Tuesday, August 27, 2013



                                            ( kashmiri Folk singers in a marriage Function )
Photo Autar Mota .

To this photo  i am adding my write up on DUDDA practice of kashmir..


It was a practice in  kashmir that some persons would invariably attend a marriage feast uninvited. This skilled class  included young , middle aged and old people. Ladies rarely indulged in this adventure . Every member of this select group was individually nicknamed as DUDDA
.A popular kashmiri  Axiom goes as under ;-

“ Aukh Dudda Ta Beyi Maaji kyutt Bataa Toak. ”

“ Himself uninvited guest( Dudda ) and  then  seeking a Tiffin for his  mother from the marriage kitchen ”

A Dudda was a normal person except that he had a compulsive trait  of slipping without any invitation  into a  marriage crowd to relish the sumptuous lunch or Dinner . A Dudda would make a safe entry into a  marriage feast  by joining Baraatis  near the bride’s house . He would wait unnoticed  for the Baraat to arrive  somewhere near the  bride’s house and Once he heard the COONCH SHELL SOUND  ( Sheinkh Shabd )  blown to declare the arrival of a bridegroom  , he would  immediately slip into the Baraat crowd. No interaction . No communication. Just slip in ,enter , eat and leave .

I have personally known a school friend who was a practitioner in this field . This particular boy would also keep a track of marriages in Habba Kadal srinagar  area where his mother had her parental home (  His Matamaal ). Once away from Rainawari , he would relish marriage feasts uninvited with confidence .In Rainawari , he ran the risk of being  located and identified  as DUDDA by friends and  neighbours .This friend of ours  rose to the post of a   senior official in J&K Government  . I vividly remember my friend Kuldeep Machama  informing me   that he had personally seen this person joining a BARAT  in Zaina Kadal  as DUDDA  even after joining the Government Job .That was some wedding function of a close relation of  Kuldeep Machama.  This was  somewhere around 1977 or 1978.  In 2012 ,I  met this friend  in Delhi   and came to know that  he  had turned a Diabetic apart from  being Hypertensive. I suggested some good physicians to him . I also  wanted to ask him   whether he still went for those old adventures but  something   prevented me  from seeking reply to this  baffling  question.

                                       ( A Buffet Lunch in a Marriage function )
Once i was informed by an elderly relation from Habba kadal  that there lived a DUDDA in  his  Mohalla   known as Kashi Nath. Kashi  Nath had developed a novel way of knowing clear details about marriage dates , lunch or dinner functions and the nature of feasts ( Vegetarian or Non Vegetarian ) along with expected number of  guests joining  the marriage  feast anywhere in srinagar city  . kashi Nath  would sit in Kraal Khodd Waza Baithaks ( Place where kashmiri cooks resided ) and gossip with the cooks  over a Charminar or Passing Show cigarette  to collect his data .Kashi Nath would only attend feasts in downtown ,  Jawahar Nagar and Rainawari where he could not be easily  identified. Quite Often Kashi Nath would also take his friend Pushker  Nath  for these uninvited   adventures . Both kashi Nath and Pushker  Nath were government employees.

My friend Mukhtar Ahmed  Handoo informs me that DUDDA practice or what could be safely called as  DUDDAISM  tried to make unsuccessful entry in Muslim marriage feasts as well. Unfortunately  the nature and style of serving food to  guests broke its backbone. Muslim  DUDDAS would often get   identified and had to beat a hasty retreat . Guests  in Muslim  marriage feasts  are made to eat in  large polished  copper plates known as Traamies . Each Trammy is shared by four known persons . Everything is calculated and counted well in advance . Guests are made to sit on a  well  carpeted  floor and practically   this is the time for close  interaction  between groups of four persons who are supposed  to share  a common plate .Food is never served in a Buffet system nor to standing guests .
But contrary to what my friend Mukhtar Ahmed Handoo has said, I  have personally  observed  DUDDAS gaining some foothold in  Muslim feasts  in kashmir Latelyl. Many  friends from younger generation  often relate stories of having enjoyed sumptuous WAZAWAAN  feasts in unknown marriage functions .And I am sure if Muslims resort to Buffet system , Duddas shall swarm into marriage  feasts wherein WAZAWAAN  is served .

