Friday, February 24, 2023



( Ustaad Ramzan Joo..Photo courtesy Saaznawaz family )






Sufiana music arrived in the Kashmir valley with Islam. Musicians from Iran and Central Asia were patronised by Sultan Zain ul Abdin, a liberal and tolerant ruler of Kashmir. These musicians brought some new musical instruments and also modified some existing instruments to make them compatible with the new music that came to be known as Sufiana Music in the Kashmir valley. At its core, it is a Central Asian musical tradition influenced by Indian classical music. Like Hindustani Classical music, Kashmiri Sufiana music also evolved through a Gharana system. The main concept in Sufiana is that of Maqam, a counterpart of the Indian Raga system. Some popular and prominent Maqams of Kashmiri Sufiana music could be listed as Araq, Asavari (Navroz-e-Khara), Bahar (Ushshaq), Behag (Bihag, Hijaz), Bhairavi (Bharvi), Bilaval, Dhanasri, Dev-Gandhar (Kanada), Jazvanti, Jinjoti (Manj, Majiri), Khamanch (Khamanche, Khamanch, Kamanche, Kamanj, Asfahan, Isfahan, Safahan), Kochak (Kalyan), Lalit, Malhar (Nihuft, Mallar), Navroz-e-'Ajam, Navroz-e-Arab, Purbi (Zalab), Rast (Rast-e-Kashmiri), Sendhuri, Shahnaz (Zengola), Suhani (Nishaporak), Tilang (Mahur), Todi (Buzurg), Udasi (Maghlub), Uzzal (Uzzal-e-Farsi) and Zaval (Pahlavi, Pahalvi). The Maqam system is also prevalent in North African, Azerbaijani Uzbek, Tajikistani and Turkish music. The thematic content of the compositions is mostly mystical or could be based on spirituality or divine love. Sufiana music is sung by a group of musicians led by the leader who generally plays the Santoor. Santoor is the principal instrument in Sufiana singing. There are a hundred strings ( Shat-tantri Veena ) in the Sufiana Santoor stretched over twenty-five bridges. Each bridge has four strings for each note. It is played with two wooden hammers known as Kalam.


 In the past, there was also a female dance form associated with Sufiana music. In this dance form, a female dancer known as Hafiza used to express the meaning of Maqam compositions through various movements and body gestures. Known as Hafiznagma, this form of dance cum music was banned by the then Maharaja in the early part of the 20th century as it got associated with prostitution.


   (  Portrait of Pandit Shanker Nath Sopori.. Courtesy Abhay Rustam Sopori ) 

At present we have only four surviving Gharanas located in the three districts of the UT: Budgam, Srinagar and Anantnag. The oldest and principal one, Ramzan Joo-Sidh Joo Gharana ( Saaznawaz Gharana ) is in Srinagar. Two Gharanas are located in Budgam, one in Wathura village (Qaleenbaft Gharana) and the other at Kraalpora (Kamal Bhat Gharana ).The fourth Gharana (Sehtari Gharana) is in Bijbehara , Anantnag. There were two Kashmiri Pandit Gharanas of Sufiana music also. Of these two , one was from Sopore town and the other from Srinagar city. The Sopore Gharana was represented by Pandit Shankar Nath Sopori. He used to play Sufiana music on the Kashmiri Sitar ( Sehtar). In fact , Pandit Shamboo Nath Sopori ,Pandit Bhajan Sopori and Abhay Rustam Sopori belong to this illustrious Sopori Gharana and Pandit Shanker Nath Sopori was great grandfather of Abhay Rustam Sopori the youngest and a  well known  performer of this Gharana.  The other Gharana belonged to Pandit Khera Kak Munshi. Pandit Khera Kak was one of the leading Sufiana musician of Kashmir who held regular Sufiana Mehfils at his home. Apart from this, Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil of Tankipora ( Srinagar ) was also a Santoor player who taught Sufiana music to his daughters Rageshwari and Jaijaiwanti. Jaijaiwanti was perhaps the first Kashmiri Pandit girl who could play Sufiana music on Santoor. In the popular composition, ‘Yas  maarmatis maanz chhe naman, kaman saeti gom (The adorable one , who has henna dyed nails , with whom did he slip away ?)' , sung by Jaijaiwanti and Rageshwari, the melodious Santoor notes have been created by Jaijaiwanti ( Jaya Parimu).


