Wednesday, May 6, 2015

WAS COTTON GROWN IN KASHMIR ?


                                                                           

                                                     (Photo Source Wikipedia )
                        
WAS COTTON GROWN IN KASHMIR ?
Cotton was grown in all areas of kashmir valley upto a certain elevation that could not be more than 6000 feet from sea level .These plants can not withstand cold air. Suitable places for cotton plantation in Kashmir used to be sunny Karewas ( Plateaus ) or low lying areas with sufficient irrigation facilities and sunshine . Credit must go to king Zain Ul Abdin for rejuvenating cotton growing activity in Kashmir by importing quality seeds from central Asia .
Frequently ploughed soil that was well pulverized was ideal for cotton plantation. Cotton Seed was soaked in water and mixed with ashes and not much manure was needed for the plant after plantation. April end used to be the sowing season. The plant rarely grew more than 2 feet in height .It was remunerative for the farmer and the State that collected Taxes on its production . A kashmiri farmer also extracted oil from cotton seeds apart from using the oil extracted seed cakes as a good feed for his cattle .
The Industry suffered a major jolt after the opening of Jhelum valley road when Cheap Machine made fabric landed in valley . The local Industry almost suffered a fatal blow and by independence time ( 1947 ) Cotton cultivation was not a part of agriculture activity In Kashmir .
I quote local words used in the cotton manufacturing ,
1 kapas or kapas posh …. Cotton or cotton flower 

 2 Phumbb.... A soft cotton Ball

3 Ko'dd… Carder … ( who beat the cotton to remove dirt and dust . Also known as Dhoo’n . After the arrival of Islam , a community of artisans known as Beften ( Persian Word meaning cotton Dresser ) also came to Kashmir who were Nicknamed as BAFANDS or Bafanda ( Present surname ). Nadafs as these are called in UP or Bafandfas of Kashmir were artisans engaged in cotton dressing . Many Bafandaas became kaalbaafs ( carpet weavers ) after carpet weaving was started in Kashmir and also after death of cotton Industry.
4 Taa'yyii …. Genarally a lady who weaves thread from raw cotton on the spinning needle.
5 Vo'vurr …. Weaver using Handloom
6 Dho'bb … Washerman who would wash the cotton before it went to the tailor .
7 Sae'tch … A Tailor who made clothes from the cloth .

Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani noted scholar and poet adds,

“ Pan Festval of kashmiri Pandits  is actually the festival of newly spun cotton with twin agricultural goddesses Bhima.and Garba being worshipped as its central deities. These goddesses later merged into the mysterious folk figure of Beeb Garabh Maae'j. Ganesh was also worshipped on the occasion but the worship of Lakshmi appears to be a much later affair. Cotton seems to have been cultivated in Kashmir till the early years of the 20th century, but the cultivation was discontinued perhaps because of economic non-viability. When exactly did that happen is not certain. The Kashmiri word "kapas" for cotton is derived from Sanskrit "karpaasa' from which we also have Hindi "kapaas".”

Kashmiris would often say " Massus ti Vanaan Kapuss " or " Hair is also known as cotton  " implying that it needs to be dressed up and kept free from dirt and dust .
Lalleshwari or Lal Ded has established Grand presence of cotton Industry in Kashmir through her Vaakhs wherein she has used cotton as a Metaphor .. I quote the Vaakhs (with my simple English rendering) ,
(1)
“ Aami Paa’na sadruss naavi chuss lamaan
Kattie Bozi Daa’y Myon Metti Diyaa Taa’r “
( With Loosely spun cotton thread ,
I tow this boat of existence ,
Would the lord listen my request ,
And carry me across )
(2)
Lall Ba Draayus Kapssse Poshe Satcheyii
Kaae’d Ta Dhooen Karnumm Yatchiy”aa Lu’thh
Tuyii Yelli Khaarnumm Zaavijj Tuye
Vovir Vaa’na Gayumm Alaae’nz Luthh..

( Here lalla I moved out ,
desiring to bloom like a cotton flower ,
There came the Carder,
Beating me to eliminate all dust and filth from my being.
The spinner put me over the needle to change me to supple yarn
Hanging me on his loom ,
The weaver shaped me to a coarse cloth . “
( Autar Mota )

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