Monday, December 28, 2020

COOKS IN A KASHMIRI PANDIT MARRIAGE IN OLDEN DAYS

                                           






COMMUNICATION   BETWEEN  INCHARGE WURA ( makeshift   large kitchen for the marriage  ) AND THE  HEAD  WAZA  ( head cook  )  IN A KASHMIRI  PANDIT  MARRIAGE .

( In this photo ,a Wura incharge is being served special Kehwa tea prepared in a Samovar by the cook )

The Head  Cook:-

“ Bobu ji  cigerrette aav na  Kehn.  Aeiss moklaavav ye Krai-paak ta aeiss karav nendri ganta . Rum Katie  chhe, tseir guv .  Kyoothh chhus noon. Yathh thav  zang. “

 ( Pandit ji , get some  cigarettes . We will finish this deep  frying  work and take rest for an hour or so. Where is the Rum? We are late . Are the dishes tasty ?Put  some Zang (currency notes ) into  the plate.”

The Incharge  Wura :-

“  Yim gayi cigerrette .  Chaav me ti akha.  Ye gayi  XXX Rum. Yin zyada chakh. Vaeni chhuyi kaar aeti.  Baraat iya subhas  saada aath baje. Daftar valen gatchhi tayaar aasun. Akh gilaas thavizi  me  baapat  tal  kun. Noon  ta maza chhukh  zabar . Zang diyi yezman paanai . Ma he gham.“ 

( Keep these cigarettes . Light a cigarette for me as well. This is your XXX Rum bottle. Don’t  drink beyond limits . You have to cook  some more dishes .The Baraat will be here at 8.30 A.M.You have to keep food ready for those Baraatis  who have to attend their offices . Make a   drink  for me as well and keep it hidden over there . The dishes that I tasted  are well cooked .  The Yajmaan ( family head ) will himself put currency notes in your plate . Why do you  worry ?”

We lived this culture and communication  . 

( Avtar Mota )

PS

(1) 
Waza in Kashmiri means a cook.

(2)
 Wura or the huge makeshift Chulha ( hearth) was created in open for large-scale cooking during marriages in the Kashmir Valley. Timber ,generally from willow trees was burnt in Wura for cooking many dishes simultaneously.

(3)
Wura was erected on an auspicious day as per Bikrami calender. The cook would come to erect Wura  using mud and bricks. This cook had to be given' Zang ' comprising of rice, salt, and cash.

(4)
During marriage functions,  some trusted acquaintance or a close member of the family would be made incharge of the Wura. The person had to be experienced apart from being firm . Custody and control over  provisions , vegetables, spices,edible oil would be entrusted to him. He would sit near the Wura as the cooks arrived . Quite often he would sleep on the Voguv (  hay mat) near the Wura.  He would be  there til cooking and eating was over. He would ensure proper discipline and order in cooking and distribution of food to invited guests. He would gossip with the cooks and keep them in good humour to ensure that cooking was done to perfection. The cooks or Wazas would go to him for anything and everything they needed. He would be asked to taste dishes once they were ready. The cooks demanded some money from him as Zang ( a sort of Baksheesh) if everything was perfect.

(5)
Cooking was done in big Degchas( brass pots ) that were usually collected from neighbours and relations . Special identification marks of these Degchas were noted in a diary to facilitate return. We would see marks like KN( for Kashi Nath) or MLR ( for Mohan Lal Razdan) or KKK ( Kanwal Krishen Kaul) engraved on the rim of the Degcha. Metal tubs, Kadaais , drums (for storing water) ,Samovars and Dullus  were also collected from neighbours or relations who demonstrated  unprecedented soldarity and support during such functions. Thalis (plates) ,glasses and khasus( bronze tea cups) were available on nominal  rent .  In Rainawari , we would rent  a boat ( Demba naav) for these collections . It meant boating and a great entertainment. This activity would create new friends and newer  bonds amongst the volunteers and workers who would be Mohalla boys and relations of the family( solmenizing the marriage).A spirit of camaraderie was starkly  visible amongst these volunteers and workers.

 (6)
Beddings  were generally collected from neighbours and relations by a team of dedicated volunteers . The neighbours would  readily offer accomodation to the guests of the family marrying their son or daughter. Even Muslim neighbours would readily provide all possible help to Pandits during such events.

(7)
While procuring provisions for the marriage and storing them, every  Kashmiri Pandit family would buy two or three bottles of Rum for the cooks. This was done  through friends or acquaintances who had some source or link in CSD outlets .

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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