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Hinduism is the Only Dharma in this multiverse comprising of Science & Quantum Physics.

Josh Schrei helped me understand G-O-D (Generator-Operator-Destroyer) concept of the divine that is so pervasive in the Vedic tradition/experience. Quantum Theology by Diarmuid O'Murchu and Josh Schrei article compliments the spiritual implications of the new physics. Thanks so much Josh Schrei.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mystic Trends in Kashmiri Poetry by Dr. Krishna Raina

Mystic Trends in Kashmiri Poetry

by Dr. Krishna Raina


 
http://shaivism.net/articles/13.html

Ours is a great country. We have had for centuries a great history, the whole of the East reflects our culture. We have to present what India taught right from the Mohenjo-Darro and Harappa times. These are the precious words of Dr S. Radhakrishnan. Kashmir is the most important part of this great country with a rich geographical, historical, cultural and literary background. It is known as a famous seat of learning. Kalhana has given us the first chronological order of the kings of Kashmir and thus Rajtarangini is the first history of Kashmir written in the 12th Century.

Kashmir is supposed to be the originating center of human culture, and it is popularly known as the Paradise on Earth. Kashmir is famous for its Pratyabhijnya system of Kashmir Shaivism which has given radical revisions of Indian Philosophy. Pratyabhijnya Philosophy is the main contribution of Kashmir to Indian philosophy. Shri Somananda was the originator of this philosophy and Utpaldevak Abhinav Gupta and others were main expounders of this philosophy. Buddhism has also a long history in Kashmir. The great Buddhist Council was held in Kanishka's time near Harwan, known then as Kundala-Vana-Vihara. Kashmiri scholars have written much about Buddhism and have translated many works. Indian Literature without the contribution of Kashmir would be hollow. Kashmir has produced scholars of Sanskrit Kavya Shastra: Vamana, the founder of the Riti School and Udbhatta, the teacher of different theories of Riti; Rudratta, Ananda Vardhana, Mamatta and Abhinavgupta, Kayyatta, Ruyyaka and Mahima Batta-all were Kashmiris. Anand Vardhana is the founder of Dhvani School and Mammatta of Rasa School. Abhinavgupta's doctrine is that Rasadhvani is the soul of Literature. Patanjali was also a Kashmiri. Thus Kashmir has given a lot to the Indian Poetics and Literature. Kashmir has produced many Sanskrit scholars and mystics. The cultural life of Kashmir has had the impress of great mystics.

The main language of Kashmir is Kashmiri. It is said that it is a mixed language and the greater part of its vocabulary is of Indian origin and it is allied to that of Sanskritic-Indo-Aryan languages of Northern India.

Kashmiri poetry begins with the works of great mystic poetess Lalleshwari of 14th century. Her Guru was Siddha Srikantha and she learnt yoga from him. Lal Ded propounded the yoga philosophy and high moral truths in Kashmiri verse. These are called Lala Vakh or sayings of Lal Ded. These sayings are the gems of Kashmiri poetry and true knowledge of yoga.These are deep and sublime. She was influenced by Kashmir Shaivism and Shankracharya's Advaita Philosophy. Lal Ded's God is Nirguna. She wanted to make Shaivism easy for common man. She says that one who thinks himself not different from the other; one who accepts sorrow as good as pleasure; one who frees himself from duality; he and he alone tells the beads of Lord of the Lords-Almighty and this is the basic thinking of Shaivism. She held a key to many mystic truths. The following stanza illustrates her deep mystic thought:
"So my lamp of knowledge afar,
Fanned by slow breath from the throat of me.
They, my bright soul to my self revealed.
Winnowed I abroad my inner light.
And with darkness around me sealed,
Did I garner truth and hold Him tight."
(Translated by Sir Richard Temple)
Lal Ded thinks dissolution of 'self' (Aham) essential for Realisation. According to her, Sadhaka has to reach that mental attitude where there is no difference between 'Him' and 'self'. She says one who considers his own self and others alike ends the distinction between 'I' and 'you', who treats days and nights alike, who is above sorrows and pleasures, can only realize God in his ownself. According to her, differentiation between the human soul and Divine-self was Zero. Lal Ded is the first woman mystic to preach medieval mysticism in Kashmiri poetry. She used metaphors, riddles and other mediums for her expression.

Like Lal Ded, another mystic poet of Kashmiri language is Nunda Rishi, who is known as Sheikh Nur-ed-Din alias Sahajanand. His father, Salar Sanz was influenced by Sufi Saint Yasman Rishi, who arranged his marriage with Sadar Maji. The child of this couple, Nunda Rishi is the great founder of Rishi line of Kashmir. Jonaraja refers to him as Maha Nurdin-the chief guru of Muslims-but the saint poet always refers to himself only as Nunda. He preached to subdue the five senses and control Kama, Krodha etc. He has given much importance to yogic practice- breath control for communion with God. Nunda Rishi favoured good action which is the secret of happiness in the world. He preached a disciplined life like this:
Desire is like the knotted wood of the forest
It cannot be made into planks, beams or into cradles;
He who cut and telled it,
Will burn it into ashes.
He considered rosary as a snake and favoured true worship:
Do not go to Sheikh and Priest and Mullah;
Do not feed the cattle or Arkh or leaves;
Do not shut thyself up in mosques or forests;
Enter thine own body with breath controlled in communion with God.
Rupa Bhawani was the second great mystic poet of 17th century. She had a great and deep experience of ups and downs of life. The worldly sufferings showed her the path of spiritual life. Her spiritual 'Guru' was her father Pandit Madhav Joo Dhar who initiated her into the mysteries and practices of yoga. She gave rich mystic poetry to Kashmiri language. In her poetry, we can find the influence of both Kashmir Shaivism and Islamic Sufism.
'Selflessness is the sign of the selfless;
Bow down at the door of the selfless.
The selfless are of the highest authority,
The kings of the time and the wearers of the crest and crown.
These lines show her spiritual understanding. According to her dissolution of self is essential for Realisation. Rupabhawani was a great preacher of yoga. She describes her yogic practice. The different stages of 'yoga' and awakening of Kundalini has been described in the simple language of common men:
I dashed down into the nether regions and brought thc vital breath up;
I got its clue out of earth and stones;
Then my kundalini woke up with nada;
I drank wine by the mouth,
I got the vital breath gathered it within myself;
This great mystic poetess had experienced the truth and then explained the same. Such mystics had real experience and not a bookish one. That is the reason why this mystic poetry in every language is considered great after so many centuries.

Pt. Mirzakak of eighteenth century was a great mystic poet of Kashmir. I have seen three manuscripts of this poet at Hangalgund which is 13 miles away from tourist resort, Kokarnag. There are some supernatural stories also related to this great poet. According to Mirzakak, 'Brahma' is one and invisible. He is the aim of 'Prani'. According to him 'He' is 'Ram', 'Shyam' and everything. 'His' abode is universe.
Tas naav Shyama Sunder
Gharu Chhus zagi andar,
Nebar naav voochhi zi andar
Bhajan kar Ram Ramay.
'Self' and 'Praan' are both Brahma. He creates, nourishes and then becomes Rudra :
Praan Brahma laagith paida chhum su karan
Praan Vishnu laagith rachan dam ba dam Ram Ram
Praanay Rodur laagith soruy chhum galan
Pran hastoneste pran bood nabood dam ba da Ramay
(Manuscript)
We can find our goal with 'Omkar' . Mirzakak has given a fine metaphor that Omkar is arrow, worldly man is bow and our target is Brahma.
Om gav kamanay
Jeev zaan teeray
Nishana Brahma
Om is real man, Om is the light. It is past, present and future. It is the God of Gods:
Om gav aadi purush
Mysticism is in broader sense as old as man hut it is with man in this scientific century also. Pandit Zinda Koul is known as 'MasterJi' in Kashmir. His school is that of Lal Ded, Rupabhawani and Mirzakak. According to Shri B.B. Kachru, he is a mystic by temperament and naturally he could not stand the 'material fret' of his own generations. He sharpened his intellect to reflect the knowledge of truth and dialectical doctrine of Vedanta. Although mysticism was out of tune in the age of 'Master Ji ' but the mystic approach is present in his poem. He believes in 'Karma' theory and yearns for salvation. Human salvation is more in the hands of man than in the hands of God. According to MasterJi, God is besides oneself.
He unknown and unseen
Quietly listens, sitting by.
This is the basic idea of a mystic who believes in oneness. The poet wants to search 'Him' in another spiritual world:
Where all have a living faith in God-
One loving Father, Lord of all-
Where ghosts, given and spirits dark
Hold no sway over men's mind.
For Master Ji God is Love and he wants to understand the world through the lover's eye. In 'Hymn to Love' poem, he describes:
O Remover of world's darkness.
Thou art the source of light and withal my own true self.
Let me see thee shine in all these modes
Initiate me into the philosophy of atonement.
Remove from me this duality.
For the poet like Sumitranandan Pant, change is the process of life. Sorrows and happiness are the two sides of this life coin. End is the beginning of the new. In this poem, 'Ah this world ' Master Ji says that one thing alone makes life monotorous, therefore, darkness and light are natural and important:
If the Lord had not made Death,
If the hell of life were to continue,
Providence would not deserve our thanks
We should overwhelm it with complaint.
For Master Ji the the power in man is nothing but 'His' Shakti. One can only face the ups and downs of this world with the grace of God. We get inspiration from that eternal truth which is Supreme. Man is always longing for something unknown but that noble self is manifest in man's own self. Longing for unknown creates mystic attitude for ages.

