Martand Ruins
Martand ruins
(Photo courtesy: thekashmir.wordpress)
Shankaracharya Temple atop Gopadari hill
Shankaracharya Temple atop Gopadari hill
(Photo courtesy @internet)

This time, I arrived even much early,
with the hope to embrace you very tightly;
but, yet again, nowhere could you be seen.
Day in and day out, to meet you, I remain so keen.
I am calling you, O Pandit, again and again,
don’t you realise my incessant pain?
The winter has set in, yet again.

How long have I to continue to bear the pain?
I have called you number of times in the past,
your eerie silence continuously makes me aghast,
and, your aging roots continue to seethe in pain;
I have failed to understand – what is the gain?
Thirty long years, we have been living apart,
your journey back home, yet not ready to start?
Seems, I have to bear, eternally, your being so upset.
To welcome you back, do I need to re-assure you,
I will lay my thickest and best ever velvety carpet?

On my very first arrival, this time by me,
spread across, was a thick snowy carpet,
much early, here in anticipation, gladdest,
to warmly welcome you back, in your ancient nest;
but, your absence has put my patience to a cruel test,
Everything you have forgotten, so I genuinely feel;
compelling me to remind you, with yet another appeal.
On the onset of every winter, you would eagerly wait,
for my arrival, with much zest and gait
And on my arrival from the heavens above,
within the warm bonhomie of your cosy homes,
peeping through the doors and,
through the windows – partly open,
or, many a times, from the ‘dub’ of your ‘bub’;
the leisure time you would enjoy,
gazing at my elegant movements in sheer joy,
sonna sheen vollun dhaaray-dhaaray,
maharaaza raaza kumaaray aaw……”

some would merrily sing; and, at times, many
sipping ‘sheeri-chaai’ or even, some hot ‘kehwa’,
in the traditional ‘khos’, or some in a prized ‘kenzi-khos’,
held on the sleeve of your winter ‘pheran’,
prepared in a ‘samawaar’ and served, generally, by a ‘nav-no’sh’,
with a ‘garma-garm’ ‘taeil-woar’, ‘tomlla-tsaot’ or ‘makkaai tsaot’,
or with it, even some enjoying local ‘so’tt’,
with a ‘nara-kaa’ngar’ beneath your ‘pheran’;
The eldest among you, smoking a ‘jajjeer’, through a long ‘nai’,
Infants you would shelter inside your ‘pheran’ 
only the tiny heads peering out, of the babies.

Or, an occasional ‘shalfaa-malfaa’, you had
with your kids, to warm their hands and feet;
holding a ‘kaa’ngar’ beneath, giving required heat,
narrating, singing to them local fables, lullabies.
Every ‘nav-sheen’ you celebrated,
in the company of your kith and kin,
music, dance, well dressed and decorated,
with the choicest of your dishes; and, listen !
a ‘welcome drink’ would not be a sin,
even in the ancient times; just recheck
from the treasure of your ‘Neelmat Puraan’.

Remember ? On my very first arrival,
the new brides you would routinely tease,
forcing them to bring a ‘paschin’- raw or cooked,
from their ‘maaluen’ with much ease.
Children would playfully sing everywhere,
sheena petto-petto, maama itto-itto……”
Even the stray dogs would dance merrily, here and there,
on the roads, in streets or outside your home in a row.
You could be so forgetful and apathetic, baffles me;
when I have not forgotten, how can you ?

