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Posted at: Jan 4, 2018, 1:04 AM; last updated: Jan 4, 2018, 1:04 AM (IST)

Kashmiri Pandit activists on mission to revive rituals

Kashmiri Pandit activists on mission to revive rituals
A group of dancers perform at a conference on Shaivism in Jammu. Tribune Photo

Sumit Hakhoo

Tribune News Service

Jammu, January 3

Concerned over the fading away of cultural and religious ceremonies, displaced Kashmiri Pandits are making renewed efforts to revive ancient rituals that are unique to the Hindus of the Valley.

Several social organisations are working together to promote awareness about traditions that originated in Kashmir. They are encouraging families to gift commentaries on “Shaiva Sutras”, “Vighyan Bhirva”, “Tantraloka”, “Rajtaringni” and “Neelmat Purana” on birthdays, marriage and other occasions of celebration.

During a two-day conference on Shaivism in Jammu which witnessed participation from several Shaiva scholars, young couples and families were encouraged to carry forward the rituals being discarded after the exodus of about 3.50 lakh people of the minority community in 1990 from their homeland.

“Several people have volunteered to encourage boys and girls married outside the Kashmiri fold to introduce “Vatuk Puja” and “Pan Dhiyun” in their families so that socio-cultural linkages with society are expanded. Pandits have a unique way of celebrating Mahashivratri and other festivals which needs to be preserved in exile,” said Kuldeep Raina, a prominent social activist.

In the past decade, alarmed over the dying customs which have been greatly influenced by local environs, organisations and political activists are greatly investing in workshops, lectures and presentations on issues confronting the community to create an inter-community bonhomie.

Recently, a scholar of Shaivism, Prof Navjeevan Rastogi, had expressed dismay over vanishing traditions of Kashmiri Hindus due to migration. “Shaiva Sutras and Agamas inspired several mystic traditions in the entire Himalayan region and cultural evolution of Central Asia, Tibet and China. Pandits need to safeguard and preserve their ancient knowledge,” he said.

Apart from Jammu, where the majority of Pandits live, several social groups are active in other cities of India where community members live to bring families together on different occasions.

“It will be highly useful to exchange reference books and links related to unique practices among Hindus who lived in the Valley for thousands of years. It is also important to participate and understand the festivals of people where Pandits are living at the moment,” said Dr Ajay Chrangoo, chairman, Panun Kashmir (PK), an organisation seeking establishment of separate homeland for the community in the Valley.

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