January 2019 News

Kashmiri Artistes Strive To Keep Dying Sufi Music Alive

18 January 2019
The Tribune
M Aamir Khan

Srinagar: Once cherished for its divine and soul-stirring mystic tunes, Kashmir valley's 'sufiyana mausiqi' (music of Sufis) does not find many takers nowadays. Though a good number of youngsters get attracted to other forms of music, a small handful of them are striving to keep alive the famed music of the Sufis. 'Other music genres are everywhere, but it is a challenge to keep alive something that is rare and special. Unfortunately, we have only five to six Sufi music groups here at present even as Kashmir has produced many great artistes of this form in the past. Youngsters do not adopt this field anymore,' said Rayees Wathori, an artiste who plays sitar in a 'sufiyana mausiqi' troupe. He said the music was first adopted by Kashmiri 'Bhand-e-Peather' (folk theatre) artistes after it was brought to the Valley by Central Asian and Persian Sufis in the 14th century. 'Bhand-e-Peather artistes were the first to adopt it. We have been trying to rope in children to take up Sufi music, but it is hard to attract youth,' said Wathori. Manzoor-ul-Haq, a Sufi musician and national award winner, said there was a need for setting up a 'sufiyana mausiqi' school. He said the government should generate employment opportunities for the purpose. 'We have fine arts and music as subjects in universities, but 'sufiyana mausiqi' is nowhere in the curriculum. Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (former chief minister) had said 'Shamas Fakeer Sufiyana Mausiqi School' will be set up in the state, but nothing has been done in this regard. As a young artiste, I would love to see being offered in some schools and colleges,' said Haq. 'Radio Kashmir used to have 'sufiyana mausiqi' staff artistes, but after their retirement, nobody was recruited. As there are no employment opportunities available in this form of music, youngsters do not get attracted to it,' he added.