Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A SHADOW DOES NOT CONVEY THE TRUTH ABOUT THE OBJECT..


                                       


A SHADOW  DOES  NOT  CONVEY THE  TRUTH  ABOUT  THE   OBJECT.......

Jo deesay so to hai Naahi
Hai so Kahaa Na Jaahi

( Kabir )

My English translation would be....

(What is seen can never be the truth,
And what it actually is ,
can not  be expressed .

( Avtar Mota )

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

THE UNTOLD PAIN

                               
THE  UNTOLD  PAIN

                           

" Aankhon mein chalte phirte roz mile piya baanvre,
Baiyaan ki chhaiyaan aa ke milte nahin kabhi saanvre,
Dukh yeh milan ka le kar kaah karuun kahaan jaaon re
Pa kar bhi nahin me unn ko paati
Maai re , me ka se kahuun peer apne jiya ki , ........Maai re

                       


 Ouss  nayan ki unke  meri
Lagi ko bujhaaye na
Tan man bhigo de aake
Aisi ghataa koi chhaaye naa
Mohe bahaa le jaaye
Aisi lahar koi aaye naa
........Padi nadiyaa ke kinaare  me pyaasi
.....Maai ri me ka se kahoo peer apne jiya ki,      Mai re,..

                                     

Pee ki dagar mein baithe maila huva ri mera aachara..
Mukhada hai feeka feeka, nainon mein sohe nahin kaajra ..
Koyi Jo dekhe maiya  preet Ka va se kahuun maajra
...........Latt mein padi kaisi birhaa ki maati
.Maai ri me ka se  kahoon  peer
apane jiya ki, maai ri...."

( Majrooh Sultanpuri


In English ,I would say:-





( Every day I see him in my eyes
strolling and moving,
And never  does he come to the cool space of my arms.
Where shall I carry love's pain ?
Where shall I go with this longing  ?
I am unable to reach the person
who appears to be with me only ?
O mother, tell me to whom should I convey the sufferings of my heart..



Neither the dew from his eyes  extinguishes the  fire within me
Nor does any rainfall pour down to drench my body and soul.
A wave that could carry me along doesn't visit this way .
And helpless I remain  with thirst on the river bank.
O mother, tell me to whom should I convey the sufferings of my heart..


While I wait  for my beloved in his path,
the corner of my scarf has become stained.
My face has turned faint and this kohl too does not suit my eyes anymore.
If only some one looks this way, I would  convey the   saga of this  love .
The dust of separation has come to settle in my tresses now..
O mother, tell me to whom should I convey the sufferings of my heart )



And Lata Ji's voice and Madan Mohan's' music made these lines immortal...

(Avtar Mota)

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

KASHMIRI KANGRI IN THE FAMILY OF ALLAMA IQBAL.






( KANGRI IN THE  FAMILY OF ALLAMA  IQBAL)

Allama Iqbal's ancestors were Kashmiri Brahmins. Munira Bano  and  Javed Iqbal were born from  Dr Iqbal's marriage with Sardar Begum,  a Kashmiri girl from  Lahore .


During winters , Allama drank Kashmiri Kehwa tea . He would use   his Pashmina Dussa and Kashmiri Shawl. He loved smoking from his Hookah .

Munira  and Javed were also attached to their maternal uncle, Abdul Ghani  . He belonged to a Kashmiri family from Lahore. He would take the children for sight seeing and buy them gifts . Abdul Ghani died young.

 Allama Iqbal's  sisters ,  brothers , nephews and  nieces would come to Javed Manzil ,Lahore and stay there for days at  a stretch. Allama loved his sisters , nephews , nieces and brothers .  He would extend all help to them.

Allama was very close to his youngest sister Karim Bibi.She was a frequent visitor to Javed Manzil. During winters ,  a  Kangri with charcoal had to be prepared for Karim Bibi . She would also keep it under her Lihaaf (Quilt) to warm her bed before sleeping.During daytime, she would keep the Kangri under her shawl.

( From the book " IQBAL  AS I KNEW HIM" by Doris Ahmed )

( Avtar Mota)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

GOODBYE MY FRIEND SHADI LAL KAUL

                                   
                                 
GOODBYE  MY FRIEND  SHADI  LAL KAUL ( Born 1955 - Died 12th  July,  2020)

"Shamas ud Din aage bado hum tumhaare saath hain"

I heard the boys shouting this inside Botanical Park near Chashm e Shahi garden,  Srinagar on a summer day in 2009. I knew that a TV serial   “ Jatta Vanai “ for DDK , Sringaar was being shot with Shadi Lal in the lead role. I asked one of the boys who must have been barely 19 years old as to who is Shamas ud Din and he immediately opened his small notebook to show me the autograph of Shadi Lal Kaul . It was surprising to find enormous fan following of Shadi Lal even amongst children born after 1990 in the Kashmir valley. Further questioning revealed that they were regularly watching the serial Shabrang ( 104 episodes )  produced by  DDK , Srinagar . Who does not remember Shadi Lal's dialogue , " Begum salaal tse kyaazi  goyee malaal "  from this TV serial ?

