Stories about the thirties, in our childhood, were not that old. Every elder in the family had a story to tell about one or the other martyr of July 31,  1931, buried just three hundred yards from our house. They remembered stories of the movement against the Maharaja like textbook lessons.  Even an old small earthen pitcher painted green had a story to tell about fundraising for the movement against the monarchy its discriminatory rule.

The pitcher often made my mother nostalgic; she remembered how every day she used to put a fistful of rice in it and at month’s end, Abdul Aziz, a volunteer of the Muslim Conference, collected it from our home and other homes in our Mohalla. This unique method of fundraising not only helped in sustaining the political movement but also strengthened people’s participation in it.

Many other elders in our Mohalla had their own stories to tell about collecting donations for the movement on all religious festivals. Some political workers boasted of collecting bagsful of copper coins and silver rupee coins with King Edward’s image embossed on them on two Eids in the Eidgah or during Urs-Nabi, celebrations on the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad at the Hazratbal.    In our childhood also, organizations like the Plebiscite Front launched a door-to-door campaign for raising funds for their organization- those were truly people’s movements.

Looking back, I remember in our childhood we also got our quota of training in fundraising that helped us as young men in launching student and other organizations. I see the tradition of Hupa-Hupa, that was at its best during our childhood as our first training in raising funds. I have no idea about the history of this tradition. Nonetheless,  tradition does have some resemblance with Halloween a yearly celebration observed in many Europe countries and America. It cannot be said with certainty if like some other children game like hopscotch this tradition has also come to Kashmir along with travellers. ‘On the holy nights of Shab-i-Barat and Shaba-i-Qaadar we used to go from door to door crying full throat Hupa-Hupa Tumuli-Shupa- slogan asking a winnower full of rice. The robust amongst the boys carried a gunny bag on their back and collected rice in them.’ The boys were at their poetic best in coining slogans for raising money for nightlong celebrations. Some of the slogans like ‘Onien-ta-Onien Asi Ga’chi Chonan’, Oupa-ta-oupa Asi Ga’chi Double Rupa’, decades after these unique slogans for collecting coins of four annas and one rupee denominations continue to live in my memory. Many of us had mastered the art of persuading the rich and poor to cough up good money as donations for our nightlong celebrations. After collecting money first big task for all children were buying earthen lamps from potters at Khanyar locality, then making wicks from small rolls of cotton and putting oil in the lamps. I remember, we equidistantly placed these lamps on the walls of the Masjids and hospices in our Mohalla and lighted them at night. At night, we also cooked food in big cauldrons, besides eating ourselves we distributed it amongst the devotees visiting various hospices and astanas during the holy nights.

This training in fundraising as children later in life helped my friends and me in setting up a study circle and a library in our locality. I remember, four or five of us in our late teens sitting on a shop front and listening film songs from the ‘halqa radio’, as the radio sets with loudspeakers installed by the pro one day decided to set up a study circle in our Mohalla and raising funds for it. Next day, going from shop to shop we started fundraising- and within a few days, we were able to set up a library in our locality….

Z. G .MUHAMMAD
Columnist and Writer
Srinagar,
Kashmir.
www.peacewatchkashmir.com


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