[Courtesy: Glimpses of Kashmiri Culture, issued by Parmanand Research Centre, Srinagar]

Source: Koshur Samachar

Maha Shivratri - PART X- Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART X By Upender Ambardar

Maha Shivratri - Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART X

By Upender Ambardar


http://ikashmir.net/uambardar/shivratri2x.html

PART X

The multitude of Shivratri rituals having undated antiquity sculpt a riveting portrayal of indigenous and exogenous strains of our societal cum cultural growth. They represent a microcosm of diverse beliefs, varied faith patterns, variegated societal mores, multiple layers of distinct religious practices and variable traditions acquired over centuries in the bygone times. Speaking on a nostalgic note, Sh Chand Ji Bhat, an original resident of the village Ladhoo, tehsil Pampore, district Pulwama and presently putting up at ORT Complex Nagrota, Jammu, divulged that ahead of the festival, the whole house was spruced up by smearing it with a combined mix of clay, water and cowdung usually on Phagun Krishna Paksh Ashtami, the day set aside for it. To ensure the foolproof piousness and cleanliness, the clay to be used was procured from the adjacent almond orchard of the family. In conjuction with the family defined 'reeth', the ritualistic pooja of two flat bottomed and wide mouthed spherical earthenwares, locally called 'Anyut' was performed in the evening of Phagun Krishan Paksh Dwadeshi, also known as 'Vagur Bah'.

The said pooja was performed in the kitchen. The two earthenwares of 'Anyut' were seated on the backside space of the mud herth, called 'Dhaan'. They were seated on grass woven bases 'Aarie'. The pooja would take place in the evening after mouli and 'vusur' were tied around and 'sindoor' applied to them. In accordance with the family 'reeth' it was customary to put uncut red coloured raw turnips one each in the earthenwares of 'Anyut'. The cooked rice was also put in them. The said pooja was undertaken in the kitchen and not in the 'Vatuk Kuth' for the obvious reason as kitchen is not only an integral and bustling part of a Kashmiri household but also constitutes a sanctimonious area of the house after the pooja room or 'Thakur Kuth'. Chandji also divulged that 'vatuk comprised twenty two earthen utensils of one 'nout', one 'choud', one 'doul', three 'doulji', seven 'varie', two 'saniwarie', one 'sanipatul', one 'dhoopajoor' and two 'tokes'. On Shivratri, usually at dusk, only the pooja utensils of 'nout' and 'choud' were taken to the nearby spring called 'charish pokhar' by both male and female family members.

Before undertaking the said ritual of water filling, the ladies would attire themselves in new outfits and wear new 'Athoar' in the ears as a mark of auspiciousness and good omen. On their return, the entry inside the house was allowed only after observance of 'Aaluth' by waving around of a water filled vessel having a few rice grains inside it. The lavish spread of non-vegetarian gourmet goodies of 'Roganjosh', Kalyai, mixed dish of turnip and lambs stomach called 'Demni gogiz' minced meat preparation of 'mach', sour tasting 'chok charvun', the most favourite humble 'hakh' and raw chutney of raddish called 'muj chatin' were the sacrificial offerings to the designated vessel of 'Bhairav Doul' amidst elaborate pooja. As a part of the offering, apart from milk and sugar candy called 'kund', kishmish, almonds, dry dates sliced coconut pieces and a native herb of 'Bubrikath' were the ritualistic offerings to the pooja utensil of 'Nout', the symbolic representation of Lord Shiva. In accordance with the family custom, an oil lit clay lamp was kept burning continously right from Shivratri day upto the evening of 'Doon Mavus'.

The 'doon Mavus' pooja was performed at the village rivulet bank. Only 'Nout' and 'Choud' were taken there for replenshing them with fresh water during the 'Visarjan' ritual. Contrary to the more prevalent practice of ladies involvement elsewhere, the rite was performed solely by male members of the family. During the knock at the door ritual of 'Thuk Thuk', in addition to the usual 'ann, dhan, orzu, sokh sampdha, gurgupan was also symbolically wished and granted, undoubtedly affirming the pastoral disposition of the said family. On Tila Ashtami seven earthen diyas having a sprinkle of black sesame seeds were oil lit in the kitchen and seven rolled-up cooked rice morsels called a 'Hoon Machie' were placed on seven rice flour rotis called 'Chochivar'. Additionally a bronze 'Kahwa' tea utensil called as 'Khoas' was also filled up with cooked rice to facilitate the observance of ritual obeisance to the departed souls of the family. The rite was also supplemented with the filling up of an earthen soucer called 'Toke' with cooked rice, which was subsequently placed at the village rivulet ghat as a part of the said ritual.

Out of the seven oil lit lamps, one each of them was subsequently placed at the charcoal ash deposition, dry cowudung heap, exterior stepping stair stone base called 'Brandh', streamlet or spring bank and the village temple. Their placement in the rooms was avoided. However the family specific custom permitted only a previously used old oil lit clay lamp to be kept in the kitchen. The family also observed the rite of 'Jatoon Toon' by circular rotation of worn out wicker exteriors of 'Kangri' and old wicker baskets of 'Phout' and 'Kranjul'.

The Shivratri rituals are an amazing blend of multi splendoured traditions, myriad religious attitude, varied devotional pursuits and enormous reverence for the most favoured God and Ist Dev Lord Shiva, asserted Sh. Maharaja Krishan Handoo, a native of Achabal Adda, main town Anantnag and now putting up at Anand Nagar Bohri Jammu sharing the cherished memories of the festival of yester years, he disclosed that ahead of the festival, the house was readied for the most momentous occasion by smearing the entire house with a mixture of clay, water and cowdung. The clay required for it was specially collected from the sacred hillock shrine of the 'Tutlai Baal' of Nagbal Anantnag.

The 'livun hur' or the fabric used, for the cleanliness cum purifactory act of 'livun' had necessarily to be preserved in a contanier before it's subsequent immersion in the flowing waters of vitasta river. It was in accordane with the family belief to safeguard the wholesome sacredness of the purifactory act of 'livun'. Expanding his conversation, he also informed that 'Vatuk' consisted of thirteen items of a 'Gagar', number of 'Katories', two bronze tumblers, two Rattandeeps' in addition to a conch and a hand ringing bell or 'ghanta'. The pooja untensils were taken to the Nagbal for getting them filled up with water. The ladies of the household would drape themselves in new dress and wear 'athhoor' in the ears before undertaking the said ritual. It is akin to the must wear requirement of wedding finery during the auspicious and eventful occasions of weddings etc. A combination of seven different types of drug pulses namely mazie, mooong, maha masoor, rajmah, channa and peas mixed together was a family specific ritualistic offering to the 'Bhairav Doul'. The said offering was known by the local name of 'Sut Sous'.

In addition to it 'cooked rice along with a rice flour 'chochivor' was put in an earthen sacucer shaped 'Toke', which was seated on a grass woven base 'Aaer'. A few unwashed and uncooked meat pieces put into the 'Toke' amidst pooja was an extra sacrifical offering. An unusual and unique family 'reeth' also ordained that motifs of flowers and leaves were elegentaly carved out on the lime white washed side walls of the main door of the house on the Shivratri day. It is synonymous with the custom of the 'Krool Kharun' on the front door wall area of the house on the weddnig occasions. The said floral illustrations were also drawn on the lime water smeared back side wall of the 'Vatuk Kuth', which had an array of pooja utensils of 'Vatuk' installed in the front. It undeniably symbolises a feeling of heightened delight and cheer besides it being a recognisable sign of welcome on the aupsicious occasion of celestial weddnig of the Divine couple of Lord Shiva and Jagatmatta Goddess Parvati. It is in harmony with a sidespread belief that Godess Parvati is the divine daughter of the Satidesh Kashmir.

The above ritual bears a close resemblance with the reproduction of a specific carvings marked on the wall of the ceremonial room of the wedding function of 'Divgoan', which are knwon in Kashmiri as 'Divtimoen'. As per one more uncommon family reeth, it was requried to sanctify the 'Vatuk Kuth' before commencement of the Shivratri pooja by sprinkling water drops with a twig of an indigenous wild herb locally known as 'Bubrikath', which was dipped in a water container. The said ritual is also synonymous with a custom of same nature locally called 'Laev dieni' performed during the wedding functions and the other such events of auspicious nature. The utilised pooja material and restulting 'Nirmaal' was deposited after midnight usually at the base of a nearby tree, preferably a fruit bearing one during the custom of 'Purmujan' on Shivratri. An oil lit clay lamp was also required to burn uninterruptedly right from the Shivratri pooja upto the next day of 'Salam'. The final 'Visurjun' pooja of Doon Mavus was performed in the evening on the Vitasta ghat.

Interestingly on 'Doon Mavus' the used grass 'Arie', 'Vusir', Mouli, used flowers and the left over pooja material was wrapped up in dry grass, giving it a shape of spherical ball. It was subsequently floated in the Vitasta river after an oil lit clay lamp, and lighted 'dhoop' and incense sticks were placed on it. The knock at the door ritual of 'Thuk Thuk' was performed with a minor variation that all the good things of life were symbolically bestowed by the daughter-in-law instead usually done by elderly lady of the family. On Tila Ashtami, oil lit earthen lamps were placed at the four corner's of the house, the pathway lane leading to the house, the potable water source like a well or water tap the adjacent road intersection called 'chowk' and the 'Thokur Kuth'.