This play was telecast for 3 successive years ( 1981 to 1983 ) and i vividly remember how  shops would close early  and people would rush to their homes to see what Shamas ud Din had to say in the new episode . The play created a character that became as popular as 'Machama ' of Pushker Bhan. Shadi Lal became the face of an  ordinary poor or middle class Kashmiri through his innumerable plays telecast on Doordarshan  Kendra , Srinagar or performed on stage at Tagore Hall ,Srinagar.
                                     


So much was his popularity  that he preferred to remain indoors as people identifying with his characters would embrace him on roads . Ladies would kiss his forehead in traditional Kashmiri style . The shopkeepers , Tongawallas , vegetables sellers , drivers , school and college students would shout "Shamas ud Din Zindabad " loudly at him.

Once he told me this :-

"My inspiration has been the clerks , drivers  Tongawallahs, labourers , petty traders on the footpath and men trapped in circumstances beyond their control . I do not remember how many plays i have done . Most of the plays were performed on stage . A good number of plays were adapted by the  television as well . I also  acted in a Door-Darshan serial under Shyam Benegal banner with Om Puri. My character as Houseboat owner in Balwant Gargi's Play "Houseboat " for  Doordarshan was well received . I also acted in a Kashmiri movie ' Inquilab' produced by a Mumbai based producer and directed by D.K.Kanwal.

Once  I was shooting in Sopore where  a  Tongawalla came to the venue and asked me to come to his house for five minutes to have a cup of tea with him. He had also brought some fish for me.  I told him  that i was with  the shooting team and had to go to another village for some shots whereafter I had to rush to Srinagar . He felt disheartened . I assured him to visit his house upon my next visit.He hugged me .  Reciprocating his affection , i too hugged him . He kissed my forehead and  held my hand  as tears rolled down his eyes. He had seen me in  Shabrang TV serial . When I left Sopore, I kept looking at him from the car window for a long distance. He kept waving . I reciprocated. That was my award."

  A careful look at him revealed humour in his mannerism and body language . He would  make appropriate use of his hands and facial expressions . His steps on the  stage were always  calculated to match the content of the dialogues. He hardly needed   rehearsals . Apart from acting , Shadi Lal also wrote script for a popular TV comedy 'Shukriya'  directed by Rajesh Kaul . His acting field was  not confined to Kashmiri theatre alone . I remember his acting in a Hindi play 'Dulari  Bai'  in 1981. When Dr Sohan Lal Kaul translated the popular Kannada play 'Haivadan ' by Girish Karnard to Kashmiri ( Gurey Buthh ) , it was Shadi Lal only who became the first choice of the director for this play. And when Mohan Niraash translated a Kannada play by S L Bairappa , Shadi Lal was again in the lead role.He has told me this :-

 “ Some  artists from whom I  draw inspiration include Vijay Suri , Makhan Lal Saraf , Jawahar Wanchoo, Ghulam Nabi Baba and Pran Chandra.I also prefer good script writers  like  Ali Mohd Lone , Farooq Masoodi , Hriday Kaul Bharti , Bashir Dada and Hari Krishen Kaul .”

Born in a middle class family of  Chotta Bazar, Srinagar , Shadi Lal  was a self taught man . Together with his friend Ayash Aarif,  he founded  the 'Kali Das Theatre 'at Chotta Bazar , Srinagar  and began his journey in theatre.

Shadi Lal acted in the play "Local Taxes Extra" written by Dr Sohan Lal Kaul.The play was performed at Tagore Hall,  Srinagar in 1981. A history of sorts was created by this play in Srinagar. Tickets for the shows would always be sold in advance  for a fully packed hall. Additional chairs were always put to accommodate the audience . Once the Staff at Naaz cinema nearby gave a thrashing to the artists performing at Tagore Hall.They were advised  to pack up as the play had played havoc with their cinema business. This play was also adapted for television   by Ashok Jailkhani . I vividly remember how  Rajesh Kaul,  another producer at  DDK,  Srinagar brought a multistep camera to Tagore Hall Srinagar and recorded the play for the Doordarshan audience.

