Bhaderwahi Culture

People and Lifestyle :

The Bhaderwah valley is multi-religional, multicultural and multilingual part of state of Jammu and Kashmir like most other Indian states. Situated in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, Bhaderwah is blessed with some of the most spectacular landscapes. The culture of Bhaderwah is extremely rich, which is reflected in the day-to-day lives of the local people. The people of Bhaderwah exhibit a very warm and friendly nature. Bhadarwah has its own rich culture. It has its own language called Bhadarwahi language. The Bhaderwahi language is somewhat similar to the Gaddi language of Himachal Pradesh. It has some unique words which can be pronounced by the Bhaderwahi's only. Some of these words include Bhaderwahi translation of Brother (dlah), wedding (dla), hunger (dlukh) etc. It has its own registered body called "Bhadarwahi Sanstha". The main feature of this language is that word ‘Ji" is used after every sentence. The Bhadarwahi people are very hospitable. The people of Bhadarwah could speak five to six languages - Bhadarwahi, Kashmiri, Dogri, Gaddi, Serazi, Hindi, Urdu and English. It has the highest literacy rate in the whole of J&K.

Bhaderwah is a mixed community tehsil of distt Doda of J&K. You can find Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs living peacefully together. You can easily find Kouls, Misris, Dhars, Rainas, Razdans, Zutshis and many other Kashmiri Pandits living peacefully since ages . You shall also find Zargars, Bandays, Nayaks, Misgars, Wanis, Bhats, Ahangars, Mirs and Dars amongst Kashmiri muslims also living happily . Most of the Kashmiris living here have migrated out in middle of Nineteenth Century from Anantnag district due to recurring Famines and failure of the then rulers to come to the rescue of starving villagers . Bhaderwahi hindus hava a lot in common with the people of Himachal Pradesh, the reason being, it was once a part of Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The main hindu communities are the Brahmins, Rajputs - thakkars, Gaddis, Mahajans. Most of the rajputs are Kotwals, Manhas, Chauhans, Katals, Parihars, rathorestc. Most of the people in Bhaderwah depend on agriculture for livelihood. Those who are educated are in government service like teachers ( in colleges , schools and universities ), doctors, lawyers and Engineers . Many people derive their income from sheep, goats, and other cattle. Ninety percent of the people live in villages. Villages usually have terraced fields and small two storey houses with sloping roof. The villages are mostly self-contained with a few shops to take care of basic necessities of life. Some of the villages like Chinta, Bhalra are well developed having well maintained metallic road and pacca two or three storey houses having roofs covered with tin to protect from snow and rain. The construction of residential houses in Bhaderwah is totally a copy from Kashmir.The Dubs, Dark alleys, Gossiping men on roads, butcher shops, kadam (knol khol)vegetable, Pherans, Kashmiri bakery shops, Azaan and Vedic Mantras from Loud speakers during morning hours is a common daily seen all over Bhaderwah. This place produces high quality honey, Rajmash, woolen blankets, good quality rice and temperate climate fruits like Amri apples, cherry, pears, walnuts, almonds, grapes and apricots.

Fairs and festivals:

Mela Patt :Fairs and festivals hold a unique place in the history of any region. Of all the fairs that Bhaderwah celebrates, Mela Pat is the notable one. Legend has it, that Raja Nagpal of Bhaderwah started this festival some time in the 16th century with the blessings of Lord Nag Vasuki. It is celebrated in remembrance of the spiritual victory of Raja Nagpal over Akbar.  The fair goes on for three days every year. People belonging to all castes including Hindus and Muslims celebrate the three-day fair with much festivity and joy. From far and near, rich and poor, young and old, kith and kin and friend and foes come to take part in the celebrations. The fair starts 4 am and ends at sunset. Amidst the beatings of drums and blowing of horns, complimented by the harmonious notes of the flute, an energetic person carries the `Patt' or the silk on his head from the house of Raj Guru or the Royal Priest in a procession led by musicians to the dancing compound.