Walking, through your orchards, rice fields-spread across Kashyap’s valley;
towns and villages or through ‘Srinagari’ of goddess ‘Sharika’s seat;
through, serpentine and uneven lanes and narrow by-lanes,
with a ‘khraav’, ‘pullhor’, long boot or a ‘duck-back’ shoe –
that would protect your dipping and slipping feet;
elderly, sometimes, supported by wooden canes;
Your daily routine, even though being hurt, once in a while,
because of pervading ‘tulkattur’- exposing my frozen attitude,
would continue with serenity and admirable fortitude.
Your cursing me at times; that often, I would mind,
while finding it difficult to move around,
still, my cool but peaceful white cover on the ground,
over the surrounding houses, trees and the lofty mountains,
lovely winding streams, though in deep sleep,
would make you overlook my hurt and dirt;

No more feeling of being slighted, again, I assure you.
Stray dogs, cows, crows and other perching birds,
religiously you would feed, without a fail;
fresh in my memory, all that is in detail.
In the plains or atop a nearby hillock, temple bells you would ring;
mornings and evenings, ‘ka’shri leelaai’ you would devoutly sing.
As a habit, whether young or old; men or women,
always, busying yourself in the company of holy men,
keeping your household, body and mind – neat and clean;
often, you praised my beauty and the surrounding scene.

Hari Parbat
Hari Parbat, abode of Goddess Sharika  (Photo courtesy : Bimal Raina via WhatsApp)
A frozen water body
A frozen water body                                                                          (Photo courtesy : JKTIMES via net) 

 My periodic arrivals and my stays,
long or short, you enjoyed and cherished too.
I too enjoyed, let me yet again, reveal to you;
your rolling me into a ‘sheena-mohneow’, inserting eyes of black hue;
in streets, inside your ‘waaeri’, or in nearby open fields;
even, the ‘sheena-jung’, you enjoyed with your ‘mohalla’ friends.
vividly, I remember; what has happened to you?

The vacations, children spent in their ‘maataamaal’, 
during the stay of my age-old friends, including the naughty
‘chillai-kallaan’, or ‘chillai-khorrud’ and ‘chillai-buchcha’.
The sheer panic of being caught red handed,
upon the sudden bursting of a stolen egg-
hidden inside the embers of your ‘kaa’ngar’;
or, making and eating of a ‘mallai-kulfi’ on ‘braer-kanee’
of your abode; secretly, away from the caring eyes
of your elders, including, ‘bub’, ‘dyed’ or ‘baed- maej’,
‘faaka’ many of you kept, for the sacred month of ‘maag’;
kaa’ngaer mansaavaen’ on ‘shishar-sa’nkraat’,
under guidance of your family priest, on the day;
And, his visit, as a routine religious duty,
on the eve of ‘gora-trai’ of this month
to your welcoming homes, with a purpose – so holy,
blessing the new brides and youngsters with his
hand-made pictures, like that of ‘Saraswati’,
exhorting them to continue the sacred tradition
of learning in the land of ‘Sharada’ devi.
I just have not forgotten at all, how dare you?

The hustle-bustle of the great ‘hayrath’ festival;
that ‘aalat kada’en’ of freshly baked earthen ‘vatuk’,
upon receiving, from your neighbourhood ‘kraal’,
on any ‘auspicious’ day, following ‘hurri-okdoh’ – for all,
that marked the beginning of community yearly celebrations,
and thorough cleaning, within the days, till ‘hurri-ae’ttham’,
including, the proverbial pin, of your entire household,
despite the prevailing harsh and icy winter cold.

                                “noashen, korryen hund maaluen ya waerriv – yunn ta gatscun;

                                 dal-nadde’r,  doo’en waalyen  ta  gaada-ha’nza’nyen hund challay-jaav’

Those scenes just refuse to leave my mind,
O my dear, when shall I, that activity, again find?
hayrath-pooza’ was incomplete, till some of you, made my use;
I had to be there, even, in the summer month of ‘haar’,
to defeat the evil designs of tyrant Afghan ruler – Jabbar Khan;
To uphold the sanctity of your sublime faith, the popular tease:

                                          “wuchutoan yi jabbar jandha, haaras ti korrun vandha…..”

is an ample proof of my historical claim;
I am just reminding you, to escape a later blame.
Even performing of annual ‘jattae’n-ttae’n’ on ‘teela-aettham’-
the day, concluding the long and joyous festival of hayrath’;
Or, distribution of ‘doo’en’ to ‘hae’nz’ children,
curiously watching on the ‘yaarbal’, weak and thin;
also offering of burning ‘tsa’eng’ to flowing ‘vyeth’-  
the ‘kashmira’- Shiva’s consort, in evening of the day,
floating onward on aeri’- each made of hay.

