The call of the Valley
14 February 2007
Bangalore: Jammu and Kashmir Food Festival being held in city Efforts to revive cultural programmes paying off. 'Shive Tchuye Sthale Sthale Razaan, Mao Zaan Huend Tae Musalmaan... ' (Your conscience is keeping a watch over you, do not divide the Kashmiris into Hindus and Muslims). These and other verses of Lal Ded (or Laleshwari), 14th century Kashmiri saint-poet, considered by many as a Sufi, propagate the philosophy of oneness of God and the sharing of common beliefs among different faiths in the Valley. 'This is the essence of the unique Sufi tradition of Kashmir, which propagates the philosophy of peace and harmony,' says Mir Munir, a Kashmiri Sufi singer. Mr. Munir and a cultural troupe of singers and Rauf dancers are in the city to perform at the Jammu and Kashmir Food Festival being held at the Jayamahal Palace Hotel till February 15. The explosion of grenades has not been able to drown the harmonious strains of 'Sufiyana Mousaqi' or Sufi music in the beautiful Kashmir Valley. This form of music and Sufi poetry is drawn from the rituals and teachings of the Sufis or Muslim mystics and has a strong influence on the thinking and way of life of Kashmiris. During the 1990s, not many musical programmes were organised because of the militancy and terror in the valley. 'But now it is not so. There has been a concerted effort by artistes from many years in the Valley to revive the tradition of regular cultural programmes and performances and this is paying off,' Syed Shahnawaz of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation said. 'All music and dance in Kashmir has a spiritual base. The songs are mostly sung in chakri, a folk form of music, and most of the Sufi poetry are in praise of the Prophet and talks about unification with God,' he said. 'Sufiyana Mousiqi' is generally accompanied by instruments such as the Santoor, Sarangi, Thumak and Harmonium. The Rauf dance usually has six to seven girls dancing to the tune of folk music and is traditionally performed during Ramzan, when they come out of their homes after breaking their fast. According to Shafiq Qureshi, manager of the cultural troupe and a director himself who has made many films on the Valley, Kashmiri Sufism is different from the Sufi traditions of other parts of India. 'Unlike the Sufi traditions elsewhere, in Kashmir, 'Sufiyana Mousiqi' is mostly performed at homes of elderly persons and heads of communities and not so much in dargahs and mazaars.' Whatever peace and brotherhood remains is probably because of the Sufi traditions of the region, believes Mr. Munir.