Let’s embark on a pictorial journey of exemplary instances of interfaith relations in the Kashmir valley.
At the time when media reports suggest strained interfaith relations across country, Kashmir is standing in contrast by witnessing some of the exemplary instances of communal harmony. Kashmir is a Muslim majority region with Hindu, Sikh and Christian minorities but living in harmony.
However, the region had remained troubled with ongoing conflict which has little impact on interfaith relations. In the early ’90s, Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) were forced by the turmoil to leave the Valley, seek shelter in neighbouring Jammu region. However, some of the Hindus who didn’t leave are living happily with the Muslim brethren.
Ghulam Nabi Sheikh a Muslim local of village bijbehara says that at the time when Hindu neighbours left for Jammu, they handed over keys of nearby temple to him and asked to care the religious place. Keeping their faith and word, Sheikh keeps on visiting the temple, takes care of its cleaning especially on festive occasions. “I take care of this temple for last four decades. I do clean the temple and Hindus keep on visiting to pray.”
He adds that, “After me, my children are going to take its charge.” Like most the Muslims, Sheikh wishes that Hindus should return and live happily in Kashmir.
In Zainapora village of South Kashmir, some Hindu families who have stayed back live merrily with their Muslim neighbours. The Muslim community help them in their troubled times and share happiness as well. These neighbours helped Hindus to perform the last Rituals of a Hindu man from Tickoo family.
“Around 400 people from Muslim community assembled and helped in cutting the firewood to perform the last Rituals of Tickoo family. We were all there as their own relatives couldn’t come because of coronavirus. We took care of everything which we believe is our duty,” said Nisar Ahmad from Zainpora village.
“It’s the love of the Muslim communities that I didn’t leave and they truly loved me like a father. I am living happily for the past 40 years with them and I am thankful what they did in performing the last rituals of my father” said Amit Kumar Tickoo.
In another instance, a Hindu community member namely Shadi Lal Tickoo, in village Seer Hamdan of Anantnag district practices as an Ayurvedic practitioner where people from whole valley throng for their health-related issues. People say that they get relief from different kinds of ailments. “I have been coming here for many years now. His father was associated with it and I feel he had spiritual powers as well,” a visiting Muslim lady said.
Tickoo says that many people come to him from across Kashmir and his ancestors have been associated with this profession. He believes that serving people is what gives him happiness. “Hindus and Muslims have been living together happily even Muslims have helped in performing the last rituals of my father when he died in the early ’90s.”
He added that, “We are safe here and I have never faced any kind of trouble even when there was militancy on peak in the region. I appeal Hindus who have left Valley in early 90’s to return and live in peace”.
Lets look at some more instances of interfaith harmony.
Dil-Paziir (Urdu; meaning ‘heart-pleasing’) is a special edition positive news series brought to you by Digpu, sourced from conflict areas, starting from Kashmir. Our local journalists have successfully shared many inspirational stories from the valley – from the invention of E-Charkha, automatic ventilator in Kashmir, stories of brotherhood through to the first-ever cricket tourney for Blind sportsmen, all the stories make us awe-struck. These are NOT FOR REPRODUCTION.