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"These are Pashmina shawls like I have never seen them before, and I have seen a lot. The embroidery is much defined, and I can only imagine how long it must have taken to get them done—a sure sign of quality if I've ever seen one."-GH, Virginia.
Pashmina is a kind of exquisite cashmere wool that is obtained from the Changthangi goat's downy undercoat. Pashm in Persian means "wool." Nowadays, a pashmina can refer to the material or variation of the Kashmir shawl produced thereon. Kashmiri and pashmina generics are from the same animal, but generic Kashmiri has a diameter of 12 to 21 microns, while pashmina refers solely to fibres of 12 to 16 microns. Pashmina shawls are Kashmir's unique craft. Other countries have tried to copy this art unsuccessfully. The shawls are weaved by weavers who have been in this trade for centuries and have acquired this art from their forefathers. They make patterns with flower borders, chinar leaves, and paisley inspired by lakes, dawn, and sunset, mainly from memory. Some types of Hand Embroideries done on Pashmina shawls are sozni, papier-mache, and aari.
Pashmina is a kind of exquisite cashmere wool that is obtained from the Changthangi goat's downy undercoat. | Wikimedia
In Mughal times, Pashmina Shawl was regarded as a status and nobility symbol. In 1526, Babur (1483–1530) established the Mughal Empire in India and introduced the practice that members of his durbar bear khi'lat (or "robes of honour," often made of rich cloth) as a sign of high status, extraordinary achievement, or imperial favour. After Babar, his grandson Akbar kept a pair of pashmina shawls as an essential piece of his khi'lat ceremony. The rulers of Iran, Safavid, Zand, and Qadar, also used pashmina and gave Kashmiri shawls as khi'lat in political and religious ceremonies from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century.
Blankets from pashmina were also essential components to a rich female dowry in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Although men wore shawls during the eighteenth century, Kashmiri shawls became labelled as women's privileges. They got the position of heirlooms, which a girl uses at her wedding and which women inherit instead of buying. Every spring, pashmina goats shed their winter coat. One goat loses 80–170 grams of fibre. The goats' undercoat usually sheds in the spring then regrows in the winter. Unlike other fine wools, this undercoat is not recovered by trimming. The Changpa is a traditional producer of pashmina wool in Ladakh. The Changpa herd sheep for meat, and pashmina goats for fibre.
The pure pashmina cannot withstand the high strain; it has a gauzy, open weave. | Mahyah Binti Idris
Kashmir imports raw pashmina from combing and spinning through weaving and finishing, skilled artisans traditionally do all stages by hand. The main center of pashmina fabric manufacturing is in Srinagar's old district. A traditional pashmina stole (70x200cm) takes about 180 hours to complete.
Pashminas are recognized for their warmth and smoothness. They range in size from "scarf" to "wrap" or "stole" to a full-sized shawl. The pure pashmina cannot withstand the high strain; it has a gauzy, open weave. Demand for pashmina shawls, termed as shahmina in Kashmir, soared in the mid-1990s, exceeding supply. When these shawls were famous during the era, they were promoted poorly. Unbeknownst to the true definition of pashmina, consumer markets have reinterpreted it as a shawl/wrap with cashmere and cashmere/silk. The term "pashmina" describes shawls made of synthetic fibres such as viscose, sold as "genuine viscose pashmina."
Pashminas are recognized for their warmth and smoothness. | Mahyah Binti Idris
The price of an original Pashmina, depending on the craftsmanship, might range between 100 and thousands of rupees. The chemicals used during the process may change the garment's texture in the long term while dry cleaning the pashminas. Thus it would maintain the quality of clothing for a longer time by washing it in warm water with a gentle shampoo and drying it without twisting. Today fashion lovers see it in their collection as necessary apparel.
A song the Changpa recite as they comb the pashmina wool from their goats:
For the grass that you have just eaten, oh goat,
Give us some good pashm.
For the water that you have just drunk, oh goat,
Give us some good pashm.
Sit down on the grass and be still, oh goat,
So that we can take out your pashm.
Keywords: Pashmina, shawl, kashmir, mughal, handicraft, wool, scarf
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.