   ( Rageshwari and Jaijaiwanti singing Sufiana Kalaam..Kaman saeti gom )     


To get a soulful feel of the music created by Saaznawaz Gharana, I would suggest my readers to listen to Padam-shri Ghulam Mohammad Saaznawaz's two composition listed below.


Bozu myan zaar,

Zaarai paar ,

Awaara karthas" 

"( Listen to my woes,

Listen to the agony ,

 An aimless wanderer  

I have been rendered in this love" )


" Baeti na ye dooreyr 

Chonuyi zaraai

Baal maraai yo"

( I can't withstand this separation

My love, i may die in youth )



Ramzan Joo(1881-1971)


Ramzan Joo was the patriarch of the Saaznawaz Gharana of Daan Mazaar, Safa Kadal Srinagar. After he died in 1971, this Gharana was carried forward by his son and disciple Ustad Ghulam Muhammad Saaznawaz. After the death of Ustaad Ghulam Mohammad Saaznawaz in 2014, his children namely Mushtaq Saaznawaz, Shabir Saaznawaz and Rafiq Saaznawaz are carrying forward the Sufiana music tradition of this Gharana. Ustaad Ghulam Muhammad Saaznawaz was awarded India's fourth highest civilian honour the Padma Shri in 2013. He was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998 for his contribution to the Sufiana music of Kashmir.


 ( Ustaad Ghulam Mohammad Saaznawaz )


  Like Baba Alla ud Din Khan of the Maihar Gharana of Hindustani Classical music, Raamzan Joo could sing and also play upon many instruments like Santoor, Kashmiri Sitar ( Sehtar ), Tabla, Saz-e-Kashmir and Madham. All these instruments are vital in the Kashmiri Sufiyana orchestra. The combination of all these five instruments is known as ‘Panjhatheyari’. Ustaad Ramzan Joo was into spirituality simultaneously apart from being a wonderful Sufiana singer and instrumentalist.Born at Dana Mazaar, Safa Kadal, Srinagar, his ancestors ( who were also musicians ) are believed to have come to the Kashmir valley from Iran. Music was in his blood. He learnt it from his elders since his childhood. He was known to be a perfectionist who never compromised with Sur, Taal and Lai. He would prefer singing before Sufi saints and disliked using Sufiana music for Hafiznagma. Ustaad Ramzan Joo learned the Sufiana music from his father Ustaad Wazir Joo, Uncle Ustaad Ameer Joo, his elder brother Ustaad Sidiq Joo( Sidh Joo ) and Ustaad Abdullah Shah . Quite often, both Ustaad Sidh Joo and Ustaad Ramzan Joo would perform together. 


Both Sidh Joo and Ramzan Joo would also sing in the Darbaar of Maharaja Hari Singh who was a patron of music. They would also sing before saints and Sufis. It is said that Saint Gopinath Ji was also a lover of Sufiana music and as such Ustaad Ramzan Joo also performed before the saint. The Ustaad and his brother were possibly brought to Saint Gopi Nath Ji’s Ashram by Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil, an ardent admirer of Ramzan Joo and his brother. A devout Muslim, Ramzan Joo is on record as having refused to sing in marriages. It is said that if he was convinced that the gathering had real connoisseurs of music, then and only then he would agree to perform. Ramzan Joo had a unique style of playing Shakal (the commencement of the performance ) and singing Nasr (a short poem without rhythm sung after the Shakal). About Ustaad Ramzan Joo, Syed Zeeshan Fazil writes this in his book “Falcons of Kashmir”:-


“ Ramzan Joo was well versed with the most difficult Maqams of Sufiana music like Nawroz e Arab, Dev-Gandhar, Jazvanti, and Sendhuri. He had a melodious voice and he would play the Tabla, Kashmiri Sitar and santoor professionally. While playing the Tabla, he could also sing freely with the perfection of Taal.”


