Kashmir in high spirits, unfolds two-day festival

Kashmir in high spirits, unfolds two-day festival

Ladakhi girls, wearing a traditional dress, present a cultural programme during the inaugural function of the Kashmir Festival in Srinagar on Saturday. The dress is typically worn by a community representing the last race of Aryans in the two villages of Ladakh. PTI
Declared open by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, its highlights include music and food festival, golf championship, shikara race and polo match.

Folk artistes from Jammu and Kashmir have clung to music and dance to live through periods of turmoil and violence in the strife-torn state.


"Our music, dance and our culture is our soul which has helped us survive in the over 60-year-old conflict zone," says Yusuf, one of a folk artist troupe from Budgam district in Jammu and Kashmir which is visiting the national capital.

The artistes are participating in the ongoing 'Kashmir Festival' reflecting the multi-cultural nature of Jammu and Kashmir at the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) here.

Their music, they say, reflects love, happiness and peace and is unknown in other parts of the country due to the insurgency in the state.

A group of male and female dancers from Kargil formed part of the artistes presenting Shon-lhooa dance wearing full-length woollen robes called 'Sakpas'.

 

Shon Lhoo is a song essentially sung at the end of the harvest season in most of the villages around the Wakha Mulbekh belt of Kargil district. Sung by both males and females, the song reflects the contentment of farmers after a good season's harvest.

"Our idea is to reflect our traditions through our performance, to portray the cultural harmony that exists among the people of the region," says Punchok Dolma, who wears colourful bead jewellery with her 'Sakpa' dress.

 The purpose of festival is to prolong the tourist season, Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said.

He said opening of Tulip garden at the banks of Dal lake has already advanced tourist season in the state by at least five weeks and added that a two-day Sufina Music festival will follow the tourist festival on October 18 and 19.

The minister said that tourist arrival here suffered a set back this year due to "unfounded negative" publicity of presence of Taliban and increase in infiltration.

He said an estimated ten lakh tourists are expected to visit Kashmir by the end of the year. Nearly 9 lakh tourists including four lakh Amarnath yatris visited the state so far, he added.

Jora said that security forces are being removed from tourist places. Nigeen Club in Srinagar and Verinag in Anantnag have been cleared of the security forces, and efforts are on to remove them from other tourist spots.

"We are developing and identifying new tourist spots to explore areas like Verinag, Kokernag, Arhabal, Doodpathri so that tourism is not confined to Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg," the tourism minister said.

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