Srinagar: Do you know that a lunch box is called ‘ganj bana’ in the Kashmiri language and do you know what ‘Gurus Mandun’ means? And are you aware that a Kashmiri ‘mahraaz’ (bridegroom) wore a handmade robe on the day of his wedding in the yesteryears?
If you want to know more about the Valley’s forgotten culture and rediscover Kashmir, then do visit the ‘The Gallery’ at the ‘Bait ul Meeras’, Ael Kadal in downtown Srinagar.
Set up under the aegis of the J&K Human Effort for Love and Peace (HELP) Foundation, ‘The Gallery’ was thrown open on Monday and it contains a treasure trove of artifacts related to Kashmiri culture.
‘The Gallery’ to aware younger generation about Kashmir’s culture
HELP Foundation chairperson Nighat Shafi Pandit said ‘The Gallery’ had especially been set up to make aware the younger generation about Kashmir’s rich past.
“Our younger generation is not aware of the Kashmiri culture and heritage. We have set up this heritage and cultural center to make them aware of our past. We are also planning to have talks and invite school children in future so that they get to know about our culture and heritage,” the HELP Foundation chairperson told The Kashmir Monitor.
Artifacts from personal collection of Pandit and Kathwari families
Interestingly, the artifacts put on display are from the personal collection of HELP Foundation chairperson Nighat Shafi Pandit and businessman Mubashir Kathwari. The Kathwari family has been running ‘CORALS – Gems & Jewels’ since 1954 at the Polo View Road and Mubashir happens to be the fourth generation of the famous ‘Kabir Joo and Sons’ jewelers from Zainakadal in the old city.
“We have put on display forgotten artifacts that throw light on our forgotten past. Now, we have lunch boxes and hot cases but there was a time when we ate from ‘bate baan’ and ‘ganj bana’. One can find all these here alongside ‘Gurus Mandun’ besides ‘Parmaan’ used as weights by the businessmen in the yesteryears.
We have also put on display ornaments worn by women in the past. There is a lot more,” Kathwari told The Kashmir Monitor.
‘Tradition accumulated under a single roof’
Art Researcher Wiqar Bashir said ‘The Gallery’ had ‘accumulated different aspects of Kashmiri tradition under a single roof’.
“This gallery is unique as it has accumulated different aspects of Kashmiri tradition under a single roof. It is a must-visit place for anyone who wishes to know about the Kashmiri culture. I was impressed by the collection of traditional robes here.
There is also an interesting collection of the artifacts that belonged to folk theatre group ‘Sadaf Baand’ that entertained people in the yesteryears,” Wiqar told The Kashmir Monitor.
Anyone can share artifacts
The HELP Foundation chairperson said anybody was free to share their collection of artifacts related to Kashmir.
“All are free to share their collection of artifacts. And if someone wants to display for two months only, he or she can do the same as well. Instead of keeping rare artifacts at home, it is better to put them on display so that others can benefit,” she said.