Unveiled: The History Behind The Famous ‘Monde Kath’ In Kashmir

Umran Hussain

You may have come across people calling each other by various Nick names in Kashmir, though with love, some of the Nick names carry the weirdest of meanings and some of them are more gentler than we think.

Calling people by half names and Nick names is a part of the beautiful culture of Kashmir, but researching and getting to the roots of their origin is what most people like.

We tried to dig the etymology of the word “Monde Kath,” a popular Nick name used to describe a delinquent young boy who usually doesn’t care about things happening around him, doesn’t listen to what elders advise him to do and hardly cares about him and people in the surrounding.

We surprisingly found a quite different meaning to it and its history unveiled some beautiful story behind it. Read on.

In the census of 1921 it was revealed that among Pandith community of Kashmir 22% females were widows and the proportion of females to males was 821 to 1000. Even some young girls and virgins had been widowed.

This  startling survey stirred some conscious Kashmiri Pandits and Pandith Welfare Trust founded by a few youngsters started its struggle against the practice of not remarrying Pandit widows. Chander Joo, Harihar and SN Peshion turned the tables and voluntarily married widows.

Memorundums, pressing for widow remarriage, rushed to  then ‘Maharaja’. Maharaja in-turn forwarded the issue to Tehsildars of various districts and according to various historical accounts, the Tehsildar of Srinagar, Rug Nath Matoo, responded and invited Pandits of all ideas to present their views.

However, all didn’t go smoothly as expected. Sanathan Dharam group represented by Amar Nath Kak, their most capable and ardent speaker, vehemently opposed it, calling the remarriage of Pandit widows amongst an intrusion in traditions and ‘Shastras’.

A Second meeting was held at Ragu Nath Mander, Srinagar soon and in this meeting Brahmans from whole valley had gathered along with their religious books, dressed in red, yellow and crimson ‘Pherans’ and white turbans.

They turned the tables upon these youngsters, nick naming them ‘MONDU KATH’ (Widow boys).

Amar Nath Kak is said to have out numbered the liberal young Pandits through Sanatan Dharam rhetoric. Kak got the regulation adopted denouncing the memorundums submitted to Maharaja.

For months together it became difficult for the Welfare members to walk openly on roads. But it was only after the political atmosphere in Kashmir was heatened by more and more Muslim voices coming up and demanding their rights that the voices from liberal Hindus too started being recognised.

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