Kanchowth: This festival is celebratd mostly in the villages of Bhaderwah. It is much like the festival of Karwa Chowth, which is celebrated all over India. On the day of Kanchowth, married women of hilly areas of Bhaderwah pray for the long life of their husbands. Women keep fast on this day and pray Lord Shiva. Generally women dressed in their best dresses - sari or makhmal dress or their wedding dress and golden ornaments from a particular village gather at a near by waterbody - bowli or village temple where they perform pooja together and then sing Ghurai and dance one by one. They bow down to to touch each others feet in order to get blessings from each other for the long life of their husbands. This is called 'Thel' in the local language. The important thing to note is that only on this day married women bow down to all irrespective of the caste, creed, age, sex or religion to take their blessings. They even touch the feet of their children who in return say "Sada suhagan bhoth" (Long live your husband). For the few following days, women go to the relatives living nearby to offer 'Thel'.

Dharamdees: As soon as the snow cover gets cleared, agricultural activities in Bhaderwah begin. This takes place generally on first of March every year. People take their oxen to the nearby field, where the elder male of the family performs the pooja by putting a ‘tilak’ on their fore-heads and ‘gur’ in their mouth and plough the land. Women folk dig the land with a hand held ploughing tool called ‘Bangori’. This day is called Dharamdees (Dharam means Relegious and Dees means day). In the preceding night, a large ‘Thali’ filled with rice, coin and gur is placed at the feet of the family deity. Next day, before dawn someone from the family goes to the nearby ‘bawli’to fetch fresh water. It is supposed that one who fetches the water first of all is blessed by the God almighty. The pot of fresh water is then placed near the ‘Thali ’ called Kamrath and some gur eaten from it. This is done by every one from the family one by one.On Dharamdees people avoid going to each other’s house believing that their going there would caste good or bad effect on the family for the whole year.

Shiv Piala :Some Bhaderwahi people offer Piala to Lord Shiva. This is more lika a pooja rather than fair or festival. This prasas is prepared by expert people called 'Bhandaris'. The pooja lasts for three days. the first day is called 'Piala Dlakna' ( this word can not be pronounced correctly by other than Bhaderwahis- can't be wrritten correctly either :))' . On this day a paste of kodra flour in boiling water is made and then put in a large earthen pot called ‘Matt’ for three days to ferment. The fermented substance is called ‘Piala’ and is considered as Prasad of Shiv Ji. ‘Piala’ is prepared by selected team of experts called ‘Bhandaris’. The second day is 'Thaki' (Rest). On the third day relatives and other people from adjoining villages are invited to take the Prasad. They gather in a big hall where Bhandaris on the go ahead of Pandit prepare the piala . They start by saying 'Aye farman' (Is the permmission granted) and the crowd chants - 'Shivji keru' (Yes Lord Shiva's). On the occasion feast is served to the guests that generally comprises of meat of the rams slaughtered as sacrifice in the name of Lord Shiv Ji. The people take home the prashad for all members of their family.

Dhundu Kundu: This festival is also celebrated in the hilly villages of Bhaderwah. This is celebrated in winters in the month of January-February. A day befor local boys go out ino the woods to collect special wooden sticks to built what is called 'Khajol'. Khajol is prepared by creating a ring of this wooden stick into which are tightly fitted long small and thin wooden pieces called 'tenturu'. This ring is connected tightly to another flexible wooden stick. The combination is called 'Khajol'. When the sun sets and it becomes dark, all the family members gather on their roof tops and kids burn the ring end of Khajol and start rotating over head shouting ' Khajol - Khajol...'. The whole village looks like on fire on that night and every person tries to shout louder than the neighbour's voice. It becomes a kind of competetions among the kids. It looks a real fun and more fun to perform. The elders of the all the families take 'deolies' a bunch of tied burnt small wooden pieces to a nearby field and place at the edge side by side. This is done to pray for their ancestors.On the next early morning dhundu kundu is celebrated in each house. The ladies of the families burn dhundu kundu and kids go from house to house to collect what is called in the local language as 'poi'. They sing folk songs at the doors of the nieghbours and are given 'poi'.

BHADERWAH... The Tourist's Paradise