The placement of the oil lit lamps as such also display an unusual variance in the relation to the widespread practice prevalent in most of the households.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Maha Shivratri - PART IX -Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART IX By Upender Ambardar

Maha Shivratri - Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART IX

By Upender Ambardar




http://ikashmir.net/uambardar/shivratri2ix.html

PART IX

The Shivratri rituals not only showcase the socio-cultural and religious ancestry of our community but they also signify the lengendary recalls of the bygone eras and continuities of the past. They help to activate and energise our alignment with the Divine, reassuringly asserted, Sh. Girdhari Lal Koul, a resident of the village Inder, district Pulwama and presently putting-up at Indra Nagar Srinagar. Reminisicing about the festival related blissful memories of the yore, he recounted that intermediary period from Phagun Krishnapaksh Pratipadha to Suptami were the designated days for dusting and cleaning of the house followed by washing of household garments and bedlinen. The day of Phagun Krishnapaksh Dashmi was set aside for the traditional smearing of the whole house with a mix of clay, water and cowdung, locally known by the name of ‘livun’. The ‘Vatukh’ cormpised of earthen vessals of ‘Nout’, ‘Choud’, two wide mouthed ‘Doul’, two ‘Saniewari’, one ‘Sanipatul’ and five to seven clay saucers, locally known as ‘Toke’. Only the pooja utensils of Nout and Choud were filled-up with water at the village Inder Nag, whileas rest of the vessels were filled-up with water of the said spring at the ‘Vatuk Kuth’ itself. The sumptuous food spread of ‘roganjosh, kalya, the minced meat rolls called ‘mach’, combined dish of fish and nadru and sour tasting preparation of ‘Chok Charvun’ cooked with culinary expertise were the prized sacrifical offerings to the specified earthen vessal of ‘Bhairav Doul’, amidst elaborate pooja on Shivratri. As per the family specific ‘reeth’, cooked or fried head of the fish was an additional offering to the ‘Bhairav Doul’. Continuing his conversation, Sh. Girdhari Lal Koul further divulged that apart from the customary milk, a native dish of unpounded moong and raddish, known by the local name of ‘Sus-Muj’ was also a ritualistic offering to the ‘Resh Doul’. However excessive care was taken not to defile the piousness of the vegetarian offering of ‘Sus-muj’ by avoiding it’s contact with the meat dishes both during cooking and observance of the said offering. Sh Koul also revealed that during Shivratri pooja, an unwashed and uncooked sheep’s lung in its’ entirety with it’s heart intact was one more distinctive and unusual offering to the ‘Bhairav Doul’.

During the act of ‘Parmujan’ on the night of Shivratri, the said offering of sheeps’ lung was latter-on deposited either at one of the farthest corner’s of the house or at the base of a tree in the vicinity of house. It was in accordance with a prevalent belief that ‘Bhairav’ has the resting place either at the tree top or corners of the dwelling. Curiously enough, on the day next to Shivratri, locally known as ‘Salam’, pooja was agani performed for turmeric mixed cooked rice, known as ‘Taeher’ and uncooked, sheep’s lung having its heart intact. After performance of the pooja by the family priest in the morning, the said offering, locally known as ‘Chout Kharun’ was kept on the house top for the kites and crows to feed on. She. Girdhari Lal Koul lastly revealed that contrary to the usual practice of using baked clay lamps, his family specific reeth ordained that only sun dried earthen lamps were used both during ‘Doon Mavus’ and ‘Tila Ashtami’, pooja.

The indigenous Shviratri rituals are not only the hallmarks of a glorious tradition but also constitute the visible expressions of our unbridled faith, observed Sh. Pyare Lal Pandit, an erstwhile resident of the village Muran, district Pulama and now putting-up at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.

Recapturing the fragrance of the festival of the yester years, he revealed that ‘Vatuk’ comprised of earthen vessels of ‘Nout’, ‘Choud’, only one ‘Doul’, five ‘Saniewaris’, in addition to one ‘Sanipatul’ and ‘Dhoopajoor’. The pooja untensils or ‘Vatuk’ was brought in the house by a male potter and not the pottress in a willow twigs woven carry-back carriage called ‘Kraej’ usually in the morning of Shivratri. The notable mossion was that of ‘Resh Doul’ among the pooja utensils only after the ritualistic waving of water filled vessel around the potter as a sign of welcome and good omen. Apart from cash, the potter was also paid rice, loose tea, sugar, cooking oil and spices. All the pooja utensils of the ‘Vatuk’ were filled-up with water at the village spring called Bhawan Nag. In addition to ‘Nout’ and ‘Choud’, the five Saniwaris’ were also filled up with water and one walnut in each. The ‘Vatk’ parmujan’ was done after midnight usually at the Bhawan Nag. It was also revealed that while leavnig the house for ‘Parmujan’, excepting for the ‘Vatak Kuth’, the electric lights of all the rooms of the house were switched off. Additionally, during Parmujan, the Bhairav Doul was emptied of it’s contents while sheltering it underneath a towel to keep it away from the gaze of the house inmates.



After ‘Parmujan’, the empty ‘Bhairav Doul’ was seated again at its earlier place in the pooja room, but strangely enough in upside down position. However, this upside down position was reversed on the evening of ‘Doon Mavus’. The ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja was usually performed collectively by most of the Pandit households at the Bhavan Nag. The ritual of ‘knock at the door’ or ‘thuk thuk’ was not observed before entry into the house. It was further revealed by Sh. Pandita that on Tila Ashtami, black Sesame seeds were put into seven home made diyas made out of kneaded rice flour as use of baked earthen lamps was forbidden as per the family ‘reeth’. After having been oil lit, they were placed in the living rooms of the house, cowshed, rice storage room and on the top of enclosing courtyard well. The rite of ‘Jattu toon’ was not performed.

The multiple Shivratri rituals play an inspiring role in shaping our socio-religious lives as they not only make us to remember our past but also facilitate to harmonise and galvanise our present existence, declared Sh. Shiv Kumar Raina, an original inhabitant of the village Kathwar, district Budgam and presently residing at Muthi, Jammu. Sharing the festival related memories, be recaptiulated that out of about forty Pandit families of the village prior to exodus, about twenty families having the surname of ‘Raina’ followed the vegetarian reeth on Shivratri.

The culinary repertoire of the vegetarian dishes which were sacrificial offerings to the ‘Bhairav Doul’ comprised of dumalu, nadru -palakh, yellow chese, hakh and nadru ‘chruma’. The pooja utensils were filled-up with water at the village streamlet. Interestingly enough all the Raina families of the said village would perform the ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja at their respective ‘Vatak Kuths’ and not at the streamlet. Consequently, the ‘knock at the door’ ritual of ‘Thuk Thuk’ was not observed by them. However, the distribution of walnuts as ‘Prasad’ among the neighbours was accomplished in the evening of ‘Doon Mavus’ itself. Sh Raina also stated that on ‘Tila Ashtami’ each of the said families would lit seven oil earthen lamps in the morning in ‘Vatak Kuth’. However, it was strictly ensured that they remained burning throughout the day and in the evening a few black sesame seeds were put in each of them as an act of oblation for the departed souls. Afterwards they were placed at the room windows, cowshed, shali storage room, rivulet bank and encompassing courtyard wall.

The Shviratri rituals reveal in telling measures about the antiquity of the religious assets of our faith, which amazingly have stayed with us even in disorderly and tumultuous phases of our lives, declared Sh. Ram Krishan Muthu, an erstwhile inhabitant of Drabiyar, Habbakadal Srinagar and now putting up at Anand Nagar Bohri, Jammu.

Recalling the festival of earlier times, Sh. Muthu revealed that as a prelude to the main festival, his family custom ordained that a combined dish of fish and raddish was cooked on Phagun Krishna Paksh Ashtami, known as ‘Hur Ashtami’. On Phagun Krishna Paksh Duvadashi, locally known as ‘Vagur Bah’, one earthen vessel ‘Nout’, one long and narrow necked earthen pitcher having a side handle known by the local name of ‘Bachi Naer’, one Saniwari, one Machiwari, one flat bottomed wide mouthed spherical earthen vessel having the local name of ‘Anyut’ and one ‘Vagur’ in the form of a brass vessel known by the local name of ‘Tumba’ were installed in the ‘Vatak Kuth’. Fifty one or fifty five walnuts were put inside the ‘Nout’ and ‘Bachi Naer’, whereas one to three walnuts were placed in Saniwari and Machiwari. In the evening of the same day cooked rice and mixed dish of fish and raddish was put in the earthen vessel of ‘Anyut’ amidst pooja. On the day of Shivratri, two wide mouthed earthen vessels designated as ‘Bhairav Doul’ and ‘Resh Doul’, one extra Saniwari and Machiwari were added to the already installed pooja vessels in the ‘Vatak Kuth’.

As per the family reeth, the delectable food spread consisted of Roganjosh, Kalya, combined dish of meat and nadru, mixed dish of nadru and turnip, combined dish of fish and raddish and yellow turnip, which were the sacrificial offerings to the Bhairav Doul. Pooja was also performed for small sized rice flour roti called ‘chochivor’ and pointed edged rice flour rotis, known by the local name of ‘Kanknivor’. Additionally symbolic figurative images, of kneaded rice flour locally known as ‘Kral, Kraej, Bhat, Batin, Shav, Shavin and Kath, Katin were also prepared on Shivratri. They formed a part of the pooja material. The split pieces of Chochivor and Kanknivor were also fried in oil and they were known by the local name of ‘Dren’. Alongwith the walnuts and roti’s, ‘Dren’ formed a part of the ‘naveed’ distributed among near and dear one’s. Pooja was also performed for cooked rice and a big sized piece of uncooked and unwashed sheeps’ lung put in an earthen saucer ‘Toke’. It was afterwards put on the house top for the birds to feed on. An additional sacrificial offering to the ‘Bhairav Doul consisted of fresh blood of the slaughtered sheep, which was procured from the slaughter house.

The ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja was performed on Phagun Shakula Pakash Pratipadha evening on the river bank of Drabiyar ghat. The pooja utensils of Vagur, Bachi Naer, Saniwari and Machiwari were taken to the yarbal ghat usually by the daughter-in-law. They were replenished with fresh water and pooja was also performed there. During pooja the flowing water of the river was cut once crosswise with a knife. On return, the main door of the house was opened only after the symbolic conversational dialogue between the house inmates behind the main closed door of the house,as per the family specific custom. During the said converstion of the ‘knock at the door’ ritual, it was customary to say Shiv and Parvati in reply to a symbolic question regardnig the identity of persons outside the closed door. In response to another symbolic question about the accompanying witness, the answer given was that of Lord Shiva Himself. In the native Kashmiri language the said ritualistic conversation would run like this “Kus Chuv, Shiv Ti Parvati, Kya Heth: aun, dhana, orju, rozgar, soukh, sampadha, ti shanti heth, Parie Kus: Pana Shiv Nath”.

