By Abid Ahmad Shah
Peace is the foundation of prosperity among the nation-states of the world and harmony forms the basic foundation of that enterprise. Man is the wonderful creation of God with an inherent sense of metaphysical and worldly belongings. The savage societies of the pre-historic times without any order and hierarchy of social organisation subsequently in the long timeframe paved way for the foundations of nation-states and social organisations with a proper moral and a social order.
Although the onslaught of the forces of globalisation after post-modernism have added a new colour to the contours of social dynamics and set in motion a new wave of societal organisations in the world, the case of Kashmir portrays a different tale of ever-evolving, unaltered communal harmony. The only narrative that can ensue an atmosphere of peace and prosperity is that of the peaceful coexistence in the society in order to avert the crisis that makes inroads within a society from time to time.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only northern state of India with a longest tag of amity and brotherhood that has survived the currents of time and remains so in the contemporary times. Kashmir called as the land of rishis, saints, seers and sadhus is known for its communal harmony not only at the local level, but also the world over since times immemorial.
The sort of mysticism that the Sufi and Bhakti movements have lent to the cultural ethos of Kashmir is found nowhere else in the world. The vale of Kashmir is full of various religious faiths who have survived the onslaught of the forces of globalisation with the changing signs of time. Muslims form the majority of the vale, along with the religious people of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, etc.
Over the period of time, a sort of communal harmony has permeated the socio-cultural space of the society creating a congenial atmosphere of communitarian responsibility and social bond among the people of Kashmir surpassing religious lines of thought. This has not only added to the peace horizon of the land, but also created a sense of mutual trust and unified bond among the various communities of the land. In Kashmir, the communal harmony is deep-rooted in the historical narratives.
The ethos of the Kashmir culture has time and again withstood the travails and tribulations of the time despite the currents of odds and challenges through the changing times. On a miniscule scale, there has been disturbance to the communal harmony of the state following the partition of the Sub-continent into India and Pakistan.
The exodus of the Hindus in nineties ascribed to the circumstances was a gory chapter in the chronicles of Jammu and Kashmir history. However, the return of the same has added a new threshold to the scene. The separatist leadership has time and again been vocal for their return as being part and parcel of our composite Kashmiri culture.
However, the time has served as the best healer of the same wounds and paved renewed ways for the cherishment of the communal harmony. The social harmony vindicates the notions of love and affection among different religions and is a blessing in disguise for the times.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir reflects the true plural ethos of the secular India where people of different communities strive for the love and harmony, complementing the lives of each other on a day-to-day basis.
The festivals of one community are celebrated with gaiety and fervour by the other religious community, solidifying the ethos of multiculturalism and pluralism. Kashmir represents the thread of the confluence of communal harmony and brotherhood. The communal harmony of the state is neither instant nor accidental, but is a legacy of the past times till date that has permeated the psyche of the people and created a bond of unity in the socio-cultural milieu of the valley.
The recent installation of a church-bell in a church at Srinagar after a span of 50 years by the Christian community with the support of the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu communities is a reminder of communal harmony that is deep rooted in the cultural milieu of the state.
The annual Hindu pilgrimage of the Amarnath yatra is the biggest and ever-glaring example of the amity where old and young, men and women, etc. are treated hospitably with care and concern by the native Muslims and even carried on their shoulders towards the sacred cave through the difficult terrains and ways enroute to the cave.
In the town of Seer Hamdan, Anantnag, the legal heir of a deceased Hindu Pandit, namely Arzan Nath, is a Muslim man, Nissar Ahmad Wagay. He served the former during ups and downs of life. Arzan Nath was a government employee with no one to look after. Nissar Ahmad served him through the turbulent times and offered heart-touching services, which even a true descendant, could not offer. Nissar used to accompany Arzan Nath through the thick and thin of life. Having personally observed, both of them used to pay the dusk obeisance at the shrine of Hazrat Shahi Hamdan (R.A.). At the time of his death, it was none other than Nissar who performed the last rites of the deceased.
Another Hindu Pandit Shadi Lal in the same town is a hope for the hopeless patients who turn up in large numbers at his Ayurvedic shop. The most important trait of the said person is that he cares and heals the patients of the whole South Kashmir. In other words, he has turned out to be a saviour of the whole community. Come dawn, the people could be seen in large numbers outside his shop. People revere him and hold him in high regard. Recently, after suffering from a physical disease, the final remedy to my ailment surfaced only after I took the herbal medicine of the Pandit ji.
The biggest obstacle and roadblock for the cherishment of the ideal of communal harmony in India is fanaticism and extremism. Since all religions preach the message of peace and harmony, there can be no way to justify the claims of the demeaning and demoralising of whatsoever religious community in a society. The biggest issue of the current and contemporary times is to contain the extremist elements of the society and let the people live in whatsoever capacity they live to carry on the cog in the wheel of life.
Education can be exploited as a powerful tool against these threats in the path of communal harmony. On his return from South Africa, Gandhiji envisioned for a unity among different communities of India and did his best for the realization of the same.
Abid Ahmad Shah holds an M.Sc. (Biochemistry) and B. Ed. from Jamia Millia islamia, New Delhi. Besides he has an M.A. in History. Earlier he worked as project trainee at JNU, New Delhi. He writes for a number of global platforms, apart from being a motivational speaker, career-counselor, and government teacher. Email: email@example.com.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Revisiting the Partition of India”, edited by Kamayani Kumar, University of Delhi, India.