Prof Jaya Parimu, who taught music in various degree colleges of J&K UT, has this to say about Ramzan Joo and the Sufiana music of Kashmir:-


“ Like Hindustani classical music, Kashmir’s Sufiana music is also based on Taals, Ragaas and the Time Theory of Ragaas.To me, it is more akin to Dhrupad than Khayal Gayaki. That way it is a form of Hindustani Classical music.Like Hindustani Classical music ,it has Taraana ,Ek-Taal ,Teen-Taal ,Duyaktaal, Neem-dore ,Chapandaz etc. Sidh Joo and Ramzan Joo, both brothers were ace musicians of the Kashmiri Sufiana genre. Sidh Joo –Ramzan Joo Gharana scores over all other music Gharanas of Kashmir. As I understand, this Gharana had a definite edge over others in terms of style, Baaj, melody and Santoor accompaniment. By the time electronic media support and radio patronisation arrived, Sidh Joo had expired. Ramzan Joo did broadcast his music over the radio but age had overtaken him though he still retained his unique magical touch. He was an ace Santoor player. His music and Maqams had depth. He had a wonderful style of reaching the crescendo. One could feel as if honeybees were dancing around the honeycombs. Once my father had engaged Ramzan Joo for a month in a Doonga anchored at Naseem Bagh. I vividly remember the Sufiana Musical Mehfils that took place in our home in Kashmir .”


( Avtar Mota)

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023


                      ( Aak or Maadar flowers ) 

What is Maadal in Mahatama Krishen Joo Razdan's Shiv Leela ,"Bel ta Maadal"  ?

Maadal is Maadar .

As per Shiva Purana, offering Aak or Maadar flowers and leaves  to Shiva is considered highly meritorious. It is mentioned in the Shiv Puran that Shiva is pleased immediately and grants boons on offering flowers and leaves of Aak or Maadar.
( The Leela in Kashmiri sung by Shamim Dev Azad )

Aak' is also called 'Maadar' in India . The two species- red and white, are highly beneficial from an Ayurvedic point of view.Like Datura leaves ,which are  also offered to Shiva ,along with being highly beneficial,leaves of  Maadar  plant  are also poisonous if consumed. It grows wild  in foot-hills and plains .

( Avtar Mota )

In this Shiv Leela, Bel is Beil Pattar, Maadal is Maadar  flowers, venna is the wild herb with mint like aroma , Ghulab is the rose flower, and Pamposh is lotus  flower that the saint poet Mahatma Krishen Joo Razdan' wants to use to perform Pooja -Archana of his  Param-Shiva or Shivnath .

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Ardhanarishwara by Nand Lal Bose ..Bengal School...

My Shiva is Everywhere....

Shiva  is overwhelming . Engaged in continuous re-creation, I see his actions everyday, every moment and everywhere. His re-creative destruction is aimed at the upkeep and continuity of  this universe  . He is there in the seasons .In autumn ,shedding leaves so that every tree would wear fresh green apparel during the ensuing spring. In rain and sunshine ,I see his compassion for re-creation of life on this earth .  When the birds chirp, winds pass through the leaves , sea waves touch the shore , brooks murmur as they flow , he is there playing his music. In thunder and floods , i see his Rudra Swaroopa. Even if i close my eyes, he is there . He is in the rhythm of my heartbeats and in the movement of my limbs .The sun, the moon and the twinkling stars  are engaged in performing Shiva's  Aarti  this moment and every moment .

I also feel his companion Shakti's overwhelming presence.She is in  the life giving warmth  of the sun. As energy in    wind, fire and water . She is the  power that pulls our  boats  across this Bhavsagara known as  Samsaara.