Interestingly enough, during, it, the usual and most prevalent word ‘Ram Broar’ is substituted by Shiv and Parvati, while as Lord Shiva, the God of Gods Himself is also mentioned as an accompanying witness. Afterwards the utensil of ‘Baesh Naer’ was seated on backside space of the mud hearth called ‘dhaan’ in the kitchen room as a mark of good omen for smooth running of the kitchen related affairs and overall sustenance. The fish and most favourite vegetable ‘hakh’ were the customary dishes as per the family reeth on the said day and meals could be taken only after pooja was undertaken on Tila Ashtami. The utilised pooja material and embellishments like ‘Vusir and grass woven ‘Aarrie etc. were deposited into the flowing water of the river. Two to three earthen lamps filled with oil were kept lit on the river bank and a few were floated in the river by placing them on the grass woven bases called ‘Aarie’.

Sh. Ram Krishan Muthu also divulged that during Shivratri pooja, black pepper, sugar crystals called ‘nabud and home made light drink locally called ‘Panakh’ were the ritualistic offerings to the designated utensil of ‘Nout’, inaddition to the usual milk kund and vatak masala.

Ending the conversation, it was also intimated by him that as per a prevalent belief Phagun Krishna Paksh Duvadashi or ‘Vagur Bah’ is regarded as the symbolic Mehendiraat of the Goddess Parvati, Phagun Krishan Paksh Triyadashi constitutes the symbolic celestial marriage of the Goddess Parvati with the Lord Shiva while as Phagun Krishna Paksh Amavasya or Doon Mavus’ is believed to be the equivalent of ‘Kushalhoum’.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Maha Shivratri -PART VIII- Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART VIII By Upender Ambardar

Maha Shivratri - Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART VIII

By Upender Ambardar


http://ikashmir.net/uambardar/shivratri2viii.html

PART VIII

The Shivratri rituals having socio-religious and the historical continuum provide contextual relevance to the exemplary cultural traditions of Kashmir. They are evident expressions of Kashmir's own version of unbroken religious customs, observed Sh. Roop Krishan Dhar, an erstwhile resident of the village Thajvara, district Anantnag and now putting-up at ORT Complex Purkhoo Jammu. Sharing the festival related memories, he disclosed that all the three erstwhile Pandit families of the village followed vegetarian tradition. The distinctive cuisines comprised yellow cheese, dumalu, muja kaela, crisp fried potato and nadru chruma cauliflower and the prized hakh as meat was a taboo on Shivratri. He also revealed that potter from the adjoining village of Wagam would bring the Vatak utensils at the auspicious timing about two to three days prior to the festival. They were initially stocked in the uppermost storey of the house 'Kaeni' before their final entry in the Vatak Kuth on the Shivratri day. As per the family ‘reeth’, rice and cooked vegetables were the permitted offerings to the designated ‘Resh Doul’. The notable mission was the absence of milk offering. In sharp contrast to the usual practice, the ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja was performed in the morning and not in the evening and that too in the ‘Vatak Kuth’ and not at the river or stream bank. The uniquely myriad hues of the Shivratri rituals are embodiments of an ancient tradition, which fortify our familial and social structure, affirmed Sh. Pran Nath Koul, an erstwhile native of Bijbehara, district Anantnag and presently residing at Buta Nagar Janipur Jammu. The haunting and memorable recollections of the festival are like a sweet memory for him. Overtaken by a sudden rush of nostalgia, Sh. Koul stated that as a run-up to the festival, the whole house was readied for the momentous occasion by clay smearing called 'livun'. The clay utilised for the said purpose was procured from the local Jaya Devi Wudar or plateu. It was specially collected in autumn and then sun dried for subsequenct Shivratri use. The potter from the nearby village of Waghama would bring the Vatak untensil comprising two big sized pitchers 'Nout', one smaller pitcher 'Choud', five wide mouthed utensils called 'Doulji, five earthen lamps, clay saucers called 'Toke', dupjoor and about three to four cooking utensils, locally known as 'laej'.

Out of the two, one of the 'Nout' was utilised for storing drinking water on the festival day and the other earthen utensils 'laej' were subsequently used for cooking purpose for the ensuing year as all the previously used cooking utensils were discarded and replaced by fresh one's on Shivratri.

The Vatak utensils were taken to the Vitasta ghat to get them filled-up with water by the ladies of the house. However utmost care was taken to protect them from the onlooker's gaze by covering the pooja untensils with the corner portions of the worn sari's.

Elaborating further Sh. Koul also revealed that as per his family reeth, it was customary to utilise only the water procured from the Vitasta river during pooja. Another curious custom entailed that grass 'Aarie' and 'Vusier' had to be made from the dry grass bundle, which had been washed thoroughly in the flowing water of the Vistata river. The left over untilised grass had to be fed to the cows in order not to dilute the piousness of the grass, which was utilised for the pooja purpose. The potter who had brought the pooja utensils was given rice, fresh vegetables, sugar, loose tea and fire wood in addition to cash.



As per the family, reeth, the tempting meat dishes of 'roganjosh, kaeliya, minced meat preparation of 'maech', sour sheep liver cuisine of chouk charvan, palakh, hakh and 'mujkaela' were the sacrificial offerings to the designated untensils of 'Bhairav Doul'. Additionally, a mixture of seven uncooked pulses comprising rajmash, moong, corn, masoor, maha, black and white channa, known by the local name of 'Sut Soaj' was a special offering to the 'Resh Doul'. It is in complete variance with the reeth prevalent in most of the families where only milk is the lone offering. A portion of 'Sut soaj' was specially kept in the Shali storage room, locally known as 'Dhan Kuich'. It was in accordance with family belief that observance of this reeth would ensure bounteous produce of the grains and pulses during the ensuing year. The family specific reeth also ordained that apart from sugar candy 'kund', kishmish, cardimum, almond kernals and sugar crystal locally known as 'nabud', were also offered to both the 'Nout' and the 'choud'. Sh Koul also revealed that in addition to the electric light, an oil lit earthen diya was ensured to remain burning throughout the night of Shivratri in the Vatak Kuth. On 'Salam', the family priest would invariably come to apply tilak and tie 'mouli' (naerven) on the wrists of all the family members. In contrast to the most common reeth, the 'Doon Mavus' pooja was performed at home and not at the river bank.

On Tila Ashtami, eight oil lit earthen lamps were placed in the Thoker Kuth, cow-shed, Shali storage room, charcoal ash heap, yarbal ghat and outer door of the courtyard. No Jattu Toun was performed.

The traditionally revered heritage customs of Shivratri are our treasured possession. They not only facilitate our spiritual progress but also assist to sustain our inner strength, observed Sh. Pushkar Nath Koul of the village Uttersu, district Anantnag and now a resident of Bantalab, Jammu. Refreshing the festival related memories, he disclosed that Phagun Krishan Paksh Pratipadha, locally known as 'Hur Oakdoh' would signal the cleaning process in the form of smearing the whole house with a mixture of water and clay. The special clay having unrivaled purifactory qualities was procured from the adjacent Gadibal forest. The house cleanliness process would continue upto Phagun Krishna Paksh Suptami, locally know as 'Hur Satum'.

However, as per an unusual family custom, the smear aiding fabric, locally known as 'livun hur' was permitted to be taken out of the house only on Phagun Krishna Paksh Ashtami i.e 'Hur Aethum'. Strangly enough, the said 'livun hur' had to be consigned to the flowing waters of the village rivulet as it was regarded as a sinful act if it was thrown at an unclean and soiled place. The ritualistic dishes on 'Hur Aethum' were meat, fish and a small fish variety of 'gurun'. The following day of 'Hur Navum' was a rest day . On Phagun Krishna Paksh Dashmi, locally known as 'Dyara Dahum', the daughters-in-law would invariably return back to their homes from their parental houses. As per a belief, their home coming was symbolic of the arrival of Goddess Laxmi'. Sh Koul also disclosed that on the next day locally known as 'Vagur Kah', a small sized earthen utensil, locally known as 'Vaer' was reverentially seated on the back space of the mud-hearth, locally known as 'Dhaan'. It was believed to usher-in good fortune, property and wellbeing. Three to five walnuts were put inside the said 'Vagur' after they had been filled up with water. Only vegetarian dishes were permitted to be cooked on the said day. On the morning of Shivratri', head of the family or the eldest son would ensure the preparation of 'Aarie' and 'Vusur', precaution being taken that grass shreds were twind leftway. Interestingly, the grass rope is made by right side interlacing of the grass strands. The 'Vatuk' comprised nout, choud, doul, resh vaer, sonipatul and three small sized 'varie'. The three 'varie' were supposed to symbolize the accompanying divine wedding guests.

An array of vegetarian dishes of 'dumalu', nadir yakhni, hakh, vapal hak, mujae kaela and yellow cheese were the characteristic cuisines cooked as per the family reeth. Interestingly enough, the number of walnuts put-in the 'Nout' were in accordance with the family strength and it was ensured that no family member got unrepresented. As per the family reeth, an elder family member was required to sleep in the Vatak Kuth during the Shirvatri night. The continuous and interrupted burning of the oil lit earthen lamps was also ensured in the 'Vatak Kuth', which was in addition to the electric light. The vatak untensils were filled-up at Shankar Nag of the village. As per the family reeth, the male member of the family was required to carry the 'Nout', whileas 'choud' had to be taken care of only by a female family member. The vegetarian dishes were cooked upto Salam.

The Vatak Parmujan was performed on the Shankar Nag, which was accomplished in midst of blowing of conch shell and ringing of the hand-bell locally known as 'ghanta'. The house inmates would return back to the home to loud accompaniment of the said music. It was indicative of rejoicing on the satisfactory accompli-shment of the divine wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. During the 'knock at the door'; ritual of 'dubh dubh', an elderly lady would remain inside the closed door and symbolically wish and grant all the good things of life to the house inmates. On Tila Ashtami evening, seven oil lit earthen lamps having a sprinkle of black sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) were at the first instant covered under a willow basket, locally known as 'Kranjul' for about one hour. Afterwards, each one of them was placed at cowshed, rice storage room, charcoal ash and cowdung heaps, the courtyard wall, the stream bank and emerging spot of the village stream.

The Shivratri rituals are an amazing amalgam of faith, beliefs and abundant devotion, which have helped us to manoeuvre in troubled times, recounted Sh. Avtar Krishan Razdan, an original resident of the village Brah, district Anantnag and presently putting up at ORT complex Purkhoo Jammu.

