communal harmony in kashmir

Kashmiriyat is the centuries old indigenous traditions of communal harmony and religious syncretism in the Kashmir valley. Emerging around the 16th century, it is characterised by religious and cultural harmony, patriotism and cultural pride for their mountainous homeland of Kashmir. Kashmiriyat exemplifies the joint Hindu-Muslim culture, festivals, language, cuisine and clothing in the valley. In the spirit of Kashmiriyat festivals of Hinduism and Islam are celebrated by adherents of both faiths.

Encouraging the Hindu-Muslim unity, Kashmiriyat was promoted by Kashmiri sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin, the Kashmiri mystical story Lal Ded (also called Laleswari), in which her body turned into a mound of flowers and was buried by both Hindus and Muslims, serves  as the emblem of Kashmiriyat that keeps it alive today. Another emblem of Kashmiriyat is seen in the mela hosted by Jwala Mukhi Mandir, located in Khrew, Jammu and Kashmir, attended and jointly celebrated with full enthusiasm by both Kashmiri Hindus and Kashmiri Muslims, keeping the Kashmiriyat alive. The origin of Kashmiriyat is as old as the legacy of the Paradise, the disputed region of Kashmir has been important to Hinduism as well as the Budhism, Islam made its roads to the region during the medieval times alongside the expansion of Sikhism in the region. Kashmir has a special mention in the mythologies of all four religions. The Hazratbal Shrine is homed in the Kashmir houses a relic that is believed to the heir of Muhammad, prophet of Islam, along with this Guru Nanak also travelled to Kashmir quite often in his journey seeking the religious enlightenment. Their special contribution in the Kashmiriyat goes to the Kashmiri Sultan Zain Ul Abedin who gave equal protection and patronage to all the religious communities of the Kashmir and served as the emblem of Kashmiriyat to keep the spirit alive.

Kashmir’s existence is characterised by its insular Himalayan geography, harsh winter climate and isolation in economic and political terms. The region has also seen political turmoil and foreign invasions. Kashmiriyat is believed to be an expression of solidarity, resilience and patriotism regardless of religious differences. It is believed to embody an ethos of harmony and a determination of survival of the people and their heritage. To many Kashmiris, Kashmiriyat demands religious and social harmony and brotherhood. It has been strongly influenced by Kashmir Shaivism, Buddhism and Sufism carrying a long-standing conviction that any and every religion will lead to the same divine goal. Kashmiriyat was very much influenced by the philosophies and the traditions set by the Mughal emperor Akbar that set the legacy of the blending of Hindus and Muslims and respected both the sections equally.

Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs celebrate the annual Sufi festival of ours together in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiri Muslim carpet weavers have designed carpets that feature the Hindu deities Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Seeing the high spirit of Kashmiriyat in the local population, it has been deteriorated extremely by the external factors and the political turmoil in the hinterland. The first blot on the Kashmiriyat came during the territory division of Kashmir during the Independence, since then amidst the India-Pakistan tensions there have been enormous attempts to keep the Kashmiriyat alive in the various communities of the region. The Jwala Ji temple located in Khrew, Jammu and Kashmir, hosts the Jwala Mukhi mela every year in the month of July which is attended by both Hindus and Muslims to keep the spirit of Kashmiriyat alive in the hinterland.

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