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After Actor Playwright PadamshriPushkarBhan(1926 – 2008) popularized word MACHAAMA through his Radio Plays (Comedy), it has come to be a part of Kashmiripsyche. And here is a single word that brings nostalgic smile on every Kashmiri’s face. Most of us are familiar with characters of these MACHAAMA series Radio Plays; I mean Machaama,Kaak, Kaaken,Khadiji(wife of Machama), Sula Gotta,RehmanDadda and many more. Most of us also remember TuvaanBacha,Zingari,Singari, Djinn,Rakh(HugeBird) and some more characters from PushkerBhan’s Radio Play “SindbaadMachaama ”
I vividly remember how food was served to us at 8.30 PM and my mother would finish everything by 9.15 PM. Thereafter everyone in our family kept glued to the Radio in hush hush silence waiting till 9.30 PM when we would hear something like this…
“Yechhu Radio Kashmir Srinagar. RaaetchhaenzSaad’aNuvvBaajeiye. Booziv Drama “SindbaadMachaama “. TehreerPuskerBhanPeishkushPranKishore “
(This is Radio Kashmir Srinagar. It is 9.30 PM now. Tune in to our Drama “SindbaadMachaama” Scripted by PuhkerBhan and produced by Pran Kishore
To be at home at dot drama time, many shopkeepers would close their shops early. Children,elders, ladies and middle aged persons would wait eagerly for the Machaama Radio Drama.
Machama had touched the soul of every Kashmiri who somehow wanted a break from monotony of gossip, scheming and ignorance. Those days, every young boy would be nicknamed as “Tuvaan Bacha”. Girls would be Nicknamed Zingaari and Singaari and many times Police had to be called near Women’s College Maulana Azad Road as Boys from S P College would come to the gate at closing hours and cry;
“HataaiZingaari! HataaiSungari!
In Kashmir,idlers and gossip mongers sitting on shops (during those days) were nicknamed Sulla Gotta and RehmanDadda and idle day dreamers were satirically called as “Machaama Sahib”.
MACAHMA’s character has tragic glimpses of unemployment and ignorance that prevailed in Kashmiri society. MACHAMA always dreams to be adventurous and rich. MACHAMA, a dreamy entrepreneur who desires to fly aircrafts, travel to distant lands, meet different people and try his luck to become rich and well known. And this poor MACHAMA is equally burdened with social / family responsibilities. These responsibilities always trigger a negative momentum in his journey towards realization of his dreams.
Fed up with consumption of cheap green leafy Haak (Collard greens ) in his native land, Machama wants to relish chicken, mutton wazwaan, seekatujji (Mutton Pieces roasted on burning charcoal ), kebabs and pilaf in his dreamy sojourns. And a cigarette is the first thing that he demands during this dream journey.
And then Machama wants to do something so that his name is written in golden pages of history. In his dreams,Machama becomes a pilot, a hero, a leader, a colonizer (Colony for Djinns), a trader, a mechanic, a traveller, a sailor, a singer, anorator and a king maker. He desires to unfold secrets of treasures hidden at untraveled places. After assuming power in dreams,he orders his wife Khadiji to be made a minister of social welfare. I tend to believe that a MACHAMA lies hidden in all of us.
Machama is a surname of Kashmiris. ManyMachama families lived at KaraporaKhushkiRainawari in Srinagar city. KuldeepMachama is my close friend from Machama family of Rainawari and one day his father informed me as under:
“Machama is a Kashmirisurname. You can see Pandit and Muslim Machamas. It means sweetened rice. PushkerBhan made us popular”
In Kashmir we had a renowned saint Ahmed Sahib MachamawhoseZiyarat is located at Hawal near Firdous Cinema or ShribhatKocha. He was a Sufi poet as well, and a great believer of peaceful coexistence. He was Murshid to many Sufi poets of his time including WahaabKhaar and Prakash Ram.
Ahmed sahib Machama is credited with bringing the Sirhindi or Naqashbandhisilsila of Sufiism to Kashmir valley once he returned from Punjab.
In Hebrew Lexicon, Machama’ah means something that is “curd-like”. It also means words of flattery.