Sharing the blissful memories, he disclosed that on 'Vagur Bah', a small brass pitcher locally called 'gudva' was reverentially seated in the kitchen instead of the 'Vatak-Kuth' usually after the sun-set. Amidst pooja, three walnuts, water cooked rice, hak and fried nadru slices were ritualistically put-in them. As per the family reeth, the Vatuk comprised Nout, choud, one specially designed pitcher locally known as 'Gangiz' , one sanipatual, dhoopjoor, one 'Doul' and is small sized 'Doulji'. A mixture of rice, maize, barley, black and white sesame seeds, moong and mash were ritualistically put inside the 'Doul' amidst the Vatak Pooja. The said offering was locally known as dry 'Sut Soaj'. As per the family reeth, instead of the usual milk offering, sour reddish locally known as ''mujae kaela' was specific offering to 'Resh Pyala', symbolically represented by 'Gangiz'.

Interestingly, 'Resh Pyala' substituted 'Resh Doul' as per the family custom. The 'Nout' and 'Choud' untensils were decorated with native wild flowers of 'Takibatin, Verkim and dry marigold in addition to 'Babri' twigs. Only female members would fill-up the Vatak untensils with water at the village spring as participation of male members was disallowed. A lavish spread of vegetarian dishes comprised 'dal-nadru', mujae kaela, hakh and nadir churma.

The Vatak Parmujan on Amavasya was done at the village spring Nagbal. All the Pandit families would collectively participate in the pooja to the accompaniment of blowing of conch, ringing of hand-bell and burning of fire crackers. During the 'Thuk Thuk' ritual, it was obligatory to pronounce Lord Shiva as a witness before the main door was opened and house-inmates were allowed inside.

On Tila Ashtami, a red coloured turnip was placed on a grass woven 'Aarie' and seven earthen lamps having a sprinkle of black til seeds were oil lit. They were subsequently placed at Nagbal, cowshed, livestock room, charcoal and cowdung heaps, and courtyard wall. However no lamp was permitted to be taken inside the house as it was regarded inauspicious. It was also revealed that one previously used oil lamp was also placed at the village rivulet bank.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Maha Shivratri -PART VII- Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART VII By Upender Ambardar

Maha Shivratri - Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART VII

By Upender Ambardar


http://ikashmir.net/uambardar/shivratri2vii.html

PART VII

The Shivratri pooja of Kashmir is a complex interplay of diverse components of customs, ritual beliefs, codes of observance and taboos as per the individual family reeth.

The Shivratri rituals having a strong devotional and faith content are deeply interwoven in the matrix of our rcligio-socio-cultural lives, affirmed Sh. Rattan Lal Bhat, a resident of the village Daetgham, district Baramulla and presently putting up at Srinagar. Sharing his festival related memories, Sh. Bhat revealed that as per his family ‘reeth’, the ritualistic pooja of two flat bottomed spherical earthenware locally called ‘toke’ is performed in the evening of Phagun Krishna Pakash Dwadashi, known as ‘Vagur Bah’ in the local language. Amidst an elaborate pooja, only cooked rice usually prepared from fresh harvested stock is put in the above cited earthenware (‘Toke’). The ‘Doon Mavus’pooja is performed in the evening on the bank of Daegham rivulet. Curiously enough, only one of the earthen pitcher’s symbolically representing the Goddess Parvati is taken out to the bank of the village stream for the said pooja, whileas the main pitcher symbolically representing Lord Shiva is retained in the ‘VatakKuth’. As per his family reeth, the flowing water of the stream is cut seven times in straight lines with a knife during the ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja.

It was also revealed that during the symbolic ‘knock at the door conversation ritual’, it is customary to say Maha Ganesh as a witness before the main door of the house is opened and house inmates are allowed inside. On ‘Tila Ashtami’ evening, oil lit earthen diyas having a sprinkle of black sesame seeds inside are placed on the rivulet bank, cowdung heap and road crossing. They were not permitted to be kept in the house.

The Shivratri rituals having a mysterious symbology facilitate an intimate bond with the Supreme Divine, observed Sh. Pushkar Nath Tutu, an erstwhile resident of Sheshyar, Habbakadal Srinagar and now-putting up at Janipura Jammu. Recapturing the festival related nostalgia memories, Sh. Tutu revealed that as per the family ‘reeth’, the repertoire of culinary legacy of his home on the evening of 'Vagur Bah’ comprised water fowl (Pachin), the usual meat preparations, the combined dish of fish and nadru, palakh-nadru and hakh. But strangely-enough, none of the above dishes but only walnuts in odd number were reverentially put inside the water filled designated clay pitcher of’Vagur’. However, all the above cited dishes were repeated on Shivratri and offered to the ‘Bhairav Doul’’.

It was also revealed that from ‘Salam’ onwards upto the ‘Doon Mavus’, the designated earthen utensil ‘Nout’, ‘Choud’ and ‘Saniewari’ had to be taken to Shashyar Vitasta ghat for refilling them with fresh water daily usually in the early hours of mornings. Curiously enough, ‘Doon Mavus’, pooja was performed in the ‘Vatak Kuth’ instead of the river ghat and correspondingly there was no ‘Thuk Thuk’ ritual.

The amazing variety of Shivratri rituals and customs graced with local flavour have deep rooted symbolic underpinnings, observed Sh. Manoj Koul, a native of the village Danter, district Anantnag and presently residing at Dream City, Muthi, Jammu. Recounting the festival related ‘reeth’ of yesteryears, he disclosed that in the evening of ‘Vagur Bah’, i.e. a day prior to Shivratri, cooked rice mixed with fish dish accompanied by an uncooked and uncleaned small fish variety called ‘gumri were put inside the designated earthen pitchyer of ‘Vagur’ amidst pooja. The ‘Vatak’ utensils comprised the earthen ‘Nout’, ‘Choud’, two Resh Pyala’ in addition to the usual ‘Bhairav Doul’, ‘Sanipatul’ and ‘Dhoopjoor’. As per the family reeth, cooked rice mixed with meat preparations of ‘Roganjosh’, ‘Kalya’, ‘Maech’ and mixed dish of fish and raddish were the ritu­alistic offerings to the ‘Bhairav Doul’ during the Shivratri pooja, whileas only milk mixed with cooked rice is put inside the ‘Resh Pyala’.

Strangely enough in stark contrast to the usual and most common practice, the ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja is performed in the morning and not in the evening and that too in the home and not at the river bank. Correspondingly there is no ‘knock at the door’ ritual. Sh Manoj Koul also divulged that on ‘Tila Ashtami’ morning uncooked rice and uncooked raddish are put infront of the nine oil lit earthen lamps in the ‘Vatak Kuth’. In the ensuring evening, all these items placed in a bronze thali were taken to the village stream. The rice and raddish were consigned to the flowing water of the stream whileas all the oil lit diyas were placed on the bank of the village stream. In no case were they permitted to be taken inside the house.

The varied hues of Shivratri rituals representing a majestic repository of the past are impressive left over imprints of the past, articulated Sh. Vircnder Koul, an originally resident of the village Damjan, tehsil Vessu, district Anantnag and presently putting up at Srinagar. Recapitulating the festival related ‘reeth’, Sh. Koul disclosed that on Shivratri, the ritualistic offerings to the ‘Bhairav Doul’ comprise the cotton-seed, locally known as ‘Kapsi Boyel’, alternately in its’ absence to be substituted by cotton, a mixture of different uncooked pulses of moong, mash (maha), arhar, matar etc and seven different uncooked vegetables namely ‘hak’, raddish, potato, nadru, knol khol, spinach and cauliflower or cabbage as per the availability, known locally as ‘Sut Sous’. In addition to the above, cooked vegetable dishes were also offered to the earthen utensil of’Bharav Doul’ amidst pooja. Sh. Vircnder Koul also revealed that fresh blood of a slaughtered sheep and an uncooked piece of sheep’s lung’s were also a part of the sacrificial offerings to the ‘Bhairav Doul’. As per his family specific reeth, figurative images having human figure like outlines were made out from the kneeded rice flour on Shivratri. They were known as ‘Kral, Kraej, Kath, Katin, Butt, Batin and Shav Shavin’. They were baked dry on a frying pan. Pooja was also performed for them. At the time of ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja, they were offered to the flowing waters of the village stream known by the name of Louver. During the said pooja, the stream water was cut only three times with a knife in straight lines and not crosswise. It was customary to distribute, the naveed of walnut kernals and rice flour rotis ‘Chochivour’ right at the Louver stream ghat itself. During the ‘knock at the door ritual of dubh dubh’, it was obligatory to say ‘Maha Lidar’ as an accompanist, perhaps to emphaisze the nearness of the village Damjan to the river Lidar, which flows in Pahalgam area. Incidentally, Lidar is the mutilated pronunciation for the original name of the said river as Lambodhari and one of the name’s of Maha Ganesh is also Lambodhar.

Additionally in reply-to the ritualistic conversation of ‘Kus Chuv, Ram broar, kya heth, ann, dann, douvlut, sukh, smpadha, laxmi and saraswati,’ the main door of the house was opened and family members allowed inside only after the words of ‘Urniya Tae Tiyan’ were uttered. After the immersion ritual of ‘Doon Mavus’, the earthen utensils of ‘Nout’ and ‘Choud’ had to be seated once again in the ‘Vatak Kuth’ for about five to six minutes. The naveed after the said pooja comprised dry dates, kishmish in addition to the customary, walnut kernals and rice flour rotis. On Tila Ashtami instead of the earthen lamps, diyas were made from the kneaded rice flour. They were oil lit after black sesame seeds were put in them. They were eventually placed on the enroute sides of the road leading to the temple of the village Damjan.

Making an addition to the above conversation, Sh. Kanya Lal Koul, an erstwhile resident of the village Vessu, district Anantnag and now living at Muthi Jammu revealed that his family reeth ordains him to cut the flowing river water only five times with a knife during ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja.

