…the call to rejoice ‘Teher’
“Shureiw Mureiw Teherai”… This verse line in Kashmiri may seem to be very trivial at first but these are the lovely magical words that used to magnetize a stampede of overwhelmingly uptight crowd, consisting of desperate kids, men, women or any riffraff stroller passing by. These words for rejoicing the modest treat of Kashmiri fried rice, commonly called as Teher, used to be a temptation call from decades. Alas from the last few years it declined to resonate in the streets of Kashmir with the same vivacious fervor.
On scrutinizing the stanza lexically, it becomes clear that Shuir in Kashmiri means kids and Teher means the fried rice. And thus the call is openly inviting kids for the treat but funnily enough everyone on hearing the call despite of the age, sex, color,(I am not sure about the religion here) throngs the doorstep originating the invitation call. The ages old custom of preparing Teher at home and then distributing it on the streets to the people passing by was a wellspring of brotherhood or I should say a symbol of Kashmiriyat. A trivial attempt in tracing back the roots of the cult of Teher in Kashmir reveals that the culture started as a part of religious sanctity, with people of faith participating vivaciously in thanksgiving. But the religious certainty of this blissful culture failed to convince my wisdom since there are other colossal controversial beliefs regarding the same as well. Some sects are supporting it with good reasons like charity and thanksgiving where as others come up with their arguable refusals. Whatever is its precision, it has developed all the way long into a fully flourished custom in Kashmir and that’s a fact.
The memoirs of Shureiw Mureiw Teherai are not very old. I vividly remember when I was a kid, the call used to stimulate the adrenaline rush in me and others alike. The caller, typically a crier Kashmiri woman, used to step out of her home with a big cauldron of freshly prepared ‘Teher’ and then started calling people in an earsplitting Kashmiri tone…Shureiw Mureiw Teherai. The devotees on hearing the tangy call appeared before the caller with their bare hands open, as if in supplication, and enjoyed the Teher with their naked hands while the others used to run for their respective homes for bringing containers to collect their share. Well the recipe was not carrying any magical ingredient as such; nevertheless the relief it used to provide to the people passing by is far admirable. Plus the way the call used to attract the crowd is remarkable. It felt like the preparer of the Teher has put some magical elixir to attract the crowd much the same way as the storybook pied piper tuned to magnetize all the petite rats along.
Despite of so much enthusiasm and highly enthralling involvement, the custom is somewhat losing its edge. Rightly said that time changes, so do we and hence did the custom of Teher. The high brows, considering it a meager job to distribute Teher on their doorway, have devised other more modern methods of thanksgiving. They find it as an orthodox custom not suiting their “modern” standards. As a result nowadays we rarely hear the call of “Shureiw Mureiw Teherai”. But luckily enough there are some special occasions like Muharram and Eid-e-milad(SAW) when there is a maximum prospect of Teher in Kashmir. In addition people mostly cook out Teher as a thanksgiving for any casual good news as for someone’s wellbeing. Hilariously someone passing the extremely hard-fought examination of 8th or 10th standard also counts for one good reason of preparing Teher in Kashmir. Well that’s enough to a make a cat laugh…Ha-ha.
Although the custom of Teher is diminishing to iota but the memoirs entangled with it are worth not less than gold. So next time you hear the reverberations of “Shureiw Mureiw Teherai” in Srinagar streets, better stop and rejoice the tangy appetizing Teher. May be the good old days of your childhood will get revitalized.
Author: - Abdul Wajid Parray, Engineering Student, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra Haryana.
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