Life is filled with dreams. Some small and some big. Dreams do teach us to be hopeful. If young souls work hard and believe in themselves, their dreams can absolutely come true. As the saying goes “Young minds are the promise of our future”and they must be cultivated with care.On a bright sunny day while I was enjoying my cup of hot coffee, I came across a tall and slender young man with medium complexion and narrow face from Rajwar area. He was grazing his livestock amongst the beautiful meadows of Bangus valley. I called upon the young guy to join me for coffee. He agreed with a beautiful smile on his face. I asked him “What is your name young man?” He replied “Ramzan Gujjar”. He seemed a bit shy at the beginning. And then I went on to ask Ramzan about his culture and people. The guy with sheer confidence started saying that Gujjar community has a unique cultural and linguistic identity and the ways they had developed a culture of their own adjusting with local environment. He further added that Gujjar men and women wear Salwar Kameez. The Salwar worn by both men and women is known as Suthaan and the Kammez is known as Kurti. Mostly men wear Salwar Kammez, Waskat and Pagheri(Turban) while women wear Salwar Kammez, shawl and cap. The Gujjar’s mostly speak in their own language which is called “Gojri”. Ramzan sounded very proud and fond of his culture.As the ice broke between us, I asked him about his future aspirations. As soon as I asked this question, Mr. Ramzan fell silent and after a few seconds of pause, he replied with a tone of disappointment and sadness that “the Gujjar’s never dream big. We are basically poor and considered backward in all streams of life”. He further added that presently he is pursuing graduation from Degree College, Handwara and his dream is to secure a government job. Apart from his studies, Ramzan was helping his parents in grazing the livestock and his fellow Gujjar’s by teaching their kids. This young man is working hard for the upliftment of his community.We talked at length about the beautiful places of valley. At the end of our conversation, I asked Ramzan, “What is your dream for yourself and your community?”. He answered “Kashmiriyat should prevail in the valley and the discrimination of Gujjar community must be stopped”. I assured him that valley would soon prevail in communal peace and harmony. I informed him that the administration and Government are taking all the steps for the upliftment by providing ST status to the Gujjar community. He nodded his head with a smile on his face. He looked hopeful. He then left to take his cattle for grazing.This young boy left me thinking about the culture that touches so many parts of our diverse country but is still blossoming under belly of the valley. It is sad that people of Gujjar community are looked down upon and their rich culture and tradition is not getting the requisite exposure and recognition they deserve. Gujjars are simple people who love their life, their lands, and this country.

Leave a Reply