Yea, a lot of stress is given to education. Girls, boys are treated alike in matters of education and otherwise [I am strictly talking about what I see around in my family and those of my relatives!]. Even in the old days importance to education was given for the girl child. The girls in our community are married off only when they have finished studying and are independent (financially, I mean). There is no hard and fast rule but yea girls are not married off young. But otherwise the restrictions are the same (in India they are universal, aren’t they?). No gundagardi. Keeping the izzat of the family. No night-outs. Curfews. Yea. You get it. Same old. Same old.


This is very vast. There are so many things under this. Festivals. Birthdays. Marriages. And what not.I will try my best to explain it all to the best of my ability.

I will start with birthdays. We kashmiri’s  have 2 birthdays a year. Shocked? Well, most of the people are! Okie let me elaborate. One is the normal kind of birthday which everyone has and knows about. Like mine is on 9th of feb. The other birthday is based on the lunar calendar and it changes every year. Just like diwali does not fall on a same date every year. We differentiate between the two by calling one angreiz (English) and the other kashur (kashmiri). The Kashmiri birthday is celebrated by a small pooja. Yellow rice is made, you tie a red coloured thread on your wrist and put a tilak.  A myriad of kashmiri dishes are made (both veg and non veg). The other birthday is celebrated in the usual manner cake, party etc. you can even cut a cake on your Kashmiri birthday (in addition to the pooja), no worries, no rules.

Most important festival in our calendar is SHIVRATRI as we are Shiv devotees. It comprises of a 4-5 hour pooja called the vatak pooza. This is done by all Kashmiri families. However the intricacies may differ. For example, we make 5 vegetarian dishes on this day to offer the deity, others may make some other dishes, some families also make non-veg food. The next day of the pooja is known as salaam. On this day most of the families make non-veg food. Though some eat veg on this day as well. One of my relatives don’t touch, eat, look at non-veg food for some good 5,6 days prior to Shivratri. They can eat non-veg only after salaam.

Being Hindus we celebrate other festivals with equal amount of zest and enthusiasm. Other common festivals are celebrated in the same way as everyone else with maybe a minor difference here and there.

Though majorly we are Shiv bhakts, Kashmir has it’s own history of saints. I will mention those I know of. There is Mata Kheer Bhawani (also known as tulmul) temple in Kashmir. A replica of it has also been made in Jammu. Then there is bhagwan Gopinath ji, his ashram has also been made here in Jammu. But then different people have faith in different gods. Talking of me, I am SAI BABA bhakt.

Marriages are very important affairs. The preparations of which is started year before the actual occasion. And many a small events commemorate its starting. Like bengali’s we too are rice lovers, so when we buy rice, it is also a function called the toomul saatun, in which the aunties of the family come together to clean up the rice and have a hearty meal. All the things related to marriage like masalas (spices), jewellery, clothes etc are bought on auspicious days, the day should be shub.

I my family we have a lot of girls,especially on maternal side. So most of the weddings I have witnessed have been of girls. Hence I will write about the wedding from the girl’s side. The main events are the Mehandi Raat, Devgon and Baarat. Apart from these sure-shot events there can be optional events like satsang, cocktail parties, reception etc etc.

So, the mehandi-raat includes a lot of mehandi, a lot of traditional foot tapping kashmiri music (a kashmiri music party is called for the occasion), whole-lot of nach gaanna and traditional kashmiri food (veg or non-veg, totally optional). In short a very colourful night and the most anticipated function of the shaadi !
Devgon is basically a pooja, where the girl enters the womanhood. It involves kaane shraan, wearing new clothes (supplied by maternal relatives), wearing some of the jewellery and performing a mini-havan with help of a pandit ji.

The main event of shaadi includes the welcome of the groom’s side (by putting garlands around them!) varmaalla exchange by the couple, a lot of photographs, more food (mostly this event has vegetarian food). The shaadi does not necessarily take place during the day (as is perceived by many) it can also take place during the night. The event of shaadi includes a lot of things, bride and groom are made to make different poses holding hands, etc etc . No. not for the photographs! They mean some thing. Also the kanyadaan of the bride. I love this part, where the bride sits in her fathers lap! The couple is taught the meaning of marriage by the pandit. Then comes the vidai part, where the ladies (and some gents) cry to their heart’s content.