The Shivratri pooja of Kashmir is a complex interplay of diverse components of customs, ritual beliefs, codes of observance and taboos as per the individual family reeth. They are valuable socio-religious assets, which are moored in medieval origins, asserted Sh. Bansi Lai Raina, a resident of the village Chandrigam tchsil Pahalgam, district Anantnag. Sh Bansi Lal divulged that most of the Raina families of his village cook only-vegetarian dishes on Shivratri, which are offered to the ‘Bhairav Doul’. However the vegetarian tradition is broken on the day of ‘Salam’. The ‘Vatak Parmujan’ and ‘Doon Mavus’pooja are performed on the village spring. During the ‘knock at the door ritual’ of ‘Thuk Thuk or Dubh Dubh’, it is necessary to say ‘ Vatak Raza’ as a witness. On Tila Ashtami, eight oil lit earthen lamps are placed in the temple premises, Vatak Kuth, bank of the water source, charcoal heap, livestock room and in the stable.

The Shivratri rituals are faith aiding embellishments having unlimited adoration and reverence for the great God Lord Shiva opined Sh. Manohar Nath Raina, an originally resident of the village Wullar hama, district Anantnag and presently putting-up at the ORT Complex Purkhoo Jammu

The family ‘reeth’ ordained that alongwith the delectable meat preparations of Roganjosh, Kalya, minced meat, a few pieces of uncooked meat, uncooked and uncleaned small fish called ‘gurun’ and fresh blood of a sheep procured from a butcher were the sacrificial offerings to the earthen untensil designated as ‘Bhairav Doul’. The ‘Vatuk’ comprised earthen utensils of ‘Nout’, ‘Choud’, ‘five Doulji and one ‘Bhairav Doul’.

All of them were carried to the village stream to get them filled-up with fresh water. However, strangely enough, the clay representation of Lord Shiva known as ‘Saniepotul’ did not form a part of the ‘Vatuk’. An unusual absence was also that of ‘Resh Doul’ utensil. An additional sacrificial offering to the ‘Bhairav Doul’ was a mixed dish of sheep’s stomach and turnip, known by the name of ‘demni gogiz’ locally. In addition to the electric lamp, an oil lit earthen lamp was also kept burning throughout the night of Shivratri in the pooja room. The snow procured from the adjacent forest was a prized offering to the earthen untensil of ‘Nout’, the symbolic representation of Lord Shiva. On ‘Doon Mavus’, pooja and ‘Vatuk purmoojan were done on the village stream and participation of each and every’ family member was ensured. During the ‘dubh dubh or thuk thuk ritual, Jawala Bhagwati was spoken as a witness; most probably as Goddess Jawala is the Isht Devi of most of the Kashmiri Pandits of Wullarhama village. An interesting ritual of the said family is that in the morning of ‘Tila Ashtami’, seven circular and flat bottomed earthenware locally known as ‘Toke’ are filled up with cooked rice. Each one of them is then covered with a rice flour roti called ‘Chochivor’. Afterwards a red coloured uncooked turnip alongwith two rolled-up cooked rice morsels known as ‘Hoon Machie’ are placed infront of the above earthenware. In the evening of the same day a sufficient number of oil lit earthen lamps are filled up with a sprankle of black sesame seeds amidst pooja for departed souls. This ritual is known as ‘chaeng mootravin in Kashmiri.

These oil lit earthen lamps were then kept in each room of the house, main stepping stair, locally known as ‘Brandh’, livestock room, cowdung and char­coal ash heaps and lastly on the village stream bank. An additional peculiarity of Shivratri pooja of the said family is the absence of ‘Reshi Doul’ among the ‘Vatak utensils’. Sh. Manohar Nath Raina rounded off his conversation with a disclosure that a few families of Wullarhama village have a ‘reeth’ of offering raddish chetni (muj chatin) to the designated earthen utensil of ‘Bhairav Doul’ during the Shivratri pooja.

*(The writer is a keen socio-cultural researcher)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Maha Shivratri -PART VI- Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART VI By Upender Ambardar

Maha Shivratri - Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART VI

By Upender Ambardar


http://ikashmir.net/uambardar/shivratri2vi.html

PART VI

The Shivratri rituals structured down the generation are precious legacies of our forebear. In addition to the chronicled account, the rituals also interpret the socio-cultural evolution of our community, asserted Sh. Amar Nath Koul (Miya), an erstwhile resident of Kocha Nidan Sahib, Rainawari Srinagar and presently putting-up at Anand Nagar Bohri, Jammu. Refreshing the festival related memories, Sh. Miya recalled that even on 'Vagur Bah', i.e. a day prior to Shivratri, the ritualistic food preparations were that of fish and meat. The pooja utensils installed in the 'Vatuk Kuth' comrpised earthen utensils of 'Gagar', a wide mouthed 'Doul', two 'Sanivarees', one 'Sounipatul' and an additional pooja vessel called 'Ram Goud', which was in the form of a narrow mouthed clay pitcher 'Nout'.

Interestingly, on 'Vagur Bah', the ritualistic pooja was performed only for the 'Sanivaries' and not for the 'Ram Goud'. The pooja utensils were taken to charihaenzpur yarbal, which was adjacent to Vetal Bhairav Shrine for getting them filled-up with water usually in the morning.

As per his family reeth, the traditional dish offerings to the Bhairav Doul' comprised 'Rogan Josh', combined dish of fish and nadru, performed after midnight. The walnut pooja on Amavasya i.e. 'Doon Mavas' was performed at home and not on the river bank. Sh. Miya also disclosed that as per his family 'reeth', it was ordained to put the oil lit earthen diya's only on the enslosing courtyard wall and the nearest road crossing.

The Shivratri rituals represent the multiplicity of our cultural and social ethos and also depict our religious ethnicity, declared Sh. Kanya Lal Saproo, an erstwhile resident of Gulab Bagh, district Ganderbal and presently residing at Bhagwati Nagar Jammu. Reminiscing about the festival of yesteryears, he revealed that fish, 'roganjosh' and mixed dish of meat and nadru were the ritualistic cuisines offered to other 'Bhairav Doul' on Shivratri. In contrast to it, on 'Doon Mavus' the mixed dish of palakh-nadru' was cooked. During the ritualistic 'knock at the door' or 'Thuk Thuk' rite, it was customary for his family to say to have come from Tulamulla and Vicharnag in reply to a query about the specified place from where journeyed. It was probably said to emphasize the nearness of the holy shrines of Tulamulla and Vicharnag to his abode at Gulab Bagh.

During the said symbolic conversation , health wealth, good produce, overall prosperity, wisdom and knowledge are symbolically wished and granted. The Shivratri rituals having exceptional diversity and variety are proud expressions of our ancient social set-up and value structure, observed Sh. Moti Lal Raina (Razgaroo) an erstwhile resident of Drabiyar, Habbakadal Sringar and now putting up at Shivnagar Jammu. He also stressed that centuries old treasured rituals share a history, which have stretched into legends as they take us through the splendoured journey and glory of bygone ages. Counting his conversation Sh. Raina opined that rituals should never outlive their utility even under the heightened pressure of time and hurried life style of the present times. The Shivratri rituals are not only the cultural and religious accessories, which reassert our distinctive identity but also reveal the depth of our adoration and surrender to our most favoured Isht Dev and God of Gods Lord Shiva. With nostalgia weighing heavily on his mind, Sh Moti Lal Raina (Razgaroo) recounted vividly that the ritualistic offering to 'Bhairav Doul' used to be water fowl cooked with nadru, locally known as 'Pachin or Shikar' meat preparation of 'maech'.

He also disclosed that 'Vatuk Parmujan' ritual was performed even during the heightened winter chill at the Vitasta Yarbal Ghat of Drabiyar, with the river embankment coming alive during the pooja.

During the immersion ritual of 'Doon Mavus', the flowing river water was cut crosswise seven times with a knife. 'Thuk Thuk Thuk' was an integral part of the said ritual. Making an addition to the said conversation, Smt. Krishna Raina (Dhar) stated that Shivratri rituals endorse our earthly adoration and pesonalised devotion for Lord Shiva and His celestial spouse Goddess Parvati. She divulged that deloctable dishes of yellow meat mixed with turnip and 'Nadeer mokan' were traditional offerings to the 'Bhairav Doul' in her parental house at Bana Mohalla, Sringar, where 'Doon Mavus' pooja was performed in the 'Vatuk Kuth' or pooja room instead of the Yarbal Ghat. Sh Moti Lal Raina also revealed that offering of liquor to the 'Bhairva Doul' by some families having 'Sahib' surname of Kharyar Habbakadal Srinagar was an unusual and uncommon Shivratri ritual. A good quality liquor used to be specially procured for use in the sail ritual in Shivratri pooja.

The Shivratri rituals having metaphorical meaning and veiled wisdom are products of careful thought and insight gathered during the successive waves of proceeding times, affirmed Sh PN Tikoo, an old resident of Kralkhud/Peer Bagh Srinagar and now a resident of Vijay Nagar Talab Tillo, Jammu. Sharing the 'Hayreth' related imperishable memories, Sh. Tikoo recapitulated that on Phagun Krishan Paksh Duvadashi, locally known as 'Vagur Bah', a flat bottomed earthen utensil locally called 'Aaneut' was reverentially seated amidst pooja on the back-side space of the mud herth called locally as 'Daan' in the kitchen. The ritualistic combined dish of yellow meat and turnip was put in it amidst elaborate pooja. However, strangely enough on the next day of Shivratri the most sought after vegetarian dishes of yellow cheese, dumalu, nadir yakhni, cauliflower, nadru-palakh and mixed dish of potatoes and peas formed a part of the kitchen repertoire as per the family reeth as meat was a taboo in the family 'Vatak Kuth' i.e. the family pooja room on Shivratri day.

