Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Affluence Takes its Toll

One of the victims of growing affluence is fading interest in Kashmiri culture

‘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.”

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