Next in line is the event of satrat the night immediately after the wedding (for example, if the vidai was in the morning, satarat will be in the night of the same day), where the bride and groom come as a married couple and non veg food is cooked. Then reception may-or-may not follow. That more or less ends the marraige function.


Kashmiri music is really popular amongst the older generation like my mom, grandmom etc. As far as my knowledge is concerned I feel the impact of kashmiri music on younger generation (including me) is non-existant. My knowledge of it is limited to few famous folk songs which are usually played out in parties and marriages.

 Kashmiri dresses and handicrafts are famous all over the world. The beautiful Kashmiri embroidered sarees, shawls, coats and dresses have many takers all across the globe.


I have no patience whatsoever to talk about this vast and mouth-watering topic, so I will just let the pics do all the talking:

 These pictures are a torture to look at, especially when you are staying away from home like me and pine and lust to eat food like this.

Anyhow, that's all I have to say in this particular post.


Thursday, November 17, 2011


I am a Gen-X girl. Fast and forward. My individuality and style defines my culture and work. Also being a secular, I am first an Indian. Caste, creed and colour therefore take a backseat for a person like me. But my lifestyle, culture, background, habits etc are also a part of me. They have a strong role in making me who and what I am.

I am a Kashmiri Pandit, a person who belongs to a sect of Hindu Brahmins originating from Kashmir. The religious philosophy of Kashmiri Hindus is rooted in Kashmir Shaivism, a school of Shiva philosophy that originated near Kailasha in Himalayas around 400 AD.

 History has been a witness to a number of hardships borne by our community. During the spread of Islam in the Kashmir Valley around and after 1343 A.D, the Hindu community was subjected to a number of atrocities, which included forced conversions, destruction of temples, burning of religious books and no rights whatsoever. These Hindus could neither use vermillion nor wear the sacred thread nor the Sarees and other dress.

Sultan Ali Shah, through Government instructions, ordered a search of Pandits and all of them were forced to adopt Islam. It is believed that under the stormy religious conversion, carried out by Sikander and his son, Ali Shah, only 11 families of Hindus were left in Kashmir. The rest were converted, killed or had been forced to migrate.

The scenario improved in the reign of other kings who were a bit linient towards Hindus. However as they say history repeats itself, history did repeat and this time in a more ugly way. In 1989-1990, in the name if jihad, Kashmiri pandits were brutally killed, raped and looted. They were given warnings to leave Kashmir at once or face dire consequences. In exile, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits have died due to change in environmental conditions. Kashmiri Pandits were forced to live in hostile conditions in make-shift camps in Jammu/Delhi. During summers, the average temperature of Kashmir would generally be in thirties while in Jammu/Delhi, it is in forties. Think of 45ºC and 6-8 people living in a tent. The habitat change resulted in sun-strokes, anaemia etc. which caused many deaths. Moreover, deaths happened due to snake bites as slum-like conditions of camps became the breeding ground for snakes. Even after 21 years, some are still living in camps.

Talking about my family, we left Kashmir and came to Jammu, thinking that we will go back once things get normal. Well, things never got normal and we never went back to our hometown, we started our lifes in Jammu from scratch. I was just one year old back then, so I never really understood the meaning of all this. I never understood the pain my parents and relatives felt, I never understood their longing and strange fascination with Kashmir. I got bored and irritated with numerous and continuous discussions and reminiscences about Kashmir. As I grew up and finally understood the importance of it all,  I could see  a reflection of all these feelings in a blurred 96 year old eyes (my Grandpa's) He still dreams of his hometown and the happy days he has spent there. It was then I began to understand it all, what is must feel like to leave your home, your things, your memories and everything else that was yours and never get back.

According to statistics Out of one million Hindus who lived in Kashmir in early 20th century..only a handful are left…not even 4000….the rest are living scattered physically, emotionally and mentally somewhere with a lost identity and a dream……Kashmir…….. their homeland…

And it was not all that easy to simply merge and get on with life in Jammu. We were always considered outsiders by the people of Jammu and were a butt of many a jokes amongst them. Growing up in such an environment was not at all easy. My early teen years at school were so horrible that when I look back and think about that time, I almost pity myself. I had no individuality whatsoever, I always tried to blend into someone that was not me. I felt ashamed of being who I was, because I hated being pitied or judged. This was one of the most important reason of writing about this particular post, to highlight this fact that I am proud of who I am. I started writing this piece of write-up way back in January but left it mid way and forgot about it. Recently after watching Rockstar and the whole first-time-kashmiri-pandit-wedding rumours associated with it, I was reminded of it and decided to post it on my blog.

