Sikh promises ‘Bhangra’ cheer to Turmoiled Kashmir / By Rashmi Talwar/ Daily Kashmir Images

Screenshot wedding open invite

Sikh promises ‘Bhangra’ cheer to Turmoiled Kashmir

Rashmi Talwar

When I think of October in Kashmir, I visualize the skyline awash with Harud or Autumn hues of reds, oranges and golds. In those Almighty’s favourite tints, Chinars dazzles over most other greens, in majesty and sheer beauty of its wavering shades from ochre to buttery yellows fingers, turning gold and finally crimson. To the famed – Aatish- a-Chinar or a Chinar on fire, as Emperor Jahangir famously exclaimed, describing Chinars incredible beauty in Autumn. Few saw the resplendent blooming tulips, the spring’s exotic European flowers, Badamwari’s almond blossoms, this year, while Mughal gardens of Shalimar, Nishat, Harwan, mesmerized just a few locals with its exquisite blooms.

It was deeply saddening for Kashmir especially this year during peak summer season to host just a trickle of tourists. Merely 5% occupancy in hotels, huts, guest houses, homestays and houseboat were reported from Srinagar from last July to this year too. But, come September end and early October, the horizon may cheer for a change, albeit, for just a few days. The menu is Punjabi Bhangraa and not Wazwan – the Kashmiri favourite platter that shall take centre-stage in a Kashmiri wedding.

It was delightful to read Jatinder Pal Singh’s wedding invitation on social networking site Facebook, on an otherwise languid Sunday, that managed to refresh the brightness of the holiday –It stated –“An OPEN INVITATION for my wedding scheduled for on October 1, 2017 for all known or unknown Facebook friends.”
JP- A Kashmiri Sikh, software engineer, from Tral Kashmir, settled in Gurgaon, has 3932 strong friend-list with 581 followers and the invite went not only to them but as a public profile open to any and every one. JP is a promoter with a start-up- easywaylabs.com- a website ‘making things convenient’ for laboratory tests as also a coordinator for United Sikhs- a Charitable International NGO, that’s on the forefront during disasters. JP did commendable work during Kashmir floods in 2014, collecting a sum of more than Rs 4 lakhs singlehandedly, before the NGO collaborated to push nearly half a Crore, in aid to flood-hit. Hence his popularity is high in the region.

Incidentally, militancy in Kashmir and JP Singh were born the same year. Moreover, the venue of the wedding is Tral- a place ignominiously highlighted as the region of Burhan Wani,- Hizbul Mujjahidin commander, killed on 8th July 2016. Killing of Wani spiralled militancy to an all-time high, last seen in 1990, reminiscent of the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. JP’s house is merely 8 Kms from Burhan Wani’s house in the next village.

Moreover, JP’s dad Kanwal Nain Singh and Wani’s father Muzaffar Ahmed Wani were colleagues till last year when JP’s father was Vice Principal in the village’s Higher Secondary School and senior Wani was the Principal.

In trouble torn Kashmir, Sikhs – a minuscule minority, (less than one percent) amongst the dominant Muslim populace of the state, has a high concentration of the community, in Tral region. On JP’s friend list is a medley of faiths- Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims (Sunnis and Shias), Kashmiri (Muslim and Pandits) and Buddhists. The invitation has drawn 540 likes and 323 comments.

JP who defines himself as – ‘I am Not a player, I’m the Game’ surely knows how to play one- “The idea is to bring people who want to visit or love Kashmir, on an all paid stay, much like a destination wedding . But contrary to downsizing of guest lists, JP is ready to host as many as those who can traverse and dare to come for this ‘cultural -adventure’. Lately, tourists of most hues are mortally fearful of visiting Kashmir, affected by adverse reports in popular media. Given the time of the invitation, in coming days his friend list invitees could swell in numbers.

He has referred to Dharam-Gund in Tral as his ‘beautiful picturesque village’, and announced the happy occasion to be a “Kashmiri Sikh and Punjabi” wedding- a four-day event, of ‘Band Baja Barat’ starting on September 28th.
Allaying fears, he wrote on his Timeline- “If you know-me/have-met-me or NOT, it hardly matters. Please confirm your availability; I and my whole family would be more than happy to host you. Lodging, Boarding and your safety will be our responsibility” Ready to put on display the famed Punjabi-Kashmiri Hospitality, he sweetly urges –“I am telling you, do not miss this. It would be worth it!”

And underlines the convenience for his Baraatis,- wedding guests, outlining the location of the venue and nearest exit and entry points by air, road and travel modes – “ Our Village Dharam-Gund is 46Km’s from Srinagar International Airport and 20Kms from Awantipora (National highway connecting Jammu and Srinagar). If you want, we can pick you from Srinagar Airport or from Awantipora -If you are coming by road”.

