Sunday, November 27, 2022
Jammu and Kashmir

The People


According to historians, the ancestors of Kashmiris are early immigrants from India proper. With the spread of Buddhism, many scholars came to Kashmir from far-off lands for research and study. This resulted in the emergence of Buddhism. The contact of Kashmiris with the Roman, Greek and Persian civilizations and the interaction, made for a happy blending of cultures. Most of the people claim their descent from the Indo-Aryan stock. Actually, Kashmir is inhabited by diverse and different races, distinct in their looks, dress, food habits, customs, speech and traditions.

The Kashmiris made remarkable contributions to story-telling, mystical poetry, the Shaiva philosophy, grammar and the sciences. Folk-songs and dances as well as the various arts and crafts, for which Kashmir is world famous, bear eloquent testimony to the artistic and cultural genius of the people of Kashmir.

Most of the people in the valley are fair-complexioned, with light brown hair, blue or grey eyes, chiseled features and fine physique. There are also people with a whitish complexion, black almond eyes and black hair. Kashmiris tend to be superstitious.

The Kashmiris, on the whole are non-aggressive and temperate in nature and very God-fearing. They have been regarded as non-martial in character.

They can be singled out as extremely warm, friendly, and hospitable. The Kashmiri Pandits life and habits are simple and frugal, he tends to be individualistic and largely intellectual. Traditionally, he avoids doing manual labour and has clung to professional and administrative jobs. In bygone days, he used to be reluctant to go away from his homeland but now he has changed completely. Kashmiri Muslims on the other hand, is generally more active, energetic and dynamic. He is an unrivalled craftsman, deftly producing time-honoured designs - intricate and beautiful - on papier-mache, wood, silver and gold and embroiders and weaves the most exquisite shawls, carpets and rugs. He is an excellent cultivator, rears sheep and cattle and is self-employed in cottage industries. He is also a shrewd businessman.


Ninety percent of the population in the valley profess Islam of both Sunni and Shia sects. The rest are Kashmiri pandits. There are some Sikhs. The Kashmiri pandits do not have castes like Hindus in the rest of India.


Rice is the staple food of the Kashmiris and meat cooked in delicious varieties, goes with it. Kashmiris pride over Karam Sag (a kind of leafy green vegetable), nadru (lotus stalk) and turnips. Wherever a Kashmiri goes, he carries these precious vegetables as token presents. Kashmiris are known for their culinary art or more accurately, the cooking of lamb dishes in various ways, each distinct in taste from the other. The tea that the Kashmiris drink is called Kahva - a concoction of green tea leaves brewed in the samovar and enriched with pounded almonds, cardamom seeds, and cinnamon stalks overdosed with sugar and served without milk. The other kind of tea is Shirchai-salted and milked, pink in colour, with lots of cream on top of it.