Thursday, 8 March 2018

The influential women of Kashmir.

Today is 8th march, the international women's day. The internet is abuzz with the celebrations. Everywhere you will find women influencers' who changed the world around them. In this post I'm am remembering but a few of our amazing women who rule the hearts. Without them the world we live in wouldn’t be same. Today is the day when we should feel proud to be women because we are incredibly strong, intelligent and beautiful. Spread love, support each other and always be yourself.
In today's article I bring you the amazing women who changed the world around them. The most prominent figures in the history of Kashmir, who will always be remembered and whose contributions to the society will always be celebrated.

1.       Lalleswari aka Lal Ded.

She was born in 1320 in Pandrethan, Srinagar. She belonged to a pandith family and is associated with the mystic poetry in Kashmir, as its creator. Her poems and couplets are sung and promoted even today. Her poems are amazing treasure of Kashmiri literature as they are the earliest composition in Kashmiri language(koshur). The poems say a lot about the history of this land and her spiritual journey.

Beautiful painting by Kayehaan

When Lal-ded was 12 years old, her parents married her off. She later left the wedlock on pertext of unhappy marriage and went to become Sanyasan(renunciation).

Her poetry has been translated widely, including English translations by Jane Hirshfield in Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women(1994), Coleman Barks in Naked Song: Lalla (1992), and K.C.I.E. Sir George Grierson in Lalla-Vakyani or The Wise Sayings of Lal-Ded, A Mystic Poetess of Ancient Kashmir (1920).

Her most common phrases and verses are used even today. One among such is “hael maertan, Hakar maertan, lali lalewat tchali ne zahn” (no matter what cuisines are cooked, I will be served the same stone in my food). (Back story: Her in laws mistreated her so much that they would serve her rice and underneath it they would place a stone to make it look much in quantity, when it never was sufficient)
It is well known that the famous Muslim saint Sheikh Noor-din-Wali or Nund Reshi was also influenced by Lal-ded.

2.       Habbah Khatoon

She is considered as the nightingale of Kashmir and is popularly known as zooni or zoon(lit. Moon). She was born in 1554 in Athwajan and is considered as one of the greatest poets of Kashmir. Even after 400 years of her death, her songs and ballads are sung in the valley and liked by one and all. (she is my personal favourite).

Painting by Barooja

Her parents married her off to a peasant lad in the neighborhood who was horribly abusive. The marriage ended with a divorce. After few years, the king of the valley- Yusuf Shah Chak, heard her singing in the forest while strolling there and instantly fell in love with her. They married and were living a happy life but this happiness was short-lived as her husband was held captive by by Mughal emperor Akbar, he was subsequently taken away to Bengal in 1579 to never return. She became an ascetic and died in 1609.

Most of her songs indulge in remembrance of separation and sorrow of her husbands disappearance.
Her poems are in Kashmiri language too.

3.       Parveena Ahangar.

The iron lady of Kashmir. An epitome of strength and a source of inspiration. She is the one who formed the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in 1995. On August 1990 her 16 year old son was picked up from his home by the Indian troopers never to return. The disappearance of her son triggered her inner strength. She searched every nook and corner of the valley but couldn’t find her son. Realizing that she was not alone in this battle, in 1994, she founded APDP where the victims of this injustice gather not only to fight together but also to comfort each other.

Artwork by Rollie Mukharjee

According to APDP at least 10000 men are missing due to forced disappearances. She has represented APDP’s cause at Philippines in 2000, Thailand in 2003, Indonesia in 2005, Chang Mai in 2006, Geneva in 2008, Cambodia in 2009 and London in 2014. Her efforts attained a global recognition on July 10, 2005, when she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

She was nominated by the prestigious Indian media Channel CNN IBN for a coveted award which she rejected on account of the deceit approach adopted by Indian media over the pain and tragedies of Kashmiris.

She is also the recipient of Rafto prize for her continuous efforts in campaigning for human rights.

4.       Asiya Andrabi.

She is presently the only strong woman separatist leader and the founder of Dukhtaran-e-millat(daughters of nation) group. This Islamic group is part of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference in the Kashmir valley. The main aim of the organisation is to work for separation of Kashmir from India. Asiya Andrabi remains one of the most important women separatists in the valley.

Digital painting by Suhail Naqshbandi

Asiya Andrabi was married to Dr. Qasim Faktoo (a founding member of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the biggest militant organization in Kashmir) in 1990. Her husband is in jail since 1992. By then, Asiya was already a household name as the head of Kashmir's biggest network of women jihadists (as she describes her lieutenants of Dukhtaran-e-Millat), Asiya Andrabi plays a crucial role in politics of Kashmir valley.

5.       Raj begum.

Born 27 march 1927, Raj Begum is the melody queen of Kashmir. She is the leading 20th century Kashmiri singer. She was recognized with the Padma Shri award in 2002. She died in 2016, aged 89.

Artwork by Faheem Hussain

There are many more women who have influenced our society in many ways. I have compiled brief details about some of them.
Mention the one who has inspired you.