The aroma surrounding many of your winter festivals, and
rituals like ‘gaada-batta’, ‘khetscri-maavas’, ‘kaaw-punnim’;
Or, shishur’ of a new born child or a ‘na’v-no’sh’; also,
the twenty three day long ‘hayrath’ celebrations,
makes me nostalgically gung-ho.
Such unique festivities, sadly dispersed in exile,
still, you will be observing, I continue to hope,
though, realise I do, once in a while,
how difficult, it must have been, for you to cope.
A mere thought of the special dishes,
as per your family ‘reeth’,  you prepared,
on such occasions, always waters my mouth.
O, Pandit ! Come,
treat me back to that unique aroma and couth.
My ears didn’t hear, even once, incidentally,
ever since, you went out of the valley  :

                                        “hayrath maej aayay,  daari kin tsaayay,

                                         martsca pappar kyaaway, ropyaa, ropyaa dyaavay ………………..…………………”


tthukk-tthukk, kuss chuv….……………………………………”

Neither have I seen anyone playing ‘haar’a’,
such games, like ‘kuend’ or ‘juff chaa taak’,
nor, heard from any one, the Lal-Vaakh,

                                           “aami-panna’ sadra’s naavi chhass lamaan,
                                            katti bozzi dai’y  myoa’n, metti diya taar
                                            aamen taaken pooen zan shramaan,
                                            zuv cchum bramaan, gara gatsch’a haa”

Deprived you have, me of such times, for so long,
O my dear, why exhibit a resentment, so strong.
I hear, some retrograde ‘article’ is finally gone,
that, they say, will pave the way, for a new dawn.
Please no more deprivations, I yet again, pray thee;
you cannot be, eternally, so cruel to me.
Holding back the tears and trying to be brave,
my children – ‘shishar-gha’entt’a’,  much grown now, and
many, many on their way, still hang in desperation,
for the warm kiss of your teeth, continue, as ever, to crave!

The winter has set-in, as usual, once again,
this time too, I made my arrival quite early,
with the hope to embrace you even more tightly.
Sadly, again, nowhere are you to be seen;
thus increasing my yearning more agonizingly,
O, Pandit ! I am reminding you yet again,
don’t you realize my increasing loss and pain?

I pray, let my recapping not go in vain.
Already three decades now, we continue to be apart;
Journey back home to your very own homeland in
– ‘Pannaen Maej-Kasheer’,
still, not yet, ready to start ???
Deprivation and longing are making me insane,
Earnestly, I pray, let my recapping not go in vain,

……………………….. The Snow Is Calling Yet Again!


 Dedicated to all those who have faced genocide; suffered the agony and pain of being in forced exile; whose struggle, across the globe, has kept the fire blazing to reclaim their lost roots.

This is the third edition of the poem, updated to mark 30thanniversary of Kashmiri Pandit Holocaust day – 19 January 2020.

{(First edition  – ‘The Snow Is Calling’ (published : 1999-2000, Daily Excelsior (Jammu) / Vitasta annual no. (Kolkata);

Second  – ‘The Snow Is Calling Once Again’ (published: 2011-12), Spade-A-Spade / }



(of Koshur words (in italics) the mother tongue of Kashmiris)     : 

  1. Pandit  :       A learned person. Hindus from Kashmir are commonly called as Kashmiri Pandits.
  2. dub’    :       A “wooden balcony outside the upper storey of a house”, (usually without widows) – used for  sitting purposes and to oversee the activities below.
  1. bub’             :      The eldest male member, reverentially treated as a father figure, especially in a joint family.
  2. sonna sheen vollun dhaaray-dhaaray,

              maharaaza raaza kumaaray aaw……” 

                                                        The golden snow (has) started falling slowly, slowly;

                                                        (as if) the bridegroom has arrived for (our) the princess.

