“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This famous quote by philosopher George Eliot perfectly encapsulates the need to avoid hasty generalizations and stereotyping. In the case of Budgam, a district in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, The recent marriage between a woman from Kishtwar and a man from Budgam, two districts in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, has triggered unwarranted social media backlash.
It is disheartening to witness individuals with limited knowledge insulting the citizens of Budgam, ignoring the district’s rich cultural heritage as a hub of Sufis, saints, and intellectuals. The aim of writing this article is to provide a brief historical background of Budgam while highlighting the need for social harmony, the eradication of social evils, and a deeper understanding of cultural practices such as marrying within relations. Instead of blaming an entire district or society, it is vital to recognize Budgam’s rich legacy, cultural heritage, and breathtaking landscapes.
Historical Background of Budgam: Budgam, nestled in the picturesque Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, carries significant historical significance. Throughout the centuries, it has witnessed the rise and fall of various empires, Budgam district, located in the enchanting Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, carries a storied history and cultural heritage. From ancient times to the present day, it has been a witness to the ebb and flow of various empires, each leaving its imprint on the region’s identity. Budgam has been a hub of Sufis, saints, and intellectuals, fostering an environment of spiritual enlightenment and intellectual pursuits. This rich legacy has shaped the district’s culture, making it a treasure trove of historical and artistic significance.
Budgam stands out for its cultural diversity and the peaceful coexistence of various religious and ethnic communities. The district has been a melting pot of influences, blending Kashmiri, Persian, and Central Asian traditions. This fusion of cultures has given rise to a vibrant tapestry of music, poetry, art, and architecture. Budgam’s residents have embraced diversity, fostering an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, which is essential for the social fabric of any society.
Breathtaking Landscapes: Budgam’s scenic beauty is unparalleled, featuring picturesque landscapes that leave visitors in awe. Nestled among the mighty Himalayas, the district boasts verdant meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and majestic snow-capped peaks. the breathtaking Yusmarg, and the enchanting Doodhpathri, Tosamaidan are just a few examples of the district’s natural wonders. These awe-inspiring landscapes have attracted tourists, artists, and nature enthusiasts from all over the world, contributing to the district’s cultural exchange and economic growth.
The Message of Unity: The incident in Budgam should serve as a catalyst for unity rather than division. Rather than blaming an entire district or society, it is crucial to address social evils collectively. Unity, understanding, and empathy are the building blocks of a harmonious society. Together, we can eradicate prejudices, discrimination, and harmful stereotypes that hinder progress and social cohesion. Instead of resorting to generalizations or insulting an entire district, it is crucial to approach the matter with understanding and an earnest desire to address underlying issues.
Eliminating Social Evils: The incident in Budgam sheds light on the presence of social evils that need urgent attention. Issues such as lack of proper background verification before marriage and forced marriages are deeply concerning and require multifaceted solutions. Educating the community, raising awareness about individual rights, and implementing strong legal mechanisms are essential steps toward combating these social ills. By working together, we can create an environment where everyone can lead a life free from coercion and societal pressures.
Preserving Cultural Heritage: While cultural practices, such as marrying within relations, have their roots in historical context and beliefs, it is crucial to strike a balance between tradition and personal choice. Respecting cultural heritage should not come at the expense of individual freedom and consent. By promoting informed decision-making, we can preserve the essence of cultural practices while ensuring the well-being and happiness of those involved.
Wisdom in Islam and Verified Character: In Islam, there are traditions (Ahadees) that suggest the permissibility of marrying within relations, highlighting the importance of familiarity and shared values in forming strong marital bonds. However, it is important to note that character verification is vital regardless of the cultural practice followed. The failure to verify the woman’s character by more than two dozen grooms in this incident underscores the significance of thorough evaluation and scrutiny to ensure the well-being and happiness of all parties involved.
Combating Prejudice and Discrimination: The incident should not become a platform for promoting prejudice or discrimination. Making sweeping judgments about an entire district or community based on the actions of a few individuals is unjust and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Society must strive for inclusivity and foster understanding among diverse groups.
Rich in tradition: From Sufi saints and poets to writers, scholars, and spiritual leaders, Budgam has been home to remarkable personalities who have left a lasting impact on Kashmiri culture. Additionally, the district boasts natural wonders, historical sites, and agricultural produce that contribute to its unique identity. Below are some of the significant individuals and cultural highlights associated with Budgam District
Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali: Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali, also known as Sheikh-ul-Alam, was a prominent Sufi saint and poet whose teachings and poetry continue to inspire people in Kashmir. He played a crucial role in spreading the message of peace, unity, and spirituality. Sheikh Noor-ud-Din meditated at various places in present-day Budgam district, and his resting place at Chrar-e-Sharief is located here. The village of Nasrullah Pora is named after one of his distinguished disciples, Baba Nasr.
Syed Aali Ali Balkhi Pakherpora Budgam:
Located in Budgam district, approximately 15 kilometers from Yousmarg, Pakherpora holds great significance due to the presence of the revered shrine of Syed Balkhi (RA).
Syed Balkhi (RA) arrived in Kashmir during the early 15th century, and his shrine in Pakharpora has become a place of veneration. Hailing from Balk, Afghanistan, Syed Ali Aali Balkhi (RA) undertook a remarkable journey to Kashmir. He embraced Sheikh Sheikh Noor-u-Din Wali (RA) as his spiritual guide and resided in Kashmir to propagate the teachings of Islam.
