Budgam District in J&K has been home to numerous notable personalities and cultural treasures. From spiritual leaders and poets to writers and scholars, the district has contributed significantly to the intellectual and artistic landscape of Kashmir
By Aubaid Ahmad Akhoon
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This famous quote by philosopher George Eliot perfectly encapsulates the need to avoid hasty generalizations and stereotyping. However, the recent marriage between a woman from Kishtwar and a man from Budgam, two districts in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, has triggered unwarranted social media backlash. It is disheartening to witness individuals with limited knowledge insulting the citizens of entire Budgam, ignoring the district’s rich cultural heritage as a hub of Sufis, saints, and intellectuals. Budgam: A Treasure Untold
Historical Background of Budgam: Nestled in the picturesque Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, Budgam district carries significant historical and cultural importance. Throughout the centuries, it has been a witness to the rise and fall of various empires, leaving indelible imprints on its identity. The district’s legacy as a hub of Sufis, saints, and intellectuals has fostered an environment of spiritual enlightenment and intellectual pursuits. This rich heritage has shaped Budgam’s culture, turning it into a treasure trove of historical and artistic significance.
Budgam stands out for its cultural diversity and the harmonious coexistence of different religious and ethnic communities. It serves as a melting pot of influences, blending Kashmiri, Persian, and Central Asian traditions. This fusion has given rise to a vibrant tapestry of music, poetry, art, and architecture. Embracing diversity, the residents of Budgam have cultivated an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, which is vital for the social fabric of any society.
Breathtaking Landscapes: Budgam’s scenic beauty is unparalleled, boasting picturesque landscapes that leave visitors in awe. Nestled among the mighty Himalayas, the district features verdant meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and majestic snow-capped peaks. Yusmarg, breathtaking Doodhpathri, and Tosamaidan are just a few examples of the district’s natural wonders. These awe-inspiring landscapes attract tourists, artists, and nature enthusiasts from around the world, fostering cultural exchange and driving economic growth in the region.
The Message of Unity: The incident in Budgam should act as a catalyst for unity, not division. Instead of placing blame on an entire district or society, addressing social evils collectively is crucial. Unity, understanding, and empathy form the foundation of a harmonious society. Together, we can eliminate prejudices, discrimination, and harmful stereotypes that impede progress and social cohesion. Rather than resorting to generalizations or insults towards the entire district, it is essential to approach the matter with understanding and a genuine desire to address underlying issues.
Eliminating Social Evils: The incident in Budgam highlights the presence of pressing social issues that demand immediate attention. Concerns such as inadequate background verification before marriage and forced marriages require comprehensive solutions. Educating the community, promoting awareness about individual rights, and establishing robust legal mechanisms are vital steps in addressing these societal problems. Through collaborative efforts, we can foster an environment where everyone can lead a life free from coercion and undue societal pressures.
Preserving Cultural Heritage: While cultural practices, such as marrying within relations, have their roots in historical context and beliefs, it is crucial to strike a balance between tradition and personal choice. Respecting cultural heritage should not come at the expense of individual freedom and consent. By promoting informed decision-making, we can preserve the essence of cultural practices while ensuring the well-being and happiness of those involved.
Wisdom in Islam and Verified Character: In Islam, there are traditions (Ahadees) that suggest the permissibility of marrying within relations, highlighting the importance of familiarity and shared values in forming strong marital bonds. However, it is important to note that character verification is vital regardless of the cultural practice followed. The failure to verify the woman’s character by more than two dozen grooms in this incident underscores the significance of thorough evaluation and scrutiny to ensure the well-being and happiness of all parties involved.
Combating Prejudice and Discrimination: The incident should not become a platform for promoting prejudice or discrimination. Making sweeping judgments about an entire district or community based on the actions of a few individuals is unjust and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Society must strive for inclusivity and foster understanding among diverse groups.
Rich in Tradition: Budgam, nestled in the enchanting Kashmir Valley, is a district steeped in history and cultural heritage. From Sufi saints and poets to writers, scholars, and spiritual leaders, Budgam has been home to remarkable personalities who have left a lasting impact on Kashmiri culture. The district boasts natural wonders, historical sites, and agricultural produce that contribute to its unique identity.
Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali: Known as Sheikh-ul-Alam, a prominent Sufi saint and poet whose teachings continue to inspire people in Kashmir.
Syed Aali Ali Balkhi Pakherpora Budgam: The revered shrine of Syed Balkhi (RA) holds great significance in Pakherpora, attracting pilgrims from far and wide.
Ghulam Nabi Ghowhar: An accomplished Kashmiri poet and writer whose works celebrate the essence of Kashmir’s beauty and cultural heritage.
Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi: Chadoora town is home to the grave of Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi, a prominent Shia theologian.
Aga Family of Kashmir: The renowned Aga family, whose spiritual leader Aga Sahab hails from Budgam district, has a significant presence in the region.
Kanihama Village and Kani Shawl: Known for the traditional Kani Shawl industry, Kanihama adds to Budgam’s cultural significance.
Distinguished Poets and Writers: Budgam district has nurtured several distinguished poets and writers in the Kashmiri language.
Cultural and Natural Heritage: Budgam takes pride in its cultural and natural heritage. The ancient Chinar tree in Chetturgul Chaadoora, believed to be around 700 years old, stands tall as a symbol of the district’s history.
Aromatic Rice and Almonds: Budgam is renowned for the cultivation of Kashmiri Aromatic Rice and being the second-largest producer of Almonds in Kashmir, known for their taste, texture, and nutritional value.
Bhand Pather: At the heart of Budgam’s cultural heritage lies Bhand Pather, a traditional form of folk theatre. It serves as a medium of social commentary, shedding light on pertinent issues plaguing society. The village of Wathora in Budgam district is the epicenter of Bhand Pather in the valley, with troupes entertaining audiences through satirical skits known as Pather. These performances traverse the picturesque landscapes of Kashmir, reaching every nook and corner of the region.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of this newspaper. The author can be reached at