J&K: Shahida turn her ancestral house into museum to preserve Gujjar cultural heritage

Srinagar,  A 25-year-old Shahida Khanum has turned her ancestral home into a museum to preserve the cultural heritage of Gujjar tribe.

A resident of Aragam village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district seeks to revive the traditional attire of his tribe. Aragam village in north Kashmir overlooks Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Wular.

“My aim is that the Gujjar Bakarwal tribe should get a place to represent themselves in the nation and the world somewhere so that the community could also move forward with others”, Shahida told UNI.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA), Shahida did her initial studies from the Government Girls School Aragam and completed class XII from the higher secondary School of the village. She graduated from the Government women’s college Srinagar in 2020.

When asked what made her turn the ancestral home in a museum, she said “I had been to Bhopal in 2016 to attend a function “Lok Rang” programme during my schooling days. It was very painful for me that I could not find the costume of my tribe anywhere there that hurts me”.

“From the day I made up my mind that whatever the cultural belongings of our tribe was will be preserved and I successfully did that by turning my ancestral home into a museum at Aragam”, she said.

Shahida has kept all belongings of her tribe in the museum including cultural dresses, traditional headgears, shawls, utensils and a charkha for the exhibition of the people.

She said local people often visit to see the museum but people from the far flung areas and tourists are yet to turn to see the tribe’s cultural heritage.

“It may be due to less awareness and publicity, people are not yet turning to experience my museum,” she said.

Shahid wants to showcase the cultural heritage of Gujjar tribe at the national and the international level.

She said that the government should help us to take forward the people of Gujjar Bakarwal community alongwith other communities of Jammu and Kashmir. So far no help or appreciation came from the local administration, she added.

Shahida is also running a Noor tailoring cutting and stitching center for the past one year in which she is providing free training to the girls of her tribe and others of the village.

She said presently she is providing training to 25 Girls of the Aragam village and had trained 50 girls in the last batch.

“The tribe is very downtrodden and could not afford much so I decided to provide the training free of cost”, she said.

In reply to a question about why not try for a government job, Shahida said “I tried to get the government job but that could not happen and presently I am looking after my museum to explore it in a big way”.