As  Ardhanarishwara,  Shiva reminds me that  there exists a unity of opposites in this universe.I  believe  Shiva and Shakti a combination of consciousness and energy or Purusha and Prakariti.    Each one needs the other. As Ardhanarishwara, Shiva gives a strong message that in order to  accommodate other person  , one  needs to shed half of himself.

May Shiva be with all of us this moment and every moment .


( Avtar Mota);

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Wednesday, February 15, 2023




                                    (Ved Lal Dhar Vakil ...Photos Courtesy ..Mrs Jaya Parimu)



"I am convinced that courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind for a while; you can be generous for a while; you can be just for a while, or merciful for a while, even loving for a while. But it is only with courage that you can be persistently and insistently kind and generous and fair."……… Maya Angelou


By words and deeds, he was liberal, progressive and a rebel on many fronts. Be it widow remarriage, music ( instrumental or vocal ) , theatre, women's education or social reforms , Pandit Ved Dhar Vakil was a crusader on many fronts .Born in a well-off family that owned orchards and agricultural land in the Kashmir valley, Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil was a revolutionary, who felt inspired by many progressive changes that were sweeping Kashmir in general and Kashmiri Pandit society in particular during his youth . The theosophists had arrived in Kashmir . Maharaja had introduced the Abolition of Child Marriage Act in the state . He also brought the Widow Remarriage Act. Modern education had been introduced by the Christian Missionaries in the state . The Neve brothers ( doctors ) were actively practising allopathic medicine and surgery to treat patients in Missionary Hospitals . Many progressive measures were also facing opposition from the orthodox Kashmiri Pandit society. Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil also joined the ‘Fraternity’, a group formed by young men like Damodhar Bhat, Dina Nath Hanjura, Mohan Krishen Tikku, Dr Col Saligram Kaul, Shambu Nath Gurtu, Dina Nath Bazaz, PN Bazaz, T N Kaul, Dwarka Nath Kachru, Dina Nath Parimu, poet Dina Nath Dilgir, Radhey Nath Kaul and many more. This group was earnestly working for the removal of many social evils prevailing in the then-orthodox Kashmiri Pandit society. Before the formation of ‘Fraternity’ , some young social reformers headed by Pandit Hargopal Kaul Khasta had started the ’Dharam Sabha’ that worked tirelessly for ‘Widow Remarriage’ and the introduction of modern education amongst Kashmiri women. Both ideas were vehemently opposed by a strong orthodox group in the society headed by Pandit Amar Nath Kak. The ‘Dharam Sabha’ avoided confrontation with the orthodox group .Accordingly ,in 1930, many young elements from the ‘Dharam Sabha’ left the group and formed the radical organization called  ‘Fraternity’ that was out and out for total reforms within the Kashmiri Pandit Society . Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil was an active member of this radical group. The ‘Fraternity’ members had to leave smoking, become a vegetarian and wear Khadi dresses.




Having studied at Church Mission School, Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil emulated the school’s motto, “ In All Things Be Men “  in all spheres of his personal life. He learnt, swimming, music , acting , singing, journalism and anything and everything that came his way. His commitment to social reforms and progressive outlook passed successfully the litmus test when he volunteered to marry a child widow even at the cost of the social boycott by his nears and dears .This revolutionary act finds detailed mention in a published write-up of Vijay Vishen .I quote from the write-up:-


