Sunday, May 28, 2023
Jammu and Kashmir


Festivals in Kashmir Province


The New Year day falls on first Navaratra - the first day of the new moon in the month of Chaitra. In every Hindu home, it begins with an invocation to Lakshmi, the goddess of  bounty. In every family, a young lady lays a large plate with paddy, sugar, curds, fruits, walnut, coins, a mirror, ink-holder and the New year scroll. Early in the morning she shows the plate to every inmate and thus seeks the blessings of the goddess for moral and material development of members of the family.


The Navroz festival of the Shia Muslims comes a week after the New year day. They celebrate this nine-day festival with good eating and activities showing a spirit of gay abandon, in contrast to recitation of religious dirges that characterise most of their festivals.

Durga Ashtami

During the month of April they celebrate Durga Ashtami, followed by Ramnavami. It is the birthday of Lord Rama. For the Kashmiri pandits the day is also connected with goddess Durga, and they celebrate it with a feast of rice and meat viands, after the prayers.

Vikrami Samvat

In the middle of April or on the Baisakhi day, starts the New year of the Vikrami Samvat. The day presents a grand spectacle of colour and gaiety on the Dal lake and in the gardens that flank it.

Urs or Ziarats

The Urs (or Ziarats) is a typical Kashmiri festival. It is held annually at the shrines of Muslim saints on their death anniversaries. There is a saying " It snows when the Urs of Meesha Sahib is held, it is windy when the Urs of Batamol Sahib takes place, it rains on the occasion of the Urs of Bahauddin". These Urs are popular despite the rigours of weather. This is celebrated in different parts of Srinagar, not only by Muslims but Hindus and Sikhs as well. An interesting feature of the Urs celebrations at Batamaloo (the locality in Srinagar named after the saint Batamol Sahib) and in Anantag (Rishi Mol's anniversary) is that both Muslims and Hindus abstain from taking meat during the course of the festival.

The inter-communal participation is the main feature of the Urs celebrations. The anniversary of Rishi Pir, a Hindu saint, held on the fifth day of the full moon of Baisakh, at his home in Srinagar is attended by Muslims also.

Shab-i Mairaj /Shab-i-Barat

Muslim festivals which are celebrated nationally, include Shab-i Mairaj which is followed by Shab-i-Barat.  The dates of these festivals change in accordance with the appearance of the moon and shift by 10 days each year. During the night of Shab-i-Barat, the Muslims keep vigil. Legend goes that on this night the Holy prophet visits each house and relieves the pains of suffering humanity.


Another Muslim festival of this area is Ramzan. During the month of Ramzan, Muslims abstain from eating or drinking during the day.

Jeth Ashtami / Har Ashtami

Jeth Ashtami is succeeded by Har Ashtami in a month. These two days are the birthday and the incarnation day, respectively, of the Rajnya goddess. Hindus fast on these days and go on a pilgrimage to Kheer Bhawani, a well known spring-girt temple at Tulmula dedicated to the Goddess Rajnya Devi. After a bath in the cool stream nearby, incense and candles are burnt at the altar of the goddess.

The counterpart of Kheer Bhawani, is Devibal in Anantang, which is also a spring-girt temple. This temple is visited on these Ashtamis by Hindus living in neighbouring areas. A belief connected with these ancient shrines is that their water changes colour according to the state of the society. It has been known to become black before a disaster or calamity.