Chasing the fading scent of Rose in Kashmir - Authindia

Chasing the fading scent of Rose in Kashmir

Sitting in a rustic shop arrayed with apothecary vials and the lingering scent of rose in the air, Abdul Aziz Kozgar conjures up the Arq-e-Gulab (Rose water) using 400-year-old Persian technique.

Rosewater has been the essence of Kashmiri tradition for both ornamental and medicinal purposes though its use first originated in ancient Persia as a wellness and beauty secret,  the craft of distillation of rose water and rose syrups waltzed in Kashmir from Turkey almost 400 years ago.

Now Abdul Aziz Kozgar, the craftsman having the visage of a dervish is probably the only surviving rose water maker in Kashmir who still uses the manual technique of extracting rose water brought to the region by his the forefathers of Abdul Aziz Kozgar, who arrived in Kashmir with the son of Iranian scholar Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and settled permanently in the valley. 

Abdul Aziz Kozgar (Picture from Daily Sabah)
Apart from the rose water, Kozgar’s shop is also famous as an apothecary as he  produces syrups and perfumes that carry great historical significance in his shop. He prepares a myriad of herbal syrups such asas “arq tshandan,” “kaah zabaan,” “arqi neelofar” and “gulkand.” These concoctions are utilized orally and do not have any side effects. A traditional and authentic recipe prepared from rose petals and sugar, gulkand, or rose petal jam works miracles for intestines and stomach-related ailments.
 
In the future, this natural distillation technique of rosewater might fade into oblivion, like most things, this too might become a folktale narrated by a few at the corners of the deserted street of the valley.
 
But interestingly the pandemic has taught us the art of seeking comfort in small domestic pleasure, many rare crafts like this have seen the revival lately.

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