 “He came forward to accept the hand of a child widow with no formal education and ensured that she got an elated position as the head of a family comprising highly educated women and men who made significant contributions to the noble profession of teaching young women and men in higher educational institutions. It was a revolutionary step taken by Pandit Ved Lal Dhar ( Vakil ) of Kashmir. He married Leelawati ( Jigir ), a widow at twelve who was in a rehabilitation shelter in Hazoori Bagh , Srinagar after her father passed away. On the day fixed for her re-marriage, the gentleman backed out due to threats to his life .At that time Ved Lal Dhar Vakil , who had been spearheading the cause for the settlement of young widows, volunteered to marry her on the spur of the moment. It must have been a defining moment when the two of them, who had not seen each other before, met for the first time to take the walk on the journey of life . During the initial years of their marriage, the couple lived in a village house , owned by the family, far away from Srinagar city , to protect the new bride from the pangs of family and social boycott . It is well known that Ved Lal Dhar Vakil demonstrated strong faith in his ideals by making a public display of the first child born to the couple by announcing that the little child did not have any ‘horns ( as generally believed by orthodox Hindu society ) ‘ . Nothing could have been more emphatic in this context.”  




The orthodox Kashmiri Pandit society looked with contempt towards all the young men who indulged in theatre , drama and music as late as the first quarter of the last century . A nickname ‘ Raas-Kath ‘ used to be given to young men who indulged in this activity They were taunted and discouraged by all means . Even J N Shivpuri, who started the first Institution to teach Hindustani Classical Music in the Kashmir valley , faced stiff opposition. A group of orthodox Pandits stoned the premises of the institute many times. Determined and steadfast in his beliefs , Ved Lal Dhar Vakil not only learnt Hindustani Classical Music but also learnt the traditional Sufiana Music of the valley and became a singer and an accomplished Santoor player. This is what noted author, historian and journalist, P N Bazaz writes in his book  Kashmir In Crucible‘ :-


 “Vedh Lal Dhar Vakil ( Sufiana and classical ) is a well-known devotee of Muse and an expert player on Santoor. His two daughters , Rageshwari Mattoo and Jaijaiwanti are vocalists .His third daughter , Raj Kumari ,had given evidence of growing into a virtuoso but unfortunately, she met with a fatal accident in Delhi in 1964.”


There were night-long music Mehfils in Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil’s house at Zaindar Mohalla. Many renowned musicians performed in these Mehfils. This fact is also mentioned in the Book ‘Master Musicians of India’ under the chapter ‘Sabri Khan’. In this chapter, Ustad Sabri Khan (Sarangi player) says that one day he performed at Pandit Ved Lal Dhar’s Srinagar house till 5 am playing Darbari for two hours. About these music Mehfils, Padma-shri Moti Lal Kemu writes this :-


“I used to reside at Tankipora locality in Srinagar city close to the house of Pandit Ved Lal Dhar. Pandit Ved Lal Dhar was a connoisseur of Hindustani Classical Music. Many times, I saw Begum Akhtar coming to Pandit Ved Lal Dhar’s house during the evening time. There were singing sessions till the late hours of the night. Jaijaiwanti and Rageshwari, daughters of Pandit Ved Lal Dhar would also join Begum Akhtar in these singing sessions. During Begum Akhtar’s stage performance, Rageshwari would be seen accompanying her by playing on a Tanpura. Rageshwari considered herself a disciple of Begum Akhtar.”

(Source: Sheeraza. No.5/230 published by the J&K Academy of Art, Culture, and Languages, Dec. 2015-Jan, 2016 issue)


In his book ‘Radio Kashmir And My Days In Broadcasting’, Padma-shri Pran Kishore Kaul writes this:-


“Probably the first student of Indian classical music (in Kashmir) was Rageshwari Dhar Mattu, followed by her sister Jaijaiwanti Dhar Parimu. The talent of both the sisters had been discovered by their father, the social rebel and activist, Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil in their childhood. Pandit Ved Lal Ji was one of the earliest classical singers of Kashmir, who joined Radio Kashmir as a long-term casual artist only in the sixties. Another contribution by Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil was training his son, who by profession although an engineer, continued broadcasting till the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir. He was a good Gazal singer.”


