Shiva and Shakti, the ultimate power-couple, the great combined force, the celebrated husband and wife who married for love, in the face of parental disappointment, from the land of the Sindu River and its ancient culture, Hinduism.
Every year, in the last week of February or the first week of March, predicated upon the date of the Lunar Calendar, which is not a fixed 365 days like the Solar Calendar, the Hindus from India, celebrate Mahashivaratri or the Great Night of Shiva. Its a time that is marked by solemn introspection, a vigil in a wakeful, mindful state, to identify and vanquish the negative within us each as individuals.
Kashmiris celebrate this night as the Wedding Anniversary of Shiva and Shakti or Shiv-Parvati, the cosmic union that is the stuff of legend, mythology, faith or fact, depending on reader-response. As is the case with all rituals and festivals, food is omni-present, quite like Divinity! Every family cooks the ritual meal with a menu that is specific to their family tradition and this is generally followed quite strictly.
However, what is common to all Kashmiri people, irrespective of denomination and ethnicity, is the delicious, pure, abundance of the fruits and spices of Jammu and Kashmir that are unique in that these are, for the most part, dried and non-perishable to offer options for the winter months when the Himalayan people of the valley of Kashmir, were cloistered-in, with no access to the plains and warmer climates where vegetables and fruits could be sourced from.
Tomatoes, apples, bottle-gourd, eggplant, apricots, figs and even ginger and spices that are generally used fresh by most Indians, were sun-dried through the summer months and ground into powder for ease of use. Even fish was dried! Below are some images of these delicacies. These are now delicacies because in times of abundance, when all produce is available across all seasons, when supermarkets and home-delivery are the norm, these foods from the “good-old-days” are now fervently sought-out by yearning hearts with mouth-watering memories!
Shiv-Parvati would be pleased with this innate appreciation for ones roots and a respect for ones origins. Divinity is pleased by simplicity. Or so I imagine…
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