In Kashmiri Pandit marriages , food is served in individual plates and the community has since switched over to Buffet system. The host has no control over number of expected guests . Everything works on estimates which vary grossly when guests actually arrive.  So in this guesswork and estimates , a Dudda  would  make his way and remain unidentified  .

 Tej Dhar , My  friend from  Saffa Kadal  in Srinagar city informed me that two Duddas had  once  joined  a   GAR ATCHUN  FEAST   organized by his cousin’s family . They were located   only after  they had consumed the lavish non vegetarian meal. The family had organized GAR ATCHUN FEAST  simultaneously  for two marriages which meant  guests from two newly connected families apart from their own guests . A buffet lunch was organized for about plus 250 persons under a shamiyaana  . It so happened that the host and his wife decided to give cash in envelopes to  VIP GAR ATCHUN  guests  once they were leaving. When the turn of the DUDDAS came , the host looked at his wife asking her how theses were related and whether any amount had to be given to them. The wife too could not place them. The host then asked smilingly.
“ Khyovaa kenh ?Khabar kyoothh Oussukh Roanmutt?”
“ Did you eat anything ? Had the cooks cooked well ?”
“Zabar ! Zabar!”
“Excellent ! Excellent !”
“ Me chhu Broant Huue Gatchhaan . Toahi Kaaetti Pyaathha Aayivaa. Ye chhunaa  Lifaaf  Deun…. ”
“ I could not place you correctly . Where from have come  ? Look this envelope ..is also to be given…. ”

“ Aiss Mahraa gayee Mut-farkav Munz . Yeli Raazbaai taa toahee pachhein  hisaab aassiv karaan , toahee gandiv-naa Mutfark Daah . Aissi chhi timuvv munz siriff Zaa.”

“ Sir we are from the Miscellaneous .When you and your wife  were counting  expected guest and noting them in your diary  , you had noted  ten misc. guests   . we are just two from that Misc.lot .”
And the Duddas quickly  moved away while the host and his wife looked at each other .Dudda coming to GARATCHUN feast is  a daring act. But then the Dhar family had invited around 250 guests for the  GARATCHUN  FEAST and the DUDDAS went for the adventure only after careful ground work in advance.

A popular Kashmir story also refers to a marriage in the Mohalla where a DUDDA lived . His son  decided to cook all the marriage  dishes in the house and serve his father  who was  stopped from joining the marriage  even  when he had been invited. The marriage feast was held in the adjacent vacant plot which had been duly covered by a Shamiyaana. The son made the father to sit on a window and look at the guest below .When water was brought for washing hands ,the son too brought water in a jug for his father . He also ensured that dishes are put in his Father’s plate  as per the order and system adopted in the feast being organized  below  . The father could clearly see what was happening in the Shamiyaana below .  And then suddenly the father jumped from the window to join the guests crying

“  Ashok jiyaa . Yetti katteu chhe so  Tcheilla Tcheilla . Kun zoan chhaa saal kheivaan. Me traaviy voath  ”

“ Ashok ji ! where is the crowd in the room and where is that pull and push ? can any person  enjoy the feast single handedly ?I am jumping down  ?

During my assignment as Senior Manager in Amritsar , I had a friend  Balwinder Singh who   sang  Shiv Batalvi in a  pain filled but mellifluous voice . Balwinder was an officer in the bank . He  wore good clothes  and  liked good food. He   was also  fond of    good scotch but could hardly afford it.  During marriage  season , Balwinder  would  have  his dinner   frequently  in posh Marriage Palaces or Hotels .He could not be seen during evenings for singing Shiv Batalavi to his friends during marriage seasons . My other friends would say that he had so many invitations since he was  a very “ SOCIAL PERSON  ”.

Sometimes , Balwinder   would extend  these   invitations to me also   but I always  refused on account of the fact that  night marriages in Punjab used to be  a Mob affair. And then  as a matter of principle , I never went  to a function  where I did not know the host personally or where I had  not been invited. Add to this  I could not withstand the disorderly boozing in these functions .
I always believed that Balwinder had some family problem  as he would never join these marriage functions with his family. Sometimes , he would be joined  by his  friend who had some business  in Katra Ahluwalia Bazaar in Amritsar  .This particular friend of Balwinder  had some business interests in Kashmir also .So Balwinder had introduced him to me. This business man and Balwinder’s friend   kept visiting Kashmir quite often  during 2000 to 2002 . He  would always bring some  Green leafy Haak or Walnut  or Nadru for me from Kashmir . I was obviously obliged and grateful to him for these gestures.

