PAMPORE: Ghulam Mohammad Wani, 77, locally known as Khuja Mome Waeen, is keeping alive the tradition of oil extraction using ox-driven wooden equipment, here in saffron town Pampore.
This elderly master of his trade is the last surviving Teeli Waeen in Pampore. Oil extraction with ox-driven machines was a practice quite popular in Kashmir in the olden days, with the Teeli (Wani) caste being its main practitioners.
With the invention of oil extraction machines, this tradition lost its relevance and became a thing of the past.
It is for this reason that when a clip of Ghulam Mohammed extracting oil by the traditional way was shared on Facebook, it became viral.
People also became fans of his melodious singing and many even travelled to Pampore to meet him.
While extracting oil, Ghulam Mohammad, a resident of Namblabal in Pampore, enjoys singing in chaste Kashmiri. He sings songs that say life is ephemeral and death will take one away at its own time.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, Ghulam Mohammad spoke of the vanishing of this tradition. “We have been practicing this job since our forefathers’ time. I am 77 and I have been doing it for past 60 years. Earlier it was a profitable means of livelihood but now the returns are very low,” he said, adding that he earns only Rupees 150 a day.
He said that in his old age he cannot do another job, but whatever he earns from this traditional way keeps him independent.
“I am not dependent on my children,” he said with pride.
Wani told Kashmir Reader that the oil he extracts is pure, churned from the mustard grown in Kashmir. “It is good for cooking, massage of bones and muscles and of hair,” he said, adding that people from different parts of south Kashmir including Pulwama Shopian, Anantnag and Srinagar areas purchase the oil from him at rates higher than the market rate.
“This is a very great profession but very hard to practise. The younger generation is not attracted to it; my son is doing manual labour because he doesn’t like this profession,” he said.
A customer from Karan Nagar in Srinagar who visited Pampore told Kashmir Reader that he was searching for the traditional oil and finally he was able to locate Ghulam Mohammad.
“He made the oil before my eyes. It is pure without any adulteration. My doctor had recommended it for my hair,” he said, adding that he will be also buying the oil for cooking.