Zamir A. Qadri
A childhood memory still fresh in my mind perhaps was my first initiation into localization of faith in our society. It was one of those morning assembly sessions when all of us were loudly reciting the ‘prayers’ that a large procession of bare-foot men and women carrying earthen pitchers on their heads descended on the road in front of our school. Those were the days when processions were not so common a feature in our landscape. The days of ‘Chalo-s’ and ‘Ruko-s’ were yet to pockmark our almanacs. For us it was, essentially a new experience therefore. The more informed amongst us told the ignorant ones that these men and women had travelled long distances from places like Kangan and Lar barefoot to empty their water pitchers into the pond—Talaav—at the shrine of Makhdoom Sahib. This ritual was meant to invoke his intercession with the God to cause rainfall during those exceptionally dry days. Symbolically, It was a farmer’s fervent plea to the most visible form of divinity within his reach not to let his crops die of thirst and him of hunger.
Cut that to another ten years down the line. As a teenager I had gone to one of the eastern states of India. The climate there was extremely hard and hot. The mercury continuously used to climb the walls of the thermometer like a skilled hiker. The monsoon seemed to have gone in hiding. Everbody – men, animals and plants – were craving for the goblets of divine mercy with parched lips and dried tongues. I was staying at a place which had a sizeable Muslim population. I asked the village elders as to why don’t they arrange a communal prayer called “Nimaz-e-Istisqa’ –The prayer for water—to invoke God’s mercy. Their answer was my another epiphany into internalization of faith. They had a very simple and reasonably plausible reason not to do so. “See, we know we are sinners and our prayers will not be answered”, one of those wise men told. “Therefore, if still we organize the prayers and it does not rain, it will bring a bad name to our religion and the people from other religions would laugh upon us!”
Rains are known to have salubrious effects on soul. In our case they have an intoxicating effect. A fortnight long spell of rains have made our high and mighty swagger, swoon and speak. Speak the truth, that is. First of all it was our municipality that for the first time admitted that the report about Srinagar city being one of the dirties cities was true. The next day they however retracted their statement. But then it was not raining that day. Then it was another scion of our ruling dynasty who made a historical statement about Pakistan being alive and throbbing in the hearts of every Kashmiri across party lines. The chief minister’s statement immediately after was icing on the cake when he announced that the stone pelters were not against his party but against India. This long overdue realization, again, came on a rainy day.
Everybody of us must be aware of Sas-ras. The preparation of communal food at the roadside to ask Allah to stop the rains and not to drown us in the deluge of our sins. I believe we have to make a trade off. Between getting flooded by water and getting inundated by the rare truths our politicians have been uttering lately. If we opt for the latter then Sas-ras ceremonies are to postponed. For some time atleast. Till our politicians get a grasp on telling truth. A long forgotten trait for them, as it is!
Zamir A. Qadri