  Another  popular TV serial done for DDK, Srinagar "Rangan Heund Rang  " written by Pushker Bhan and directed by Dr Sohan Lal Koul  had Shadi Lal Kaul as  'Nikka Kottur', the lead character   .I am also reminded of a comedy serial called  'Cherry Treuch'  written by Makhan  Lal Saraf and directed by Ayash Aarif for DD Kashir wherein Shadi Lal played the role of Gopi Nath Gagroo. Another comedy 'Ghulam Begum Badshah'  for DD Kashir directed by Ayaash Aarif had Shadi Lal playing the main characterof ' Mokhta Mir' . None can forget the comedy 'Tijaratuk Assan Tareeqa ' written for DDK, Srinagar by Hriday Kaul Bharti produced and directed by Shabir Mujahid. Shadi Lal acted as Master Ji in this popular drama .' Gaaash Inuss Taam ' was another   play written by Hriday Kaul Bharti and directed by Rajesh Kaul for DDK, Srinagar wherein  Shadi Lal's dialogue " Maaji hinz driyee kaami doah guvv zaayee " is still remembered by people in  the valley . Shadi Lal also acted in three episodes of 'Gul Gulshan Gulfaam ' under Cinevista banner .
                                                                     
Dastaar  ( turban ) was a play that touched the height of popularity in Kashmir valley. Written by  Hari Krishen Kaul for theatre initially, the play was staged at Tagore Hall in 1978 in a drama festival organised by J&K Academy of Art Culture And Languages . The  play was produced by Kamal Theatre, Badyaar Bala and directed by Santosh Tiku . Shadi Lal acted as ' Section Officer 'in this play and received 'Best Actor Award '  for his memorable role  .  The dialogue from this play "Kusum Lata nein bataa kheytaa " is still popular in Kashmiri households. . This play was also produced for  DDK, Srinagar by Ashok Jailkhani wherein another talented actor  H. N .Gurtoo performed an equally  impressive role. Dastaar was again done for DD1 channel with Shadi Lal  in the lead role.

Shadi Lal was a friend and a  well-wisher. He was simple  and easy to deal with.Never have I heard him speaking ill of any person. Did he ever get angry? I haven't seen it. There was hardly any function in our family  which he did not join. Along with Makhan Lal Saraf, I brought him to the literary  'Baithaks' initiated by Narinder Safaya  in Jammu  . He fully   enjoyed these  literary gatherings .

                                       
( L to R.. Ravinder Kaul, IB Zutshi, Dr Kashi Nath Pandita, Avtar Mota, Prof.Arvind Gigoo, Dr Agnishekhar and Shadi Kaul.. January,2020)

I knew what he was  going through for the last three years. Whenever we met, he remained cheerful.I would ask  him:-

" How are you feeling now?"

" Bilkul fit. Doctors have told it is just a very small issue that can be tackled with medicines ."

As he went through the painful chemotherapy cycles,  he did everything to look normal  never losing his smile.

    Shadi Lal Kaul was a versatile actor of Kashmiri comedy. A Mehmood, Jagdeep and Kesto Mukherjee all in one.     

 This man who brought  smiles to many faces had his own share of pain and suffering. Destiny snatched his darling child who fell victim to the dreaded  Cancer. Shadi Lal would  break down and turn serious even at the slightest mention of this painful episode of his life.

Peace be to your soul dear friend. You will be missed. Your smile and humour will be missed. It shall take us  time to accept the reality that you are not around.

I end this tribute with a quatrain ( Qitta ) of  Ali Sardar Jafri.

“Zindagaani ne diya hai ye mujhe hukm ki Tu
Shab e Tareeq ke daaman mein sitaare bhar De
Phoonk de Jamaa hai Jitnaa Khas o khashak e Nifaaq
Qalb e Insaan mein Mohabbat Ke sharaare bhar De"
( Ali sardar jafri )

" Life has decreed upon me
That I should ,
Decorate the hem of the dark night with shining stars ,
Blow away all that lies heaped with us
As rubbish of disagreement and hate;
And then ,
Fill every human heart
With bright sparks of Love "



(Avtar Mota)

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

JATAKARMA OR KAAH-NETHAR RITUAL IN KASHMIRI PANDIT SOCIETY


                                                                             
                                                      ( Jatakarma  In India  )
                                                     ( Jatakarma in Bali , Indonesia )



KAAH-NETHAR  SAMASKARA   OF KASHMIRI  PANDIT  ..


The Hindus believe that their  Samaskaras are rituals that make an individual ‘fit and proper’ for the life ahead.  For instance, the Upanayana Samskara made the individual eligible to study the Vedas and Upanishads (philosophical texts). The Samskaras, are described in some hymns of the Vedas,  Grihya-Sutras,  Dharma-Sutras, Smritis and other scriptures.

