In This Part of Kashmir, Hindus, Muslims & Sikhs Live as One
Reminiscing the times when militancy and strife eluded Kashmir, Mohammad Sultan, a resident of Srigufwara in Anantnag district, compares the Valley to a garden, which was once home to a diverse variety of flowers.
Just how a garden has room for different flowers, Kashmir was home to a diversity of people. We had Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims living together.
Though most parts of Kashmir have been ravaged by militancy and strife in the last three decades, the area where Sultan lives has managed to preserve communal harmony.
In the three localities of Seer Hamdan, Srigufwara and Mattan in Anantnag – all located a stone’s throw away from each other – Hindu, Muslims, and Sikhs live as one. A Hindu temple, a Sikh gurdwara and an Islamic masjid have stood close to each other as pillars of communal harmony for many years.
While many Kashmiri Pundits have left this area, a few of them continue living here. We have been living together like a family and are there for each other whenever we face any problems. We have never paid much attention to what religion they belong to.
Manzoor Ahmed, Resident of Seer Hamdan
Ahmed’s emphasis on brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims in the area is echoed by his neighbour Shaadi Lal, who narrates how people in Seer Hamdan, regardless of the community they belong to, visit each others’ houses both in times of happiness and suffering.
“Our Muslims neighbours are really loving and caring… I am very thankful to these people for helping us immensely. We have a lot of respect for them,” he asserts.
At Shaadi Lal’s home, one finds a picture-portrait of a Hindu Goddess hanging alongside that of a Muslim shrine, an indication of how different religions co-exist peacefully in this area.
A Sense of Pride, And a Longing
Meanwhile, Balwinder Singh, a resident of the nearby Mattan, fondly recounts how festivals in their village are an opportunity for people of different faiths to come together.
We help the Muslims when they are celebrating Eid. And when Janmashtami and Shivratri are celebrated, we enthusiastically participate and celebrate these festivals.
Balwinder Singh, a Sikh resident of Mattan
While taking pride in the communal harmony in their villages, these people still long for the times when peace and brotherhood pervaded the entire Kashmir to come back.
We feel the absence of our (Hindu) brothers, who have left the valley and gone to Jammu. All of us used to intermingle with each other. There used to be a spirit of brotherhood. Their absence is something we grieve about.
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.)