Though less in number, we have a rich and varied heritage. Varied customs and mouth-watering cuisines. My upbringing has been a proper Kashmiri one. With mostly all the rituals being followed and the Kashmiri language being spoken at home. Though I converse in Hindi, English or broken Kashmiri with my family and relatives, I can speak the language quite well. And I am very proud of the fact, as many of the Kashmiri kids cannot speak the language neither do they make any effort to try and learn.

I do not blame them. After the migration in the year 1989-90, Kashmiri families have been scattered in different parts of the country and abroad. To raise kids in such an atmosphere is a difficult task indeed. As it is, today’s kids hardly have any time from there busy schedules. Moreover, inter-caste marriages also play an important role in the dilution of kashmiriat from the new generation.

I will not brag and say that I know the A-Z of the diverse Kashmiri culture. No. I do not. But I can share with you the little knowledge that I have. This basically will include the basic lifestyle, some rituals I am familiar with, cuisines, music, art and craft, literature etc. And it will come in the next post of mine (taking into consideration the size of this post)

Some beautiful lines I found on the internet and thought of sharing :

May be the winter of jan 1990
in Kashmir was so cold ,
it turned the emotions of many into ice.
May be,
that is the reason, they could not
see me breathing heavily until
I was out of breath…
May be the cold was so severe
that even their eye lids froze
and their vision got blurred
and that is why
they could not see my dead body..
May be the winter was so harsh
that it impaired the Ears,
it killed their conscience,
may be that is why body…
……..Nobody heard my screams…

P.S The historical and statistical data has been taken from different websites online!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


So, finally the much (very) talked about movie released on an equally talked about date 11.11.11. Don’t know about you guys but I was eagerly waiting for this movie. I was excited about the Kashmir part of the story and being a Kashmiri Pandit, I was equally excited to see how the makers have shown a Kashmiri wedding  onscreen for the first time ever. So Friday night after pressurizing and bullying my friend I finally got the opportunity to see Rockstar.

I will be honest and say that I personally had a lot of expectations from the movie; I thought it to be the next big thing. But sadly it was a huge disappointment, really! The only good thing about the movie is the fabulous music by AR Rahman and a good display of acting skills by Ranbir and may I add only in parts! In most of the scenes (especially the ones with Nargis) he is soo irritating and screechy that you will feel like stuffing cotton balls in your ears.

Story basically is of a small town Delhi boy Janardhan Jakhar who dreams big. He is fond of music and Jim Morrison is his idol. However he has no pain in his life, a driving force which is found in the life of every creative person as per the canteen wale uncle is missing in his life. So JJ (as he is called by the canteen wale uncle)  decides to break his heart by proposing to the babe of the college Heer Koul (Nargis Fakri) who is famous in the college for breaking hearts. Somehow, somewhere the both of them manage to strike a friendship and enjoy watching desi porn in the small gali’s of Delhi and say cheers to desi daaru in some fort.

But before the friendship is even started the story suddenly shifts to the girl’s marriage and thankfully to beautiful scenery of Kashmir! From then the story rapidly moves from present to past and future to flashbacks. And somewhere in between apna hero is a Rockstar who forgets his commitments and recordings, shouts and screams for no particular reason and in every alternate scene you spot a group of policemen dragging and kicking him. Also in-between (before his Rockstar avatar) he is chucked out from his home for stealing or something. He ends up staying in Harzat Nizammudin dargah, where Shammi Kapoor who plays (Bismillah Khan) spots him and decides to give him a big break. And yea somewhere in the middle of it all he gets to go to Prague, where he re-meets  married Heer and they cross the line (as the actress puts it) and fall in love (I think, not sure though). Apparently Jordan (I forgot to mention that Rockstar is called Jordan!) has this magic touch which re-kindles Heer who is dying from some kind of a blood disease. Did I say you feel like killing yourself every time Nargis Fakri opens her mouth? So after a brief stint of extra marital affair Heer is sent back from Prague to Delhi, where she meets, hugs, kisses and accompanies Jordon on his concert tours without any objection from her parents because its improving her health you see!! After all this Heer gets pregnant and goes directly into coma so much so that now even the “magic touch” fails to revive her. Rockstar after this has longer hair and sings with more (unnecessary) pressure and pitch and also fake painful expressions. So that more or less end the movie and that is what Rockstar really is all about! No striking love story neither fight for any rights (Saadaa Haq you ask? I want to ask the same!)