  1. sheeri-chaai’  :        A variety of Kashmiri tea prepared with particular type of tea leaves, milk, salt, and topped with milk cream after boiling of the contents before being served.
  1. kehwa’                  Popular Kashmiri tea containing eleven ingredients, like almonds, kesar, elaichi, black pepper, cinnamon etc.
  2. khos’               :         A kind of brass cup used to take tea by Kashmir Pandits.
  3. ‘kenzi-khos’  :         ——–– do ——with a vertical support at the bottom for a proper grip while holding in a hand (something like a goblet)
  4. pheran’         :        A common, long & loose cotton or woollen protective garment used by Kashmiris.
  5. samawaar’            A popular utensil used to prepare tea in Kashmir.
  6. ‘nosh’                   :        A bride
  7. garma-garm’  :         Sizzling hot ( direct from the heating source)
  8. ‘taeil-woar’   :         A popular local “crisp / crusted bun with a flourish of sesame seeds” (of maida-atta).
  9. ‘tomlla-tsaot’  :         Bread made of rice flour ( thicker than a chapatti)
  10. ‘makkaai tsaot’ : Bread made of wheat flour (——-do——–)
  11. so’tt’ : :        Flour prepared by hand grinding of roasted rice or wheat.
  12. ‘Naara-kaa’ngar’ :  Kangri – A special kind of small clay pot (holding embers – burning charcoal) covered by local wicker strands used for protection against cold etc….
  1. paschin’       :         A kind of migratory winter bird, now almost extinct; and not available for sale any more .
  2. maaluen’     :          A bride’s parental home
  3. sheena petto-petto, maama itto-itto………”

 O snow, fall, fall; O Maama come, come (arrive quickly) (Eagerly calling the snow and loving Maama (mother’s brother) to come and have fun.)

  1. Kashyap’s       :       Of Kashyap Reshi (one among the Sapt-reshis) the founder of Kashmir.
  2. ‘Sri-nagari’  :       Ancient name of present day Srinagar-the summer capital of UT of Jammu & Kashmir;
  3. khraav’        :       A kind of wooden sandal (1 to 3” thick) used to move around especially in winter or in muddy conditions created by rain or snow.
  4. ‘pullhor’         :       A kind of grass sandal used in villages in earlier times.
  5. duck-back’   :       Popular brand name of ankle-high shoes made of rubber.
  6. ‘tulkattur’      :       Frozen condition of water / snow especially in a sheet form as seen on a water body.
  7. ka’shri leelaai’ :      Kashmiri  Pandits’ religious hymns / Bajans
  8. sheena-mohneow’    :        Snow-man
  9. waa’eri’                :        Big kitchen gardens that almost all Kashmiris have particularly in villages.
  10. sheena-jung’     :        Throwing snow balls on one another as an amusement out of fun
  11. mohalla’              :       Neighbourhood
  12. ‘maataamaal’    :      One’s mother’s paternal home.
  13. ‘chillai-kallaan’, ‘chillai-khorrud’ and ‘chillai-buchcha’  : The three parts of harsh winter – of 40 days ( harshest), 20 days (less harsh) and last one of 10 days (lesser harsh)
  1. ‘mallai-kulfi’   :       Local ice cream.
  2. ‘braer-k’anee’ :       Cat’s attic – The space at top floor of a traditional Kashmiri house, under the roof, without any door or window, used to store surplus household items, like wood, charcoal, grass, etc.
  1. ‘bub’               :      The most reverential fatherly figure of a typical Kashmiri joint family-like a grandfather.
  2. dyed’             :      The most reverential elderly lady of a typical Kashmiri joint family-like a grandmother.
  3. ‘baed- maej’    :       Usually the eldest lady / daughter-in-law of a joint family
  4. ‘faaka’               :      Fast
  5. ‘maag’               :      The winter month of ‘Marg’ as per Hindu calendar (Dec-January).
  6. ‘‘kaa’ngaer mansaavaen’ :  Making an offering of a new Kaa’ngar- Kangri (filled with charcoal to family priest) with some cash.
  7. ‘shishar-sa’nkraat’ :    Makkar Sankraanti
  8. ‘gora-trai’  :       Guru-Tritiya – the day dedicated to goddess of learning-Sharada in Kashmir like Basant Panchmi in rest of India
  9. ‘Saraswati’       :      Another common name of goddess of learning.
  10. aala’t kada’en’ :     A traditional way of welcoming of new things etc for a new beginning especially on an auspicious occasion.
  11. vatuk’           :        Earthen pitcher and other connected items ( also believed to represent Baraatis of Lord Shiva’s marriage entourage) used for Shivratri Pooja.  (Now replaced by similar steel / brass vessels & used year after year).
  12. ‘kraal’         :       A potter
  13. ‘hurri-okdoh’            First day of twenty three day long Shivratri (Hayrath) festival.
  14. ‘hurri-ae’ttham’ :       Eighth day of twenty three day long Shivratri festival
  15. hayrath-pooza’ :       Shivratri Pooja,
  16. “noashen, korryen hund maaluen ya waerriv – yunn ta gatsun;
      dal-nadde’r, doo’en waalyen ta gaada-ha’nza’nyen hund challay-jaav” 

