Monday, May 4, 2009

Dejhoor, Athoor and Atah

golden Dejhoor
I was in Jammu recently attending the wedding of a dear cousin sister.Taking a detour from usual posts about Kashmir and my visit to Kashmir, I will be doing some posts on Kashmiri pandit wedding ceremony. Here's the first one...

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Local Goldsmith in Jammu said that this particular design, the rather traditional design for Dejhoor, is not in vogue anymore and few craftsmen can re-create it.

My grandmother gave this Dejhoor to her daughter on the day of her Devegoan and she in turn gave it to her daughter on the morning of her Devegoan.

Devegoan ceremony is usually held a day before the actual wedding ceremony - i.e. Lagan, fire ceremony - and is meant to be an invite for the gods. On this day, the bride-to-be is given Dejhoor for ears by her mother . Dejhoor, cast in gold, is always hexagonal (Shatkon) shaped with a dot (Chunne) in the center. It is believed to be a yantra denoting Shiv and Shakti. This yantra, Dejhoor, is dangled from piercings in the upper ear cartilage, always the left ear first and then the right, and initailly, on the day of Devgoan, only using a red thread, nairwan.


Next day, after the Lagan ceremony, parent- in-laws of the new bride take her to their house, remove the red thread supporting the Dejhoor and replace it with Aath, gold or ordinary gold/silver colored (Sulma/Tilla) threads. The in-laws also add Athoo - Atah tied in a designer knot or a small piece of golden ornament added - to the lower end of the Dejhoor thus completing the yantra in a very symbolic way. So next day, as part of another ritual, when the bride along with her husband visits her mother's place, she now sports a compete set of Dejhoor, Athoor and Atah.

This tradition of women wearing Dejhoor and its origin in Kashmir goes way back in time. It has survived centuries. 


A 10th century stone sculpture of Kashmiri origin called Birth of Buddha, housed at S.P.S. Museum, Srinagar - in which the mother of Buddha, Mayadevi and her sister Prajapati are shown wearing Dejhoor just in the manner in which it is still worn by Kashmiri Pandit woman to this day.

Found the image of stone sculpture in: Arts and Crafts, Jammu and Kashmir: Land, People, Culture  by D. N. Saraf (1987) [Google books]

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Dejhoor, Athoor and Atah remain one of the best ways of identifying a Kashimri Pandit women. It either dangles from their ears or they fold the atah and tie it up in their hair using a simple pin. The basic problem today is that one can't safely go around walking on roads with gold dangling from your ears.

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post ! However i m yet to hear about the significance of Dejhor / Athor and also the traditional headgear "targa'"

    ReplyDelete
  2. yeh sab baatein main kya janoo. bi kya sa van'eSome say tarag was a gift from Adi Shankaracharya to the Kashmiri woman for their brilliant mind. You can read this version
    based on oral traditions hereOther's say it's a remnant from Snake cult of Kashmir, kind of Kashmiri version of Perag headdress of Ladahki women that's again worn on special occasions.

    Again the tradition of big earring
    is a part of snake cult all over this continent.i do think both had a lot to do with ancient Naga cult of Kashmir.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Vinayak:
    You'd posted once on why kashmiri women wear targa, I recall a story that Lord Shiva had gifted one to them after being impressed by their wisdom and beauty. But I can't find the post. Please maahra, tell me where I can find it.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. According to one of the stories it was given to Kashmiri women as a mark of respect by Adi Sankaracharya after he lost a debate to a Kashmiri woman - wife of a Brahmin named Mandan Mishr.
    I think I deleted that post.
    But you can find the story in the links I have given in above comment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Vinayak, could not resist the itch to jump in.... some old timer once told me; Qoute :- Dejhor was actually made of sandle wood and was worn inside the clothes dangling from the ears right up to breast nipples by Pundit woman after marriage . It had two reasons 1) It was supposed to be therapeutic for lactating mothers 2)women were presumed to be inherently HOT and sandlewood touching their breasts was to keep them, well not so hot. It was only during late 19th century that Gold Dejhors came in vogue, first in upper class city folks later on spreading every where in valley. End Qoute.

    My grandmother's Dejhor was complete with miniature spoons for cleaning ears ( one for each ear - Hygienic eh) a toothpick and a miniature comb. All in solid Gold. And get this ... both pieces were accompanied by a small piece of wood ( whether it was sandlewood, i have no idea) right on top of the Gold Dejhor. Dinesh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its really an interesting story about the Dejhoor Athoo and aath and Atha . Pray tell me how do they undertake this piercing ..do they use some local anesthesia or how ?

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    2. I remember the piercing us usually done by someone at the Jeweller's shop. No I don't think anesthesia is involved. The result is of course painful. There is bleeding and often pus. Earlier piercing was done at a younger age which meant ear cartilage was softer but nowadays it is often done late which means the process it more painful. Often it is done just before marriage which means a Kashmiri Pandit bride's ears are in a sensitive state during the entire wedding. Al though a lot of Pandit women continue to pierce ears, the men have stopped. In order times, even Pandit men were to have pierced ears.

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really want to understand why dejhoor is worn in ears not in neck like mangalsutra. I read about the significance of the shape and length, as it had to touch the intended body part but that can happen by wearing in neck also. Hope to get some satisfactory explanation. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like your post but differ with your history about that same deejhor was passed from grand mother to daughter and further to grand daughter. To my little knowledge it is personal identity of one and canot be passed. Please enrich my knowledge if I am wrong. Deejhoor is given to daaughter on devgoan

    ReplyDelete
  9. I married a Kashmiri Pandit. Why is dejhor called mangal sutra? Ironically, I seen my widowed mother in law still wear it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dejhor is Not called Mangalsutra, but In Kashmir Valley, Our women never used to wear Mangalsutra or Sindhur, the only way to identify Married women was Dejhor whoch is still in practice.

      Hence,Dejhor is important and still all most married kahsmiri women wear it.

      Thanks
      Vikas Kaul

      Delete

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