Samskaras aim at bringing material and cultural gains to the individual. During some ceremonies, prayers are offered to gods for health, wealth, children, intellect etc., which contribute to the family and social happiness. The number of Samskaras to be performed from birth to death vary in different Hindu Dharma Granthas (textbooks), it is about 16-40, but the applicable Samskaras are 16 in number. These sixteen are spread from Garbhadhana to Anteysthi. Among these 16, only 11 will fall under the period up to childhood.

The sixteen Samskaras to be performed on an individual during his life cycle are:-

1). Garbhadhana
2). Pumsavana
3). Simantonnayana
4). Jatakarma ....Birth ceremony.
5). Namakarna: ....Ceremony of naming the child.
6). Nishkramana: ..The child’s first outing.
7). Annaprashana: The first feeding of the child with solid foods.
8). Chudakarana: The child’s first haircut.
9). Karnavedha: Piercing of the child’s ears.
10). Vidya-arambha: Beginning of the child’s studies.
11). Upanayana: The wearing of the sacred thread.
12). Veda-arambha: Start of Vedic studies.
13). Keshanta: First shaving of the beard.
14). Samavartana: Taking leave of one’s teacher.
15). Vivaha: Marriage.
16). Antyeshthi: Last Rites.
Some Samaskaras that were linked with   the way of living during ancient and mediaeval periods  have been abandoned by Hindu society. However Samaskaras like Jatakarama, Namakarna, Annpravesha, Chudakarna, Upanayana, Vivaha, Antyeshti,etc. have become inseparable from the Hindu way of life. 

KK  Klostermaier in his book "A survey of Hinduism" writes:-

"Traditionally, not only birth-related but all subsequent rituals were important. Some of the texts in which these Samskāras are mentioned date back to 4,000 BCE[2] . They were probably introduced to suit the circumstances that existed then and may have held practical utility and a purpose suited to that time. However, many changes and modifications have taken place over the years as required to meet the needs of society. Hinduism is not a fossilized religion and ‘in its long history, it has undergone many changes rapidly adapting to modern times." 

Hindus believe that by performing the   Samskāras,  a person  becomes a  member of the socio-religious community. The Samaskaras  are meant for “sanctifying the body and purifying it in this life and after death’  The Upanishads mention Samaskaras as a means to grow and prosper in all four aspects of human pursuits - Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Karma and Kama (work and pleasure), and Moksha (Salvation).

JATAKARAMA  SAMSKĀRA

Jataka is originally a Sanskrit word that means a newborn baby. In astrology,  it means the study of horoscopes ( Zaatuk in Kashmiri). It has a different meaning in Buddhism where it means a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the word previous births of Gautama Buddha. Without doubt word, Jatakarama has come from   Jataka.

The Jatakarama ceremony welcomes the baby into the world. The  Jatakarama Samskāra is a celebration of the child’s birth and his bonding with his father.  During the ceremony, the father has to welcome the child by touching the lips of the baby with honey and ghee. Reciting Vedic Hymns is also very auspicious during Jatakarama ceremony.  Jatakarama has been mentioned as an important  Samaskara in Grehsutras, Vedas, Smritis and many other ancient Scriptures.

Jatakarama Samskāra provides an opportunity to examine the baby immediately after birth. Madhu ( Honey ), Swarna ( Gold )  and  Ghrita ( Ghee )  licking helps to check and initiate sucking, rooting and swallowing reflexes which should exist in co-ordination.

R.Pandey in his book"  Hindu Saṃskāras: Socio-religious Study of the Hindu Sacrament" writes:-
" Jatakarama has the following aspects: the Medha-jananais performed so that the child is bestowed with great intellect (Medha or buddhi). The Ayush ceremony is performed for a long life for the child. The mother is showered with praise by the husband and the family for having given the greatest of gifts to the family in the form of the child. All guests are given appropriate gifts and alms are given to the needy. The next of the Samaskara is called the Nama-Karana (name-giving ceremony). Typically, the name of one of the many Hindu deities is chosen as it is believed that the deity would protect the child. Furthermore, when the family and friends call by that name, they too get the divine blessing. The scriptures contain literally thousands of names, for example, Vishnu is typically worshipped by reciting his one thousand names. Anyone of these names could be chosen. Similarly, other deities too are known by various names. There are similar rules for naming a daughter. It is suggested by the Hindu texts, for example, that where the girl's name ends with ‘a’ or ‘i’, it is considered as auspicious and the girl is blessed by the divine. The namakarana ceremony is typically performed on the 10th or 12th day of birth."
In some parts of the country, Jatakarma performed on six days from the birth of a child, is for the purification of the house. This is done in order to keep a child in a clean atmosphere where he may not incur any physical or mental problems. It is also called Shashthi. Goddess Shashthi is the protector of children. Jatakarma is followed by Grah Puja and  Homa.
As per the "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad", the 'Jatakarma' includes five steps;

1. 'Homa' is performed with curds and clear butter along with mantras.
2. The word 'Vak' is whispered in the ear of the child.
3. The child is made to lick from golden spoon cards, honey and clarified butter.
4. The child is addressed by a secret name.
5. The mother offers her breast milk to the child.