Paying of visits by married Pandit ladies to their maternal homes or returning back to their in-laws (between eighth and twelfth day of Shivratri festival); with gifts including cash. The pomposity of those vendors, selling Nadroos (Kamal-ki-kakdi / Lotus stem/roots extracted especially from Dal lake for its good quality), walnuts and also fisher-women selling fish (all items important part of the celebrations).

  1. ‘haar’                      :     One of the summer months of Hindu calendar (June – July).
  2. Jabbar Khan      :     Governor of an Afghan ruler in Kashmir (19th Century; 1819 AD) who forced the native Hindus, Kashmiri Brahmans, to celebrate Shivratri in the summer month of ‘haar’, instead of winter month of ‘Phagun’ (Feb.-March), as another cruel tactic to force them to abandon their faith, age old customs and rituals.

Lo and behold, the snow did actually fall, this time too, that upheld the deep spiritual beliefs of Kashmiri Pandits and saved the community from abandonment of their particular ‘reeth’; The incident gave birth to the popular tease* condemning the cruel governor of the time. Incidentally, Jabbar Khan proved to be last of the Muslim rulers of the valley with the start of Sikh rule that lasted till Dogras took over the reins in year 1846.

  1. *“wuchutoan yi jabbar jandha, haaras ti korrun vandha…..” : Look at this wretched Jabbar, who converted even ‘haar’ into winter” (due to unusual snowfall in that particular summer month).
  2. ‘jattae’n-ttae’n…’:  Moving of burning wicker-casket of a damaged / broken Kaa’ngar or a wicker-basket (filled with grass), over one’s head in a circular motion till the rope, tied to the burning part, gets severed / or burning of the pot is complete. (This amusing practice of children, most probably, came into existence  following the above incident).
  1. teela-aettham’ :      Ashtami of lunar fortnight of Phagun month, the concluding (last) day of twenty-three (23) day long Shivratri festival.
  2. hayrath’        :       Popular Kashmiri name of Shivratri.
  3. dooen’                  Walnuts ( Doon – singular)
  4. ‘haenz’             :       Boatmen
  5. ‘yaarbal’         :       A river (here it means on bank of a river)
  6. tsa’eng’           :       Earthen diyas  (Tsong- diya – singular)
  7. ‘vyeth’              :       Local name of river Vitasta ( Jehlum) – the incarnation of goddess Uma-lord Shiva’s consort;
  8. ‘kashmira’      :        —- Do —      Also known as Sati  
  9. ‘aeri’                  :       Wisp of dry grass bound in a ring used for supporting,individually, ceremonial round bottomed vessels (used in a religious ceremony like Shivratri etc. and also upon which duly lit earthen diyas are kept.
  10. gaada-batta’   :       Offering of fresh boiled rice topped with fish to Greh Devta of the family, after performing pooja in the eve on any Saturday or Tuesday of Solar fortnight of Posh month of Hindu calendar (usually December).After the pooja the offering used to be kept in the cat’s attic of the house. Very close relations, including son-in-laws invited for the diner.