With a tongue in cheek emoticon he adds as a Post script.–“PS: This LADIES SANGEET function is 10% of Ladies Sangeet and 90% of BHANGRAA!

The Kashmiri –Sikh wedding rituals are quaint and different from Punjabi Sikh weddings, JP says. The celebration will commence with Gandiaan – a Kashmir Sikh ritual where celebrations formally begins with groom’s family going to the bride’s house to present her precious jewellery , in return the bride’s family presents a Gold Karra – Sikh faith symbol of Bracelet, to the groom, followed by merriment with wedding songs. Sangeet amongst Punjabis isn’t as innocent as it sounds and actually means boisterous Bhangra and dances by both genders.

Another ceremony is of hand impressions on the wall of the house, after dipping them in coloured water- Chapaa. Followed by Mitti Khodna – digging soil near a village Gurdwara, putting walnuts in it and inserting a pinch of the ‘divine’ soil in Mehandi – Henna to be sent to the bride The muh-boli- bhen or the groom’s adopted sister, commences the ceremonies, along with ritual of – Pani Bharna– when water is brought in a Gaagar- earthen pot, from a village Nag or spring and mixed in haldi ubtan – the turmeric mixture with curds, applied to the groom in a pre-wedding ceremony, believed to render a glow to the skin.

The grand finale on October 1, would be the wedding day for morning Baraat – groom party’s arrival at the bride’s house and Anand Karaj pheras – Sikh wedding circumambulation with recitation of holy scriptures and hymns, around the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib, at Aluchabagh Gurdwara of Srinagar, near the bride’s house. “Other than the jewellery that both sides gift to the bride, we don’t accept or give dowry,” JP adds with pride.

“Along with me, as one unknown-never-met baraati, how many had confirmed their attendance”, I ask. “At least 20 unknown people have messaged me, wishing to come for the wedding. They are confirmations from Kashmir, Ladakh, Jammu and Delhi and now I have four from Amritsar including you,” he laughs
“Accommodation and security?” “People in our village hold us in respect. My uncle Rajinder Singh Rajan, is an award winning Punjabi writer of book ‘Taja Bawri’ -about a Kashmiri girl gone insane due to turmoil. He won the national award for his book in 2015 and was felicitated in June last year by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Since few in our family were intellectually gifted, Kavishris- poetry symposiums, were often held in our home, which villagers attended. Today every villager has opened his home to host guests for my wedding.” And added –“A nearby police station has assured us all security for guests.”

Did both sets of parents agree? Both me and my fiancée Vipeen Kaur, a dentist in Noida are from Tral, her family is now based in Srinagar. We could have had the safest wedding in Delhi, but I insisted that I want to marry the girl I love, in the place we both love. The families are more than happy with this decision.

I tried to contact Vipeen Kaur, JP’s fiancee and sent her a message but did not receive a reply.

Since liquor is a typical of Punjabi weddings, would you serve?”- “Mum is the word!” he responds.

The responses to his timeline post have been welcoming, appreciative, longing, assessing and touching. Nidhi calls the invitation a cool idea. JP’s adopted sister Komal Jb Singh is gleefully petulant as her name has not been added in the invite. Shabangi Mushtaq, a Kashmiri based in Zimbabwe, calls him open hearted and broadminded for writing this beautiful post cutting across the barriers of religion, class and caste and promises to try to attend. Akhilesh Khurana comments,- ‘The invite made us part of the celebrations virtually’. Rauf Tramboo, a Kashmiri, adventure travel consultant, called it a chivalrous invitation and confirmed his presence to perform the bhangra after a long time. However a distraught Adventure tour operator Bashir Damna pointed out ‘Till date no visitor or tourist was harmed in valley and locals are good hosts and helpful. Some Indian media men are spreading false rumours about Kashmiris and that is why our brother (JP) has said ‘prime responsibility’ (read security).

Arjimand Hussain Talib termed it the most beautiful invitation that he had ever come across. Raja Farooq teased –“Good to know Rangeela JP is going to marry. Free invitation another of his innovative styles.”

What warmed the cockles of the heart was a desire expressed from across the border by Umar Javid, a resident of Mirpur in Pak Occupied Kashmir –‘Congratulations, I wish I could participate’, to which JP answered ‘Please try to come, it would not be that tough and let me know if you need any documented invitation from India that can help you with the visa. We would love to host you’ To his friend Sudhir S Parihar who Congratulated him, JP Singh responded- “Agar tu na aaya teray chittar peen ge…” that sums up the quintessential Punjabi Ishtyle of
friendship, I have no translations to offer.

Rashmi Talwar is an Amritsar based Independent Writer, can be emailed at: rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com
00—00

AN OPEN INVITATION!

