Keran was its vibrant best, everything was back, the noise, the smiles and the unending chatter and banter for which this place is hugely famous!
-‘The Grand Keran carnival generated tremendous goodwill and provided the villagers in this remote part of the country, a platform to showcase their talents. They came in all the colors which we can think of and filled the mightily beautiful landscape even making the heavenly invisible Gods smile and say, ‘this is the Kashmir we created for these lovely people’!
-‘Capt Tania Shergill, Indian Army’s first Woman Commander of an all-male Republic Day contingent, Ms Ishrat Akhter, first International wheelchair basketball player from Baramulla, Ms Yana Mir, media panelist and Dr Mehar Rather, social worker all added a special flavor to the entertaining magnum opus on the playgrounds of Keran on the final day as they spilled their hearts out with some resounding words of substance as was expected from the women who have been great achievers in the valley and are the modern day idols for the young, bold and beautiful growing up in Kashmiri kids to be big stars on the already star studded horizons of Kashmir’!
-‘The pandemic had taken away some sheen as the vibrancy in Kashmir went, thus something special was required to get the clatter and chatter back to add hues and the enthusiastic fervor back in the life of the villagers residing in the remote areas of Keran Sector. The annual Keran fun fair (Mela)was organized by the Army and the locals after a gap of two years. The event finally culminated on 06th October 2021. Lt Gen DP Pandey, GOC Chinar Corps was the Chief Guest on the final day but the promise was that we would back in the year 2022 and that for sure would happen’!
-‘Such occasions make Kashmir special where the kids and the people express themselves to give away invisible messages to mankind such as, stop giving a few people with evil minds the power to control your smile, your worth, your attitude and your day. Don’t give anyone that much power over your life and happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are in. Agreed that there is still the occasional hiss of the snakes moving about but the power of the people can break any shackle and thwart of the lurking dangers. Looking at the spirit of the Awaam that gathered day after day on the expansive playfields of Keran it was clear that the new generation of kids are on the move on the roads that were not taken in the last three decades’!
-‘From the motivational lectures the above mentioned wonder ladies gave, it could be made out that positivity was the silent theme expressed in great effective words. This is what I could interpret, to everyone battling a difficulty or under attack on the psyche and the mind, smile, keep your head up, keep moving and stay positive, you’ll get through it. We are almost there just a few more leaps away from the oceans of love, peace and prosperity. Just smile your way with that piercing flash in your eyes, do that even though you have nothing to celebrate. Celebrate the fact that you can smile and enjoy life. Some people don’t have nearly half of what you have and they are smiling just because they can. Thus keep moving and do what once was thought as impossible’!
-‘Music is a part of Kashmiri culture and it was the melodious and mellifluous music that added its own charm to the natural one which always reverberates in the lavish picturesque valley of Kupwara. The cultural presentation by Zahoor Gilani group was the real show stopper and it was a wholesome tribute to the rich Kashmiri culture which has spread its aura all over the nation and the world. The musical, ear and eye pleasing display kept everyone spell bound in a maze of colors that the artistes presented, promoting happiness and bonhomie and thus was the show stopper with songs by famous local artist Waqar Khan. But the real fun was to see local youths dancing and gyrating to the beats of the songs and celebrating with the army jawans! ‘The Awaam had surely risen to the great flights take by the Jawaan to the magnificent Muqaam (destination) where Aman (peace) is written all over’! Culture and Tourism
The street winds over the hill like a carelessly discarded belt, green and grown with age and times as the years rolled over. On each side the houses are separated by yards large enough to accommodate farm animals, but this is no rural district. The homes are many times larger than even the biggest of families might need, yet in each are mostly parents with children. To each dwelling there are more props than people and kitchens that cost more than our homes. The brass pots, the samawar smoking and brewing what in local parlance is called nun chai, the massive brass plates and glasses, the fabulous copper utensils and a variety of dastarkhan’s neatly packed in the kitchen cupboards but come the meal times it’s quite a sight to see the people huddled together as they eat in their own typical style. The leafy green trees and the relative safety now that the soldiers patrol. Readers this is Keran for you, a place of beauty that would make you fall in love with instantly. I did when I was young and still am as I move into my middle age!
It is here that this annual festival is held but could not be held last year and the reasons were obvious. But now this is a part of the folklore and obviously a tradition to follow in future as the years move on. But in the present one i.e. 2021 which is coming to an end, this was another fairy tale event for the people in Keran and adjoining villages. For the lovely people of Kupwara this was a lovely affair where love blew kisses for everyone to spread the sweet fragrance which carried with it only one thing, love for humanity can reach you a peaceful world. For sure Kupwara is a very different world today!
I. The mega festival:
The Mela included many sports events, including eternally with Kashmiri kids, cricket, volleyball, athletics, cross country and tug of war, besides cultural programs for the villages of the Keran Sector.
The fair commenced on 18 Aug 2021 and culminated on 06 Oct 2021 as I mentioned earlier in the piece. It witnessed a very active and enthusiastic participation of eighteen teams from various parts of Keran Sector besides teams from areas of Kupwara district too.
The Cricket Tournament was clinched by Cobra XI Kralpora Team. Cricket was followed by an energy filled and nail-biting Volleyball competition between six teams of Keran Sector with Keran Team bagging the trophy. Other competitions also saw actvi participation of all villages.
With Women Empowerment being the theme of the event, several women achievers were also invited and attended it, including Capt Tania Shergill, Indian Army’s first Woman Commander of an all-male Republic Day Contingent, Ms Ishrat Akhter, first International wheelchair basketball player from Baramulla, Ms Yana Mir, media panellist and Dr Mehar Rather, social worker, all of whom gave motivational talks to the locals of Keran Sector.
The gizmo and glitz loaded finale commenced on 06 October 2021, with the flag hoisting by Lt Gen DP Pandey and releasing of tri color balloons. This was followed by a march past by the NCC Cadets of Keran Sector. The events organized on the culminating day included finals of volleyball, tug of war, javelin and 100m sprint for children.
Several firsts in this year’s Keran Mela included, the walkathon competition for women, javelin throw, inflatable bouncy rides, food stalls by popular eateries of Baramulla and Srinagar. All of these were seen on the final day of the celebrations with 100 feet high hydrogen balloons creating the polka dot canvas on the skyline. Distribution of trophies to winners by Lt Gen DP Pandey, marked the successful culmination of the Mela.
DC Kupwara, also attended the event and interacted with locals and gained valuable inputs about various projects and requirements. The locals expressed their gratitude and appreciation towards the Army for the successful conduct of Keran Mela!
The fair started with a lot of smiles on the faces of everyone and ended on the same note. The fair was all about love, peace and carrying a smile always. So the final message was clear, love is absolutely free to give, but its true value is priceless! It could be heard as well as seen as the people walked back home after the elaborate show ended for the year 2021 but surely would be back in 2022!