Making an addition to the conversation, Sh PN Tikoo further revealed that Vatuk or Pooja utensils comprised 'Nout', one 'Bhairav Doul', one 'Resh Doul', two small sized earthen pots called 'Machivari' and four more small sized clay pots, locally known as 'Sanivari', one 'Sanipotal' and a dhoop holder known as 'dhupjoor'. As per the family reeth, four walnuts were put in each of the two 'Machivari', whileas only one walnut was put in each of the four 'Sanivari'. All the cooked dishes after having been mixed with the rice were put inside the designated 'Bhairav Doul' amidst elaborate pooja, while as only rice mixed with unboiled milk was offered to 'Resh Doul', Curiously enough, there is no symbolic representation of the Goddess Parvati among the pooja utensils of the said Tikoo family. 'Doon Mavas' pooja was performed at home and not at the river bank. On Tila Ashtami, oil lit earthen lamps were placed on the stepping stone stair, locally called 'Brandh', the courtyard wall the adjacent lane and the Yarbal Ghat.

The rituals are real life expressions of undying love and adoration for the great God Lord Shiva affirmed Sh. Madhusudhan Raina, an original resident of Seer Jagir, tehsil Sopore, district Baramulla and presently putting up at Trilokpur, Gole Gujral Jammu.

He also advocated total commitment and steadfast loyalty for the observance of the Shivratri rituals. Thick with the cherished memories, Sh. Raina disclosed that 'Vatuk' comprised 'Nout', a small sized earthen utensils, locally called 'Choud' three wide mouthed clay utensils called 'Doulji', and a 'Sonipotal' and four clay pots called 'Varie'. During Shivratri pooja, cooked rice and meat delicacies were put in one of the 'Vaer' while as only milk and water was ritualistically offered to the remaining three earthen pots called 'Vaers'. Out of the three 'Douji's' only milk was offered to one of them, whileas in rest of the two water and a few walnuts usually in odd number were put in them. As per the reeth of the said family, it was customary to offer snow to the 'Nout' , the symbolic representation of Lord Shiva. Sh Madhusudhan Raina also disclosed that many a times snow had to be procured from the snow copped mountains of the adjacent village of Chanad, Delina. All the pooja utensils were decked with 'Baelpattar' leaves, the coloured Virkam and 'Bredmushik' flowers gathered from the nearby forests. The said family would also offer pooja to 'Parthishor', the home made figurative earthen linga, for which the soil was collected from chanad forest range.

In addition to the electric lamp, an oil lit earthen diya was also kept burning throughout the night of Shivratri in the 'Vatak Kuth'. Sh Madhsudhan Raina also disclosed that Pooja utensils locally called 'Vatak Bhane' were in first instance stored in the out-house store room, locally called 'Kuch' from where they were taken inside the house only on the Shivratri day. Adding to his conversation, Sh Raina also stated that during the process of filling up of the Pooja utensils with water and walnuts, the ladies of the house would attire themselves in new outfits and also wear new 'athhoar; in the ears. On the day of 'Salam' the Kul-Brahman would invariably come early morning to apply chandan tilak to the house inmates, which as per family belief would spell auspiciousness for the ensuing year. During the ritual of 'Thuk Thuk', only an elderly lady of the house would tap the door and during the course of said conversation in reply to a symbolic query about the identity of person, the answer was that of 'Vatak Raza'. In confirmity with the family reeth, about three dozen oil lit earthen lamps filled with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds were placed in all the rooms, yarbal ghat, charcoal ash heap, livestock room, cowdung heap and the enclosing compound wall in tune with the family belief that no space should remain in shade on that day. It was also disclosed that after the end of 'Doon Mavas Pooja', all the ladies of the village would collectively perform a sort of circular dance on the Yarbhal Ghat with their hands drawn towards the sky. It was akin to the ritual dance performed by Kashmiri Pandit ladies during the Yaegnopavit and marriage ceremonies.

Sh Raina also revealed that fried pounded moong tikki was also a part of the walnut 'prasad', distributed among near and dear one's. All the Raina families of the village would also cut the flaming river water seven times crosswise with a knife. It was also disclosed that some families of the village Seer Jegir had the reeth of performing pooja of fried Nadru or potato slices alongwith the walnut kernels on 'Doon Mavus'. A curious and unusual family reeth was that 'Thuk Thuk' ritual was not performed on Amavasya evening but on the day of Shivratri itself after the pooja utensils were filled up with water and walnuts. Their entry inside the house was allowed only at the end of the 'knock at the door' ritual.

The multitude of Shivratri rituals are our prized inheritance, which demonstrate our boundless and immense devotion and love for the Supreme God Lord Shiva, observed Sh. Triloki Nath Pandita, originally hailing from the village Hutmulla, district Kupwara and now putting up at Trilokpur, Gole Gujral, Jammu. He also stresed that festival related rituals need to be faithfully observed so that we become recipient of His grace. It was also disclosed that in addition to an uncooked and uncleaned fish, blood collected in a flat earthenware (Toke) after slaughter of a sheep in the courtyard were ritualistic offerings to the designated pooja utensil called 'Bhairav Doul' during the Shivratri pooja. As per his family custom, a small earthenware known as 'Vagur' was also reverentially installed in the 'Vatak Kuth' on the evening of 'Vagur Bah', i.e. a day prior to the main festival of Shivratri. Meat preparations were the usual offerings to the 'Vagur' also. The 'Vatuk' comprising pooja utensils were ushered inside the house only after the completion of 'Aalath' by waving around of a water filled pot around them.

Sh. Triloki Nath Pandita also revealed that (figurative-images) of only potter and potteress, locally known as 'Kral' and 'Kraej' were made-out from the kneaded rice flour. They were baked dry without oil on a pan and eventually offered to the 'Bhairav Doul' . The 'Doon Mavus' pooja was performed collectively by all the families of the village on the rivulet bank. In place of earthen lamps, about 30-40 oil lit walnut shells having a sprinkling of black sesame seeds were also placed in all the rooms, rivulet bank, dry cowdung heap, stored charcoal ash mass, and livestock room in the evening of Tila Ashtami. It was also customary to perform 'Jattu-Toun' by rotating the ignited old and damaged fire pots i.e. 'Kangris' in the evening of 'Tila Ashtami'.

*(The writer is a keen socio-cultural researcher)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Maha Shivratri -PART V- Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART V By Upender Ambardar

Maha Shivratri - Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART V

By Upender Ambardar


http://ikashmir.net/uambardar/shivratri2v.html

PART V

The divergent and varied Shivratri rituals are priceless and richest legacies of Kashmiri Pandits, which speak volumes about the antiquity of our culture. They are the core not only of our socio-cultural heritage but also of our religious tradition as they deepen the connection between individuals and the Divine, opined Sh. Arjan Dev Majboor, the noted Kashmiri poet, writer and researcher, an erstwhile resident of Zainapora, district Shopian and presently putting up at Udaiwalla, Bohri Jammu.

Refreshing the festival related old memories, Majboor Sahib divulged with obvious pride that all the Shivratri rituals were performed with unbridling faith and reverence even during the bone chilling cold winter.

Speaking on a nostalgic note, he disclosed that day's ahead of the festival, a flurry of house cleansing activity was visible, which was a motif for the house being ready for the festival. He recalled that on Phagun Krishna Paksh Ekadeshi or Duadashi, the village potter would bring the pooja untensils, collectively known as 'Vatuk' usually in the morning. The 'Vatuk' was usually brought in the 'carry back' willow basket, locally called 'yaet'.

The 'Vatuk' comprised of two long necked big sized earthen pots, locally called 'Nout', one small sized pot called 'lokut nout', a wide mouthed large vessel called 'Doul', a small pot designated as 'Resh Pyala', one 'Sanipotul' (a clay representation of Lord Shiva), two or three clay saucers, called 'Touk', a dhoop-holder called 'Doupzoor', two small earthenwares, known as 'Sahniewari' and lastly nine wide mouthed small sized vessels called 'Vaer'. Out of the two big sized earthen pots or 'Nout', one was symbolic representation of Lord Shiva, whileas the second one was used for storing drinking water for the while year as a mark of good omen and auspiciousness. The small sized pot 'Lokut Nout' was a representation of the Goddess Parvati during the pooja.

The potter and the 'pooja utensils' were welcomed in the house by a ritualistic waving around of a water filled vessel usually by an elderly lady. The ritual is locally known as 'Aalath Kadin'. In addition to cash, the potter was paid in kind in the form of unhusked rice, seasonal vegetables, loose tea and sugar. On the morning of 'Haerath', the head of the family would prepare dry grass woven long strips, in which were embedded dry merigold flowers and 'Baelpatter leaves. They are locally known as 'Vucer'.

However, as per his family reeth, utmost care was taken to rub the dry grass from left to right direction during the making of 'Vucer'. Elaborating further, Sh. Arjan Dev Majboor recapped that an uncooked small fish, called 'gurun' was a traditional offering to the designated 'Bhairav Doul'. Additionally the combined dish of raddish and nadru and small sized rice flour rotis called 'Chochivar' also formed a part of ritualistic offering to the designated vessels of 'Doul' and 'Resh Pyala' respectively. As per the family custom, each family member would also offer one sugar candy known as 'Kund' to the big sized clay pot 'Nout', symbolizing Lord Shiva. Pooja was also offered to two small clay vessels called 'Sanie Wari' in which as per family reeth cooked rice was put inside. It is in stark contrest to reeth in some families where only walnuts are placed inside them. Gugul, locally called Kanthgun, black seasame seeds (Tael) and dhoop put collectively in a clay soucer called 'Touk' is ignited during pooja as it's aroma and fragrance is supposed to ward off the evil and damaging influences. Sh. Arjan Dev Majboor also recollected that different figurative images were carved out of kneaded rice flour on Shivratri. They were locally known as 'Butt, Battin' (probably male and female Kashmiri Pandits), Kral-Kraej' (Potter and Pottress), 'Kaeith-Katin' (Ram and Ewe i.e. male and female sheep), Hangul (Kashmiri stag) and 'Hound' (lamb). They were backed dry on the frying pan and as per the family reeth were ritualistically offered to the 'Bhairav Doul'. The said ritual probably actualized an era when Viashnavite faith was once predominant in Kashmir. Additionally, small sized rice flour rotis fried in oil, known as 'Dren' are taken as 'Naveed' after the Shivtratri pooja is over. Interestingly in some families, 'Dren' is a ritualistic offering to the 'Bhairav Doul'. Continuing his conversation, Majboor Sahib further revealed that on the day following Shivratri i.e. 'Salam', the potter, ironsmith, milkman, sweeper, washerman carpenter, mason and Sarangi player would come to offer festival salutations. In addition to cash, they were given rice from the rice filled willow container, locally called 'Phout', which was specially set aside for the said purpose. Sh. Arjan Dev Majboor went nostalgic while recalling that on 'Salam', as per the family reeth, the family priest would invariably come early in the morning exclusively to apply Chandan Tilak to the family members. As per a family belief, it would signify heightened auspiciousness to the whole family for the entire year.

