Page 29. " 'in the Kashmiri Fashion’ "
Kashmiri trader carries Kangri to market
Creative Commons AttributionKashmiri trader carries Kangri to market - Credit: nbilalnajar_123

During the winter many Kashmiri people carry Kangris, under their Phiran (traditional cloaks) to warm the skin. Kangris are portable heaters made from a small wicker-covered clay pots containing hot coals.

 

Page 33. " ‘European curse called the King’s Evil’ "

Scrofula is a skin disease affecting the lymph nodes of the neck. It is often informally known as the King's Evil due to the medieval belief that the "royal touch" could cure skin diseases due to the divine right of sovereigns. The disease was rife throughout Europe in the Middle Ages and spread to Asia when European countries began to trade and settle in the East.

Page 33. " ‘The Wedding Contract’ "
Islamic Bride signs the wedding contract
Creative Commons AttributionIslamic Bride signs the wedding contract - Credit: Leeno

During a traditional Islamic wedding ceremony a marriage contract (nikah-naama) is registered by the bride and groom and their respective families.

The nikah-naama contains several terms and conditions that are to be respected by the married couple, including inheritance guidelines and the bride’s right to divorce if the contract is voided. The contract also specifies Meher, a monetary amount the groom’s family will give the bride, representing the bride's freedom within the marriage.

The wedding contract must be witnessed by two people, traditionally the fathers of bride and groom. Usually the Imam reads aloud the nikah-naama to the bride first who accepts by saying "qabool kiya," ("I accept") three times and signs it, this is then repeated for the groom. The witnesses also sign the contract and the wedding becomes legal.

Page 34. " ‘In the morning the sheet was displayed’ "

Traditionally the day after the wedding ceremony the groom's family invites all guests to their home or a marriage hall for a celebration known as Walima. This occurs after the wedding night (Suhaag raat) at the groom’s house, to celebrate the consummation and sealing of the marriage.

The traditions of an Islamic wedding

Page 37. " ‘India in the heyday of Mahatma’ "

 

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, widely known as Mahatma (“Great Soul”) was the leader of the Indian nationalist movement and is officially honoured in India as the “Father of the Nation”.

 

After studying law in London and campaigning for the equal rights of Indian immigrants in South Africa for 20 years, Gandhi returned to India in 1915. Here his idea of satyagraha ('devotion to truth'), a new non-violent way to redress wrongs attracted millions of followers and demonstrations rose up across the country against the passing of the 1919 Rowlatt Act (see below) by the British rulers. Shortly after the introduction of The Rowlatt Act Gandhi encouraged Indians to commence a Hartal (‘strike action’), where Indians in Delhi suspended all business and fasted as a sign of their hatred for the legislation.

By 1921 Gandhi was in his ‘heyday,’ the dominant figure in Indian politics and head of the Indian National Congress. Under his leadership, the Congress was reorganized with a new constitution and the ultimate goal of Swaraj (‘the independence of India from foreign rule’), and Gandhi led nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women's rights, build ethnic solidarity, and increase economic self-reliance. His movement of Peaceful Non-Cooperation included boycotts of British goods and clothing, and institutions such as railways and law courts, leading to arrests of thousands. In 1922, following this campaign of mass civil disobedience, Gandhi was arrested and sentenced to six years imprisonment for sedition. He began his sentence on 18 March 1922 but was release only two years later in February 1924 for an appendicitis operation.

Footage of Gandhi addressing a Public Gathering in 1922

For a full profile of Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi click here:

Page 37. " ‘It was a mistake to pass the Rowlatt Act’ "
Notice of the passing of the Rowlatt Act - 1919
Public DomainNotice of the passing of the Rowlatt Act - 1919

Named after the chairman of the sedition committee, Sir Sidney Rowlatt, the Rowlatt Act was a law passed by the British in colonial India in March 1919 giving the imperial authorities power to deal with revolutionary activities. The act indefinitely extended wartime "emergency measures" in order to control public unrest and prevent plots for independence. Also known as the Black Act, it authorized detention without trial of any person suspected of terrorism, silenced the press and banned large public gatherings or protests.

The Act agitated many in the Indian Nationalist Movement, including Mahatma Ganhdi, who encouraged non violent civil-disobedience of the British Government by all Indians. The reaction against the act reached its climax with the Amritsar Massacre on 13 April 1919 (see below).

Page 40. " ‘The largest compound in Amritsar is called Jallianwala Bagh' "

Jallianwala Bagh is a public garden in the Northern Indian city of Amritsar. The garden is within the grounds of the Golden Temple, the holiest site for the Sikh Religion and is now a memorial to the 1919 Amritsar Massacre.

After much protest and disruption at the passing of the Rowlatt Act, on 13 April 1919, around 5,000 people attended a Sikh religious festival in the garden in defiance of the British martial law. The crowd was fired on without warning by troops under the command of Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, believing that this gathering was the early signs of a conspiracy for rebellion. More than 300 people were killed.

The massacre only served to intensify Indian protest against British rule and led by Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian Congress Party became a nationwide movement committed to independence.

Page 43. " ‘...I chew betel-nut and expectorate in the direction of a cheap brassy bowl...’ "

 

Paan Making
Public DomainPaan Making - Credit: Siqbal

In South-East Asia Paan is the popular tradition of chewing the leaves of the Betel vine wrapped around the areca nut, commonly referred to as betel-nut or betel-quid. It can be made sweet with fruit preserves, often called Meetha, or sour, made with tobacco. In India, paan has been an important part of customs for hundreds of years, where it was originally offered in the courts of the Mogul kings as part of hospitality and friendship.

 

The betel nut is chewed as an antiseptic and a breath-freshener, but also frequently as a stimulant. The areca nut stimulates saliva and stains the mouth and the saliva red. Because of this excess saliva produced paan chewers continually spit saliva and paan remnants, traditionally into spittoons although frequently you can see local pavements and buildings in India stained red as a result of spitting paan into the street.

Page 46. " ‘whistling an old German tune ‘Tannebaum’ "

O Tannenbaum is the German Christmas carol, translated in English as O Christmas Tree.

Vienna Boys Choir performing O Tannenbaum