By M J Aslam
Proverbs succinctly express the idea behind them. They convey an idea of truth or wisdom or advice for the benefit of the people & over a long period of time, or from times immemorial, they become a commonplace in spoken language of any cultural community. Kashmiri culture is rich in proverbial history. As in any part of the world, Kashmiri proverbs have been preserved over centuries in oral-tradition. Kashmir language is the medium through which it has been transmitted from generation to generation. There are a number of proverbs in Kashmiri language that have come down from ancient times to the present times by oral-story-telling & also by spoken-Kashmiri-language in daily conversations of Kashmirian life. Kashmiri proverbs are also documented which must have been adapted from oral-traditions.
The source or background of many proverbs is anonymous or difficult to trace but there are many Kashmiri proverbs that have a background. The background of some of the Kashmiri idioms is usually funny. It is that funny background of those proverbs that escalates interest of the people to know more about it. I will share here a very famous Kashmir proverb: “Yi Ra’sas Suet Wasi Ti Gow Halal” [tr: what came out with the soup is lawful] a Pir once said to his wife is an old Kashmiri saying. There is a different form of this proverb in Kashmiri language which is ” Kansi Ma Raveh Mez Gab” [ tr: Who has lost ewe-lamb] , a Pir cried in a feeble voice at his home-door.
Knowing literal meaning of these two proverbs which are actually interconnected is not sufficient to satisfy the quest to know about its background.
In olden days, there lived a Pir in Kashmir. One day, an ewe-lamb of his neighbour wandered inside the compound of his home. When Pir saw the ewe-lamb, he said to his wife” “Look, the ewe-lamb has once again trespassed inside our home. What to do with it? No problem. Bring the book [of Shariah], I will look into it & see what is to be done with the ewe-lamb.” He looked into the book & exclaimed in jubilation: “I have found the solution in the book which requires me to cry out three times from my home for the lost thing” . The Pir went to his door, stood there & shouted three times but in a feeble voice: “Kansi Ma Raveh Mez Gab” [ tr: Who has lost ewe-lamb] As his shout was shallow, deliberately so , no one in the locality heard it. He went inside his home & told his wife there was no owner of the ewe-lamb & as such it was lawful to slaughter & eat it. As he was conscious inside his head that he had played a mischief, he told his wife to cook & serve the ewe-lamb in separate pots, so that ordinary pots of the household do not get defiled . The meat, he still was doubtful, was not lawful to eat. But, when the mutton was cooked and ready for serving-up, he ordered his wife to tip the pot a little and let out some of the cooked soup, (Kashmiri: Arkhashsaan) but to be very careful lest her hand should touch it ; for, said he, ” there is no sin in drinking the broth (Rass), but we must not eat, or even touch, the flesh.” However, while his wife was tilting the pot, her hand shook and some mutton pieces (botiyan/phalih) escaped with the broth. ” Never mind, never mind, Pirbhaii” said the pir, with ill-disguised pleasure, ” Yi Ra’sas Suet Wasi Ti Gow Halal [what has come out with the soup is also legal]…….
Kashmiri literature is full of PirKathas (Such amusing stories of Pirs)…
Moral: Twisting, moulding, halal n haram things according to the personal benefits n situations by Kashmiri Pirs is well established in Kashmirian folklore n oral tradition.