( A noticeboard at Bhagwan Gopinath Ji Ashram at Jammu ) 

 Pandit Ved Lal Dhar was a pioneer of Kashmir’s theatre movement. During his youth, He stayed in Kolkata for three years where he joined Alfred Theatre Company and developed a friendship with well-known actor and singer Kundan Lal Saigal. After returning to Kashmir , he acted in and directed many stage plays that include Krishen Sudama,Bilwa Mangal,Naya Kashmir and Shaheed Sherwani. Quite often , young G R Santosh , the well-known artist from Kashmir ,would help him in creating sets on the stage.


He did commendable work in 1947 when Srinagar city received Hindu refugees from Baramulla, Kupwara , Handwara, sopore and other areas due to the Pakistan-sponsored Tribal attack.He believed in constructive politics . He supported Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah but also confronted him in a public meeting in Srinagar . For this, he suffered imprisonment . While his other accomplices including Molvi Yusuf Shah entered into a compromise with the establishment , he refused to do so and was the last to be released . During Maharaja Hari Singh’s period , he remained the printer and publisher of ‘The Kashmir Times ‘, a newspaper edited and owned by G K Reddy and Abdul Rehman Mitha. After the Maharaj’s rule , Reddy went to Hyderabad and Mitha moved to Pakistan. He was a regular visitor to the Ashram of Saint Gopi Nath. Quite often he would be seen playing on Santoor or singing some Sufiana Qalaam before the Spiritual Guru.


Prof Jaya Parimu , daughter of Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil has this to say:-


“He had vowed not to get married .He had the means to involve himself in constructive politics , theatre, social reform movement, classical music and women's education. He had a firm belief that women can perform better in every sphere of life provided they good education. Women education remained a cherished mission of his life. For this cause, he would go to any extent. He threw a grand tea party at his Mohalla when Uma Mahnoori became the first woman graduate of Tankipora, Zaindar Mohalla in Srinagar city. My father always believed in truth, justice and fearlessness ”


“Sabaq phir parh sadaqat Ka, adaalat ka, shuja’at ka

 Liya Jaye ga tujh se Kaam duniya ki imaamat ka”…..Allama Iqbal 


 (Read again the lesson of truth, of justice and valour!

 You will be asked to do the work of taking on responsibility for the world.)


( Avtar Mota )


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Sunday, February 12, 2023




 Available at Govind Nowdhara's Shop, Ganpatyar,Srinagar,Kashmir, Charanbulgaar was sought in Kashmir , the way the mystery nutritious wafer  is sought in ‘ Soylent Green’ , a  Charlton Heston movie of 1973 . With the onset of winter season , I vividly remember a man coming on a bicycle to Jogilanker Chowk in Rainawari with a hand held mini loud speaker and saying loudly :- 

"Vandha tsali sheen gali beyi iyee bahaar

Yina masha-raavakh charanbulgaar"


( The snow will melt away,

The winter will be soon over,

And the spring shall visit once more .

However, you shouldn't forget 



Sometimes he would add another line , ’ Cycle neri pata pheri or’ the bicycle will leave and then you may have regrets ‘. Men , women and  some shopkeepers would be his buyers. The man would empty his stock there and then.  This author saw the bicycle-man in Safa Kadal locality  also . It was Charanbulgaar ointment kept in small boxes. Charanbulgaar was a wonder ointment for winter frostbite known as Shooh in Kashmiri. Shooh was a common feature in almost every family .Shooh visited many Kashmiris  due to  the exposure of the  skin to minus temperatures. Toes were the first causality.  Shooh gave pain ,irritation and loss of sensation. The exposed skin turned red and in severe cases black as well.Warming up the frostbitten area also gave pain. It disturbed sleep and proved troublesome for the entire winter season. Many families bought Charanbulgaar in advance for the ensuing winter. That is why Pandit Govind Nowdhara ,who lived in Badiyar Bala locality near Ganpatyar temple,  started preparing the wonder medicine in August every year. For him it was one time exercise every year. The formula was known to him only and it remains a secret to this day . The secret died with him. Apart from Charanbulgaar, Govind Nowdhara ,the one man factory would also extract aromatic oil from flowers especially roses to make perfumes and rosewater. He was also selling some dyes and tinctures apart from ‘Rogn e Badaam No 1’ . He also extracted oil from Dalcheeni ( cinnamon) and marketed it as 'Ark e Dalcheeni no 1' . It was also sought after . Even Molvi Farooq's family would buy 'Ark e Dalcheen No 1 ' from his retail outlet near Ganpatyar temple. The rosewater was branded as 'Ark e Gulab No 1 '. ’Sanjeevani Hair Oil’ was also prepared  by Lalla Saeb as a cure for baldness .This hair oil was marketed as hair tonic. Everything was No 1. And for sure ,it was. Three drops of 'Ark e Dalcheen No 1 ' gave a super cinnamon aroma to Kehwa tea .

