‘Kashmiri Culture has Plummeted Almost to its Lowest Ebb’: Veteran Artists
Mukhtar Ahmed (Kashmir Images)
Srinagar: The foray of Bollywood and Hollywood songs in the Valley has left a deep impression on the popularity of traditional folk songs to a great extent, veteran Kashmiri singers say. They said that gone are the days, when folk songs would sway the listeners to the tee.
One of the famous veteran singers, Abdul Gaffar Kanihami observed that things were different before the dose of entertainment progammes, besides the chart busters from Indian film industry and western music made Kashmiris, particularly the youth to shake a leg.
“The popularity of Lol-gevun (love songs) was unmatched during its heydays as youth would convey their feelings through it. But, since the foot tapping numbers from outside began to hold their verve and vim in Kashmir, listeners have developed a great taste for as from cell phones to the tape recorders, Bollywood and Hollywood songs are playing blaringly loud here. As a result of this, the folk songs received a huge set back as the listeners, particularly youngsters were swooned away by the charm of these songs,” Kanihami told ‘Kashmir Images.’
Shifting his focus to other traditional songs, Kanihami said that ‘Rouf songs’ were very popular on festivals like ‘EID’ and other social functions. “These songs were order of the day of every cultural function in Kashmir those days. Young boys and girls would assemble at a selected place or on the marriage and festival ceremonies and would enchant the audiences out of their wits. Commenting on the cultural shows presented by “Bhand’s”, Kanihami said that when it was announced that “Bhand Pather” shows are being presented somewhere, people would rush to that place in crowds to witness them cracking rib-tickling and belly-bursting jokes, besides drum beating and playing of ‘Sarnai’.
“Despite being alive, folk songs and other traditional entertainment programs have hardly any takers today. Even though Kashmiris, particularly, youngsters have off late developed interest for Sufiana songs, but need of the hour is to popularize them in order to bring our folk songs back on their pedestal,” he suggested.
Mohammad Abdullah Tariballi, another veteran singer recollected the memories of rustic songs (Nendi Ba’eth) that village folks used to sing during weeding season. “I still remember that during weeding of paddy fields, men either individually or in groups used to sing in chorus. The effect of the songs was so embalming that hardly anyone noticed the passing of time,” Tariballi recounted, adding that ‘Sount Gevun’ (spring songs) was also a sensation as the coming of spring season was welcomed with it. He lamented that Kashmiri culture has plummeted almost to its lowest ebb as gone are the days when boys, girls, men and women would assemble in hordes and take part in cultural functions. These were so austere that even a poor man would afford the instruments. “Our lackadaisical approach and arrival of non-Kashmiri songs took away the sheen of folk songs here. Nowadays, it is rare that you see someone commenting to know anything about Kashmiri folk songs,” he rued.
Mohammad Yousuf Chaari, while commenting on the soul-soothing effect of Kashmiri folk songs said that Wanwun (wedding songs) were sung to make the marriage ceremony jostling and an irresistible occasion. He said that these wedding songs had a unique distinction as women would wait with baited breath and count the days left for their relatives or neighbors’ marriage ceremony. “Now we see Bollywood videos and songs bedecking the arrival and departure of the groom,” said Chaari, adding “These marriage songs were a huge hit with both Kashmiri Pundits and Muslims.”