Meet This Old Man Who Runs Only Traditional Oil Mill Of Kashmir 

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Ubaid Shaffi

Photo: Ubaid Shaffi

     Photo: Ubaid Shaffi

 Haji Ghulam Mahommad Teli an old man proudly owns and runs a ( Tilven waan) a traditional oil mill in the Kreeri area of  north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. It is the only of its kind traditional mill probably operating in the valley.

The mill remains a major landmark in the area of (Tilven Mohalla) where once every family was associated with this profession but left with the invention of new technology in food and processing sector and diminishing scope for the traditional technology.  But Ghulam Mohammad stood tall and firm to continue the family legacy since last 60 years with zeal and vigor like his ancestors.

This old man wakes up in the wee hours of morning to start his routine work of extracting oil; it takes him minimum three to four hours to get 4 liters of mustard oil which he latter carries on his shoulders to different nearby villages to sell at Rs 100 a litre.

“When I was a child I used to accompany my father to nearby villages to sell mustard oil and now I am carrying his profession forward” says Ghulam Mohammad.

Over the six decades of its existence, the mill saw no change but Mohammad constructed a new house near to the mill but left the family business untouched.

Many a times, his family members insisted him to give up this profession like his other family members and neighbors, Mohammad, however, seems quite satisfied and convinced in carrying on the legacy.

  “I didn’t talk to my family members for a month because they were saying I should stop this work and destruct my traditional mill, but I didn’t gave up.” 

Photo: Ubaid Shaffi

Photo: Ubaid Shaffi

With the arrival of many oil brands in the market, the demand for extracted mustered oil has dropped sharply; but Mohammad retains all his customers. He didn’t lose any of his customers and delivers the oil to them every month.

“People prefer market oil now days but there was a time when people were waiting in queue outside my home to get fresh oil, but still I have some permanent customers who are buying this oil from us since decades” says Mohammad.

The traditional mill is made of wood that is run by using bull to extract oil from mustard seeds. The animal moves around the wooden scooped circular pit in the centre, as the animal moves in the circular ambit, it exerts lateral pressure, aims to crushing the seeds in the pit to extract oil. The bull that is used for extracting oil would not to be used for any other work.

The oil extracted by this traditional method is considered to be pure and good for health and quality of which cannot be matched with market oil.

Photo: Ubaid Shaffi

Photo: Ubaid Shaffi

He made a good property out of this work, and went to Mecca to perform annual Islamic pilgrimage besides also married off his six children who are now all well settled. 

But the seeds required for extraction of organic oil are gradually diminishing. Mohammad is facing tough time in finding the crop in his vicinity with lesser people cultivating it.

Owing to non availability of crop, Mohammad is pondering over to wind up the mill.

“I am not getting the seeds anymore now since very less people are cultivating mustard oil crops in their fields. As the deficiency of raw material is rising, it may force me to shut the business very soon,” he rues. 

The mustard oil is used by the people in many ways from cooking to hair care massage, and it is also used as a cure for many skin diseases.

“The traditional oil can be used for cooking but we have different types of oils in the market that are more refined and health friendly then traditional oil. It can be used for massaging and smoothening the skin as it helps to eradicate the dryness in skin,” said a dermatologist, Dr Inayat.

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