 His house was always full of drums, cans ,bottles, corks and pipes. In summers , one could see many solutions boiling in pots and containers . The manufacturing  activity was not undertaken during winters .

Wearing dark spectacles and sitting on his shop , GOVIND  NOWDHARA HOUSE  , Lalla Saeb ( as he was fondly called ) would interact with VIPs going up or down the road. To social activists, leaders, educationists, artists and some known office goers , he would pass on a small piece of cotton that had his homemade perfume drops . Any procession passing through his shop would be sprinkled rosewater . To that extent he was always generous. I have been told that every year , he would go to the graves of his Muslim friends and sprinkle rosewater as a token of remembrance.

His real name was  Govind Joo Pandita . Unfortunately ,his father ,who happened to be a forester ,was killed in a murderous attack at Reasi,Jammu. After his father's death, entire family responsibilities fell on his shoulders. These responsibilities included marriage if his siblings and providing sustenance to the family .And Young Govind Joo or Lalla Saeb did not discharge his family responsibilities alone but also proved of immense help to his in-laws . Lalla Saeb’s house was Matamaal to many children who were related to him from his parental or in-laws side. On Zangtrai festival, many Kashmiri Pandit  women in his relation and acquaintance would visit his house where his gracious wife would give them a packet of salt and some cash (Atagath)  as per the age-old custom with Kashmiri Pandits . Prab Jigir ,wife of Lalla Saeb was a generous woman who’s parental home was at Chinkral Mohalla . She belonged to a Kashmiri Pandit family that used ‘Punjabi’ as their surname .And Lalla Saeb was brother to all. Hindus and Muslims would visit his shop

 One day this author saw a Muslim woman coming to his shop and seeking medicine for leucoderma  of her daughter . Lalla Saeb immediately got up, opened a box and gave her a bottle of some oil advising the lady to rub the oil upon the affected skin. He also advised her to visit Tsrar Sharif Ziyarat and SMHS hospital without fail. He asked the woman to pay one rupee for the medicine. When the woman left, he said this :-

 " I can't disappoint a person who comes to me with faith and great hope . I know this oil is not going to cure her leucoderma but it won't do any harm as the oil in the bottle has been extracted from almonds. The cost of the oil to me is more than ten rupees but I charged a token sum of one rupee as she was poor and desperate . I know the social issues attached to  this skin disease. A visit to proper doctor is the real treatment. May the Tsrar Sharif saint cure her daughter." 


At present, the shop  looks pitiable and abandoned. The armed militancy made Kashmiri Pandits run away to safety and shelter.  Lalla Saeb  breathed his last long back. The locality that used to be a hub of Kashmiri Pandits looks deserted and something like a ghost infested area . Every old resident ,who happens to pass through this area now , feels suffocation and pain. He simply wants to move fast and exit. Strangers have occupied old structures where Pandits used to live. Lonely is the ancient Ganpatyar shrine . Gone is the joy of procuring Charanbulgaar before the stocks vanished at ‘Govind Nowdhara House’. The exile changed everything. In this exile, the Shooh at the toes has moved to the soul now. Who will bring Charanbulgaar for the soul ?


( Avtar Mota )

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