I am getting MARRIED on 1st, October, 2017. 🙂
Wedding is planned at a beautiful picturesque village in Kashmir and will be a mixture of kashmiri-Sikh and Punjabi rituals/traditions.
It would be a 4 day event {28-Sep(GANDIAAN-A kashmiri Sikh marriage Ritual and ladies Sangeet), 29-Sep(CHAPPA-A kashmiri Sikh marriage Ritual and ladies Sangeet), 30-Sep(Lunch + Mahendi) and 1st-october (Baraat to Srinagar City)}.
It is an open invitation to everyone. Please ping me if you want to attend. If you know-me/have-met-me or NOT, it hardly matters. Please confirm your availability; I and my whole family would be more than happy to host you.
Lodging, Boarding and your safety will be our responsibility. 🙂
PS: I am telling you, do not miss this. It would be worth it. Our Village Dharam-Gund is 46km’s away from Srinagar International Airport and 20kms from Awantipora(National highway connecting Jammu and Srinagar). If you want we can pick you from Srinagar Airport or from Awantipora(If you are coming by road).
PSS: This LADIES SANGEET function is 10% of Ladies Sangeet and 90% of BHANGRAA! 😜 🍻

Advertisements

33 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Junaid Qureshi on October 25, 2017 at 5:50 PM

    Congratulations to the couple and to you for writing a great piece.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Posted by Mir Mukhtar Ahmad on October 25, 2017 at 5:52 PM

    Nice piece

    Like

    Reply

  3. Posted by Rauf Tramboo on October 25, 2017 at 5:53 PM

    It was a pleasure to read your marvellous write up on JP’s wedding.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Posted by Aarif Khateeb on October 25, 2017 at 5:54 PM

    Nice Write up

    Like

    Reply

  5. Posted by Ravinder Kaul on October 25, 2017 at 5:55 PM

    After such a seductive write up, who wouldn’t want to go…Chalo Tral…

    Like

    Reply

  6. Posted by Sadaf Munshi on October 25, 2017 at 5:56 PM

    Really a wonderful story, Rashmi. Thanks for writing and sharing. All the best to J P for a terrific wedding.

    Like

    Reply

  7. Posted by Ashima Kaul on October 25, 2017 at 5:56 PM

    Wow

    Like

    Reply

  8. Posted by Kamal Uppal on October 25, 2017 at 5:57 PM

    Good write up!
    Amazing JP 👏 👏
    Wishing him all the best. As big as his heart ❤️

    Like

    Reply

  9. Posted by Anu Bhrany on October 25, 2017 at 5:58 PM

    May God bless this lovely Jodi 💐 💐 💐 💐

    Like

    Reply

  10. Posted by Karamdeep Singh on October 25, 2017 at 5:59 PM

    Thats wonderful. One write for me too. 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  11. Posted by Dave Kumar on October 25, 2017 at 5:59 PM

    Rashmi you’re a fabulous writer. Congratulations. May God bless the couple and a very happy wedded life.

    Like

    Reply

  12. Posted by Minnie Mahendru on October 25, 2017 at 6:00 PM

    Beautiful write up…God bless thm

    Like

    Reply

  13. Posted by Vee Kay Sharma on October 25, 2017 at 6:00 PM

    Marvellous narrative of a marriage in Punjabi-Kashmiri ishtyael.
    Rashmi you Erie wonderful language splashed with anecdotes.
    Now see who else can write”Chhitar paneege is your classic narrative which in fact happens as Punjabis are used to such lingua franca.

    Like

    Reply

  14. Posted by Muhammad Yusuf on October 25, 2017 at 6:01 PM

    connecting India !!!

    Like

    Reply

  15. Posted by Bharat Bushan Bhat on October 25, 2017 at 6:02 PM

    Tremendous Dear Rashmi . really impressed

    Like

    Reply

  16. This Kashmiri Sikh wedding comes uniquely alive in Rashmi’s inimitable style. And has her own style stamped on every word. Transports you to the Valley and to Tral. And how beautifully!

    Like

    Reply

  17. Posted by Sangeeta Arora Seth on October 25, 2017 at 8:53 PM

    Beautiful write up….its made the invitation more exciting…that man must b having a great heart and a stronger mind to express this idea…kudos 👍

    Like

    Reply

  18. Posted by Umesh Sharma on October 25, 2017 at 8:54 PM

    Wow …such things strengthen my belief that someday humanity would prevail over barbarism practiced & opposed by Few
    Like

    Like

    Reply

  19. Posted by Vikram Ahuja on October 25, 2017 at 8:55 PM

    Beautiful write up… 😊 👌

    Like

    Reply

  20. Posted by Ezabir Ali on October 25, 2017 at 8:55 PM

    Beautiful write up Rashmi Talwar . All the best to JP for his wedding 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  21. Posted by Amar Singh on October 25, 2017 at 8:56 PM

    Ready to rock

    Like

    Reply

  22. Posted by Autar Mota on October 25, 2017 at 8:57 PM

    Saw the open invitation. This write up is superb.

