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“Tehri” the Spirit of Kashmiriyat by Saba M Nazki

The “Yamberzal” like golden hues of the humble rice, cooked with a tinge of mustard oil, salt, aromatic turmeric and colours of fate will make a true Kashmiri automatically turn to the name “Tehri”. In the nostalgic markets of downtown, uptown colonies and far away mountains, “Tehri” is something that can be the epitome of a cultural bliss that connects the spirit of kashmiriyat.

Some words lose their charm when translated from the mother tongue to any other language, “Tehri”, is one such word too. Though a small little word in Kashmiri, yet the whole English vocabulary cannot explain the emotions, cultural ethics and the day to day sagas of a Kashmiri connected to it.

The accurate timeline, to decide where the culture of serving cooked rice to people in the vicinity cannot be marked down. It is something that has been there lingering around with our culture, as prominent like the mountains.

Everyone has their own reason to serve “Tehri”, for some it’s strong “Aqeedah”, and for some it’s a way out to end a certain problem or bad times. No matter how old you are, which locality you have lived in, being a Kashmiri, the taste of “Tehri” will always remind you of old childhood strolls, the Blue Mountains and long lost friends.

Turmoil’s, conflicts and wars might surely turn the labyrinths of our minds, upside, down. Yet it can never kill the essence of a richly seeped down cultural legacy. “Tehri”, is not only a dish made out of rice and spices but a genre of a legacy being carried down since years and years.

For many serving “Tehri”, to people out on roads, in shrines or markets is a sign of strong faith and belief. Whenever “Tehri” is served, there is no end to the clusters of people enjoying each morsel of the goldenly enchanting and the spring fragranced, humble dish.

Our lifestyle has become such that we eat international delicacies every day, in restaurants and cafes. With so much choice around we tend on getting bored of one thing and jump on another. But, when it comes to our own “Tehri”, not even time, turmoil and distance could erase its nostalgic value and soothing taste.

Though over these years, the politics of our brains also sabotaged the essence of Kashmir, being known as a “Peer-Vear” and “Resh-Vear”. Somehow, the humble “Tehri” also became a targeted high profile political agent of one religious sect or the other or one belief or another. Yet “Tehri” came out more yellow and serene, overcoming each conflict, and becoming an even stronger spirit of kashmiriyat.

Well it would be safe to say now, that the recipe doesn’t only include some spices and grains but politics, conflicts and a sour tinge of road-side gossips as well.

Nowadays, every aware and modern Kashmiri foodie is reviewing his/her favourite café, considering we have so many of them, which is of course a positive avenue. Yet our dear “Tehri” is in no need of any review, because it doesn’t only revive our taste buds but brings out a whole legacy in front of us. It is enjoyed by one and all, old and young, rich and poor. If cooked along chicken or mutton, it becomes a double treat for each of us, and no true Kashmiri would deny the fact.

The intentions behind serving it are so pure and untouched, that it shows in the colour and taste of “Tehri”. No matter who is serving it, a Kashmiri drivinga sedan or riding a good old Bajaj will stop and relish its taste and the whole saga attached to it.

No matter how many wars started and ended, how many rulers and tyrants came and went away, how many seasons changed and glaciers melted, “Tehri” is still continuing and will always continue to lead us as an ecstatic cultural symbol of unity, love and oneness.

When so many of us went homeless in the floods of 2014, “Tehri”, was being served in all the relief camps, localities and road side kitchens. It seemed the blissful spring hues in the colour of “Tehri”, promised a new spring to Kashmiri’s, an end to tough times.

There are certain things and emotions that a political conflict cannot end in a culturally strong atmosphere. No matter how much the hearts have suffered, the eyes have sobbed, yet some values and small acts have always made of us a strongly embedded state. These little emotions, and it wouldn’t be wrong to call “Tehri” a blissful emotion, rather a humble delicacy only, make us look beyond our catastrophes and long buried anguishes and renew our hopes for many more springs, “Tehri” mornings and never ending spirit of kashmiriyat.

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