How education, jobs and culture are linking the two northern regions with diverse ethnicities and traditions.
The distance between Kashmir and Haryana is 527 km but if one looks for it, they may get an essence of Kashmir in the latter.
The cultures of the two states are entirely different from each other but the influx of Kashmiris from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into Haryana for various purposes such as higher studies and trade lead to the cultural amalgamation.
The cross-cultural relationship between the two states enables Haryanavis to see Kashmir through a different angle.
Kashmiris staying in Haryana break all sorts of shackles of stereotypes attached to Kashmir and its people. People of Haryana are fond of the soothing accent of Kashmiris.
Here are the five ways Kashmir is highlighted in Haryana.
Haryana has a good number of leading educational institutions. These institutions provide a plethora of courses and attract thousands of young Kashmiris to come and study in Haryana.
Vaibhav Sharma, a student of Kurukshetra University in Haryana, agrees to the fact that there are a good number of Kashmiris studying in Haryana. Sharma says, “I have many Kashmiri classmates and they are very good friends of mine.”
Sharma opines that more and more Kashmiris should come and study in Haryana, to help young Haryanvis to learn about Kashmir and its realities.
Muskan Goyal, a medical student of Maharishi Markandeshwar Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, believes that the presence of a large number of Kashmiri students has given birth to a little Kashmiri society inside the campus.
“Both teachers and students give them special attention to make them feel at home,” says Goyal.
There were some incidents of hate crimes against Kashmiri in the Ambala after Pulwama attack but otherwise, Goyal believes, other students live in harmony with Kashmiri students.
Gurgaon is said to be the commercial capital of Haryana. The city is full of corporate parks and offices. A large number of Kashmiris work in these offices. Gurgaon is home not just to Kashmiris coming from J&K but also to many Kashmiri migrants.
Other than the corporate sector, a large number of Kashmiri professors teach in different institutions spread across Haryana.
The growth in the number of Kashmiris in the workforce in different sectors is picking up the pace in Haryana. Rajesh Kundu, a working professional from Gurgaon, says, “There are quite a few Kashmiris in my office and we all have very cordial relations with each other.”
In winters, Kashmiri shawl sellers come to Haryana to sell the authentic shawls and dresses of Kashmir.
The minutely woven designs on kurtis persuade thousands of Haryanavi women to spend their money on the purchase of elegant Kashmiri dresses wholeheartedly.
Usha Rani, a resident of Faridabad, shares a loveable chit-chat with Kashmiri traders every winter.
She says, “I find them very sweet, they are quite humble and offer generous discounts.”
Rani does not discuss politics with the Kashmiri sellers coming to her home. Politics, Rani says, is the root cause of every problem. Many women develop a special bond with these shawl sellers every year.
Every winter, Government of Haryana organises Geeta Art and Cultural Mahotsav to commemorate the 'Bhagwad Geeta Ceremony'.
Many handicraft artists from across the country set up their stalls to present their art. Many Kashmiri artisans also present their artworks at the craft festival.
From the authentic Kahwa and dry fruits to traditional Kashmiri dresses, the artists come up with a variety of options available for sale at the festival every year.
Meenakshi Sahgel, a teacher by profession, strolls at the festival every year looking forward to buying some exclusive stuff.
Sahgel says, “I always find stalls occupied with these benevolent people called 'Kashmiris' quite intriguing. The sugar-coated voice of Kashmiris, the aroma of Kahwa and, quaint kurtas and shawls are a delightful treat for many people. I spend a little extra time chit-chatting with them and find it whimsically refreshing.”
In a small town called Pehowa in Haryana, there is a temple named Raghunath Temple that was built by J&K king in the late medieval era as it is made of lakhori bricks.
Currently, the temple is being maintained by the purohits of the royal family.
Many Kashmiri Pandits visit the temple every year. Apart from Gurgaon, a significant population of Kashmiri Pandits lives in Faridabad as well.
The presence of the Kashmiri population in the city helps the people to understand the culture of Kashmir in a way that is cut above to other regions of Haryana.
Shriya Handoo, whose family migrated to Faridabad in 1990, strongly believes in preserving her Kashmiri culture. She says in a dismayed tone, “Many Kashmiris live in different parts of Haryana but they are forgetting their native culture. We and other people from our locality get to know about our culture only when there is a Kashmiri festival coming our way like Herath, Gadh Pooja, etc.”
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