OF Pheran, Oppression & Freedom
Freedom: a seven letter word. In its enormity of depth, mind wavers anywhere. No concise definition, no boundaries, deep as hell, putting shame even the depths of the universe. Mind chooses to walk unknown destinations and there is no destination per se. For every destination, there is further a destination. Thinkers of the world have made it clear that freedom is basic ingredient of every development and evolution of culture. However, freedom has been a scarce commodity in the history of mankind. So much blood is lost to prevent the curbs on freedom. Kashmir is simply one case in the history of pages.
An oppressor usually uses both covert and overt ways to control movements of people. You will see razor sharp coils, big walls like in Palestine or roadblocks in Kashmir. There are invisible ones as well and these are more sort of dangerous. These people don’t feel like “control”. In the garb of ‘happiness” and ‘benefit”, they are controlled. Consumerism, a dangerous trend which has swelled over the years through penetration of media, has led to whole society dependant on consumption of unlimited commodities. People, read humans, rush from pole to pole to have command over these commodities as their eyes glare up to see these products, without even thinking that there is a secret control on their minds. They are left with less time to think independently and are given even less time to even think. Whatever they think is actually a “Manufactured thinking”. Media has penetrated so much into our brains that we are made to think that ‘what we think is actually our thinking’ which is totally an illusion. We can have millions of examples of this sort.
Unfortunately, these overt measures to control and dominate people has been most ‘effectively” used in Kashmir and these covert measures are portrayed as being part of “our own culture”. Kashmiri Pheran, some say our traditional dress (Many disagree) is being and was being promoted as our own cultural dress which is simply not the case. Walter Lawrence, a settlement officer to Kashmir writes in his book ‘The Valley of Kashmir’ that this effeminate dress was introduced into Kashmir by Akbar, Emperor of India, to destroy the manliness of Kashmiri nation. He says that the introduction of ‘pheran’ was an act of statecraft on the part of the emperor Akbar who wished to tame the brave Kashmiri of the period.
Before Akbar’s invasion of Kashmir, the people of this valley used to have some sort of military dress. The quality and the shape of the dress is important in the military development of the nation, even the fact is that it is the first one. And Pheran, here, has a representation of many things. It is dusty wool worn by Kashmiri people who in it look nothing but sacks of bags. Pheran destroys the aroma of people whereby movement of a person is curtailed which affects his brain activities and makes him lazy. Remove Pheran and you will feel a change. Kashmiri still does one thing when he goes to work “he or she removes the Pheran’ a clear indication that this dress is not suitable for hard work.
And there are more issues out here as well. Should not we see and reflect on our dress, and on our food. This is so astonishing once we see what we wear and what we eat and how it affects us? Why should not we see this “our so called dress” as a strain on our psychology and our freedom of mind? It is a type of cloak on our minds and it is a representative of that. The cloak is more than five kg’s heavy, an unnecessary burden on our bodies and minds. Further, it takes a lot of time to manage it, to wash it and to maintain it. Pheran also inculcates into us some kind of filthiness. The so called dress is washed on after few weeks and care are taken to either get black or some other colour which must not be washed again and again.
The oppressors of every nation have used these covert means to control and subjugate masses. It is interesting to see that after Akbar’s invasion the quality of “revolutionary” literature has come down severely. And it has reached the lowest ebb. The gown which was introduced into our culture, I mean subjugated culture, is not only physical but is emotional, psychological and even mental. It is a drag on our bodies and reduces the mental health. The consequences are so grave that even now the gown is used in summers as well; it should have only been for winters depending on the situation.
Today Kashmir needs new dimensions and “new Kashmiri man and women” who is versatile, energetic, brave and emancipated. It is to be seen which will more impact, a stone or throwing out of our “oppressive robes”. Removing the gown will remove from our lives the many years of oppression on our bodies and on history. Not only it will make our bodies stronger but will lead to mental revolution, a gown is a cloak on every aspect of life in Kashmiri. Remove it and be a revolutionary and bring a revolution.
The author teaches Economics at Kashmir University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Oracle Opinions.