K P A Delhi
The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir began as long back as during the reign of Sikander ‘But-shikan’ (‘Destroyer of Idols’), the sixth sultan of the Shah Miri dynasty of Kashmir from 1389 to 1413 CE. After that first exodus, at different times many Kashmiris left their homeland in search of better opportunities for economic upliftment as well as for avenues to utilise their knowledge, skills, intelligence, administrative capabilities, and proficiency in Sanskrit, Persian and English, under British rule.
With a view to maintaining links to their culture and encouraging social interaction among the community spread all over India, they formed informal community groups of Kashmiri Pandits in the areas where they settled. These groups were supported by affluent Kashmiri Pandits, who hosted the community members at at least one jalsa at their spacious bungalows. No doubt marriage alliances were explored and forged at these!
Initially, there were two individuals associations, one in Delhi and the other in Lahore (now in Pakistan). The one in Lahore was quite active and held one or two functions every year for Kashmiri Pandit (KP) families. This event helped all the families to meet, usually in the afternoon, rounding it up with tea and snacks.
After Partition in 1947, Kashmiri Pandit families moved out of Lahore and settled mostly in Delhi, Lucknow and Allahabad, among other cities. These families were not familiar with the Kashmiri language, with many generations not having spoken it. The people at the helm of affairs at the Lahore Kashmiri Pandit Association (KPA) and decided to merge the association with the KPA, Delhi.
The get-togethers of the community continued. At these, the elders socialized while the children kept themselves entertained by singing songs, reciting poems or taking part in games. Prizes were given to the deserving. The only source of funds was donations from affluent families. Pt. Dinanath Raina was the permanent Secretary and he made a huge contribution to the success of the association.
The KPA Delhi’s activities included helping needy KP families with modest financial assistance as well as giving stipends for children who passed the class 8 and 10 exams with distinction. The KPA, over time, compiled a directory of their members across India. Soon this group became numerous enough to formalise it with an elected and nominated executive to manage the affairs of the group.
The basic objective of the Kashmiri Pandit Association is to forge and sustain cohesiveness in the community with interactions at regular get-togethers, and through a newsletter that archives information related to Kashmiri Pandits and raises issues of concern to the community.