    Like

    Reply

  23. Posted by Ruchi Kumar on October 25, 2017 at 9:11 PM

    Hi,

    Hope this finds you well.

    I am an Indian journalist from Bombay based in Kabul. I came across your story and find it extremely heartening and beautiful. I would love to follow it up for the publications I write for, and would very much appreciate if you could connect me to Mr JP Singh.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Like

    Reply

    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on October 25, 2017 at 9:12 PM

      Thank You Dear Ruchi, for your warmest invitation.

      Its hard to get a visa to Afghanistan without a sponsor and purpose of visit.

      Once my friend in Afghanistan sent me an invite for a Media workshop cum seminar, but a travel agent botched up my case.
      Since then I have had no opportunity. Someday maybe if destiny calls, I shall come.

      Meantime Take care it was a sweet short Interaction with you.
      If you ever come to Amritsar, I reciprocate a warm offer of hospitality to you .
      I have connected you with Mr JP Singh on FB.. I think you can carry forward from thereon.

      Like

      Reply

  24. Posted by Ruchi Kumar on October 25, 2017 at 9:11 PM

    Thank you, Rashmi! You can find me on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/ruchi.k

    And you’re more than welcome to visit us in Kabul — It’s a beautiful, vibrant city, full of life and colours! We would be happy to host you 🙂

    I’m a freelance journalist, and this story is very likely for a publication called The National which is a UAE based newspaper.

    Thanks

    Like

    Reply

  25. Posted by JP Singh on October 25, 2017 at 9:20 PM

    SIKH, Promises ‘Bhangra’ cheer to turmoiled Kashmir! ❤️
    Just a small effort to encourage people to visit Kashmir!
    Just a small effort to bring people little closer to nature and green mountains of beautiful Kashmir valley!
    Just a small effort to bring back smiles on faces of citizens of turmoiled Kashmir!
    Thanks Rashmi Talwar for this beautiful write-up.
    Thank you so much “Daily Kashmir Images” for publishing this! 😊
    http://dailykashmirimages.com/…/a-wedding-and-open-invitati…
    http://epaper.dailykashmirimages.com/692017/newsdetails.asp…

    Like

    Reply

  26. Posted by Amrit Pal Singh Bali on October 25, 2017 at 9:23 PM

    Jeevanjyot veer you were asking JP that has he booked any pre-wedding shoot…see bhai he has changed the tradition now pre-wedding news instead of shoots …. God bless u JP Singh !

    Like

    Reply

  27. Posted by Rashmi Talwar on October 25, 2017 at 9:24 PM

    I hope your large-heartedness and feelings to bring people to Kashmir is responded in a shower of blessings ! JP Singh and Vipeen ..Almighty bless and pray all goes wonderfully !

    Like

    Reply

  28. Posted by Muhammad Yusuf on October 25, 2017 at 9:25 PM

    Ah Rashmi ji wish i could join and play Bhangra. Gidh has to be added. Your Kashmir connection is like a power connection that goes smooth and calm. But no one dares to touch the wire. Thanks for uniting us. My Greetings to the beautiful couple.

    Like

    Reply

  29. Posted by Drcm Seth on October 25, 2017 at 9:26 PM

    Another positive face of Kashmir. When most of the Kashmiris are fleeing Kashmir and settling either in Jammu or outside, here is one Kashmiri Sikh who like a typical Punjabi is attached to his roots and desires to preserve his cultural heritage by celebrating marriage in his motherland and not outside. My congratulations to such brave hearts.

    Like

    Reply

  30. Posted by Bashir Damna on October 25, 2017 at 9:29 PM

    Talk of the town.this goes all viral.the presence of so many guests will creat law and order problem and authorities r thinking to impose restrictions in valley to thwart this gala event

    Like

    Reply

    • Posted by Drcm Seth on October 25, 2017 at 9:29 PM

      I don’t think it will create any Law and Order problem. JP has invited everybody including militants. For two or three days militants can enjoy marriage party and after that they can start their routine activities.

      Like

      Reply

  31. Posted by Vicraant Kela on October 25, 2017 at 9:31 PM

    Congratulations and Wish you a Very Happy Married Life. Your initiative to invite people will definitely be a step in solving the Kashmir issue and make Kashmir a great tourist destination. Not only that, it will promote peace between India and Pakistan. I wish I could come but I’m in the USA so I can’t. I would definitely like to see the pictures and videos of your wedding.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Bashir Damna Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: