Mushtaq Ul-Haq Ahmad Sikander on the once amicable social relationships of Muslims & Pandits in Kashmir:
“As my father started calling his childhood Pandit friends, that included his colleagues and acquaintances to greet them on Shivratri that is locally known in Kashmir as Heraath and second day is called salaam, I could feel the warmth of their relationship that youth of my age missed as Pandit minority had left as we were born. From the conversation of my father who is a practising Muslim and his Pandit friends one could not guage their religious Identity. His Pandit friends used words like Khuda, insha’Allah and my father responded with terms like Dayii(God) and Naaneyy(meat). He asked them if they had cooked meat and fish on this festive occasion. Some responded with yes while others said that meat markets are too far from their places where they reside. So they missed cooking fish. It was a sad part that Heraath has lost its charm for Pandits who have left their home and hearth due to political turmoil. My mother added that government in Kashmir used to make special arrangements for Pandits to make fish available for them. Kashmiri Pandits unlike North Indian brahmins are not vegetarian. Parents informed me that Muslims and Pandits would buy mutton from the same muslim butcher and used to eat it halaal. Also Kashmiri Muslims respected Pandit tradition by not eating beef.
Also on this occasion walnuts that were soaked in water previously for few days were distributed by Pandits among their muslim friends and neighbors. These traditions are now a nostalgic memory even for my parents. Our rich tradition lost immensely due to the exodus of Pandit minority. The shared spaces, syncretic culture and indigenous tradition are alien to the new generation of Pandit and Muslim youth of Kashmir. Given the alienation from the past in next few decades if Pandit and Muslim unity, dialogue and people to people contact is not initiated, the indigenous rishi tradition will die a silent death that will be mourned by none.”