8 September 2016
Mother and Father have come from Jammu to celebrate Vinayak Chorum, known as Pann among the Pandits of Kashmir. On this auspicious day, roth (sweet bread) is made and an age-old story is told. The day marks the end of deprivation and the beginning of prosperity. Mother cleans the kitchen, washes the utensils, kneads the dough and makes roth. Then, in accordance with the ritual, she does what all Pandit women do. She assembles us in front of a vessel containing the roth and recounts a story that has been narrated for generations: Once upon a time in a village in Kashmir lived a woman, her husband and their daughter. They made a living by working in the households of the rich. One day, while working in a house, the girl sees the women making roth. She has never seen such a beautiful sight. When she returns home, she narrates the incident to her parents. Her mother tells her about their past. Once we had everything, says her mother. We celebrated Pann, too. Then, our fortunes changed and we were left with nothing. Sensing her daughter’s despair, the mother goes in search of some wheat and condiments. All she’s able to collect are five grains of wheat. She grinds them, washes them and makes roth. She places the five pieces of roth in a basket and covers them with a lid. Then she offers a prayer for the good times to return. When she lifts the lid off the basket, the five pieces of roth have turned into five gold coins. You returned to us whatever we had lost, she says to God. From now on, we shall always observe Pann on this day.