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Preserve and Promote Age-Old Values of Kashmiri Hindu Cultural Tradition

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KP Herath Message

SATISAR Foundation greets the Kashmiri Pandit community on the occasion of Maha Shivratri (HERATH), and prays for its prosperity, happiness and cohesiveness. Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna (Phalgun Krishna Chaturdashi). 

Maha Shivratri (HERATH) is the most important festival of the Kashmiri Pandits and is uniquely observed for atleast three weeks.  Each day or group of days has a special name and an associated religious function. HERATH brings with it joy and happiness, family reunion, celebration of the Siva-Sakti and an urge to strive for better life. We pray and celebrate the presence of Siva and Sakti in our midst along with their Ganas in the form of Vatuk. 

In the first week (Hurye-Okdoh to Hurye-Sheyam), houses and surroundings are cleansed and materials for Puja purchased. This is followed in the next few days by devotional prayers and singing of Bhajans/Leelas.  This is followed by Dyara Daeham, when presents are given to the married daughters and newly weds. Bhairavas are worshipped on Gad-e-Kah and Vagur Bah.  Then the day for Siva worship is HERATH Truvah. The following day is the day of feasting with the elders in the household giving Herat Kharach (cash gift) to the members of the family and visiting  relations to exchange greetings, good wishes and Herat Kharach.  On Dooney Mavas, "dooney" (Walnuts) and rice flour cakes (Tomula-Chyot) are distributed as prasad. This would continue till Teeley Ashtami when old Kangri willow used to be burnt to the singing of "Ja-tun-t" marking the end of winter. During the festivities, the family would sit together  and play "Hara" (Sea Shells) and wear their best clothes. There would be great joy all around and a spirit of festivity.

We have an unique and distinct socio-cultural, spiritual and philosophic tradition dating back thousands of years. The community has undergone a number of painful and traumatizing exoduses. We are in the thirteenth year of our forced exodus from the land of our ancestors and our tradition. Even though the recent forced exodus has cut us off from our roots in the valley of Kashmir, it is important for us to continue to bear the torch of our fore-fathers to maintain our identity. HERATH gives us an opportunity to affirm our commitment in ensuring the continuity of the tradition of Kashmiri Pandits which we all hold very dear. Let us take this opportunity to identify ourselves with our roots and energize us in thought, action and  deed. We should all make HERATH an occasion to care and share for the family and the community.

As we had pointed out in the earlier message, we shouldn't allow any slackening of effort towards nurturing and preserving our tradition. We draw sustenance as a community from that very tradition. Although, there is a woeful lack of institutions that could promote and further the cultural ethos of the community, SATISAR Foundation is trying its best to institutionalize these efforts.

Kashmiri Pandits have not let their tradition and culture and their language to wither despite the tyranny and persecution at the hands of Islamic zealots over the last 700 years. With each wave of persecution, tyranny, and religious oppression, we emerged phoenix like, weakened but not out. This strengthened our resolve to protect and promote our religion, culture, spiritual tradition and language. These define us till date, as an unique and distinct community of Kashmiri Pandits. Our endeavour should be to strengthen this and not to let it weaken and slip away. Any weakening of the social cohesion and the cultural tradition would signal the beginning of the end for the community. HERATH is an occasion to remind ourselves, our children of the responsibility we have in ensuring this age old continuity. Kashmiri Pandits being dispersed far and wide, HERATH could serve us a family REUNION to have all in the family celebrate HERATH together and then prepare for the endeavours in the coming year.

The attached VATUK PUJA book signifies this resolve to promote the values of the community and bring home the message for Kashmiri Pandit social cohesion, cultural tradition and also to revive any traditions that might get withered in the pressures of time and space. We also seek blessings of VATUK for the entire community of the Kashmiri Pandits.

Let us all, the Kashmiri Pandits, on this happy and joyous occasion of HERATH join and pray for the well-being and prosperity for our community and pledge our efforts towards strengthening the mission. It is a collective effort and would need each and every individual's help in furthering the message to our friends, to our children, to neighbours and to our coming generations. As usual, we welcome  ideas, your help and your time and seek your blessings.

H.No. 170, Lane No. 3
Priya Darshini Nagar, Talab Tillo
Jammu - 180 002, J&K, INDIA
Tel.  : 532100
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