Friday, January 19, 2024



   Dr  ( A Kashmiri Pandit house in village Haal, Pulwama. Photo Avtar Mota )

 JANUARY 19, 1990…

19th January is the darkest day in the history of Kashmir. Over three decades after the Kashmiri Pandits were made to leave their homes in the Kashmir valley in the wake of terrorism, they still remain hopeful of returning to their native land. I have tried to convey the collective pain and agony in this 34th year of exile through my Kashmiri poem “ Barmandhinien Gayee *Maagitch Maavas “ or “ The noontime turned to a cold and dark Amaavas ( night ) of Maagha ( winter month ) ”. The poem is dedicated to the victims of terrorism the world over. The poem has been written specifically concerning the conditions of the Kashmir valley during 1990 when terrorism arrived in Kashmir resulting in wanton death and destruction. Clouds of gloom and darkness covered the sky during that period putting all Kashmiris to grave miseries and suffering. It also tore apart the fabric of peaceful co-existence and shared past. Kashmiri Pandits, who became the soft targets, were left with no option but to run for safety and save their lives and honour and live as exiles in the plains of the country.


(“ Bar-mandhinien Gayee *Maagitch Maavas “)


“ Dazavieni gaejji deut paan duul daarith

Yeli kraekh gayi " he naar haa naar "

Pataa pataa paetch marghat zchhaaya aessi

Puth vuchhahav tath maa ouss vaar

Shraana garien hundh ouuss yeun gatchhuna

Toboodhan hundh ouss bazaar ..

Neithanon thosukh kadhala thaethiss pyath ,

*Budshaah raa'za su paalanhaar.

*Dhaan kutchhi mutchie manz shrop ghar deevta

Gueil mooraan , dumm phaeit laachaar ..

Astaaneitch dashie vaetchh naalien manz

Tchhot'a deras pyath aeiss dastaar..

Baddie kuthei vuchh tchirniev kienn tammie do'hh

Aangan patchie barinein hundh naar ..

*Thokur ku’thee gayi kraekh " kas traavith "

*Kaawa patchien pyath thov loktchaar ..

Shaaluv raaett chhir kath vatie vatie pyath

Gannie gannie zchopukh myooth shikaar..

Bar-maendhineun gayee maagitch maavas

Thossi thossi pyaav sheen ryath ouss haar.

Sombrithh haavas bar gayee neerith

Akh log laar ta akh log daar .

Gattakaaras manz zoov rott motchhi manz

Botchhi hoa’t deut sheena baalas taar

*Veerus tal vaatith dhitch kraekh vethi

“ Baar khodaaya paap nivaar ”

( Avtar Mota )


My simple English rendering of the lines goes as under …


(“ The noontime turned to a cold and dark night of *Maagha “)

Throwing a pitcher full of water over it,

We doused the kitchen fire

When cries of "Fire ! Fire! " spread all around.

A death shadow kept trailing us on our paths

And fright came in our way even to look back.

Hectic remained the activity of corpse bathers,

And brisk was the business in the coffin bazaar.

Naked,they dragged him down the bridge,

He who happened to be our protector,

our beloved Sultan Zain ul Abdin ( Budshaah ).

Shocked, dumb and helpless,

the’Ghar-Dewta’ ( Lord of the House )

hid himself in a large earthenware container

in the grains store.

In the filthy drains outside,

were thrown the sacred strings of faith

hung in the shrines.

And on the heaps of rubbish

lay the headgears ( Dastaar) of our elders.

From the chinks of the windows of the sitting room,

we saw fires blazing in the wooden fencing of our courtyard.

Inside the Pooja room, the idols cried,

"In whose care are you leaving us ?"

And those sweet memories of childhood,

we placed on the shelf meant for

offering the kitchen food to the birds.

On every path,the wolves preyed upon innocent lambs

and devoured their flesh piece after piece.

The noontime turned

like the dark and cold night of *“Maagha”.

And in the summer month of *“ Haara “,

endlessly fell the snow from the sky.

Ask not about those desires held close to the heart,

away went one in this direction while the other moved in that.

Holding our lives in these palms

and crying with pangs of hunger,

we crossed the snowy mountains

in total darkness.

And after moving down to the Weir ( Chattabal ),

the waters of the meandering

Vitasta cried ;

“ O God ! unburden us of our sins ”


( Avtar Mota )



Ghar Dewta was a popular concept with the Kashmiri Pandits. They would believe that every house was protected by an omnipresent invisible Dewta ( God ), who, according to the legend, would always support the family's positive endeavours.

(2) Sultan Zain ul Abdin is fondly remembered as Budshaah or the great king by Kashmiris. He was the most loved and adored king of Kashmir. A liberal Sultan , he is known for popularizing handicrafts, trade and fine arts in Kashmir. Kashmir witnessed an era of peace, progress and prosperity during his rule. He was specifically compassionate to Hindus who had moved out to the plains due to fear and suppression during the rule of earlier Sultans.

(3) Every Kashmiri Pandit household had a wooden shelf kept near the kitchen window or at some convenient place on the outer wall of the house where freshly cooked food was placed every morning for crows and other birds. This wooden shelf was known as Kaawa Paett ( shelf for crows ).

(4) Thokur Ku’th or Pooja room was an essential feature of a typical Kashmiri Pandit house. Age-old idols, images of deities, conch shell, bells, lamps and sacred scriptures/ books were kept in this room. Every day, the head of the family would perform Pooja with flowers. Earthen lamps with oil were lit and incense was also burnt for worshipping deities.

(5) Every Kashmiri ( both Pandits and Muslims ) house especially in rural areas, had a Dhaan Ku’th or a room meant for storing paddy/ grains after the harvest. This paddy was stored in a big earthen container known as Dhaan Mae’tt. A normal person could conveniently hide inside this earthen container.

(6) Maagha is the wintry month of the Bikrami calendar that corresponds to mid-January to mid-February. Maavas or Amavasya is the darkest day of the shadowy fortnight of cold Maagha month.

(7) Weir is an English word which literally means a dam across a river to raise the level of water upstream or to regulate the flow of the stream. It also means an enclosure of stakes set in a stream to trap fish. Designed by British engineers, the Chattabal Weir was constructed during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh in 1906. The primary aim at that time was to make the Jhelum River fit for navigation by maintaining the water level around the year and also save damage to the wooden base of many houseboats and Doongas parked on Ghaats along the river as the River bed turned dry at many places due to low water level. It was also meant to trap fish around the year in the Jhelum River.

Associated with our painful and also grand past, this Vitasta River has been a witness to the rule of many Kings and emperors. It has been privy to many calamities and moments of elation brought by them. Inspite of moments of delight and misfortune, the River has kept its pace and never stopped yearning for a peaceful future. It has been privy to the march of civilizations that have flourished and vanished.

(7) “ Baar Khodaaya Paap Nivaar” is an immortal line composed by Sheikh Nur ud din ( Nund Reshi ) the tallest Reshi saint of Kashmir. The line is a true representation of the Reshi cult of Kashmir. The first two words have Persian origin ( Baar Khodaaya ) and the remaining two ( Paap Nivaar ) are from Sanskrit.



 Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.