AALAV 2015 Kashmiri Cultural Function

News and Events
 AALAV 2015 Kashmiri Cultural Function
Pune, India, January 25 2015
Left to Right: Mr. C.L Pandita, Mr. M.K Sher, Mr. Pawnesh Kachroo, Mr. Rahul Koul, Mr. Ankur Dhar, Mr. Sanjay Misri (Programme Anchor), Mr. Ajay Karnail, Mr. Ashwini Dhar and Mr. Amit Kak
Amit Kak — was 14 years old when his family was forced to leave the state in 1990 and move to Pune. The echo of events that began on January 19, 1990, continue to reverberate in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) even today. Reportedly, 94 per cent of Kashmiri Pandits fled the Valley to settle down in different parts of the country that year. The Maharashtra government opened its arms and came up with reservations in education for the community. As Pune was a rising education hub, several families chose to settle here.

While attempts to return to the Valley turned futile, it also became difficult for the displaced to stay in touch with their culture. However, over 500 Kashmiri Pandits in the city have united under the Kashmiri Pandit Sabha to ensure their culture is not lost. Every year, since the past three years, a cultural programme — Aalav (the call) — is organized to revisit their roots. This year, the event was held at Pimple Saudagar on Sunday.

Singing of Kashmiri rhymes by children, reciting of verses of their saints by elders who also explain the meaning, a quiz on Kashmir — especially for youngsters — folk dance, music and playing of traditional instruments marked the event.

“It was tragic that our community had to shift from Kashmir,” said Prankishor Kaul, who is over 80 years old. A Sahitya Natak Akadami award winner, he came to Pune in 1991. “Right now, all we can do is to keep our culture alive,” Kaul added. He still has a house in Kashmir where he returns every summer, making him one of the lucky few. Many others had to sell off their properties to finance their relocation to different parts of the world.

Some businessmen’s families could afford to keep their properties. Many came from the working class and selling their property was the only way to relocate,” said 47-year-old Sanjay Misri, whose children are born in Pune and have never visited Kashmir. “But just because we shifted doesn’t mean we let our culture or heritage die. Aalav is a bid to safeguard just that. Organized every January, it is not apolitical event but a way for us to come together as a community so that our younger generation can take the culture forward,” he added.

Kak, also the organizer of the event, said, “Aalav means ‘to call someone’ in Kashmiri and with this event, we are calling our next generation and brothers in exile to come together. January 19 also marks 25 years from the day we started moving out of Kashmir in 1990. We are helpless that our next generation has no connection with our hometown but, thanks to our elders, we have the opportunity to present our culture to the kids by reciting verses of Saint Lal Ded, playing traditional instruments like tumbak nar and noot, performing folk dance rouff or chakree, etc. We take the responsibility instead of calling experts from Kashmir as this involvement keeps us close to our heritage. We do face certain issues like nobody here knows to play rabab.”

However, the younger generation has agrowing feeling of distance from this culture. While there is appreciation for the event, being born and brought up in Maharashtra makes them mere spectators.

“Keeping the culture alive is a responsibility of the family more than that of the community,” said Akhilesh Kaul (30), an IT professional. “Youngsters are bound to relate more with the culture of the place they have grown up in.”