In a conflict zone like Kashmir anything and everything that offers peace sells like hot cakes. In last two decades many people made fortunes by selling custom made gemstones promising solace from the worries of life. Bilal Handoo offers glimpses into this age old practice that got boost after guns started roaring in Kashmir.
Three years after completing his post graduation from Kashmir University, Nazir Khan from Srinagar remained jobless. He pitched his good grades everywhere he went, spoke highly about his academic career, and promised to usher change in workplace he applied, but all went in vain. As his unsuccessful chase for jobs prolonged, his parents took him to a saint in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The saint gave Khan a certain gemstone to wear in the form of a ring. And within one year, his fortunes flipped. Much to his ecstasy, his chase for job ended when he got selected for teacher’s post in government school.
After getting a job, he visited the saint. Besides expressing gratitude, he asked him as how gemstone helped him to secure job. “My question made him [saint] smile,” says Khan, a well-built man in his late twenties. “After a while, he replied: ‘Look, when your parents brought you here, I could perceive you were down with disappointment. Then I gave you yellow citrine gemstone to wear which is known as mental healer and also known to strengthen one’s determination.’ ”
This made Khan believe that saint is more of an astrologer than a mystic. But Khan is not alone who witnessed change in his life after wearing gemstone. Parvaiz Mir, 27, a medical representative by profession from Srinagar shares similar experiences.
Five years ago, frequent depression bouts would leave him sour and sombre. The depression started after his father, a militant, was killed in an encounter with government forces in mid-2000.
Then one day, his friend advised him to visit one of the gemstone shops in busy Lambert Lane near Regal Chowk Srinagar.
“A man, who was introduced as an astrologer to me, gave me Malachite, the green and black gemstone. I was told that the gemstone will alleviate my depression and can bring about creativity and knowledge,” says Mir, who soon felt the change. “To tell you honestly, yes I felt the change. I was no longer engrossed in depressive state of mind. My mind got clear from clouding.”
Gemstones are treasured for their beauty, rarity and durability. But according to folklore, they (gemstones) are thought to offer mystic healing to its wearer. Besides, available literature claims that gemstones possess psychic powers, heal migraines, improve relationships and help with grief and depression and anxiety attacks.
However, many rubbish the claims that gemstones possess healing powers. One among them is Mushtaq Ali from north Kashmir’s Sopore town. He says he was first lured by some person towards gemstones and was later duped. “That person told me that wearing a certain gemstone will improve the prospects of my business,” says Ali, making rueful expressions on his face. “But heck, after wasting couple of thousands of rupees on buying lifeless stones, I never felt any change. It is absurd to pin ones hopes on stones.”
In one of the narrow alleys of downtown Srinagar, residence of a saint namely Mohammad Shabaan pours with rush on Sundays. Apart from giving people mystically purified water and clay, he also recommends gemstones for spiritual and personality healing.
People assembled in the jam-packed room of his home have visited him for different purposes. Some want to develop more patience, a deeper sense of calm or greater inner freedom. While others have visited to heal an aching back, chronic illness or improve their memory. Still others might wish to connect more deeply with the nature, with other people, or with themselves.
Mohammad Shabaan, a man sporting long beard, seated near the front wall in the room is asking people: What bothers you in life? What part of your life is most problematic?
“Apart from mystical powers, it is known to everyone that gemstones possess healing powers,” Shabaan told me after crowd thinned in the room. “A therapeutic gemstone is likely to support, improve, or enhance the condition in one’s life. So, I mainly help people to choose a right gemstone for them as per their need.”
Back in the busy Lambert Lane in Srinagar, Fayaz Ahmad (one of the gemstone sellers) is telling a man in his mid-twenties to visit Pulwama. “Once you reach Shadimarg in Pulwama, it will take you 30 minutes to reach Brathipora where anybody will tell you the address of Ghulam Nabi Bhat [astrologer],” Fayaz informs his customer. “He is the one who recommends gemstones for my customers. He is simply the best. Visit him on Sunday.”
The man left the shop, where many gemstone necklaces are hanging on the walls. After a while, Nazir got busy attending a lady customer apparently in her late-thirties.
“Look, last time when I visited your shop I purchase this Lapis Lazuli [gemstone] necklace,” the lady told Nazir who nodded his head. “It really clarified the connection between my mind and heart, you know. Thanks for that. Now I want to place one more order for similar set of necklace.”
You see, says Nazir after lady left his shop, the primary focus of some therapeutic gemstones is physical and emotional healing. “These gems can deeply help heal the physical body, promote the release of toxins or negative energies stored in the organs, and support the immune system,” he claims. “Besides, these gems can foster a sense of peace and happiness, improve emotional balance, and help heal painful and suppressed emotions.”
So next time, if you know that you’ll be entering an insecure environment and want some energetic protection, Nazir says, a solid pink tourmaline cast in ring or in necklace will provide a ready tool. Or in case, you are finding it tough to get your feelings across? Wear a topaz today, as Nazir will tell you that.