Eid Aye Rasse Rasse Eidgah Was Wai, (Eid has arrived, let us go to Eidgah) was the most prominent song which was sung on the occasion of Eid in Kashmir valley. Today, though it is in the heart of the people of Kashmir, the tradition seems lost in chores and Eid arrangements.
Since when has the song been a hallmark of Eid celebration, a tradition which now seems to be lost? “Song Eid Aye Rasse Rasse Eidgah Was Wai is an old tradition and we have been hearing it for over a century” said Zareef Ahmed Zareef, a renowned poet of Kashmir.
It makes Eidgah an important place as people used to assemble there and celebrate festival which the song suggests.
There have been changes in the ways Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, the two most popular festivals in Kashmir, have been celebrated over the years.
Some 35 years ago, Eid was celebrated much differently than the way it is observed today. Coated in the glaze of simplicity, love and passion for festival, Eid celebrations used to be the occasion of gaiety, where people from diverse backgrounds of life would come together for celebrations. Life was simple, needs were few and a social occasion like Eid offered the much needed release from hard life that Kashmiris were used to.
There were no cameras and no means to record the golden era. Photography on mass scale arrived much later in Valley and there were few artists who could have preserved the era. When camera studios became popular in 1980s, people often used to visit them on Eid and get a picture. Even today people have the Eid pics, photographs printed on old Kodak paper whose colors have been fading with years.
Zareef added “Today’s Eid stands nowhere to the one we used to celebrate when we were young days.”
Hamida, 69-years-old, a woman from Hawal, says, “Eid for me in my youth meant singing and dancing (Kashmiri traditional Rouf), but now the meaning has changed.” In grief-stricken voice she adds “now all such practices have been shunned and my children will remain unaware about it.” The ladies would tap their feet to the famous Kashmiri songs “Aaz che dilas kushhali, Eidhaiye Aye Balyie” (Happiness has come for heart as Eid has come), to perform the traditional Rouf and challenge each other’s dancing skills in a healthy competition that would make the scene captive for the spectators who would stay glued to their places till late night. The practice would continue for a week. Eid Gha was gazed with the performance of Rouf. Where women performed, men did not venture in.
While the women kept themselves busy with cultural performances, the kids were not left behind as they expressed the joy with flying of kites, running through the meadows with their Tick Vavij that would keep them fascinated for the entire day. There were no fire crackers exploded on the Eid as is observed today. “I have never seen crackers exploded in my youth days” said Hamida
“The practice of Rouf can still be seen in the rural areas” said a journalist from Bandipora.
The tantalizing aroma of Kehwa in the morning would awake my senses to the dawn of the Eid says Ghulam Qadir, 74 years old. The traditional delicacies like Bagirkhani, Kandkulcha and Basrak would accompany it. But now globalization and excessive modernization has modified food habit too with most of the traditional food being replaced with that of British and French Bakery.
“ChanChabella, KhandGazri and Nadir Monj were the snacks which children then had. No one prefers to have them as Chocolates and Haldiram’s dal are now more prefered.” said Ghulam Hassan, 71 years old, in a resentful voice.
ChanChabella and KandGazri have disappeared. Mubashir Bashir Khan, who is in late teens, says he has never heard about ChanChabella and KandGazri. That is the story with the youth now. Traditions and customs ring feebly in their ears.
Most of the ingredient of the dishes used in Eid preparations used to be from backyards. Today, neither the ingredients nor the luscious dishes are home-prepared. “We purchase the meals (lunch and dinner) from the restaurant on Eid” said Sana, 36 years old housewife.
Irfan who owns a restaurant in Sanat Nagar corroborated it as he said that he received many orders on the occasion of the Eid.
Ghulam Rasool, who is 75 years old, spoke on dress and Eid. He said that people who were well-off would buy new clothes and wear stitched dresses while most people who could not afford used to wash their clothes to look tidy.
Turbans were visible on the heads of elderly. “My father used to wear turban especially on this occasion” Ghulam Rasool said.
“Our culture has been eroded over the decades due to many factors; Westernization and political reason seems to be most viable” said Salim Farooq, student of Sociology.
The main market in those days was Maharaj Gung and the Residency Road market from where people would do shopping. Over the decades a number of markets have emerged out at every nook of the Kashmir.
The newly married couple was greeted with the Basrak Taqar from the bride’s family. “I still remember when my father got a Basrak Taqar (basket laden with Basraks) decorated with pearls” said Mehbooba 72 years old. Pastries, sweets have taken place of Basrak.
“Eidi was given in limit and after the consultation among the elders so to prevent the kid from getting spoiled. Highest amount of Eidi gifted would be 1 Rupee.
At present no one discusses how much Eidi should be given. “Why should it be discussed” said Akmal Khan, who is 36 years old. “I receive a total of six thousand rupees” said Mubashir Bashir Khan.
Though the festival is alive but it is soulless now. We have travelled a long distance to reach here but midway we have lost the essence of living. It is the high time we introspect, not only on Eid as festival but our lifestyle as well.
Zareef Ahmed Zareef put it,
“Ranun moth maaz,
Kokra, eanz te chamen
Eid zayne kashar awaman
Yada mene mair halfan triv
Kath bozet aye zamen”
To cook meat, chicken, swan and cheese is the meaning of Eid for people, who have forgotten real meaning of life, and when one reminds them they say ignore it.