I know the previous paragraph is confusing but it’s kinda deliberate, to give you guys a feeling of how the movie actually is! It’s even more confusing than that. It’s as if the makers first decided to make a movie, then midway they got bored and tried to quickly finish it and then again they got serious about it and so on. Everything thing happens suddenly in the movie,  be it Jordon’s Rockstar status, or Heer’s marriage or their feelings for each other.The movie has its share of good moments but they are very rare. The movie could have been made better and it would surely have left a deep impact on the audience. The only impact it now has is a slight headache. The only thing (apart from the music) which I liked about the movie were the pretty colourful Kashmiri dresses worn by the actress, can’t wait to go back to my hometown and flaunt my collection of Kashmiri Phirans and shawls!! Also an amusing presentation of Kashmiri Pandit wedding, what exactly were so many Muslims doing in a Kashmiri Pandit wedding? Could have been better though am not complaining. To spot it first time onscreen, I should be busier being all excited about it rather than finding faults!

My rating to this movie would be 2/5.

Acting wise Ranbir is Good, Nargis looks beautiful but as long as she keeps her mouth shut. The actor who plays Khataraji (canteen uncle) has done a great job. Also, a commendable job by Piyush Mishra who plays the owner some some music company. Other characters like the families of Heer and Jordon are forgettable. The star of the show is of course Mr Shammi Kapoor who sizzles in his last work on the silver screen.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Happens In Vegas

Ok, so I watched this movie for the 5th, no wait, 8th, ahh lets just make it 10, shall we? So after watching this movie for the 10th time, I realized how much I love the movie. Whenever I watch this movie, I have a hard time deciding who looks hotter. Cameron Diaz? Ashton Kutcher? Both is actually quite an acceptable answer. Also Love the guys who play friends to the couple, the movie wouldn't have been the same without there presence.

Any movie which has Vegas as the backdrop is bound to be famous and entertaining, this one is no different. A typical my-kind-of-movie with just the right amount of everything! Romance-Check. Sentimental Stuff-Check. Comedy-Double Check!!! Hotness Quotient-Check.

Though I love the movie from start to end. There is this one scene where the guy asks the girl her happiest moment. She replies that once upon a time she was feeling a little adventurous so she just took a ferry from the city, went to this beautiful beach with a light house, where she just enjoyed watching the sunset and waves. A day without any concerns, responsibilities or tensions. I absolutely love this part of the movie, because it is so me!! This is really my idea of a perfect day out, a day with myself and the nature, with nothing to do apart from loving and admiring the beauty around you.
Don't know when I get an opportunity as great as this one!

Some memorable quotes from the movie:

Jack Fuller: Hey, don't get hit by a bus
[door slams behind Joy]
Jack Fuller: . Or do, whatever. 

Jack Fuller: Will to be married to me... again?
Joy McNally: [sighs] Being with you makes me be myself again so I will be married to you... again.
[they kiss]
Joy McNally: I quit my job.
Jack Fuller: Good thing we have a ton of money!

Hater: You should never let a chick get in your head; that's why I prefer not to even talk to my dates. 

Hater: You're falling for your wife! Idiot!

Jack Fuller: [before entering their first marital counseling session] You ready for this?
Joy McNally: Pretend that you don't make me vomit in my nose every time I look at you? Definitely.

On another note talking about Maggie, I have begun to love this maggie and egg combination. Don't know whether you are aware of it or not but this recipe is a sure shot winner for living-out-of-home people like me; Easy and quick and most importantly filling!!

This doesn't exactly qualify for great presentation, with that plastic maggie spoon, but well, nevertheless presenting egg waali maggie!

So what you need to do here is actually nothing! Just prepare maggie in your usual style, now there are sooo mannnyyyy ways to prepare good' old maggie, plain, masala, with tadka, with vegetables, with shreds of chicken/mutton, with kaasoori methi (my trademark style :P). So whatever may be your style start start with it, once you are about to finish (and water is about to dry up in the container), break one (or two) eggs into the container (yes, directly on the half cooked maggie) and mix properly and vigorously until the egg is cooked and an inseparable part of the maggie.You can serve in a plate or eat it directly off the container (like I do, don't frown please, it saves the number of utensils to wash!!) and you can garnish it with leftover chilly flakes and origano mixture from the pizza you ordered last weekend :P