He also divulged that reverential installation of nine small sized vessels, locally called 'Vaer' in the 'Vatak Kuth' (Pooja-room) on the day prior to Shviratri called 'Vagir Bah' is an unusual and rare reeth of his clan. The nine clay vessels symbolically represent the nine attributes of the Goddess Parvati, the celestial spouse of Lord Shiva. They are Maha-Devi (the great Goddess), Haimawati (signifying Her parentage), Gauri (yellow and brilliant complexion) Jagat Mata (Mother of the Univers), Uma (A beauty feature), Girja (Mountain-born), Vindhya Vasini (the dweller in the Vindhyas), Bhavani and lastly Jagat Gauri. Alternately, the nine clay vessels are also symbolic representation of the Goddess Parvati in Her terrible and fearsome form of Durga known by the names of Chhin-mastaka Dush Bhuja, Sinha-Vahini, Rakta-Vija, Mahisha Mardani, Jagat Dhatri, Kali or Shama, Chandi or Chandika, and Tara. The nine earthen vessels also represent the nine names of Goddess Parvati, known as Dakshya (offspring of Daksha), Girija, Kuja (earth-born), Ambika (the mother), Sati (the virtuous one), Riddhi (the splendid one). Sarva Mangla (Always auspicious), Shiva-duti (Lord Shiva's messenger) and Shakam-Bari (the nourisher of medicinal plants). They are also symbolic representations of Goddess Durga, the fearsome manifestation of Goddess Parvati, known by the names of Shailputri, Brahmacharni, Chandraganta, Kushmanda, Skandmata, Kantayani, Kaalratri, Mahagouri and Sidhdatri. Majboor Sahib also recounted that the ritualistic immersion pooja was done on 'Ambavasya' on the bank of village rivulet called Tongri. It is a mutilated pronunciation of the original name of 'Outunggira Kulya', meaning a rivulet having a descent from a high mountain. Lastly on Phagun Krishan Paksh Ashtami, the family reeth ordained that instead of earthen 'diyas', oil lit walnut shells were used for the said purpose. They were placed on the courtyard wall of the house, cowdung heap, kitchen garden, Charcoalash heap and Tongri rivulet bank. However, no Jattu-tu i.e. spinning around of burned Kangri's was done.

The Shivratri rituals of the community are soaked in indigenous earthiness and need to be celebrated with unrelenting faith and reverence, opined Sh. Ashok Bhan, alias Sh. Kundan Bhan, an original resident of Batpora Shopian and presently putting-up at Krishnangar Jammu.

Reminiscing about the festival of earlier times, Sh Bhan recalled that during Shivratri pooja, sheep's hungs with the attached heart was a traditional offering to the designated earthen untensil of 'Bhairav Doul'. He also informed that as per his family custom uncooked raw meat was also a permitted, substitute offering. The 'Doon-Mavas' pooja was performed on the bank of the village Raembara stream.

The 'knock at the door or dhub-dhub ritual' was also an integral part of the 'Parmoojan' ceremony of his family, in which all kinds of luxury, material gains and well-being of the household and the live-stock was desired and symbollically granted for the current year.

On 'Tila Ashtami', oil lit earthen lamps were placed on the cowdung heap, Charcoal ash container, Raembara stream bank, the village foot bridge and main verandah of the house, locally known as 'Brandh'. However, as per his family 'reeth', it was not permissible to keep the oil lit lamp inside the house or even on the courtyard wall of the house. The 'Jatoon-tu' ritual was also a part of 'Tila Ashtami custom.

The Shivratri rituals packed with intrinsic messages are an interaction of ancient wisdom, belief sytem, faith and unbridled reverence, observed Sh. Niranjan Nath Bhat, a native of the village Hanjan district Kulgam and presently putting-up at Muthi, Jammu. According to him all the four Pandit families of his village would offer uncooked meat to the 'Bhairav Doul' during Shivratri pooja.

As per their family tradition, it was customary to ensure continuous burning of the oil lit earthen lamps in the 'Vatak Kuth' right from Shivratri to Amavasya throughout day and night. The 'Vatak Parmoojan' and walnut pooja was collectively done by the Pandit families on the village stream and during the immersion ritual, stream water was cut cross-wise only three times with a knife. The knock at the door 'Thuk-Thuk' ritual was an integral part of the said ceremony. The Shivratri rituals are a visual expression of our exemplary social-cultural spectrum, said Sh. Surinder Koul, an original resident of the village Nunar, district Ganderbal and now residing at Chinore, Jammu. Reminiscing about the festival of yesteryears, Sh. Koul informed that most of the Pandit families of the village would offer meat delicacies to the 'Bhairav-Doul'. He also recounted that ritualistic immersion and subsequent walnut pooja was usually done collectively on the bank of the village stream called Guhkol.

Reminiscing further, Sh. Surinder Koul recalled that during 'Thuk Thuk' ritual male member remains inside the main door, while as the ladies are outside the door during the ritualistic conversation before the opening of the door. Surprisingly, all the good things of life in the form of health, wealth, children and good produce are wished and symbolically granted by the male member of the family instead of the female which is in charp contrast to the reath prevalent in most of the families. Articulating further it was also revealed that on 'Teil Ashtami', oil lit clay diyas are placed at the stair case of the house, yarbal ghat, adjacent paddy field, cow-shed and cowduung heap. An unusual and exceptional 'Vatak Parmoojan' ritual is that ladies of his family conclude the pooja with a sort of specified dance by moving around rhythmically with their feet immersed in the stream water with hands drawn upwards. It is an act of supplication and expression of cheerfulness on the satisfactory conclusion of the major portion of the festival.

Kashmiri Shivratri rituals are indigenous one's having medieval imprints which make us acquainted with the history and roots, observed Sh. Manohar Lal Zutshi of Ganderbal. Recapturing the fragrance of the festival, he shared that apart from sumptuous meat dishes, an array of seasonal vegetarian dishes are also a ritualistic offering to the 'Bhairav-Doul'. Sh. Zutshi also disclosed that after the immersion ritual on Amavasya, the earthen pitcher 'Nout' having a little water collected from the village stream is reverently placed on the mud hearth, locally known as 'Daan' as a mark of auspiciousness. It was also revealed that during the said ritual, stream water is cut in straight lines five times with a knife. Afterwards, the said earthen 'Nout' is kept underneath a willow basket, locally known as 'Phout' for sometime. As per his family reeth, distribution of walnuts as 'Naveed' is permissible only after one or five rupee coin has been put inside the 'Nout'.

The Shivratri rituals need to be preserved to ensure prosperity to remain acquainted with the socio-cultural heritage and native roots, affirmed Sh. Som Nath Pandita, a resident of the village Sheeri, Tehsil Sopore, district Baramulla. He disclosed that in consonance with his family ritual, only the earthen pitcher 'Nout' and two small earthenwares locally called 'Saniewari' are retained in the 'Vatak Kuth' after the Shivratri pooja. He also informed that as per his family ritual, the dust and dirt gathered during the sweeping of the rooms is not permitted to be thrown away outside the house upto Phagun Krishan Paksh Ashtami, locally known as 'Teil Aathum'. However, as per a family belief the deposition of dirt and dust in the orchards, paddy fields and kitchen garden is believed to boost their respective yields.

It is our shared responsibility to have obsessive adherence and reverence for our Shivratri rituals and in no case should modernity be allowed to push them into irrelevance and oblivion, asserted Sh. R.L. Dhar, an original resident of Nawakadal/Bana Mohalla Razdan Kocha, Srinagar and presently putting-up at Gole Gujral Jammu. He disclosed that despite himself being a vegetarian, he continues to offer meat preparations as per his family reeth to the 'Bhairav Doul' during Shivratri pooja. Additionally as per family custom, walnut kernel pieces are embedded in the square marked potions of rice flour rotis. They are subsequently deep fried in oil or ghee and offered to 'Bhairav Doul' amidst religious invocations at the time of Shivratri pooja. The said preparation is locally known be the name of 'Dren'. The ritual not only generate divine feelings but also give a sense of ethereal sensation of being one with God, stated Sh. Bansi Lal Chaloo, an erstwhile resident of Kawdara, Alikadal Srinagar and now putting-up at Jawahir Nagar, Talab Tiloo, Jammu. In addition to a repertoire of dishes, his family also makes an offering of 'Dren' to the 'Bhairav-Doul' but with a minor difference that 'Dren' are prepared without adding walnut kernels to the rice flour rotis. Both the cited families do not observe the ritual of 'Thuk Thuk'.

*(The writer is a keen socio-cultural researcher)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Maha Shivratri -PART IV- Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART IV By Upender Ambardar

Maha Shivratri - Revisiting Kashmiri Ritual Variants-PART IV

By Upender Ambardar


http://ikashmir.net/uambardar/shivratri2iv.html

PART IV

Festival Customs in Gurtoo Families - II

The Puranas also refer to seven matrikas or Shaktis of Lord Bramha, known as Maheshwari, Kumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Andhri and Chamunda, who are invariably propitiated and invoked before the start of a pooja. The number seven also represents seven forms of agni or fire known as Kali, Karali, Manojva, Sulahita, Sudhumarvarna, Ugra and Pradeepta. It also represents seven stages of rebirth through which a human being passes before the soul attains moksha. As per a belief, there are also seven levels of consciousness each of which is linked with the seven chakras of the human body.

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 auspiciousness.

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 sister.

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 levels.

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 ancestors.

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 forbidden.

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 nadru.

*(The writer is a keen socio-cultural researcher)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

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