Another fire, another shrine, another enquiry commission and another set of conspiracy theories, nothing seems to have changed. This goes on to prove that we as people and government or Waqf Board as administrators have learned nothing.
We the people in our frenzy to express our love sometimes, ourselves give the kiss of death to the same thing that is very dare to us. At every shrine we ourselves add some new lights, new gadgets etc. without taking into consideration the overall effect of these new additions. Well we can’t blame people wholly and solely for this behavior in the absence of proper system being in place. The administrators of these shrines are themselves responsible for arbitrary additions to the structure, be it the addition of one more building or installation of a new sound system. Thus the Waqf Board and government do not seem to be bothered about ensuring safety and security of these vital structures, through proper planning and implementation. They seem to be just bothered about making sure that the cash flow, in the form of donations, continues without hindrance and with no authority there to ensure their accountability they are making most of it.
The loss of shrines to fire is not the loss of a physical structure only. With every shrine turning to ashes we lose an important phase our history and culture. Every Khanqah or shrine in Kashmir, be it the Khanqah of Tral, shrine of Rishi Manul sahib in Anantnag or the shrine of sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani at Chrar-e-sharief, is marvel in itself and in addition to being the centers of spirituality they are what connects us to our glorious past. These shrines and khanqas are evidence of our rise from the depths of ignorance to the heights of architectural creativity & cultural superiority. Now, with these physical evidences being consumed by fire, one by one, what will be left for our kids to look at and feel proud about their being Kashmiris!
The importance of these physical structures (mosques, shrines & Khanqahs) as the evidence of our golden era, in the absence of any mention in the history books of schools, has become invaluable. These have remained as the only links to our history. When the growing kid with an unending curiosity tries to know about himself and his homeland and finds nothing in history books, he is plunged into identity crises. In his / her quest to know who he is, he approaches other mediums and that is when he tries to find this answer through television or Indian cinema. Then the teens / juveniles / kids try to identify themselves with what they see on T.V or cinema and try to imitate what they see. This has been the reason of inoculation of many alien customs in our culture over time. In earlier days this identity crisis was overcome by the daily evening dose of folklores and tales and to enhance their effect along the way came to aid our unique Kashmiri culture. With school curriculum becoming extremely gruesome, kids are left with very little time to engage in self or surrounding discovery and as far as folklore are concerned they are things of the past. Even the parents are unable to provide quality time and attention to their wards, thus hampering their overall development. A child’s development cannot be complete unless he knows his roots and history. History is not merely a subject to be taught in schools to make young minds aware of a nation’s past or make him remember significant dates or remembering names of people who made history. Rather it is a tool of sowing seeds of patriotism and nationalism; it is a tool of enlightening the young minds and extending the horizons of their vision; it is a tool of expanding the boundaries of their hearts and making the lines drawn on God’s earth by human hands obsolete. But the question that remains to be answered is what seed are we sowing?
In our schools, kids may learn everything about the sub-continental even world history but the only thing that they learn about Kashmiri history is that Kashmir acceded with India. The young curious minds have the right to know about their history, of how Kashmir was almost the only nation whom the earth shaking Mughal army couldn’t conquer; of how we successfully defended against numerous Chinese attacks, only to be conquered when they attacked in winter; of how we overcame the cruel Monarchy rule under which we were treated as less than humans,we were mercilessly massacred (1931) and despite all the odds we triumphed. After knowing their history there is a realistic chance that they will feel proud about themselves, about who they are and not try to imitate the alien customs. But the question that still remains to be answered is, why is our own history hidden from us, after all we are not a nation without history!
Also Appeared in The Kashmir Monitor