  11. ‘khetscri-maavas’ : An ancient winter ritual observed on Amavasya of solar fortnight of Phagun month. Fresh khichdi prepared, topped with, generally, a non- veg dish (mutton / fish) mixed with lotus stem, reddish or turnips etc., as per the family reeth (tradition), offered in the eve to local Yakshas, properly on a clean plate or a fresh grass ‘aari’.
  12. ‘‘kaaw-punnim’ :     Offering of fresh khichdi / boiled rise topped with vegetables to crows (kaaw), kept on ‘kaaw-pottul’ (a specially made ‘serving plate’ – made of grass    strands wound around a wooden handle), outside on the boundary wall, in the eve of Maag poorna-mashi, as per Hindu calendar. Believed to be birthday of a crow. A call to the crow on the day 9as recalled by author’s revered Sheela Manvati on the eve of 30th anniversary of KP Holocaust Day :

                                                                “kaaw batta kaavo, khetsray kaavo ,
                                                                gang’a-bala’a shraan’a  karrith,
                                                                gurtay metsay tuekaa karrith,
                                                                walbaa saane navay larray, kan’a darray,
                                                                waray batta khe……”

 73.  ‘shishur’  :     A ritual of tying of an amulet to a new bride or a new born baby in a family, followed by feasting in the company of nears and dears of the family, on any auspicious day of winter month of Posh as per Hindu calendar.
74. ‘na’v-nosh’   ;      New bride.
75. ‘reeth’              :     A particular religious practice observed / or in use since a long period of time in the family (coming down from generation to generation).
76. ‘haar’a’            :      Cowries,
77. ‘kuend’ or ‘juff chaa taak’ :     Type of games especially small children would play, in groups, using cowries; An introduction to ‘mental-maths’.
       Kuend    :       When one particular cowrie would be in a position different from the rest, facing either upward or downward, after being thrown (spread) on    the ground, by rotation, by each participant. In that situation, the thrower wins the game and pockets all the cowries contributed (invested) by all others in the group.                                                      Juff chaa taak  :       Is it odd or even ?  Holding number of cowries within two hands clasped together and shaking them while challenging the opponent to guess how many cowries are hidden within the hands. (Contribution of ‘haar’a’ made in tsaak form – fours or multiples of four ; 1 tsaak, 2 tsaak, 3 tsaak etc…)

78. Lall-Vaakh, (Lal-Vakh)  :     Pithy Kashmiri sayings of Lal Ded – a famous Kashmiri Shaiva-saint-poetess (14 Century). 
79. “hayrath maej aayay, daari kin tsaayay,
          martsca pappar kyaaway,  roapyaa, ropyaa dyaavay, ………………….……………………………….”.          

 Mother Hayrath has come, entered from the window,
(she) will offer (us) pappads to eat., (and)  help (us) receive a rupee each…”
80.thukk-thukk, kuss chuv….”     :         Knock, knock; who is there (at the door)?
81. ‘shishar – gha’entt’a’                   :         Icicles oftenly seen hanging from roofs etc. in winter.
82.Pannaen Maej-Kasheer’           :          Our own mother Kashmir

———————————————  RAMESH  Manvati  —————————————


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