Kashmir, Ather Zia, Srinagar, Critical Kashmir Studies, prayer knots, prayer, Islam, Anthropology of Policy, Instagram

These are bits of cloth, threads, even a ring like in this image, tied to the mausoleum door of a famous Muslim saint. Tying prayer knots at shrines is a big part of supplication rituals in Kashmir. Even though religious iconography is discouraged in Islam, for many devotees shrine rituals are pivotal for penitence, and spiritual elevation. A knot historically has been used a mnemonic; as a prayer knot it represents a wish that the saint has to intercede. In lighter vein the knots are posthumous to-do lists for the saints who are perceived as eternally alive, with power to change destinies. I particularly remember Husna, a mother whose son had been disappeared by the Indian troops. She had tied prayer knots in all popular shrines across the valley for her son’s return. Apart from being an activist with the Association of the Parents of the Disappeared, a group that has been searching for the disappeared Kashmiri men, Husna followed an intense spiritual strategy for her son’s return. Visiting shrines, and faith healers was a part of that arsenal. Husna passed away in October 2013; never finding her son, leaving many of the prayer knots untied. And this story is not unique to Husna only. Most mothers and wives of the disappeared continue to wait without reprieve. Kashmir it appears has become the valley of unanswered prayers. –Ather Zia

Image (c) Ather Zia 2016. Originally posted on ASAP Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BI5QihvBe35/?taken-by=anthofpolicy

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