Ghulam Nabi Ghowhar: Ghulam Nabi Ghowhar, an accomplished Kashmiri poet and writer, has contributed significantly to the literary world. With more than 60 books to his credit, Ghowhar’s poetry beautifully captures the essence of Kashmir, celebrating its natural beauty and cultural heritage. His works resonate with readers and reflect the ethos of the region.
Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi: Chadoora, a town in Budgam district, is home to the grave of Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi, a prominent Shia theologian. His resting place holds historical and cultural significance and attracts visitors from various regions.
Aga Family of Kashmir: The renowned Aga family of Kashmir traces its roots to Budgam district. The family’s patriarch, Hakeem Syed Hyder, settled in Budgam about 150 years ago, offering spiritual guidance to the people. Aga Syed Mehdi, Hyder’s son, studied religion in Najaf, Iraq, and became a prominent figure in the Shia community. The current spiritual leader of the Shias, Aga Sahab, is a descendant of Aga Syed Mehdi. Budgam’s main market is named after Aga Syed Yusuf Al-Mousavi, a great religious figure from the Aga family.
Kanihama Village and Kani Shawl: Kanihama, a village in Budgam district, was an essential trade center during the Dogra rule. It is famous for being the home of the renowned Kani Shawl, a traditional Kashmiri textile known for its intricate designs and craftsmanship. The village’s association with the Kani Shawl industry adds to Budgam’s cultural significance.
Distinguished Poets and Writers: Budgam district has nurtured several distinguished poets and writers in the Kashmiri language. Samad Mir, a pioneer of spiritual Kashmiri poetry (Sufiana Shairee), Abdul Ahad Azad, a revolutionary poet who chronicled the history of Kashmiri literature, and Ghulam Nabi Dilsoz, a renowned romantic poet, are among the notable literary figures from Budgam.
Cultural and Natural Heritage: Budgam district prides itself on its cultural and natural heritage. The ancient Chinar tree, believed to be around 700 years old, stands tall in Chetturgul Chaadoora. Its massive girth and towering height make it a fascinating natural wonder and a symbol of the district’s history.
Aromatic Rice : Additionally, Budgam is known for the cultivation of Kashmiri Aromatic Rice, specifically the Mushkbudij variety, primarily grown in areas such as Sagam, Panzgam, Soaf Shali in Anantnag district, and the Beerwah belt of Budgam district.
Almonds : budgam is the second largest producer of Almonds in kashmir .Budgam’s almond orchards produce a variety of almond cultivars, including local varieties like Shalimar and Kagzi. Almonds from Budgam are renowned for their taste, texture, and nutritional value. The region’s favorable climatic conditions, including cool temperatures and fertile soil, contribute to the cultivation of excellent quality almonds.
Bhand Pather: Unveiling the Essence of Budgam’s Folk Theatre At the heart of Budgam’s cultural heritage lies Bhand Pather, a traditional form of folk theatre. This captivating art form revolves around the enactment of court intrigues, government exploitation, corruption among religious leaders, social injustices, and the incompetence of officials during times of disasters. It serves as a medium of social commentary, shedding light on pertinent issues plaguing society. The village of Wathora in Budgam district has emerged as the epicenter of Bhand Pather in the valley. Troupes from this region traverse the picturesque landscapes, entertaining audiences with their satirical skits known as Pather, which are performed in every nook and corner of Kashmir.
Ghulam Mohidin Aajiz: A Beacon of Folk Art in Budgam In the realm of folk art, Ghulam Mohidin Aajiz Hailing from the quaint village of Wathora in Budgam district, Mr. Aajiz’s unwavering dedication to preserving and promoting folk art has garnered him widespread recognition. His insightful writings and research on various aspects of folk art have significantly contributed to its preservation and understanding. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, the Ministry of Culture awarded Mr. Aajiz the esteemed Senior Fellowship in 2018. This prestigious accolade is bestowed upon individuals who undertake research-oriented projects in the field of culture, making Mr. Aajiz’s achievements all the more commendable. Various organizations, artists, and enthusiasts are actively involved in organizing cultural events, workshops, and exhibitions to showcase the district’s artistic heritage. The efforts of artist Rayees Wathoori to promote “Bhand Pather” are also appreciated.
Summing up: Budgam District in Jammu and Kashmir has been home to numerous notable personalities and cultural treasures. From spiritual leaders and poets to writers and scholars, the district has contributed significantly to the intellectual and artistic landscape of Kashmir. With its historical sites, traditional industries, and natural wonders, Budgam remains a hub of cultural heritage and continues to inspire generations to come.
Budgam, a district with a rich legacy, cultural heritage, and awe-inspiring landscapes, deserves recognition beyond the surface. The recent incident should not be a reason to blame an entire district or society. Instead, it should serve as a reminder of the urgent need for social harmony, the elimination of social evils, and the promotion of understanding and empathy. By embracing unity, respecting diversity, and appreciating cultural heritage, we can build a future where personal freedom, dignity, and social harmony thrive. As philosopher Friedrich Schiller once said, “United we stand, divided we fall.”
About the Author: Aubaid Ahmad Akhoon is a renowned Motivational Speaker and an Associate Editor of the weekly publication ‘Education Quill.’