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A Collection of Kashmiri Music, Bhajans and Prayers for Kashmiri Pandit Festivals



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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri


Glimpses: A Cultural Heritage

Music & Dance

Kashmir, since ancient times, has been known as a centre of art, literature and scholarship. The art of drama too draws ancient lineage here, its origins being traced to the Bhand, minstrels who moved from house to house entertaining valley dwellers. This later gave way to the Pather, a spectacle full of satire and humour. As elsewhere, early dance was based on religion and on the populist faith of good overpowering evil, as in the Dhamali.

Essentially, the dances of Jammu can be classified into four forms, mostly folk and community based, in character. The Bindloo and the Jagarna are both dances set to the theme of marriage and marital relationships. The Bhakhan details the joys and sorrows of lovers' meetings and partings. The Kud is a thanksgiving dance performed before the local deity. Other season-based dances are the Phummian, Bhangra and Dandaras.

It is in Kashmir that the folk-plays or Pathers are popular. Another notable dance is the Roff, performed by women on the occasion of Idd.

Popular songs are the Chhakri and the Hafiz Naghma. The music of Kashmir, Sufiana Kalam, combines elements of Indian and Iranian music, and the most popular instrument is the Santoor. Several rages and mukams are common to Kashmiri and Persian music.

Because of the rarified atmosphere of the Ladakh mountains, dancing and singing movements here are more subdued. On religious festivals and fairs, the Ladakhis don colourful brocade costumes and participate in community dances to the accompaniment of drums, shehnais and narsinghas. Scenes from myths and legends are enacted and in simplistic portrayals the dancers wear large and exotic papier-mache masks depicting forms evil and good. Like elsewhere in Buddhist settlements, the snow-lion dance is popular and brings to the state a carnival-like ambience.

Musical instruments include drums, among them the Damaru, Shnavuk and Daman, and the Shankh or conch shell and the brass Surna which is held by two lamas while the third blows into it.


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