CULTURE IS THE ART OF LIVINGThe people of Kashmir are commonly known as the Kashmiri and they belong to the Dardic linguistic group. The Kashmiris are mainly people who are said to be immigrates from Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan, and settled in the valley of Kashmir. With lot of reference there are inferences made that these people have a close bearing of the Indo-Aryans on the racial composition. The Kashmiris are highly influenced by the Indo-Aryan religions and languages and have also brought a lot of changes in their way of living. The culture of JAMMU & KASHMIR can be best expressed as comprising the following:
ORIGIN & ETHINICITYA Kashmiri can be compared with an Indo-Greek with their racial impulses and also the racial structure of the Kashmiris.The ethnicity of the Kashmiri culture values can be very clearly witnessed to be influenced by the Dards, Ladakhis and Punjabis and have molded accordingly. The natives of the Kashmir origin or the Kashmiris live in Upper Punjab, Pakistan and Potohar where they make one prominent ethnic group. Though the Kashmiris are widespread in different parts of the country they are mainly concentrated in the Valley of Kashmir, Kishtwar, Bhadarwah, Doda and Ramban tehsils of the Jammu Division. The language of the Kashmiris is to an extent influenced by the Sanskrit language.
CULTUREThe culture of the Kashmiris is based on dance, music, festivals, food habits and literature which predominantly influences the lifestyle of the people. The culture of the Kashmiris is quite varied and rich. The Kashmiris, residents of the snow clad region have an interesting and different pattern of lifestyles for the fact that they have a unique and diverse culture. The Kashmiris having exposed to solidarity during independence have set in a new culture of literature and learning. For a long time in history the valley of Kashmir and the Kashmiris are considered to be detached from the country and also its geographical location paved way for it, for the state is encompassed with alluvial soil, glacial mountains and loft peaks, crystal clear streams, torrents, lofty crags, very broad lakes, pine forest and Chinar groves. But however today the valley of Kashmir is said to be the home of people belonging to various sects and races. The diversity of the state stands steady and highlighted by factors like dance, music, cuisine and festivals. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have a multifaceted, multi religious and multi-ethnic culture distinct to the three areas of the state.
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONSThere is a special ritual dance named Kud which is performed by all age groups of people in praise of Lok Devatas and this folk dance is ususally performed only during the night times and goes on for the whole night. The background music for this dance uses instruments like Narshingha, chhaina, flute, drums, etc. The Kashmiris living in the area of the Jammu valley celebrate the Lohri festival by performing a traditional theatre form and is known as Heren. Most of the weddings of the Kashmiris are accompanied by a dance known as Fumenie and Jagarana which involves singing and dancing of the female folk depicting the feelings of the girl who is going to leave to her in-laws place. The people belonging to the Gujjar and Bakerwal tribal community perform a traditional singing of songs in chorous and is popularly known as Benthe.
COSTUMEThe costume of the Kashmiris is usually a long robe or to be more precise a loose gown which is buttoned near the neck and flows down falling to the ankles. It is only the quality of the fabric which varies according to the season for a heavy fabric is used during winter and light cotton is used during summer. Men can be always seen with a headgear or a turban and this is sign of respect according to the Kashmiris.Pheran is something worn both by men and women with a minute difference. Usually a loose pyjama is worn under the pheran. The women folk adorn themselves with a skull cap surrounded by a fillet of red colour in the case of Muslim and a fillet of white cloth in the case of Pandit women. The women wear a white shawl over their head and shoulders which are to protect them from the sharp Sun and to cover them from any strangers or elders as a matter of respect. But however with latest trend of modernization women are slowly switching on to graceful sari and salwar and men opting for coat and trousers.
ARTS AND CRAFTSThe Kashmiris are known for their handicrafts. The Kashmiri carpets and shawls are famous across the world. Carpets are usually hand knotted and is either made of silk or wool with lots of Persian influence on it bearing floral designs. The namdas or the woollen rugs are designed by colorful chain stitch embroidery which is weaved by wool and cotton fibres.Other handicraft item made by the Kashmiris include basketry, carved wooden furniture made from walnut wood and beaten silver and copper ware. The Kashmiri shawls usually made of cashmere wool or the soft Pashmina wool or the shahtoosh are very expensive and worldwide famous.
Rice is the most common staple food of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. One of their favourite dish is hak or karam sag. All their meals will be accompanied with lot of vegetables .Kashmiri Pulao is very famous worldwide and is a common dish among them. Most of the Kashmiris abstain themselves from intoxicating drinks but one of the most liked traditional drink of the Kashmiris is the green tea with spices and almond known as Kawa. This is consumed at regular intervals especially in winter. Some of the common ingredients of the Kashmiri cooking are spices, curd and condiments. The pundit community of Kashmir never use onion and garlic in their cooking and the Muslims abstain from asafoetida.The Kashmiris have a liking for sweet delicacy known as phirni which is made of sooji, milk and sugar. Amongst Kashmiri beverages, `Kahwah` and `Noon Chai` or `Sheer Chai` (Chai meaning tea) are significant.
The primary occupation followed by the people of Kashmir is agriculture. The major cultivated items by the Kashmiris are Rice, Wheat, Maize, Tobacco, Rape seed, mustard, linseed, toria, cotton seed, pulses, saffron, potatoes, turnips, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflowers, radish, onions, lotus-stalk, brinjal, gourd and bitter gourd, etc. The climatic conditions of this area also helps in cultivation of fruits like apples, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, pomegranates, mulberry, peaches, apricots, walnuts, almonds, etc.Tourism also plays a major role in the occupation of the people. Being dwelled in pictorial locations and great scenic beauty this place attracts a lot of tourists and the Kashmiris make their living by number of business in the popular tourist spots and also provide lodging facilities to the tourists.
FAMOUS PERSONALITIESBasharat Peer -Writer
Dinesh Bharti -Saint
Farooq Abdullah -Cabinet Minister
Kl Saigal -Singer and Actor