By Peer Mohammad Amir Qureshi
NESTLED in the breathtaking landscape of Kashmir lies a land steeped in cultural opulence and timeless traditions, passed down through the ages. Amongst the many customs that enrich its tapestry, conventional gatherings stand out as a vital pillar of communities worldwide. These age-old events serve as a poignant reminder of our shared humanity, uniting us in times of celebration, grief, and everything in between. The aroma of delectable food and the warmth of familial love used to fill the air at conventional gatherings of bygone days. Regrettably, the fond memories of yesteryear seem but a distant dream, as our hearts grow increasingly distant and consumed by the green-eyed monster of envy. We have become isolated in our own homes, forsaking the joy of each other’s company behind the fortress walls of our hearts. The advent of mobile phones has only hastened the demise of these cherished traditional gatherings, once a beacon of love and a bond of our social fabric.
I still reminisce of the lively after-dinner assemblies, where uncles and aunts would flock to their parents’ abode for thought-provoking discussions on a plethora of topics, captivating the little ones with tales of wonder and fairies. But now, everyone is confined to their own rooms, even eating their meals there. The essence of communal joy and togetherness that was once a hallmark of conventional gatherings has been lost to the solitude of our individual lives. The rise of depression in today’s society can be attributed to our growing reliance on mobile phones and the loss of communal connections. In Kashmir, conventional gatherings such as marriages have always been a crucial aspect of strengthening love, understanding, mutual respect, and family reunions.
Kashmiri marriages were once a grand affair that spanned several months, bringing together entire villages in a celebration of joy and happiness. These gatherings were not just about the union of two individuals but a unification of entire families. However, the current generation seems to have lost interest in these age-old traditions, with many now avoiding attending these once-beloved ceremonies.
It’s unfortunate to see parents now having to force their children to attend these events, and people refraining from participating in such important communal gatherings. In times of yore, individuals would congregate to extend financial aid to each other during weddings, with each person diligently tending to their designated task.
A cherished tradition from my youth was the splendid “Kae’him chai” gathering, where a piping hot brew was concocted in a gleaming samovar. The gatherings were often held beneath the sprawling branches of majestic chinars or in the living rooms or courtyards of houses and are usually organized by the host family. The guests were welcomed with great warmth.Kashmiri tea or “Kehwa” and a variety of snacks like”bakirkhani” and Kashmiri “kulchas” were served those gatherings were typically held in the evening or at night, where family, friends, and acquaintances gather together to share stories, food, and tea. These gatherings were a reflection of the warm and hospitable nature of Kashmiri people and were great way to strengthen bonds between friends and family both young and old to partake in the convivial atmosphere. We must recognize the importance of these traditions and work to preserve them, as they play a vital role in building strong bonds between individuals, families, and communities. The convivial assemblies were not solely sustained by just food and tea, but also by a profound bond of fondness that united individuals. The gatherings provide an opportunity for people to come together and share their opinions on various topics, ranging from politics to social issues. This exchange of ideas and perspectives helps in creating awareness and promoting critical thinking among the people. Amidst the “Kae’him Chai” congregation, both adults and children delighted in mirthful conversation and jovial laughter.But now not only have we erected towering walls around our well-manicured lawns, but we have also constructed formidable fortresses around our very hearts.It is my ardent wish that the upcoming generation witness the revival of traditional assemblies in the mesmerizing valley of Kashmir. Let us strive to rejuvenate these convocations, for they hold the key to preserving our cultural heritage.
- The author is a columnist and Poet pursuing msc in zoology.He tweets @peermohdamir.He can be reached at [email protected]
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