 During my visit to Bali ( Indonesia )  in 2015, I was told by a Balinese  Hindu priest as under:-

“ We Balinese  Hindus  follow the  Samaskaras mentioned in Dharam-Sastras. Jatakarma is the most important ceremony of the newborn child. The Samsakara is performed immediately after childbirth. In this Samsakara the father has to chant specific Mantras into the right ear of newborn and feed the mixture of Madhu ( honey ), Ghrta ( Clarified butter )  in a   Svrna spoon to the newborn followed by breastfeeding to the child. In olden days some particles of Swarna dust were mixed with Madhu and Ghrta .”
Jatakarma is performed in every part of the country as per Hindu   traditions  which may vary from area to area yet the core the ceremony is almost the same.

KASHMIRI PANDITS AND  JATAKARAMA  /  KAAH-NETHAR.

Jatakarma is known as Kaah-nether by Kashmiri Pandits. It is performed on the 11th  day of the birth of the baby .In Kashmiri,  Kaah means eleven and Nethar means wedding or union of the child into the family's Gotra. The purpose of this ceremony is to bring the baby into the family’s Gotra or fold and seek blessings of Kul-Devta/ Kul-Devi and other deities for the welfare and orderly life of the baby. On this day, the child and his mother are given a bath and they wear new clothes. The Yajman for this function happens to be the father of the baby. Accordingly, gifts for the baby and the mother are bought by the father of the baby . He also makes arrangements for the Homa or a yajna. The family priest recites Vedic Mantras seeking the welfare of the child and his family. The Mantras are also meant to seek blessings from deities for the newborn who has entered the family’s Gotra. It is followed by a feast wherein close relatives and family friends are invited. It is strictly a family affair. The guests partake the food as Prasada. The family priest also takes note of the birth time and the constellation of the planets –Nakshatras to create a birth chart which is supposed to be the blueprint of one's life.

Many Kashmiri Pandit families also bring a golden ring or earrings for the baby.  Tied to a Mauli ( Naribund ), this golden jewellery is touched to the tongue of the baby and then  Mauli  ( with the golden jewellery  )   is put around his / her neck during the  Puja by the family priest. It is meant to be used by the baby as he or she grows. Honey and clarified butter ( Ghee) is also touched to the baby's tongue. Some families use curd as well. This practice is being enthusiastically implemented after 1990 by Kashmiri Pandits. It appears that by this practice, Kashmiri Pandits are  following the  ancient  Vedic practice of Jatakarma detailed in  Manusmriti, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Grihya Sutras. Manu also makes mention of  Swarna, Madhu and clarified butter to be touched to baby's tongue during Jatakarama ceremony. And surprisingly, it is Manu who recommends Jatakarama for both male and female babies. 

It is pertinent to mention that in a Kashmiri Pandit family, no ritual connected with Vivaha, Sharada or Pind-dhaan can be done if for any reason Jatakarma or Kaahnethar has not been performed to any newborn. Though performed on 11th day of birth, it can be held subsequently also on any auspicious day. Kashmiri Pandits combine this Samaskara with Naamkarna ritual.

Kashmiri Pandits also treat Jatakarama or Kaahnethar as a purification ceremony for the baby and the mother who had remained under confinement. For this reason, some auspicious Mantras are also recited during the Homa for purification and the child, his mother, the family and the house. Kashmiri Pandits also perform Shraan Sonder on 7th or  10th day of the  baby's birth apart from Trui ritual on the third day of the baby’s birth. Shraan Sonder is the medicinal bath of the mother.
I conclude this post with a Vaak of Kashmir’s saint poetess Lal Ded or Lalleshwari …
                                                                                   
“zanam praa'vith vyabhav no tsonddum
Luubhan bhuugan baram na pray
Somuy Ahaar suetthaah zonum,
Tsolum dwakha-vaav polum Dai.



“ In life, I sought neither wealth nor power,
Nor ran after the pleasures of sense.
Moderate in food and drink, I lived a controlled life,
And loved my God.”



( Avtar Mota )








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