Sunday October 21, 2018

Life beyond guns: Kashmiri women’s eternal love for Atta-Hor, Kana-Door, Jumaka, Deji-Hor

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By Sunil Koul

The valley of Kashmir in addition to its natural and beautiful munificence has been narrated abundantly by its poets and singers finding its place as a happy amalgamation of various attitudes, ways of life and culture. The assimilative propensities of the land and the people have evolved towards a unique philosophy of life in which the ever-rejuvenating sterling rudiments of every faith have not only found their due place but also prominence. Kashmir is not only known as a ‘Paradise on Earth’ but also a heaven of human values taken as a distinction recognised throughout the globe despite practising different faiths and values. The essence of Kashmir is defined by its rich culture and its warm people.  It is equally known for the magnificent ornaments and dresses worn by its people. Ornaments in the valley are not worn for their intrinsic value and beauty alone but for religious reasons as well. The beautiful golden ornament worn by married Kashmiri Pandit women known as Dej-Hor is an important example.

Ornaments

Ornaments in Kashmir are generally made of gold but sometimes precious stones like Opals, Carbuncles, Sapphires, Turquoises and Agates are also studded in the formation and design to enhance the appeal. Though most of these gemstones are brought from outside the region, Emeralds, Sapphires, Agates and Amethyst are indigenous and found within the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Kashmiri lapidaries are very skilful in their trade and need to be praised for the delicacy and details of their workmanship. The enchanting beauty of Kashmir finds expression in all its arts and crafts. The design on the ornaments are distinct and easily distinguishable from other parts of world.  Nature finds its place in the design of this miniature art form. Almonds, Chinar leaves and birds like Myna and Bulbul are prominent.

he goldsmith in Kashmir loves his work and works deep into the night to make the item a thing of beauty. Interestingly, the shape and form of most of the ornaments worn by Pandit and Muslim ladies are similar to a great extent. Some of the principal ornaments worn by Kashmiri women are given below:-

 Jiggni and Tikka are worn on forehead and generally are triangular, semi-circular and circular in shape. These are made of gold and silver and are fringed with hanging pearls and gold leaves.

The ornaments of ear namely Atta-HorKana-DoorJumakaDeji-Hor and Kana Vaji are studded with turquoise with a fringe of hanging gold leaves and balls. Kana-Vaji is also an ornament of ear studded with stones of different colours with a fringe of small pearls and Jumaka that is a ball shaped ear-ring.

As mentioned earlier, Deji-Hor is an indispensable ornament for married Kashmiri Pandit women who wear it all the time as a mark of wedlock also known as ‘Suhag’. Atta-Hor hangs over the ear of the Kashmiri Pandit married women on either side of the head and is connected by a golden chain running over the head. Kana-Door, another ornament of the ear is worn mostly by the young girls. These ornaments are made of gold and silver and are studded with red and green stones or pearls.

Heritage Kashmir Dresses

The traditional dress of Kashmir is renowned for its embroidery and intricate designs that reflect the rich of the culture and landscape of the region. The attire in Kashmir found similarities with that of Arabia, Persia and Turkistan. It is believed to have been introduced by Saiyed Ali Hamdani in the reign of Sultan Sikandar. The Kashmiri Pandits of the Kashmir Valley too had adopted it. The lower portion of the body was covered with wide trousers called Shalwaar of Persian origin while the upper portion had a shirt called Kamiz with full sleeves. Over this was a short vest coat which was called Sadri. The outer robe was called Chogha and descended to the ankles. It had long loose sleeves and round the waist was a girdle. The head-dress consisted of a small close-fitting cap covered with a cloth. This formed the turban. On festive occasions, silk was worn. Such a dress sense was prevalent among the rich and the wealthier sections of the society.

The dress for the poorer sections has not changed since the medieval times. Men put on a Skull-cap over their shaven heads and did not wear turbans. They cover their bodies with a long loose large-sleeved woollen garment called Pheran, open from neck to the waist and falling down to the ankles with a belt round the waist. The footwear consisted of shoes made of grass called Pulharoo. Some wore sandles made of wood called Khraw. The dress of women was almost the same as that of a man except that they had a fillet on their forehead and above it was a mantilla which fell from the head over the shoulders. The head dress of the Kashmiri women was calledKasaba. The Kashmir Pandit women too used Kasaba but they called it Taranga which was tied to the hanging bonnet, falling to the heels from behind.

Dresses in contemporary times

 The dress in Kashmir has presently changed altogether. Like many other cultures and societies, Kashmir too has adopted the modern western ways of living. In spite of this intrusion, the Pheran is still worn by all sections of the people especially in winters to get rid of the chill and hostile weather conditions in region. A Kashmiri usually feels delighted and always extracts pleasure by wearing the Pheran made up of a thick woollen fabric for winter and another one made up of cotton for the summer. This dress has now become popular among the non-residents as well. The Pheran is gaining immense popularity among the visiting tourists that usually buy this dress that has been seen finding its place even in many recent bollywood movies of our film industry.

