I’m going to share with you my feelings and knowledge about my village ‘Mujgund’, which is an abode of love and peace. My beloved native place is not far from the main city but I wish it to remain a village as it carries such simplicity and grace.
Mujgund is located about 12km to the north of Srinagar. It is situated on the banks of river Jehlum which presents a picturesque view. One can reach here in less than ten minutes time by taking the Srinagar-Bandipora road via the HMT-Shalteng intersection.
I can tell you that you need not go anywhere else if you want peace of mind. Mujgund is a village loved and admired by everyone. The people of my birthplace are kind-hearted, generous, and full of life. Although they are divided on the basis of religious sects and on some political grounds, too, but you can often find them together when issues of mutual concern are raised in the village. Whenever a guest comes to any of the local houses, the hospitality of my people makes them feel at home.
Historical background (some glimpses)
In order to trace the historical lineage of Mujgund, I met some senior citizens of my village. I put forth many curious questions to them and was so glad to hear every one of them share their knowledge. As per their accounts, in my village the first government boys’ high school was established, its foundation stone laid in 1960. This school has since been imparting knowledge to the natives as well as to children from adjacent areas. Most importantly, the school was upgraded to a higher secondary school in 2006 and has recently been recognised as a model school in the Batamaloo zone of Srinagar.
One of the seniors with whom I spoke told me that in Mujgund used to have a ghat on our side of the river Jehlum where people used to load and unload their dungas (large boats) as water transportation was the only means of navigation during those days. Interestingly, our mohallah is named after that ghat: Ghat Mohallah, to which I belong.
One more important thing of historical importance in Mujgund is the shrine (ziyarat) of a local pir known as “Mama Sahib”, who lived an austerely simple life. This shrine is sandwiched between the Jamia Masjid from the western side and the river Jehlum from the eastern side.
Not long ago, the people of the localities around together with the disciples of pir sahib used to organise an “Urs”, a fair, every year to commemorate their murshid. As far as my knowledge pertaining to that is concerned, during my lifetime I have not witnessed any such commemoration. The reasons for the end of the Urs are still unknown.
Occupation of people
My beloved village people engage themselves in different kinds of work, but about 90% of the population is occupied with agricultural activities. You can see paddy plantation at its highest during May-June. The people still collaborate to do the job collectively and one by one, everyone’s field is planted. The same system is applied during the harvesting season.
Some portion of the population is engaged in sand extraction from river Jhelum. They set out for it early in the morning and return with enough sand in no time. During summers, their work gets badly affected due to the sudden increase in water level. When the water level gets low enough for their work, they start again with enthuswiasm.
Art & Culture
My native village is home to some renowned artists. Among them was a great and famous storyteller, a dastango, the late Mohammad Ismail Mir. He was instrumental in keeping the flame of ‘Dastangoi’ alive in the state for more than half a century. He breathed his last after a short illness at the age of 85.
Mir is still a household name in Dastangoi – an old form of storytelling in both prose and verse forms of Kashmiri language. He gave solace to every heart with his storytelling. It was because of his matchless talent that he received many awards. He is no more among us but he has set an example and will be remembered throughout the course of our life.
We have a young talented santoor musician, Umer Majeed, from our locality. He is an upcoming star of the valley. His talent has been appreciated and applauded by veteran instrumentalists. Recently, in 2017, one of his videos in which he played the national anthem of our neighbouring country earned huge fame across the border.
As a good citizen, I have to be impartial in bringing forth the real picture of my native abode. Keeping that in mind, I won’t let you be in darkness. I’ll call a spade a spade. I, since my childhood days, have experienced disturbing changes in the mindset of the people of my village. They have been highly affected by new trends and the lifestyle of the west. Hypocrisy and pomp and show, as I have been witness to, have robbed them of their simplicity and hospitality which, a decade ago, used to be the mark of their humanity and generosity.
One can now see fences installed so high as to be matching the Burj-Khalifa, putting barriers between homes and fields. These have destroyed all the neighbourhood qualities. People who used to be laborious and diligent are now lazy and infirm. People often engage non-locals for everything they used to do by themselves. I won’t blame them alone as this happens almost everywhere in Kashmir.
Also, though mosques are many in number, at least seven, but these are not being visited by many for five times a day.
There is a lot more to tell you about my village but let me wrap up with the note that despite some duplicity of my village people, I love and am proud of them. I wish my village touches all the heights of development and that I am able to do something good for my birthplace.