How Kashmiri Pandits are uniting through social media

A viral post that recently caught my attention was ‘Koshur Bingo’. It had points like - kitaban chha naar dyutmut (have you burnt your book that you aren’t studying?) 

Batta (Rice) - Food for the soul

What is too much Zamitdooudh (Curd)? 


I never realized this is so Kashmiri until I explored Kashmiri Pandit pages/groups on social media. The generation after Pandits exodus from the valley has been away from their culture until very recently when social media did the job of bringing the connectivity back within the younger generation of the community.

 

In these days of self-isolation and quarantine, digital media has become a human’s best friend, especially social media platforms.

 

The Koshur Bingo took me back to the time when Kashmiri memes started getting viral. 

The community that got scattered after the exodus had still so much left, still so much in common. 

 

A minority community in the valley, Kashmiri Pandit community got spread out after the exodus. Some moved to Jammu, few moved to Delhi and some other parts. After the exodus, family members lost touch. It was not the digital era. Childhood friends were not in contact. Living in migrant camps, losing out on loved ones took a toll on the Pandits.

 

Stories of horrors passed on from generation to generation. The next generation after the exodus, faced separation from their culture, families were still trying to cope with the situation.

 

Now after almost three decades, while some families are still in the migrant quarters, life for the younger generation has changed, it has become easier for them to communicate. Instagram, a very famous app has some pages that talk about Pandit history and culture. Some of the popular pages include We are Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri Pandits Lineage, and Lal Vaakh. Lal Vaakh even has a section, where it posts famous Kashmiri phrases, quotes/sayings, with proper pronunciations and meanings. They share Mahashivratri pictures, which is the most important festival for the Pandits along with sharing pictures of households from important days such as Navreh (Kashmiri New Year). 

 

Not only this, but elder family members have also joined social media. There are groups on social media sites. Now for a small community, it is very important. After losing touch with each other, social media is the platform for small communities to get back together, to know each other better and to talk, since everyone is in a different place. 

 

Komal Nagri, 23, says social media and such platforms have given her huge insight into her culture and history. “Recently people posted a lot about Zang Treh (3rd day of Navratri), I came to know about the story of Zang Treh and I got a chance to interact with community people through it. I came to know about experiences and stories of different Kashmiri Pandit families." said Komal.


Brown History, a known page on Instagram also posted a story by Arti Koul, the story of the exodus of her grandparents. 

 

Ashok Bhan, 66, made an interesting point by explaining how social media has narrowed down the gap that was created in the Kashmiri Pandit community during the time of the exodus. “I wasn’t aware of the situation my family and friends had been through. Years after when social media and WhatsApp brought back the connectivity within the community, I came to know about their misery. The community was all scattered, some were in Delhi, some in Pune, others in Bangalore. Social media has filled up the blanks and somehow brought back the community together, in touch."

 

Not only these social media handles are bringing the younger generations closer to their roots but, the community groups are also letting people from different generations interact, giving better exposure to young people to their culture. A guitar version of a Kashmiri classic song shared in a family group gets acknowledgment along with applauds if the pronunciation is correct. The lost songs have been found through YouTube and Google and cover versions. 

 

Reema Bhat, 53, says Kashmiri Pandit culture on social media takes her back to the valley sometimes yet giving her so much exposure to the world. She says “I got back in touch with my family and friends, Relatives who aren’t even in India post things, keeping us updated about their lives. I video call my children and it makes me feel we aren’t away. They are my friends on social media too".

 

Whatsapp groups, Facebook and Instagram are actually putting people in touch with their culture. I have come to know a lot of phrases, music, and stories through some Instagram pages, but more than that, it is putting people in touch. 

 

The horrific incidents are there in the memories, they get discussed, almost every day but the warmth and respect the community has for each other for surviving and overcoming the shared trauma is incredible. 

Social media might really become a problem for parents nowadays but it is also bringing the younger generation from small communities close and older generations back to their culture.

 

 

Author- Anusha Bhat, 23, Jammu. 

 

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