Bharat, A Confused Kashmiri Tradition

This is a Shia holiday that honors the anniversary of the birthday 12th imam, a key historical figure for Shia Islam. It is a sort of a day of the dead, when Kashmiris mourn the recently or long ago deceased by placing candles on their flat-laying tombstones. One would envision a solemn occasion, and from these pictures it might appear to be, but for some strange reason it is also part 4th of July, and the celebrants, especially the younger ones, set off dozens and dozens of firecrackers, tossing them wherever they wish and creating a grating cacophony.

As I was taking this first picture on the roof of a pavilion overlooking the cemetery some bright youngster threw a pack right between my legs – Pow! Puh-puh-pu-puh-pu-Pow-POW! And of course I jumped and started to yell at them but they laughed it off and nobody much seemed to mind. I pretty much shrugged it off, but you know what, celebrating is one thing and setting miniature explosives to a man’s crotch is quite another. Anyway, I crawled down from the roof and kept snapping, but I could only get this single quality shot because a crowd of ankle-biters quickly gathered in a train behind me and disturbed every solemn moment on which I choose to focus. The firecrackers also became a bit much so I trudged home scratching my head.
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