An effort to rebuild a community far away from home in the 1950s and 1960s lent an unfamiliar name, in an unfamiliar language, to a residential colony in the heart of Delhi — Pamposh Enclave.
As the first wave of Kashmiri Pandits who migrated to the capital in the late 1940s worked towards building their first community here, they decided to name it after the lotus which grows in the Dal Lake, or the pamposh in Kashmiri.
Dr B B Dhar, a resident of the area and president of the Kashmir Education Culture and Science Society, recalled how the idea of the enclave was conceived. “By the late 1940s, there was a good number of Kashmir Brahmins who had moved out of the state and begun settling in different parts of Delhi. Most of them took up lower level government jobs, in the capacity of clerks and likewise, and were scattered around the city in Lajpat Nagar, Karol Bagh, RK Puram and other Government of India colonies. A group of these new settlers began to meet in order to discuss getting their own place, a place for the community. They approached the central government, which was sympathetic,” Dhar said.
This stretch of then-forested land to the Southeast of the capital centre was allotted to a newly created Kashmiri cooperative housing society in the late 1950s, and the process of allotting plots to families began in 1961.
Then remained the task of giving this newly created residential area a name.
A name chosen by members of the community, Pamposh was different from names of many post-Partition refugee colonies which were named by the government after heroes of the new nation, such as Lajpat Nagar, Malviya Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Patel Nagar, Subhash Nagar, and so on.
The settlers did not choose to commemorate a personality as was common with Delhi’s street and locality names, but instead decided on an emotive symbol.
“Our forefathers in the general council of the cooperative society considered multiple options. It was significant — it was to be a mini Kashmir, the first colony to be set up after the migration began. They ultimately chose to name it after the lotus, which holds meaning for all Kashmiris,” said Arun Shalia, one of the oldest residents of the area.
“It is a symbol of home for Kashmiris. It grows in our lakes. Even more significant than the flower is what is beneath it — the nadru or the lotus stem which is used in our cuisine and is a source of livelihood for many. The blooming of the lotus is also symbolic of how our forefathers wanted the community to grow in this new home,” Dhar said.