Saturday, September 6, 2014

Flooding Superstition


"Fishing in the Hidden Eddies of the Jhelum. The flow of the river is watched with superstitious fear for signs of increased volume and impending flood. To the Kashmiri the swiftly flowing mountain streams have become barometers of fate."

~from 'Beneath The crags of Kashmir' (1920)  by V.C. Scott O'connor



One of the persistent side effect of frequent flooding and other natural calamities in Kashmir, has been the proliferation of a phenomena witnessed in many other parts of the world: humbug. In times like these most people look upwards and bear witness to work of Gods. [Watch: Impact of 2004 Tsunami on Indonesia]

Walter Lawrence, in the aftermath of great flood of 1893 in Kashmir, recorded a curious practice prevalent among Kashmiri people. He wrote, 'Marvellous tales were told of the efficacy of the flags of saints which had been set up to arrest the floods, and the people believe that the rice-fields of Tulamula and the bridge of Sumbal were saved by the presence of these flags, which were taken from the shrines as a last resort.'

The Spring shrine of Tulamulla obviously became more popular after the floods of 1893 and slowly overshadowed most other sites as the holiest of holy.

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