| 3 weeks

Folklore In Kashmir: It’s Impact On Kashmiri Society

Mufakkir Wani
Folklore In Kashmir: It’s Impact On Kashmiri Society

Folklore, stories and proverbs existed long before science made any sense out of them. Stories passed down from time to time in generations acts as a bibliotheque of human experiences, knowledge and characters. Folklore, therefore, succeed in providing insight into the realities, values, and desires of the people at that time segments. Folklores were intended as a form of entertainment as well as means of passing knowledge to next generation emphasizing the importance of knowledge, character and imparting life lessons. As a form of entertainment, it was spoken around fireplaces. People would gather around the fire to keep themselves warm and socialize with others, where grandfathers would narrate folklores to the younger ones. Folklore tend to include elements of reality and fantasy. Amongst various societies across the globe, Kashmiri society is the melting pot for world’s major folklores. The most famous Folklore associated with Kashmir is that it derives its name from sage Kashyap, and Mir in Kosur means sage hence, Kashmir. Folklore, myth or just a historical fact can always be debated but one thing is very much clear is that: Kashmir is the epicentre of all the mystic folklore”.

The ancient folklore from Nilamata Purana in which demon Jalodbhava was residing in the Satisaras present day Kashmir valley. To eliminate him Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boar struck the mountain at Varahamula, to create a gap and dewater the Satisaras and killing the demon. These Pir Panjal ranges and Samshabari ranges are also believed to be Hindu deities looking after this paradise on earth. It is also evident that all ancient folklores have Hindu origin which was followed by Buddhist and finally after coming of Islam in Valley around 13th century AD, we find the accounts of Lal Ded, Habba Khatun and Nund Rishi. This is why in earlier times under the influence of spirituality, mythology amalgamated into the Kashmiri folklore. Looking closely, we can find that ancient Hindu folklores are associated with waterbodies and mountains in Kashmir Nil nag, Sheeshram nag or Wular lake, Manasbal lake or any unique mountain like Harmokh Parvat, Kailash Parvat of Bhadarwah or any hillock like Hari parbat and Damodar parbat. There is a special place for Kashmiri folks in the literature of ancient India like Panchtantra which was written in first century CE. Kashmiri language is an off shoot of Sanskrit language. Later on the language and folklores were influenced by Persian dictions and folklores. These folklores are in the form of stories, songs and parables, which preserve the myths, customs, traditions and legends of days bygone.

In 15th century CE, Kashmiri language got foreign influences from Persian and Turkish dictions, earlier folklores were filled with the romance of Himal and Nagrai but now love stories in form of folklore about Laila – Majnoo, Sheereen – Farhad, Zun – Aftab and Bumbar – Yimbarzal have come to the valley. This Persian influence also brought along the folklore of Dijinnes in caves, Wihath on mountains, Tchota Yacha on dunghills, Dulphas in rainy nights Mushran in floods and finally about Tasrufdar outside homes. In those times only, the mystic Lalleswari famously known as Lal ded was born in Panderethan present day Srinagar. Her folklores are contained in her poetry even today also. She was instrumental in connecting Hinduism, Buddhism and Islamism. The leading Kashmiri Sufi figure Nooruddin Rishi or Nunda Rishi was highly influenced by Lal Ded. He ultimately led to the formation of the Rishi order of saints and later gave rise to many Rishi saints like Resh Mir Sàeb. One Kashmiri folklore recounts that, as a baby, Nunda Rishi refused to be breast-fed by his mother. It was Lal Ded who breast-fed him. Nund Rishi is considered to be the founder Rishi order, he is also known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir. He witnessed the transition of from Shivite seat of Valley to an Islamic majoritarian society. He always worked towards Sufism and uniting in the valley. He lay resting at the Charar-e-Sharief. This was the time when Sufism along with Hinduism was flourishing in the valley which is shown through the folklores of that time.

Once the foreign Persian and Turkish influence was at its peak of influence, The Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh along with Missar Diwan Chand, properly guided by Birbal Dhar and Mian Gulab Singh from the valley launched an attack on the Afgan Governor Jabbar Khan in 1819. This brought the Sikh influence in the folklore culture of storytelling. The story of secular Maharaja Ranjit Singh giving orders regarding equality to all citizen predates today’s any constitutional charters. He was also considered to be Hisab e Afwaj Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Another shining folklore in Kashmiri culture is of Zorawar Singh Kahluria who was a military general of Dogra Rajput Raja Gulab Singh after the Sikh rule.  He served as the governor               (wazir-e-wazarat) of Kishtwar. He with his courage and conviction extended the territories of the kingdom by conquering Ladakh and Baltistan. He also led his Dogra troops in the conquest of Ngari Khorsum (western Tibet) where he attained the highest honor of soldier in the battle of To-yo during the Dogra-Tibetan war. His bravery and boldness is ever remembered in his conquests in the Himalaya Mountains including Ladakh, Tibet, Baltistan and Iskardu as General and Wazir. In folklore, Zorawar Singh has been referred to as the “Napoleon of India” and “Conqueror of Ladakh”. This period of time saw many braves and we’re immortalised in the folklore of the valley.

A century later in today’s Kashmir, there is prevalent folklore which only speaks of Jammu massacare and totally forgetting the horrors of partition which was cruelly unleashed upon the people of Kashmir. With the information paradigm coming to an age efforts are on to weed out any mis-information and calling out all lies, these false folklores will soon vanish from the valley. The heroic act of Budgam Landing and Battle of Shalateng will be passed on from generation to generation as the bravest tales of time. Finally, folklore is in our cultural DNA. It encompasses people’s arts, stories, knowledge and practices. It gives a peek into the past, present and future, and resonates with everyone who is ever got attached with it. Folklore is a fundamental part of being human which not only shapes the congnitive minds of people but also the behavioural traits of humans.

Ideas, Opinions and Views expressed in articles are Writer’s own and may not be in accord with those of SUBAH KASHMIR