A Kashmiri feels proud to associate himself with the unique legacy and identity of his land. Even the majority of the Kashmiri Pandits now putting up outside Kashmir in the other parts of the country have not forgotten to use their traditional dress. Most of them still wear the beautiful Kashmiri ornaments. One needs to keep the fact in mind that the cultural identities and the traditional values hardly die down. This stands true for one and all.

(Sunil Koul is a Media & Communications Officer, PIB Jammu)

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India’s #MeToo Movement Makes The Most Glamorous Industry Its Subject Of Scrutiny

While India has been under the spotlight for sexual violence against women, sexual harassment at the workplace has seldom been under scrutiny.

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#MeToo, women, sexual harassment
Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta presents a creation by designer Sanjeet Anand at the Bangalore Fashion Week in Bangalore, India. VOA

India is in the midst of its #MeToo moment as leading figures from the country’s entertainment and media industries face a volley of accusations of sexual misconduct from growing numbers of women.

The firestorm has had a powerful impact. In recent days two leading editors have stepped down, a Bollywood production house has been shuttered, India’s top comedy troupe faces an uncertain future and a popular author has apologized.

#MeToo
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar (front) arrives in Venezuela’s Caribbean island of Margarita for the 17th Non-Aligned Summit in Venezuela. VOA

The allegations have also touched the government. India’s junior foreign minister, M.J. Akbar, is among those named by several women journalists for alleged misconduct during his previous tenure as a leading journalist and editor. He has not yet responded to the allegations and foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, did not comment either.

The trigger for India’s #MeToo campaign came from Bollywood actress Tanushree Datta who last month filed a police complaint in a 10-year-old case alleging that a leading actor, Nana Patekar, behaved inappropriately during a film shoot. He has denied the accusations and sent her a legal notice.

Soon after, a female comedian, Mahima Kukreja, accused a former member of comedy group All India Bakchod, Utsav Chakraborty, of sending her lewd messages and photos. Following similar accusations by other women, Chakraborty apologized on Twitter saying, “It’s a little too late, but I am sorry.”

The two allegations appeared to have touched a nerve among many women in media. During the past few days, there has been an outpouring on social media from scores of women journalists sharing their experiences of inappropriate behavior, ranging from suggestive messages to unsolicited advances with #MeToo.

#MeToo
Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. VOA

The Network of Women in Media group called it a “watershed moment for all of us in journalism,” and said it encouraged more women to “document their accounts without fear or inhibitions.”

In the glitzy Bollywood industry, producer and writer Vinta Nanda, accused actor Alok Nath of sexually abusing her almost 20 years ago on a Facebook post. Nath has told a news agency, “It must have happened, but someone else would have done it.”

Nanda told reporters the movement taking place is “very encouraging, very enabling and this is the reason why I have brought it up.”

Lawyer Vrinda Grover who has helped draft India’s laws on sexual abuse and harassment, said that enabled by technology and social media, women had spoken out because in a new environment, “They will not be immediately blamed as in the past.” On the other hand, it is bringing consequences for harassers.

A high profile movie company, Phantom Films, was dissolved after HuffPost India published an investigation alleging that one of the founders, Vikas Bahl, had assaulted a female employee after a party in 2015. The other partners apologized for mishandling her complaint.

#MeToo
Queen” star Kangana Ranaut hasn’t been far behind in calling out Bahl,

A popular author, Chetan Bhagat, issued an apology after a woman uploaded a screen shot of a text in which the married writer said he wanted to “woo” her.

The editor of a leading newspaper, Times of India, K.R. Sreenivas, has been sent on leave pending an investigation after several women accused him of making sexual propositions. The political editor of another popular daily, the Hindustan Times, Prashant Jha, stepped down after a former colleague accused him of harassing her.

Amid a global movement to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct, Indian women have picked up courage, said journalist Rituparna Chatterjee. “The floodgates to women’s anger have been opened.”

Some women said they were inspired by the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, the university researcher in the United States, who accused, without evidence, U.S. supreme court judge nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. He is now a Supreme Court justice.

#MeToo
The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

This is not the first time when efforts have been made to bring the #MeToo movement to India, but in the past it has quickly faded away. Last year for example, a crowd-sourced list of academics accused of harassment got little attention.

Also Read: Nana Patekar Denies Accusations of Sexual Harrassment

But lawyer Vrinda Grover calls the ongoing spontaneous campaign a “significant moment” in the effort to address workplace harassment. But she points out that the women who have spoken out largely represent the educated, urban elite and says it will be much harder for those working on shop floors, on construction sites and as household maids to bring attention to their stories.

While India has been under the spotlight for sexual violence against women, sexual harassment at the workplace has seldom been under scrutiny. (VOA)

One response to “India’s #MeToo Movement Makes The Most Glamorous Industry Its Subject Of Scrutiny”

  1. Although this exposure applies only to the famous men, it surely will open eyes of less successful men involved in this kind on action. But just like men many women employees are also lazy/useless/inefficient etc. So punishing those women employees could be tricky for bosses because they can claim punishment for their refusal for bosses’ advances.