Pulwama, July 24: Ghulam Mohammad Wani, an octogenarian, is running a traditional oil mill at Namlabal locality in saffron town of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
He is sitting on a wooden rotator driven by an ox; this traditional extractor churns around 5 kilograms of oil a day from locally purchased mustard seeds.
Wani, a lean and aged person, has been running this traditional oil extractor for around 70 years; initially, he used to earn a decent amount from this profession but not now.
“The returns are very low these days,” Wani said, adding that the earnings fall short in arranging daily needs of his family.
He informed Rising Kashmir that he is being urged by his family members to give up this trade because working in a traditional oil mill is a laborious job. Low returns are also a factor.
However, aged Wani pays no heed to their pleas. He enjoys his profession singing melodious songs.
What keeps Wani motivated is his expired father’s last will.
“When my father was on death bed, he summoned me,” Wani recalled, adding that his father advised him to carry on this profession throughout his life.
The aged Wani inherited this trade from his father when he was in class 4th. He dropped out of school and started running the oil mill along with his father.
There were around 20 such traditional oil mills in the saffron town at that time. In those days such mills were a usual feature in each village and town of Kashmir. The trade was mostly practiced by Teli and Wani tribes of Kashmir.
Farmers would get their mustard seeds churned at those mills. They would take the oil home for cooking dishes. The oil mill owners, who were named as Waen, were paid in kind. Barter system was prevalent in Kashmir those days.
“Farmers would give oil cakes for churning oil,” Wani said.
With technological evolution modern electricity drive oil mils replaced these traditional oil extractors.
People started buying packed oil from the market and the Tile Waen profession gradually lost its sheen.
However, Wani has some loyal customers; around eight families from the Shah clan of Pampore are regular buyers.
Other customers travel from different parts of Kashmir to buy this pure quality oil obtained from locally grown mustard crops.
“They use the oil for hair growth and body massage," he said.