[Our Overland stay in Kashmir coincided with the three day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) that marks the end of the Hajj to Mecca. It commemorates the trials of the Prophet Abraham who was asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Sheep are killed and the mutton shared out with family, friends and the poor. There is much visiting and we called on our houseboat hosts and shared macaroons. In a rather Scoto-centric way, I likened this to First Footing at New Year.]
THURSDAY 2ND DECEMBER, 1976
“Moslem festival – killing of sheep for each family; like their Xmas. They have a three day holiday. Had lie in till 9, then as well as the usual 3 course breakfast, we were presented with cake and macaroons by Gulam’s little girl – very solemn kid with lovely brown eyes. Today they’d been made up and she was in a wide green dress with a hanky pinned to the front and little red shoes. [a letter home reports that ‘she was a big friend by the time we left!’]
Had a really lazy day sitting around writing letters and postcards. Outside heard them all singing in the mosques – place deserted until 11.30; all go to mosque (only Noor left). Saw the father going off in shikara. Watched them all streaming back from mosque – festive air, fire-works (bangers) going off all the time.
Lovely Kashmiri meal cooked by father – 2 different cooked dishes of mutton in lovely masala sauces, cauliflower and rice. Followed by banana and custard. Had cold beer when Geoff and Fred popped in.
Went to see Noor’s father and Gulam’s wife and son in houseboat behind ours – really cold and bare – each room exposed to the outside – big open windows. Rocked a lot. Proudly shown each room (4 of them) then a fire at the far end and kitchen area at the other. Pointed out Koran and photos. (Noor showed photos of his wedding – him in turban with a necklace of rupees. Loads of family. He had painted nails which showed he was married recently). Apparently family visit each other during this festival (like New Year First Footing). In kitchen, dangerous looking contraption – electrical wires in a bucket of water.
Later on we went and called at Geoff’s boat and had tea with Ian – the only one in. He’d been ill and not out at all. His news was that fares going up at home. Went to “Pandora” – Chris, Nicki, Shirl, Bill, Janice and Ann. Saw Nicki’s lovely rug. Big argument about how much to tip the houseboys – Shirl believes part of their job to receive a tip.
Had another jeweller in that night – no business. Hot shower.”