Then one day Balwinder came to my room at 8.30 PM absolutely uninvited. He appeared to be a little tipsy  and said in chaste  Punjabi

“ Sir ji Aaj te chalo . Aaj na Assi Tagdaa Jugaad Kitaa hai. Machhi, Chicken, kashmiri jakhni ( yakhni ), Naan te Naal Vilayati Daaru. Munde da Rishtedaar Canada thhuun Jack Daniels , Johnnie  Walker , Black Dog  Te  Cheevas Regal Laaya hegaa . Aaj te Tuut ke pe jaavaange . 800 Bandeyaan  di Roti daa intezaam hegaa. Kaun poochadaa hegaa . Vudd Jaavaangay te shuru  . ”

“ Sir ji , now come today.Today I have made a perfect jugaad  for Fish , chicken , kashmiri yakhni , Naan and I am informed that some close relative of the  bridegroom  who has come from Canada ,has made good arrangement   of liquor . They shall be serving Jack Daniels , Black Dog and Chivas Regal. Today I shall just be in gulping mode .They shall be serving food to 800 persons . Nobody shall ask "who are you?" . We  shall just enter and start ”
  As he got up to leave ,He wanted to know finally whether I was joining. Now that everything about Balwinder’s marriage invitations and SOCIAL PERSON  was clear to me , I said I had a guest from Jammu who had gone to Golden Temple .I added that  we had to eat together . That was a fact as well.

Away from my family  , i was living alone in  Amritsar   near Kashmir Avenue .  I would cook my own food . Many friends in Amritsar would relish Yakhni prepared by me occasionally . That particular day , I had  cooked   Vaarimuth (  Small sized Black Beans ) and Basmati rice . I passed on a cup of hot and brownish Black  Vaarimuth   to Balwindwer . He liked it and said that this Black  Rongi ( as he called it ) was very  tasty .Once he left , I  switched on my TV set  for News. Changing channels for  Door Darshan News , I stopped at a channel wherein a  some religious  person was  holding his discourse on   Food  .He said 

‘ Bandhuvon Aunn ki chori koyee chori nahin hai. Jahaan bahut ziyaada aunn hai agar thodaa sa kissi ne churaa bhi liyaa to paap nahin hai. Sudd janne se to achhaa hai na ki kissi Bookhay  pait mein chalaa jaaaye  ”

“ Brothers, Theft of food is no theft. Where food is in abundance and a little is stolen , no evil deed is committed by the person who steals it. It is better than allowing it to rot. More better if it goes to some empty stomach ”

 I somehow  concurred with the gist of the  religious  discourse.  I also got convinced that the DUDDA  practice  was nothing abnormal that we had witnessed in valley . It could be a universal phenomenon . Possibly we  lacked exposure and that made us to lampoon a Dudda or laugh over this behaviour  .

( Autar Mota ..27.08.2013)

GAR ATCHUN  is a get together over lunch or dinner held by kashmiri Pandits . Parents and almost all  close relations and friends of newly weds ( Both sides ) meet each other over a sumptuous meal usually a  mid day Lunch .

DUDDA means an  uninvited guest in  kashmiri language .

WAZA BAITHAK means resting place of kashmiri cooks .Hindu cooks would confine their Baithaks in Kraal Kohodd area of Habba Kadal in srinagar city  while Muslim cooks resided in Wazapora locality in downtown srinagar city .

CONCH SHELLS are blown by kashmiri pandits  to declare movement and arrival of the Baraat along with  the bridegroom into bride’s house . Conch shells are also blown on various auspicious occasions and religious ceremonies.Hindus believe that the sound  of conch shell drives away the evil spirits. The blowing of the conch or "the shankha" needs a tremendous power and respiratory capacity. They also believe that  blowing it daily helps keep the lungs healthy.

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