Friday, April 4, 2008

Counting off another year with Navreh by Aastha Manocha(in the Indian Express)

Faridabad, April 4:
Hari Parvat is a name most Kashmiris would be familiar with but what is it doing in the NCR?
Hari Parvat is the famous mountaintop temple dedicated to the presiding deity of the Kashmiri Hindus – Sharika Devi. The exiled community of Kashmiri Hindus, popularly known as Kashmiri Pandits, have built a replica of Hari Parvat in Faridabad where they gather every now and then to give themselves the illusion of being at home. Currently the Pandits are busy decking up their famous Parvat for Navreh, or the Kashmiri New Year.
The Kashmiris follow a different calendar called the Vikrami Samvat, and all of their activities including recording of birthdays are done in accordance with it. Ask any older Kashmiri Pandit their date of birth according to the Gregorian calendar and they will take a while to answer as in their mind they are calculating it according to the Vikrami Samvat.
There is an interesting legend behind the origin of the Hari Parvat it is believed that the goddess Lakshmi assumed the form of a Sharika or ‘mynah’ to kill the demon Jalodbhava. She carried a pebble in her beak and dropped it on the demon under which the demon got buried. It is from this day that human habitation flourished in Kashmir. The pebble is what is called the Hill of Sharika or Hari Parvat in the heart of the Srinagar City. Since then this day is being celebrated as the Kashmiri New Year or Navreh.
So Navreh is, in essence, a celebration of being born, of ringing in the New Year with a story of being born in the Garden of Eden which is unfortunately lost for now.
In 2007, Anupam Kher flew down from Mumbai to celebrate Navreh here. The festival also sees famous Kashmiri artists enthralling the audience. This year it will be Kailash Mehra, also known as ‘Mallika-e-ghazal’.
The festivities continue all night and end with a pooja in the morning to mark the first day of the New Year. As one of them says, ‘it is about celebrating life and cherishing our culture in spite of what we’ve gone through’.
This year’s Navreh is doubly special as it also has the blessings of the Dalai Lama himself. Moved by the plight of the Tibetans and the similarity of their struggle for their homeland to that of the Pandits’, the Dalai Lama had been invited to this year’s celebrations, though his busy schedule made that impossible, he gave his blessings for the occasion.
In present day Kashmir probably Jalodhbhav has reappeared in the form of terrorism and maybe the conscientious observation of this day will bring up another Sharika to slay this unrelenting demon and put an end to the inhumanity.

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