Spreading cheer

Cultural fest

Delhiites literally tasted Kashmir. ‘Shuhul Taaph’, a three-day Kashmiri festival was recently organised here and saw an active participation of the migrant community in Delhi as well as artistes from Kashmir.

Folk dance: Girls perform at ‘Shuhul Taaph’- a Kashmiri cultural festival.

The Kashmiri Pandit community in Delhi is nearly 3.5 lakh strong and most of them were displaced during the insurgency in the Valley. These migrants formed the Kashmir Education, Culture and Science Society (KECSS) in Delhi in 1960. The society has been hosting this festival at its Lal Ded Centre in Pamposh Enclave for the past three years now. The president of KECSS professor BB Dhar says, “Away from home we see our children losing touch with their native culture. They are forgetting their mother tongue and that is why we decided to hold this festival, so our new generation gets a first-hand experience of the richness of our traditions.”

Since the turmoil in Kashmir, a gap has developed between the Hindu and Muslim communities there. This festival is also aimed at bridging this gap and bringing the two communities close again.

A number of beautiful cultural programmes marked the three-day celebrations. The first day was declared open by senior officials from the culture ministry and initiated by a fine rabaab recital by musician Hameed Ustad. Famous artiste from Kashmir, Pandit Bhajan Sopori gave a mesmerising santoor performance followed by solo singing by vocalists Sushma Dutta and Lovely Raina. Dancer Swati Wangnoo gave an excellent Kathak recital and the day was closed with a special folk performance by artiste Rashid Barki.

The second day of the fest was inaugurated by Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra who also opened the art gallery featuring Kashmiri artists and the Heritage House of Handicrafts at the same venue. This was followed by a poetic symposium which saw the participation of Kashmiri poets like Vijay Saqi and Bashir Arif. Next was a short Kashmiri story session which was led by writers Dr RK Bhatt and Mohinuddin Rishi. The evening ended with a seminar on ‘Tagore on Kashmir’ which explored the poet’s writings on Kashmir. A major attraction at the fest was the Kashmiri cuisine that was enjoyed by visiting Kashmiris as well as non Kashmiris.

The third day started with an inaugural address by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) president and politician Dr Karan Singh. He initiated the discussion on ‘Swami Vivekananda and Kashmir’ which was taken forward by MK Rao, a former HRD ministry secretary. Further, there was an interaction on a book Close Call in Kashmir by Bharat Wakhlu, a senior official with the Tata Group, followed by a play by some Kashmiri artistes called Maaj Kasheer which means ‘Mother Kashmir’. The day ended with an awards ceremony for eminent Kashmiris.

The convenor of ‘Shuhul Taaph’ Vijay Saqi concludes, “Culture is a strong binder of hearts. Through such fests we hope to keep Kashmir alive in our community in Delhi.”

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