SRINAGAR, June 14: The latticed windows of Sangarmal complex in Srinagar these days are providing a unique opportunity to sneak-peek into the simple but resilient past of Kashmir.
Khraw, Kasab, Khoos, Mazan, Pulhour, Tathul, Wukhul and many other things are on display at a unique exhibition at the newly opened shopping mall showcasing the Kashmir that was some 1000 years ago.
For a young Kashmiri, the 10-day exhibition would make him realize the resilience and survival instinct of his often-damned forefathers despite their remoteness from the industrial revolution of the west.
And for those veterans who crave to revisit their childhood woven around the laborious past of peasantry Kashmir, the experience is no less mesmerizing.
“In the blind race towards modernity we lost our originality,” says 70-year-old Ateeqa Bano, the brain child behind the initiative named ‘Meeras Mahal’ meaning Heritage Palace.
“The motive is to revisit that originality to sensitize our younger generation,” stresses Bano, who was born in Sopore in a literary family and retired as director libraries and research.
The collection took 10 years for Bano and her like minded friends to collect-piece by piece.
“Since childhood I was into the hobby of collecting traditional artifacts. As our simple life sharply turned towards anything alien, I set out to preserve our past. You can say that it was love for my nation,” Bano states.
And the result was a huge collection of household goods, clothes, jewellery, foot-ware and literature of ancient Kashmir.
“We would collect anything we could lay our hands on this side of Jawahar Tunnel. Many times it was a door to door research,” she says.
A group of women college students on visit to the exhibition seem amazed after seeing a 100-year-old Mujkrund (vegetable mincer) made of wood.
And in the corner, an engineer is trying to figure out the working of a sophisticated 120-year-old wooden Gagar Chal (mouse trap).
On the wall is hanging a sword of a Sufi saint, besides which are numerous Patijzs (mats woven out of dry paddy grass). What is amazing is the design of Pulhour, a foot-ware made of twisted paddy grass.
“Our homes were designed by us. We would resist the vagaries of weather or the health ailments by our own indigenous interventions. But now there are no Kashmiri tastes in our lives,” Bano says
“We have lost our identity,” she laments as she puts on display a hand written 800-year-old holy book of Quran.