Turkish craftsman brings rose water to life in Kashmir

Celebrated as a symbol of love and often associated with romance, the rose has a history of 35 million years. Although it is cultivated for ornamental purposes, it also has various medicinal uses as it contains antioxidants.

It has been known for centuries that the rose creates a feeling of well-being and has powerful effects on physical, emotional and even spiritual health. Therefore, this plant has gained an important place in Turkish culture, playing an influential role in cuisine, cosmetics, medical uses, poetry and literature with all its benefits.

A pink rose garden. (Photo Shutterstock)

Rose water is one of the most common products extracted from this beautiful plant. It originated in ancient Persia as a secret of wellness and beauty. Although widely used in cosmetics today, it serves as a remedy for many health problems.

Rose water rejuvenates and hydrates the skin and also acts as a facial cleanser. The antibacterial properties it contains make this liquid an ideal agent for cleaning the residual dirt on the scalp and thus it also works as an ingredient in hair serum.

In addition, this liquid has many health benefits. Pure steam-distilled rose water is used as a remedy to prevent itchy eyes, sore throats and intestines. Its direct and oral use is known to treat a number of mental health issues. Thus, it also has antidepressant and anxiolytic properties.

Rose watermaker

The rose is called “gulaab” in Kashmir, and these plants are cultivated on a small scale in this region compared to Turkey. However, rose water is as popular in the region as it is in Anatolian lands.

Rose water acts as an ingredient in hair serums due to its antibacterial properties.  (Photo Shutterstock)

Rose water is found in all Turkish homes.  (Photo Shutterstock)

Interestingly, the craft of distilling rose water and rose syrups came from Turkey to Kashmir. This authentic manual technique of extracting rose water was introduced in the region 400 years ago by the ancestors of Abdul Aziz Kozgar, who arrived in Kashmir with the son of Iranian scholar Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and settled permanently. in the valley.

Kozgar inherited this skill from his father Habibullah Kozgar and kept this secret for a long time.

During the production process, Kozgar boils rose petals and other herbs in a cauldron, and the vapors that pass through the mass of coils are condensed and distilled. Kozgar’s shop in Srinagar is filled with old glass jars and pictures of Sufi saints in a rosy atmosphere.

The craft of preparing rose syrups and perfumes, as well as its production and demand have declined over the years in Kashmir. Although some came to Kozgar to learn the trade, they generally adopted the mechanical manufacturing method and moved away from manual practice.

Abdul Aziz Kozgar pours local syrup into a glass jar at his shop in Srinagar, Kashmir, June 23, 2012. (AP Photo)

Abdul Aziz Kozgar pours local syrup into a glass jar at his shop in Srinagar, Kashmir, June 23, 2012. (AP Photo)

This is the reason why Kozgar is the last manufacturer of rose water that is not interested in increasing production and continues to carry out the process manually. However, the craftsman sadly witnesses the death of his craft. Although he doesn’t run his shop for money, he wants to keep his ancestor’s legacy.

In addition to rose water, Kozgar also produces syrups and perfumes which are of great historical significance in his shop. He prepares a myriad of herbal syrups such as “arq tshandan”, “kaah zabaan”, “arqi neelofar” and “gulkand”. These syrups are used orally and have no side effects. A traditional and authentic recipe made from rose petals and sugar, gulkand, or rose petal jam works wonders for the intestines and stomach ailments. In addition, scents made from locally grown Kashmir rose or English rose are also widely vaporized at sacred shrines in the valley. But interest in these syrups and perfumes has also waned in recent times.

Although the craftsmanship of the Kozgar family is unlikely to be passed down to subsequent generations, Kashmir will never forget their shop and their efforts to bring this historically and spiritually important flower to the region.

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