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Culturally yours

If you preserve a butterfly, preserve a Kashmiri too, says the Kashmiri Samaj of Hyderabad


A DEVOTIONAL atmosphere flooded the Rail Nilayam auditorium Sunday evening where Rajender Kachroo and Shevanti Sanyal lent their mellifluous voice for a musical evening organised by Kashmiri Samaj of Hyderabad (KSH).

The rendition was imbued with devotional bhakti sangeet - uplifting in character and content, and reminded one of the fertile culture and rich ethnicity of the Kashmiris. It was the first time KSH, an otherwise low profile organisation, went public with their cultural activities. Says the KSH president, Surrendera Nath Kak, "Culturally, we are an extremely rich community, who have distinct food and dress habits, customs, rituals and traditions."

Someone rightly pointed out, - - If you preserve a butterfly, you should preserve a Kashmiri, too.

As the ugly head of terrorism raised its head, Kashmiris were forced to leave their homeland and settle elsewhere.

The late Eighties saw a few families coming out to the plains of Hyderabad in search of livelihood, a few of them had already been living in the city for quite some time. But wherever Kashmiris went, it was the valley that beckoned them and fanned the desire to go back to the hills once the situation showed signs of improvement.

"There has always been a feeling of `rootlessness' in us, and though we were accepted wherever we went, the feeling of alienation never left us," Kak adds. The sexagenarian KSH president continues, "Take my case, for example, I have been living in Hyderabad for the last 30 years but bought a house only recently as I have always wanted to go back to Kashmir post-retirement. Now it appears quite a pipe dream."

Emphasising the need to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Kashmiris, he adds, "We are looking for assistance from the government in terms of a community hall, where the 150 Kashmiri families in Hyderabad - who have accepted the city as their home now - can observe their social and religious functions centrally so that our grandsons and granddaughters (who have never been to the valley) can become culturally aware of our rich and diverse ethnicity and unique identity."

"Otherwise, a whole race will be swept off from the face of the earth and we will be held responsible," rues KSH senior vice-president, Sunil Saraf. "We are a 100 per cent literate community, and are chiefly a service-class. A little assistance from the government will go a long way to allow a healthy cultural exchange between Hyderabadis and Kashmiris," adds KSH convenor, Sameer Durani.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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